“Internet centrist” on Sparkling Korea

“An Argument for leaving Asia” or “Datsu-A Ron” translation attempt, Part 1

Datsu-A Ron” is an unsigned editorial of a newspaper called “時事新報” published in March 16, 1885.

Here is the part 1. Somebody really needs to rewrite my English.

現在、西洋人の地球規模での行動の迅速さには目を見張るものがあるが、ただこれは科学技術革命の結果である蒸気機関を利用しているにすぎず、人間精神において何か急激な進歩が起こったわけではない。したがって、西洋列強の東洋侵略に対してこれを防ごうと思えば、まずは精神的な覚悟を固めるだけで充分である。西洋人も同じ人間なのだ。とはいえ西洋に起こった科学技術革命という現実を忘れてはならない。国家の独立のためには、科学技術革命の波に進んで身を投じ、その利益だけでなく不利益までも受け入れる他はない。これは近代文明社会で生き残るための必須条件である。

Recent movement of westerner’s global rapid action is remarkable. However, this is only a result of the Industrial Revolution and subsequent steam engines and does not mean there was some kind of progress in terms of human spirits(or humanity). Therefore, in order to stand up against and to prevent the invasions to the orient by western great powers, first of all, we only need to get ready in our mind(meaning “to keep open mind and learn, not to have physical strength”). Westerners are the same human being. But, that does not mean we can disregard the reality of Industrial Revolution. In order to keep an independence of a country, it is necessary to just jump into the wave of the Industrial Revolution and accept not only it’s benefits but also it’s disadvantages as well. This is now required to survive in this modern civilized society.

近代文明とはインフルエンザのようなものである。インフルエンザを水際で防げるだろうか。私は防げないと断言する。百害あって一利も無いインフルエンザでも、一度生じてしまえば防げないのである。それが、利益と不利益を相伴うものの、常に利益の方が多い近代文明を、どのようにして水際で防げるというのだろう。近代文明の流入を防ごうとするのではなく、むしろその流行感染を促しつつ国民に免疫を与えるのは知識人の義務でさえある。

Modern civilization is like influenza. Can we prevent infection of influenza on the sea front? No, I strongly believe we can’t. Influenza has no benefit, and we can’t avoid infections once it spreads. But, modern civilization bares both benefits and disadvantages, and how can we protect ourselves from modern civilization which has more benefits than disadvantages. It is, in a way, a duty for intellectuals to push the infections while providing antidotes.

西洋の科学技術革命について日本人が知ったのはペリーの黒船以来であって、これによって、国民も、次第に、近代文明を受け入れるべきだという認識を持つようになった。ところが、その進歩の前に横たわっていたのが徳川幕府である。徳川幕府がある限り、近代文明を受け入れることは出来なかった。近代文明か、それとも幕府を中心とした旧体制の維持か。この二者択一が迫られた。もしここで旧体制を選んでいたら、日本の独立は危うかっただろう。なぜなら、科学技術を利用しつつ互いに激しく競いながら世界に飛び出した西洋人たちは、東洋の島国が旧体制のなかにひとり眠っていることを許すほどの余裕を持ち合わせてはいなかったからである。

It was when Perry’s black ships appeared in Edo Bay, Japanese learned about the Industrial Revolution of the west. Since then Japanese gradually had begun to recognize the needs to accept modern civilization. However, the Tokugawa shogunate was the obstacle. As long as the Tokugawa shogunate existed, we could not accept modern civilization. We had only 2 choices; modern civilization or sticking to the old regime. If we had chosen the the old regime, the independence of Japan had been in danger. It’s because westerners, who went out to the world while taking advantage of technologies and competing each other, had no mercy to leave the oriental island country asleep.

ここに、日本の有志たちは、徳川幕府よりも国家の独立を重んじることを大義として、皇室の権威に依拠することで旧体制を倒し、新政府をうちたてた。かくして日本は、国家・国民規模で、西洋に生じた科学技術と近代文明を受け入れることを決めたのだった。これは全てのアジア諸国に先駆けており、つまり近代文明の受容とは、日本にとって脱アジアという意味でもあったのである。

Hereby, the faithful retainers, holding a faith to the country and the emperor, destroyed the Tokugawa shogunate and built a new government. This way, Japan as a country and the whole nation decided to accept technologies and modern civilization born in the west. This was the first amongst the all Asian countries and this also meant leaving Asia for Japan.

[part 2]

Comments? Suggestions?

4 Comments »

  1. [...] to the rest of the article: Part One & Part [...]

    Pingback by Sparkling Korea Posted Interesting 1885 Japanese Editorial » Occidentalism — May 15, 2007 @ 9:14 am

  2. Today, seeing the state that China and the rest of asia is in economically, I’d say he was dead on. But what did he mean by “mind?” Did he mean charisma or spirituality? If it was the first, then that’s some pretty self-hating envy turned nationalism. Is it not?

    Comment by Ryan Thomas — September 4, 2007 @ 5:55 pm

  3. “Mind” means we need to get educated. He talks about education a lot (fukuzawa yukichi). He advocated education and knowledge besides money guns steam engines. We need to get educated first through western knowledge is what he is saying. To be educated populace

    Comment by John Smith — November 18, 2007 @ 6:34 am

  4. >But what did he mean by “mind?”

    Mr John Smith is right.

    I should change “Mind” to “Spirits”.. or “humanity”. “人間精神” should be translated as “human spirits”.

    Comment by toru — November 18, 2007 @ 2:23 pm


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