NEW RISING HAIKU
The Evolution of Modern
Japanese Haiku and the Haiku Persecution Incident
Itô Yûki, Ph.D.
(cand.), Kumamoto University, Graduate School of Cultural and Social Sciences
Moon Press, May 2007
following discussion focuses on the evolution of the “New Rising Haiku”
movement (shinkô haiku undô), examining events as they unfolded
throughout the extensive wartime period, an era of recent history important to
an understanding of the evolution of the “modern haiku movement,” that is, gendai
haiku in Japan. In his 1985 book, My Postwar Haiku History, the
acclaimed leader of the postwar haiku movement Kaneko Tohta (1919–) wrote,
“When discussing the history of postwar haiku, many scholars tend to begin
their discussion from the end of World War II. However, this perspective
represents a rather stereotypical viewpoint. It is preferable that a discussion
of postwar haiku history start from the midst of the war, or from the beginning
of the ‘Fifteen Years War [1931-45].’” A discussion of the situation of haiku
during Japan’s extended wartime era is of great historical significance, even
if comparatively few are now aware of this history. In fact, the wartime era
was a dark age for haiku; nonetheless it was through the ensuing persecutions
and bitterness that gendai haiku evolved—an evolution which continues today.
Please note that the two predominant schools or ‘approaches’ to contemporary
Japanese haiku are: 1) gendai haiku (literally: “modern haiku”), and 2)
traditional (dentô) haiku, a stylism signally represented by the
Hototogisu circle and its journal of the same name. To avoid confusion, the
term “modern haiku” (in English) will indicate contemporary (1920s-on) haiku in
general, while “gendai haiku” refers to the progressive movement, its ideas and
activities. This essay also contains an added Addendum section: “Historical Revisionism
(Negationism) and the Image of Takahama Kyoshi,” which details contemporary
negationism concerning Kyoshi’s involvement in wartime persecution and his
alliances with the Japanese Imperial‑fascist government, throughout the
NEW RISING HAIKU
5:00 a.m. February 14th 1940, in Kobe city, in snowy weather, a
plainclothes officer accompanied by two uniformed officers arrived at the home
of Hirahata Seitô (1905-1997), a haiku poet and psychiatrist. The officers
knocked hard, waking up the family. Dr. Hirahata was asked to come voluntarily
to a Kyoto police office for questioning, concerning the haiku magazine
Kyôdai Haiku (Kyoto University Haiku). The officer was a member of the
Japanese Secret Police (tokubetsu kôtô keisatsu, or Tokkô), the Thought
Police of the Imperial fascistic order of Japan; comparable to the Nazi
Gestapo. With great trepidation, Dr. Hirahata pretended calm, moving toward the
telephone. “Wait, just a second. I have to call my place of work, my hospital”
he said, at which point the Secret Police officer informed him, “It is no use
contacting your comrades, we have already arrested them all.” As Hirahata later
reported, just at this moment his children innocently piped up, “Hi! Policeman
have come to our house to play! Shall we play ‘police and thief’ with you?” not
realizing the significance of the incident (Kosakai, 66‑7).
February 14th was the first occurrence of wholesale arrests of the
members of Kyôdai Haiku. Similar arrests of the magazine members
occurred three additional times in 1940, from February to August. In total,
sixteen haiku poets were arrested. This group included the notable poets Inoue
Hakubunji (1904-1946?), Hashi Kageo (1910-1985), Nichi Eibô (1910-1993),
Sugimura Seirinshi (1912‑1990), Mitani Akira (1911-1978), Watanabe Hakusen
(1913-1969), Kishi Fûsanrô (1910-1982), and Saitô Sanki (1900-1962).
year later, in February 1941, the Secret Police expanded their persecution to
the members of the four “anti-establishment haiku” magazines in Tokyo: Haiku
Seikatsu (Haiku Life) Hiroba (Field), Dojô (Above Earth), and
Nippon Haiku (Japan Haiku). The victims of this persecution were
thirteen poets, including Shimada Seihô (1882-1944), Higashi Kyôzô (also known
as Akimoto Fujio) (1901-1977), Fujita Hatsumi (1905‑1984), Hashimoto Mudô
(1903-1974), and Kuribayashi Issekiro (1894-1961).
to his treatment by the Secret Police while incarcerated, Shimada Seihô’s
health deteriorated; he fell into a coma and later died. “Treatment” included
various forms of torture, and the procuring of false written confessions, which
included signed declarations such as; “I was an enemy of the government, but I
now worship the Emperor,” and, “I was a Communist and planned revolution
against the Emperor’s order,” etc. There were 22 separate clauses put into the
false written confessions. Moreover, the haiku poets had to perform a “haiku
anatomy” of their works—that is, they were forced to interpret and denigrate
their works according to the will of the Secret Police. Prisoner-poets were
also compelled to perform this “haiku anatomy,” on the works of their friends
and fellow poets. Their magazines were also banned and burned. Today there is
no extant copy of Kyôdai Haiku for February, 1940 but for a single
journal serendipitously discovered among items left by a haiku poet who died
during the war (Tajima, ii‑iii).
collective series of arrests for the five haiku magazine-groups mentioned, from
1940 to 1941, is known the “Haiku Persecution Incident,” which unfortunately
implies that there was only a single event. However, these persecutions
continued throughout the war period—records show that 46 haiku poets (one woman
and 45 men) were arrested. Two died due to inhumane treatment, and in the years
1940‑1945, over a dozen haiku magazines were obliterated.
totalitarian governments in all times and places commonly persecute thinkers
and artists, the activities related above might seem to fit a typical pattern.
However, there is more to these incidents than mere persecution by the Secret
Police. The targets of the repeated persecution were major haiku poets of the
New Rising Haiku movement (shinkô haiku undô), who opposed the
conservative haiku of the Hototogisu School and were attempting to write haiku
with new subjects, utilizing terms and techniques which related to contemporary
social life. To express such feelings, these poets frequently wrote haiku
without kigo (season words), directly treated non-traditional subjects such as
social inequality, and utilized modernist styles, including surrealistic
may wonder why not a single member of the largest and most influential haiku
group, Hototogisu (or any traditional-haiku poet), was ever arrested. The
answer is both shocking and embarrassing: Hototogisu was closely related to the
Japanese Secret Police, and the Intelligence Bureau of Japan (jôhô kyoku).
The conservative haiku poets persecuted the New Rising Haiku poets, utilizing
the secret police. Furthermore, a number of notable traditional haiku poets
were devoted to and actively promoted the fascist movement and the Japanese war
Kyoshi (1874-1959), one of the two main disciples of Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902)
and the leader of Hototogisu, became the President of the haiku branch of the
Imperial‑fascist government culture‑control/propaganda group known
as “The Japanese Literary Patriotic Organization (JLPO) (Nihon bungaku
hôkoku kai),” which devoted itself to censorship and persecution, and other
war crimes of various sorts. There are a few scholars who defend Kyoshi,
suggesting that he was used by the fascist government, stating for instance
that, “Kyoshi resisted the war via his attitude, in that he did not directly
treat the war as a subject of his haiku in any way” (Asai, 146). This point of
view will be discussed in some detail within the Addendum
following this main text. It is an incontestable historical fact that as well
as being President of the fascist JLPO Haiku Department, Kyoshi prominently
served the causes of fascist cultural organizations and activities, and was
deeply committed to the culture-control/ propaganda movement. At the time, the
Director‑Trustee of the JLPO was Ono Bushi (1889-1943), who among his
other professional titles was: kokumin jyôsô chosa iin, or: “The Agent
of Investigation of the Minds of the Nation’s Citizens.”
infamous statement published by Ono reads,
I will not allow haiku even from
the most honorable person, from left-wing, or progressive, or anti‑war,
groups to exist. If such people are found in the haiku world, we had better
persecute them, and they should be punished. This is necessary (Kosakai, 169).
was reported by one haiku poet who survived detention that he was commanded by
the Secret Police (in the person of a Lieutenant Nakanishi) to “write haiku in
the style of the Hototogisu journal” (Hirahata, 49; Kosakai, 79).
According to the fascist-nationalist traditionalists, to write haiku without
kigo (a traditional seasonal term), meant anti-tradition, and anti-tradition
meant anti-Imperial order and thus high treason; therefore, all New Rising
Haiku was to be annihilated. We are reminded of how the Nazis preserved
so-called pure nationalist art, while persecuting the modern styles of
so-called “degenerate art.”
discussing these incidents further and what lies behind them, I would like to
give a brief overview of the history of haiku in the early 20th century. After
Shiki’s death in 1902, haiku was divided into two main schools. Takahama Kyoshi
insisted that haiku must be 17-on in a traditional 5-7-5 pattern (‑on
are the phonemic sounds which are counted in Japanese haiku) with one
traditional kigo, while by contrast, Kawahigashi Hekigotô (1873-1937) allowed
free-rhythm and formal variation in haiku. Both schools continued to develop
through the decades, however the style promoted by Kyoshi became more popular.
He had inherited the Hototogisu journal from Shiki, who had
revolutionized the genre, and this strong sense of lineage helped him succeed
commercially. Kyoshi promoted haiku as a literature of kachôfûei (composition
based upon the traditional sense of the beauty of nature). The Hototogisu
School gathered together many haiku poets, fostered them, and became the
strongest and most influential power within the haiku world.
group known as the “Four S” haiku poets of Hototogisu are Takano Soju
(1893-1976), Awano Seiho (1899-1992), Mizuhara Shûôshi (1892-1981) and
Yamaguchi Seishi (1901‑1994). These four became leading figures in the
haiku world of the 1920’s. The former two, Sojû and Seiho, penned excellent shasei
(“sketch of life” haiku, a term coined by Shiki) and kachôfûei haiku,
while the latter two, Shûôshi and Seishi, are most noted for their lyrical and
new generation of haiku poets was growing in influence, yet Kyoshi as leader of
Hototogisu had taken the stance of a tyrant from the beginning of his
installment. In 1913, when he became the leader of the magazine, he published
“The Commandment” (Kôsatsu) in Hototogisu. Within the text he declares,
“Do understand and remember that Kyoshi is Hototogisu itself,” and, "Do
oppose any new haiku style including the New Rising Haiku" (“Kôsatasu,”
iv). Under his rule, there was literally no criticism of any kind allowed
within Hototogisu, excepting for those critiques contained in the prose essays
written by its leader. During this period, the “haiku world” meant Kyoshi’s
to a combination of Kyoshi’s authoritarianism and the promotion of fixed ideas
in relation to haiku stylism, by the early 1930s Shûôshi and Seishi had
departed the Hototogisu circle. In 1929, Shûôshi founded a new magazine, Ashibi
(Andromeda flower), and in 1930, he published his first haiku book, Katsushika
(so‑named after a downtown Tokyo location). At the time, it was an
unwritten law that in order for a haiku poet to publish his first book, he or
she needed to compile those haiku selected by Kyoshi, and had to beg Kyoshi to
write an introduction. Shûôshi deliberately did not beg this introduction—an
audacious action at the time. In the same year, Shûôshi published his own work
of literary criticism, “The Reality of Nature and The Reality of Literature” (shizen
no shin to bungei jô no shin) in his own magazine. In the essay, he states
that that the objective shasei (Shiki’s “sketch of life”) conception
alone is not a sufficient basis for the art of haiku, and that both creativity
and wide‑ranging knowledge are necessary attributes for a haiku poet.
Today, Shûôshi’s actions and statements may not seem all that remarkable;
however, at the time these activities were considered not only innovative but
were labeled “rebellion.” Ironically, the year of this haiku “rebellion” is the
same as the beginning of the Fifteen Years War.1 In
1931, the Japanese Army invaded the northeast region of China, and the
following year the puppet state of Manchuria was founded. The fascist‑Imperial
movement progressed in parallel with the progress of the liberal movement of
haiku. Kaneko Tohta comments on the haiku world and the sense of crisis during
The beginning of the Fifteen
Years War had nearly arrived. The period was a time of crisis for traditional
ways of thinking, while for new, contemporary thought the period was a time of
great possibility—accompanied also by great oppression. It was necessary for
those grappling with novel modes of thought and art to articulate the feeling
and zeitgeist of this era of crisis, to rebel against outdated concepts and
thinking, in order to break through the realities of oppression and cultural
stagnation, and for these artists to create new philosophies of their own. In
such an atmosphere of crisis, the haiku world was filled with tensions between
the old guard and new writers—it seemed that the conflict might even come to
bloodshed. We can say that it was a time of great turbulence (haiku no
“rebellions” of Shûôshi and Seishi occurred during this year of crisis, mainly
for the reasons indicated by Kaneko. The rebellions and the foundation of the
new haiku magazine Ashibi were epoch‑making events. Influenced by
this rebellion born from members who had been within Hototogisu itself, many
new haiku magazines were consequently founded. In 1933, Kyôdai Haiku (Kyoto
University Haiku) arrived, and in 1934 Hino Sojô’s (1901-1956) Kikan (Flag
Ship) began. In 1938, Fujita Hatsumi (1905-1984) began publishing Hiroba
(Field). As a result of this diversification, some magazines formerly allied to
the Hototogisu School began to shift. Yoshioka Zenjidô’s (1889-1961) Amanogawa
(Milky Way) and Shimada Seihô’s (1882-1944) Dojô (Above Earth) entered
the new stream. As well, the haiku poets of Hekigoto’s free-verse school,
including Kuribayashi Issekirô (1894-1961), joined the stream with his magazine
Haiku Seikatsu (Haiku Life). Due to the mutuality and simpatico of the
free-rhythm (jiyûritsu) school, the burgeoning movement was much
enlivened. Taken as a whole, the new poetic styles represented by these
magazines came to be known as the New Rising Haiku (shinkô haiku), one
of the most significant origins of gendai haiku.
vanguard of New Rising Haiku was the group and journal of Kyôdai Haiku. Young
Kyoto University graduates had founded the magazine, but it soon became filled
with the works of progressive haiku poets throughout Japan. Seishi encouraged
the movement—its aim was to “overthrow the conservative haiku as season‑hobby
literature, and to create gendai haiku as season‑feeling literature in
the spirit of Bashô, and as true poetry” (Komuro, 48). Here is the Kyôdai
Haiku declaration found in the first volume of the magazine, January 1933:
Now we present Kyôdai Haiku to
the haiku world, which is the stream that pours through our hot youthful blood
with the inheritance of the great poets of the past. Truly, when a person
travels through the country of haikai [haiku], he cannot be indifferent to this
pure stream. Some would avoid these waters, while others would quench their
thirst with only a drop, as though with the sweet dew of a haikai ascetic
journey. We make this clear avowal: our single wish is that this stream might
irrigate the country of haikai forever (Tajima, 24-5).
majority of these original poets were in their twenties or thirties; the New
Rising Haiku movement was full of youthful energy. Their aims were modernism
(composition pertaining to a sense of modern life), humanism (the betterment of
humanity), realism (honestly facing social concerns), and liberalism
(emphasizing the right to free expression). They often wrote haiku without
kigo, and also wrote in free-rhythm/free-form styles. Moreover, they adopted an
important social attitude, in managing their group without resorting to the
traditional, feudalistic, master-disciple system. In their group all members
were considered equal and free to engage in discussion and dissent. The
magazine was also open to criticism from outside the group.
an attitude was quite liberal and innovative, particularly in that era. Japan
was moving toward a fascistic order; nevertheless, the innovative magazine caused
a sensation and sold well. The haiku below is a famous example from Kyôdai
Haiku. While its aesthetic might be diminished in translation (losing the
impact of free-rhythm, creative assonance, and cultural reference), the flavor
of New Rising Haiku seems apparent:
水枕ガバリと寒い海がある 西東 三鬼
gabari to samui umi ga
a chilly ocean
this haiku became Sanki’s epitaph.
many masterpieces were written, Japan sank into a dark age. In 1937, the
Japan-China war began, closely followed by the rapid escalation of a massive
‘information war.’ The Japanese Cabinet Intelligence Bureau (naikaku jôhô-bu)
was enlarged, and this Bureau and the army came to completely control all
newspapers and other media. And the “All National Sprit Mobilization Movement (kokumin
seishin sôdôin undô)” also began. In 1938, the “All Nation Mobilization Law
(kokka sôdôin hô)” was enforced. Due to this law, the government was
able to control various social activities. The imperial fascistic government
began spreading propaganda, issuing statements such as: “This war is a Holy War
in the name of the Emperor the living-god.” Japan was full of propaganda
glorifying the war as a Holy War. Any information concerning the real
battlefield was either concealed or glorified. The Nanjing massacre for example
never became a matter of public knowledge.
war and the propaganda campaign stimulated Japanese nationalism, and this
nationalistic fervor hastened the advent of Imperial fascism. Many artists,
including a number of haiku poets, praised the war as a Holy War and created
the genre of “The Holy War Arts.” In 1937, Kyoshi became a member of the
Imperial Art Academy (teikoku geijutsu in) for “The Holy War Arts,” and
began a special serial-feature segment on the war, in ‘his’ Hototogisu journal,
and even Shûôshi created a similar segment in Ashibi. At the time,
Shûôshi had become strongly nationalistic—a stance over which, unlike Kyoshi,
he later expressed apology and regret. They both published Holy War haiku
anthologies; Kyoshi published The Collected Japan-China-War Haiku (Shina-jihen
kushû), and Shûôshi published The Holy War and Haiku (Seisen to
haiku) and The Collected Holy War Haiku (Seisen haiku-shû).
Kyoshi and Shûôshi also gave radio lectures on “The Holy War Haiku,” and these
lectures were compiled as The Selected Holy War Haiku (Seisen
notably, performed propagandistic activities not only in Japan but also in its
then-colonies. In Korea, during a party held by the Japanese Intelligence
Bureau, Kyoshi gave a speech in which he said, “The people of the Korean
peninsula have had only weak minds from days of yore. As such, it is merciful
to teach them Japaneseness and the awareness that they are Japanese, not
Korean. Haiku is a good way to do it” (“Man-chô yûki,” 72). Clearly,
Kyoshi’s notion was imperialistic, colonialist, and racially discriminatory.
examples of Holy War Haiku shown below are representative, and cannot be
described as artistic. In January, 1938, Kyoshi chose the haiku below as a
“best exemplar” of Holy War haiku:
wa kokkan no no o ôi yuku
Holy War overwhelms
violently cold field
page four of the preface to The Selected Holy War Haiku, Kyoshi
recommends this above haiku and offers a comment: “The warrior, who faces and
overpowers enemies, even if they be demons and devils, has the Japanese feeling
of respect for seasons and nature. This is the pride of the Japanese samurai.”
Indeed, Kyoshi regarded himself as a samurai, and wrote the following haiku:
日の本の武士われや時宗忌 高浜 虚子
no mononohu ware ya tokimune ki
am a samurai
anniversary of Regent Tokimune
Tokimune (1251-84) was the commanding general (in effect acting Shogun, also
known as Shogun Tokimune) who waged war against the invading Mongolian army of
Kublai Kahn in 1274 and again in 1281. Both attempted invasions ultimately
failed due to timely typhoons, hence Regent Tokimune has become an emblematic
hero of wars fought against foreign armies. The word kamikaze (the wind
of the gods, or “divine wind”) and folk beliefs such as “the kamikaze
defends Japan from foreign armies” and, “Japan can never be defeated, due to
the defensive power of kamikaze,” were born in this medieval era. In his
haiku, Kyoshi identifies himself with this singular, semi-divine historical
Holy War Haiku were more overtly nationalistic than those of Kyoshi. In his
book, The Collected Holy War Haiku, Shûôshi writes,
In this Great Asia
War, the attitudes of the enemy countries, in short, America, Britain, and
other countries, are tremendously evil. In order to destroy such evil, our
nation has arisen. From the very beginning of the war, our Imperial Army has
severely damaged our enemies and incapacitated them. Yet you, the Japanese
home-front citizens, should continue to unite your hearts with our Imperial
Army to exterminate the evil (161).
the Japanese Army conquered Singapore, Shûôshi penned this haiku:
春の雪天地を浄め敵滅ぶ 水原 秋桜子
no yuki tenchi o kiyome teki horobu
earth and heaven –
haiku below were published in 1940 by Shûôshi and Usuda Arô:
建国祭敵塁くづれ燃えに燃え 水原 秋桜子
tekirui kuzure moe ni moe
Foundation Festival –
enemy base falling
皇紀二千六百年の天の声 臼田 亜浪
nisen roppyakunen no ten no koe Usuda
voice of heaven –
Imperial Calendar 2600
War Haiku tend to use technical terms related to the Imperial Order. National
Foundation Day (kenkoku sai) in Shûôshi’s haiku above, is a national
festival celebrating the First Emperor of Japan: the descent of the god (Jinmu
Emperor) to the earth, believed to be February 11, 660 BCE. From the divine
year of the arrival of the First Emperor, exactly 2,600 years had passed to the
date of 1940 CE. Arô expressed this fact in his second line, above (kôki
nisen roppyaku nen). National Foundation Day of 1940 was a huge festival,
accompanied by parade music composed by the German composer Richard Strauss
(1864-1949) and Italian composer Ildebrando Pizzetti (1880-1968), both deemed
“authorized” composers by the Nazi Party and the Fascist Party (c.f. Shôwa:
Nimannichi, vol 6). Although Holy War Haiku were inartistic, such haiku
were written and published in uncountable numbers at the time.
this atmosphere of war fanaticism and a controlled society existing under a
fascist‑Imperial government, the New Rising Haiku poets wrote haiku with
acuity, cruelty, strangeness and absurdity when addressing the topic of the
war. They even expressed compassion with enemies. At the time, “non‑patriotic”
(hi-kokumin) meant non-citizen, and writing haiku without kigo meant
rebellion against the Japanese Imperial tradition. Even so, the New Rising
Haiku poets expressed their own passions.3 The
contrasts with Holy War Haiku can be easily discerned:
miken ni korosu hana ga
killing flower blooms
ga aoki suugaku yori
out of a blue mathematics
ki o hanare kareshi ki toshite utare
a dead tree
shot as a dead tree
ite teki naru koto o wasure
is the enemy,
oppose such “non-patriotic” haiku as those above, in 1939 Kyoshi himself
censored the comprehensive haiku anthology Haiku Sandaishû (The Haiku
Trilogy), forcing the publisher to exclude the works of the New Rising Haiku
poets (Furukara, 391-396; Hirahata, 58).
in 1940, the wholesale arrests began. The beginning of this persecution came
through the betrayal of informers. Particularly from Hototogisu haiku poets,
and especially Ono Bushi himself, who directly informed the Secret Police
concerning the activities of the New Rising Haiku poets. The Secret Police set
out the reasons for the arrests in an internal document, the Tokkô Geppô (the
monthly record of Secret Police activities). The document for 1940, February,
reads in part:
The magazine Kyôdai Haiku
was founded by Lecturing Professor of Kansai University Inoue Hakubunji and a
dozen other haiku poets in the eighth year of the Shôwa Emperor’s reign ,
January. This magazine and the group opposed traditional haiku and insisted on
haku without kigo and free-rhythm as the so-called New Rising Haiku. Advocating
liberalism, they continued the publication of such haiku magazines. They
attempted to inform readers about the validity of Communism through haiku based
on “proletariat realism.” Asserting the protection of all classes and cultures,
they struggled to promote anti-traditional haiku, anti-capitalism, and anti‑fascism
movements. Furthermore, since the start of this Japan-China war, they have made
an effort to publish haiku that are anti-war. They have attempted to attain
their aims through such anti-war haiku (Tokkô Geppô: Shôwa 14 February 5).
phrase “proletariat realism” was taken from the 1927 Comintern Thesis for
Japan, which advocated the abolition of the Japanese Imperial regime. The Secret
Police purposely linked this fairly‑forgotten terminological footnote of
history with the fact that the New Rising Haiku poets wrote haiku on social
life, in order to aggravate the appearance of offence—a violent
misinterpretation, particularly as at the time none of the editors of Kyôdai
Haiku were members of the Communist party (although some associated with the
magazine had a strong sympathies with communism).4 Even
had the haiku poets in question been the members of the party, the 1927
Comintern Thesis had been revised and replaced by the 1932 Comintern Thesis,
with the slogan “proletariat realism” removed as outdated—eight years before
the above‑quoted depiction had been written (Matsuo, 119-22, 146-47).
Secret Police had the power to execute the haiku poets out of hand,5
they took instead the tactical approach of the false written confession and
“haiku anatomy,” as mentioned. Following the confession and “haiku anatomy,” and
usually after a year or more of imprisonment, the Secret Police often sent the
prisoner‑poet to the front lines of the war. Likely, this tactic had as
an aim the avoidance of martyrdom via execution. Even if one were not sent to
the front, haiku poets (and other progressive artists, liberal thinkers,
religious and ethnic groups, minority populations, etc.) were imprisoned in
filthy jails and were tortured. If let out of prison, the poets were put under
Secret Police surveillance as thought criminals—plainclothes officers followed
them at all times. If the individual under surveillance performed some
“suspicious” act, the Secret Police re-arrested them, and once again torture
ensued. Those under suspicion were also socially ostracized. It was not
uncommon for entire families, including wives and children, to cut off all
contact, and there are cases not only of divorce but also of family
homocide/suicide (it remains unclear to what extent the Secret Police were
complicit in these matters). Via such tactics, the Secret Police succeeded in
producing many “converted” (tenkô) persons who became admirers of
to the persecution of Kyôdai Haiku, a great deal of fear arose among the New
Rising Haiku community. Using this fear, Ono Bushi blackmailed a number of
haiku groups and forced them to cease publication, as well as informing on them
to the Secret Police. For example, the New Rising Haiku magazines Kikan
and Amanogawa were terminated by Ono Bushi. Furthermore, in 1940 he
founded the fascistic haiku organization, “The Japan Haiku Poet Society (Nihon
haiku sakka kyôkai)” as a branch of the Intelligence Bureau. Kyoshi became
the Chairperson of this organization, which not only promoted propaganda haiku
but also sold thousands of pieces of tanzaku (a reed-shaped paper with a
haiku written on it) and donated the collected money to the army and navy. The tanzaku
of Kyoshi sold for a particularly high price: according to the official
record in the 1942 Haiku Almanac, the donation was 6098.64 yen (Nihon
bungaku hôkoku kai [JPLO], Haiku nenkan: Shôwa 17, 349). At
the time, a pack of tobacco was 0.1 yen. By simple arithmetic, the donation
would be worth approximately 18,295,920 yen, or some $175,000.00 USD today. The
traditional-haiku poets’ tanzaku were changed into money, and then into
bullets. This example is only the tip of the iceberg; many additional
activities are worth relating, however space does not permit a fuller
1942, The JLPO (Japanese Literary Patriotic Organization; Nihon bungaku
hôkoku kai) was founded, and affiliated the above-mentioned Japan Haiku
Poet Society to it. The JLPO was quite deeply connected with the Imperial
government and the Intelligence Bureau. In the JLPO’s foundation ceremony,
Prime Minister Tôjô Hideki (1884-1948) and the President of the Intelligence
Bureau gave congratulatory speeches. The foundation statement of the JLPO was:
“We all, Japanese men of letters, should, by doing everything in our power,
hereby establish a Japanese literature which embodies the Imperial tradition
and ideals. We should praise and enhance Imperial culture. This is the aim of
this Organization” (Tajima, 211). The President of the Haiku Department of the
JLPO was, as mentioned, Kyoshi.
in 1942, the JLPO held the First Great Asia Writers Conference (daitô-a
bungakusha taikai) in Tokyo. This conference consisted of the writers of
Japan and its colonies and puppet-states: Manchuria, Korea, Taiwan, the
Republic of China (Nanjing Government), and the Mongol Border Land (Mengjiang
Government). Before the conference, the JLPO forced the writers of the colonies
to go to the Meiji Shrine, the Yasukuni Shrine (the shrine now housing war
criminals, which to the present annually causes consternation when officials
present offerings there), and the Imperial Palace of Japan, as “a welcome tour”
of the conference (Shôwa: Nimannichi, vol 6, 196-99). The route of the
“welcome tour” was quite similar in style and intention to the welcome tour
given the Hitler Youth in 1938 (Shôwa: Nimannichi, vol 5,
100‑02). At these places, the JLPO compelled the writers of the colonies
to worship then-Emperor Hirohito, the divine soul of Meiji Emperor Mutsuhito,
and the war dead of Yasukuni Shrine. The conference ceremony involved huge
displays (as with the Hitler Youth rally). At the opening ceremony Kyoshi read
his haiku for the conference as President of the Haiku Department of the JLPO (Shinbun
Shûsei, vol 16, 460-61).
1943, the Second Great Asia Writers Conference was again held in Tokyo. In this
same year Ono Bushi died due to illness, however the JLPO continued to control
literary persons and societies. The JLPO committed drastic acts of censorship,
for instance stopping the distribution of pen and paper to non‑patriotic
writers, literally allowing pen and paper only for “the authorized writers.” In
1944, a Third Conference was held in Nanjing (cf. Bungaku Hôkoku).
The JLPO demonstrated its great power and influence, both domestically and
internationally. Few writers resisted the JLPO. On the contrary, many writers
“voluntary” obeyed the dictates of this fascist-authoritarian organization.
New Rising Haiku poets however retained their determined spirit. Even without
pen and paper, even while imprisoned, they remained haiku poets. For example,
in his prison cell, Higashi Kyôzô wrote haiku using a small piece of chalk,
which he erased over and over again. Later, remembering 172 of the haiku he had
written while in jail, these were published after the war. Upon the publication
of this book, he changed his name to Akimoto Fujio. The Chinese characters of
his name 不死男
(Fujio) mean, “an undying man.” In the haiku book entitled Kobu (A
Lump), he writes: “During wartime, many people were inflicted with wounds. The
wound I received, which was inflicted by the Haiku Persecution Incident, was
merely ‘a lump.’ Even though it was but ‘a lump,’ I will never forget its pain”
“the pain of the lump” embodied very difficult travails. While the spirit of
these haiku poets was not extinguished, there was grievous suffering. The
following two stories are representative: Inoue Hakubunji was sent to the
frontline of the war when he was 42 years old. He was later captured by the
Soviet Union army and never returned. Nichi Eibô, a skillful Russian
interpreter and radio-wave engineer was captured by the Soviet Union’s GPU and
sent to Siberia. He survived the Siberian gulag and torture. In 1950, when he
arrived back in Japan, he was arrested by the CIA under suspicion of being a
spy, due to his excellent Russian. In addition, he had given one of the
infamous false confessions “admitting” he was a Communist, and this likewise
caused suspicion, particularly given the period: 1950 was the start of the Cold
War in Asia. In 1949, Mao Zedong’s Chinese Communist Party had gained power and
founded the People’s Republic of China, while Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist
Party of China (Kuomintang) and the Republic of China had decamped to Taiwan.
Also in 1950, the Korean War broke out. It was on account of this strained
political climate that Nichi Eibô was suspected. He was sent to the CIA offices
of Kobe and Ashiya, given polygraph tests, and put under CIA surveillance until
1951 (c.f. Kosakai, 190-212).
hardships continued with the defeat of Japan on August 15, 1945. Emperor
Hirohito pronounced the defeat on the radio at noon that day, and the
democratization of the Japanese government began. The Supreme Commander of the
Allied Powers (SCAP) disbanded various government organizations: the Ministry
of War, the Secret Police, the plutocracies (zaibatsu), the JLPO, and so
on. The Land Reform act was then instituted, allowing farmers and local
populations to gain their own lands. In 1946, Emperor Hirohito declared that he
was a human being and not a living‑god in “The Humanity Declaration (Ningen-sengen),”6
according to Article 10 of the Potsdam Declaration, the Tokyo Tribunal of War
Criminals was convened.
though the SCAP censored certain writings—for example, the publication of Saitô
Sanki’s haiku about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima was banned (Kuroki, vol I,
62‑63)—Japanese writers, generally speaking, gained their freedom of
expression, and in 1946 the New Rising Haiku poets founded the New Haiku Poets
Association (Shin Haikujin Renmei). The 1947 Haiku Almanac (Ôno
Rinka, ed., Haiku-nenkan: Shôwa 22), reveals the atmosphere of the haiku
world at the time. Within the Almanac, reflecting upon the prewar era,
the New Rising Haiku poet Higashi Kyôzô (Akimoto Fujio) summarizes the group’s
The New Rising Haiku movement
was, in short, a movement to recover the adolescence of haiku. . . . In order
to break the old and feudal tradition of haiku taste and thought, we hoisted
the flag of liberalism and democracy against the exclusionism of the haiku
world and the feudalistic master‑disciple system. That is, to create
gendai haiku as poetry, we advocated the pure poesy of haiku, not the old hobby
taste haiku (305).
the other hand, in the same Almanac, the traditional-conservative haiku poet
Usuda Arô states,
I sometimes hear mention that the
master-disciple system of haiku is bad. However, such a notion is superficial.
It may stem from an ignorance of haiku tradition. The outcome of the haiku
spirit springs naturally from a great national love, which defines master as
master and disciple as disciple. Therefore, this is the core of a “deep-and-high”
ethical significance. Do not confuse the noble flowers with newly growing
weeds. With my clear, pure, straight, and warm heart, I would like to pull out
the stiff roots of the weeds, and throw away these tendrils, in order to
comfort the noble flower. I do not lament or become angry without reason. I
will remain as an observer, as facts are facts. But I, with you too, do reflect
and think again—at the frosty window of December 8 [the Japanese date of the
Pearl Harbor Attack] (ibid., 8).
prideful statement reveals that he had not appreciably altered his views of
haiku from his pre-war conceptions, and further, expressed a fairly
militaristic or violent attitude toward gendai haiku; he embodies the mainstay
conservative view of haiku at the time. Arô and other haiku poets, including
Kyoshi, remained traditional-haiku authorities in the years following the war.
1946, “the weeds” or the New Rising Haiku poets began the “Prosecution for
Haiku War Criminals” movement (haidan senpan saiban undô), a movement
mainly led by the New Haiku Poets Association. Its advocates were Higashi Kyôzô
(Akimoto Fujio), Furuya Kayao, several other haiku poets, and the lawyer,
Minato Yôichirô (1900-2002). The movement’s aim was not to imprison those who
had either instituted persecutions or collaborated with the Secret Police, but
to justly and publicly cause those guilty parties to recognize the weight of
their guilt and feel the sting of conscience. It was not a witch hunt. If it
had been, the movement would have become a reverse mirror-image of the Haiku
Persecution Incident(s). By contrast, the aim of the movement was “to resolve
all the issues of the past in order to together hold hands for the progress of
haiku” (Minato, 34). To attain this aim, it was felt that the defamatory
actions of all haiku poets should be exposed and expressed, in public, and
the January 1947 issue of the magazine Haikujin (Haiku Human), Minato
Yōichirô presented a listing of the three main Articles defining Haiku War
A. The crime of the formation of a fascistic haiku
world as a leader of a fascistic organization.
B. The crime of leading the magazines that spread
fascistic thought and co-operated in the unjust control of the haiku world.
C. The crime of the individual encouragement of the
fascistic order and co-operation with the unjust control of the haiku world
published via critical essays or works (36).
the top of the list of haiku poets charged with committing crimes involving all
three of the Haiku War Crimes Articles (A, B and C) are, in order:
1) Takahama Kyoshi, 2) Ono Bushi, 3) Usuda Arô, 4) Mizuhara
Shûôshi, 5) Itô Gessô (1899-1946), and the list continues. There are 17
haiku poets listed in total (Ôno, Haiku Nenkan: Shôwa 22, 318).
example of a poet listed under only Article B as a Haiku War Criminal is Katô
Shûson (1905‑1993), whose magazine Kanrai (Cold Thunder) had an
officer of the Imperial General Headquarters as a prominent member.7
Article C Haiku War Criminal is, for example, Hasegawa Sosei (1907-1946), who
published the war haiku collection Hôsha (Gun Carriage). The two haiku
poets just mentioned, Kato and Hasegawa, both publicly offered their apologies.
Of the five poets named above, at the top of the list of those charged with
committing crimes under all the War Crimes Articles (A, B and C), none but
Mizuhara Shûôshi ever offered an apology, despite abundant evidence detailing
their profound complicity in war crimes.
for Kyoshi, who acted as president of the various fascistic organizations, he
made two statements some years later: “The war did not have any influence on
the essence of haiku at all,” and “I will continue to write my haiku in the
same consistent style” (Teihon Kyoshi Zenshû, vol 13, 407). Showing no
regret, Kyoshi remained an important arbiter of the haiku world. Even today, he
is sometimes referred to as “the haiku saint” (hai-sei: the same title
as given to Bashô), and treated as though he were a demigod. There are several
other conservative-traditional poets listed as Haiku War Criminals who have
been treated in a similar fashion.
“Prosecution for Haiku War Criminals” movement did not progress well. The main
reason for this was that the master-disciple system of the haiku world was a
major obstacle. The conservative-haiku poets offered an opposing argument of
the master-disciple system theory. That is, that “the masters” of the New
Rising Haiku poets were “the Four S” haiku poets, especially Seishi and Shûôshi.
“The Four S” poets had originally belonged to the Hototogisu group, and hence
“the master” of these poets would have to be Kyoshi. Therefore, in terms of
lineage, Kyoshi is rightfully “the master” of the New Rising Haiku poets, and
his “disciples” have as a result no grounds to object to Kyoshi. From a
contemporary Western viewpoint, this theory may seem irrational if not totally
absurd; nonetheless, this logic muted the whistle‑blowing. The liberal
haiku poets at the time felt anger, but they could neither well refute the
irrational logic, nor sway the haiku community with any real impact. In 1958,
Saitô Sanki remarked, “Our teachers were from Hototogisu; we too, due to this
link, are the disciple’s disciples—this way of thinking overwhelmed us and defeated
us” (Tajima, 239). Via such irrational logic, the “Prosecution for Haiku War
Criminals” movement finally dissolved.
severe criticism came from outside the haiku world. In November, 1946, in the
magazine Sekai (The World), Kuwabara Takeo (1904-1988), a scholar of
French literature, published an article on haiku titled, “A Second Class Art:
The Case of Gendai Haiku” (daini geijutsu ron: gendai haiku ni tsuite; gendai
in this context means, merely, “contemporary”). In the essay, he presented a
list of haiku without authors’ names given, and asked readers to find which
haiku were authoritative and which were not, following the critical theory of
I. A. Richards, who, to summarize, had insisted that the value of poetry should
be found apart from any background context. This task proved to be quite
difficult. Kuwabara argued that if haiku do not have “internal” value, then the
haiku genre is neither poetry nor art. He wrote, “If you consider haiku to be
an art, I recommend that you call it ‘the second class art,’ and discriminate
between ‘the second class art’ and other fine arts” (85). Today this essay
seems overstated; contemporary scholars do not seek to apply New Criticism to
haiku, as the form is too short for proper application, and there are
additional reasons, a discussion beyond the scope of this article.
Notwithstanding, Kuwabara’s essay stemmed from his anger at the feudalistic
attitude and hierarchy of the haiku world. He commented that,
Concerning modern haiku, it is
difficult to define the status of a haiku poet by his haiku alone. Therefore
the status of the haiku poet has to be defined not by the author’s haiku but by
some other measure of status. In the haiku world [this is]: . . . the number of
disciples, the circulation numbers of the magazine, and the power of the haiku
poet as a measure of the haiku world. . . . For example, Kyoshi and Arô are not
merely individual haiku poets, rather they are merely the Grand Master of Hototogisu
and the leader of Shakunage. . . . They are feudalistic companions
essay caused a great sensation; though Kyoshi himself gave no response to it
for seven years. On the other hand, Shûôshi responded: “Haiku cannot be
appreciated by a person who does not write haiku” (Kuwabara, 73). Recalling
that the master-disciple logic muted the whistle-blowing, it follows that if
only an insider of the haiku world is allowed to criticize haiku, and if that
insider’s voice can be suppressed by the power of the haiku authority—who then
would there be available to criticize haiku? Shûôshi’s response reveals to us
the feudalistic aspect of haiku world, and serves as well to explain Kuwabara’s
contrast to the rather stark feudalistic atmosphere described, the haiku poet
accused as an Article B haiku War Criminal, Katô Shûson, admitted with great
gravity the historical mistake of the haiku world. He said that there had been
a serious defect in the haiku world, “due to the fact that in the modern era,
haiku had lost sense of the ‘human.’ . . . Why did haiku loose the sense of the
‘human’? The reason for this was the attitude of the haiku poets” (Kaneko, waga
sengo, 127). Shûson’s words arose from his regret and apology for his
wartime activity. Kyoshi, after his seven-year silence, made the following
statement: “Haiku did finally become a second class art! This was good”
(Kaneko, waga sengo, 85); this obtuse remark remained his only response.
polemic gave those involved in haiku the chance to think once again about the
existing condition of haiku. In order to refute Kuwabara’s thesis, many haiku
poets and scholars became inspired to write their own articles. Yamamoto
Kenkichi (1907-1988) pointed out the uniqueness of haiku. In the same year of
the publication of Kuwabara’s essay, he published a series of essays in the
book, Greetings and Humor (aisatsu to kokkei). Within, he
discussed the uniqueness of haiku and haiku culture from three viewpoints: the
haiku party (kukai); greetings (aisatsu); unconventional humor (kokkei);
and the time‑sense and effect of cutting words (kireji).
first essay of the series is titled, “The Termination of the Sense of Time,”
which states that the existent condition which formally connotes haiku is not
17-on, not kigo, but the kireji (the cutting-word). Deeply
regarding the unique tradition of haiku, Kenkichi attempted to re-discover and
re-define its value. In the same year, to refute the Kuwabara thesis via their
own haiku compositions, young haiku poets gathered together and founded the magazine
Kaze (Wind). The most notable member of this magazine was Kaneko Tohta,
who became the principal leader of the postwar gendai haiku movement. In 1948,
the New Rising Haiku poets also founded Tenrô (Wolf of Heaven).
the first volume of Tenrô, Saitô Sanki ‘howls’:
Haiku does not arise from a
lukewarm spirit, but rather from a blazingly adamantine spirit. . . . We were
severely denounced and it was suggested that ‘haiku should perish.’ In order to
affirm that ‘neither we nor haiku shall perish,’ we must deeply reflect on the
spoiled and lukewarm attitude of the past era (Saitô, 20).
Sanki did himself deeply reflect upon this theme. Sometime later, in his
autobiographical writing, Kobe, Kobe Again, and the Tales of a Haiku Fool
(1954-1960), he wrote,
The New Rising Haiku movement was
destroyed by repeated persecutions. However, the New Rising Haiku poets were
not exterminated. These poets experienced a time of forced silence after the
persecution and the flames of war—both at the same time. During this period,
the poets reflected on the development of the New Rising Haiku movement [and
through their reflections made] . . . the discovery of the link between the
spirit of the New Rising Haiku and those classic haiku on the bookshelf in an air-raid
shelter (quoted in Kaneko, waga sengo, 94).
reflections were inherited by the younger generation, especially Kaneko Tohta.
Accordingly, in his view, the New Rising Haiku movement has continued to evolve
into the postwar gendai haiku movement we know today. At the beginning of the
postwar era, the New Rising Haiku poets, along with other like-minded poets,
founded new groups such as the New Haiku Poets Association (Shin Haikujin
Renmei), the Modern Haiku Association (Gendai Haiku Kyôkai), and the
Association of Haiku Poets (Haijin Kyôkai). As well, the Hototogisu
School founded the Association of Japanese Classical Haiku (Nihon Dentô
Haiku Kyôkai), and the traditional haiku of Hototogisu remains popular
is unfortunate that so many of the achievements of the New Rising Haiku poets
should at this point in time lie buried within the dark history of the Imperial‑fascist
wartime era. It may be that due to any number of uncomfortable events and
facts, the creative advent and evolution of the New Rising Haiku movement has
been neglected in comparison to traditional haiku, which in its history
seemingly overleaps the wartime period in finding continuity with the
Hototogisu School of an earlier, Shiki-inspired era. Though its wartime
achievements, the gendai haiku movement has given us a great gift, allowing us
to reflect on both the vitality and essence of haiku.
form of literature is free from the changing conditions of its social context.
My strongest motivation for the writing of this essay has been to relate
historical facts to readers, especially those international readers who may be
unaware of the context in which gendai haiku has evolved over the last century.
The world of Japanese haiku remains vibrant today— its existence and value did
not end in the medieval era of Bashô, but has continued to develop in both our
real, literal lives and in our evolving aesthetic sensibility. Haiku is not
merely a hobby, it is a literature. To create a good literature, one has to be
honest with one’s heart, and haiku poets are no exception. The New Rising Haiku
poets, in confronting tragic situations with a genuine and courageous heart,
have created a poetic treasure which remains of value to all haiku poets and
appreciators of culture.
of all, I wish thank Associate Professor Richard Gilbert (Kumamoto University),
for his editing help and his encouragement. And I also owe my haiku teachers
Morisu Ran, Hoshinaga Fumio, and the Modern Haiku Association my gratitude. I
would also like to thank publisher Jim Kacian of Red Moon Press for the
monograph, which has given this essay an international audience.
Japanese names are written in the family-name-first style. Also, the prose
translations from primary sources are my own, and were co-edited to achieve
their final form.
(Negationism) and the Image of Takahama Kyoshi
icon of the traditional (dentô) haiku world, Takahama Kyoshi was one of
the two main disciples of Masaoka Shiki, the leader and main force of the
Hototogisu haiku journal and group, which brought haiku into the 20th
century. As has been the case with several celebrated cultural figures in
postwar Japan, forms of historical revisionism, and particularly negationism,
“a process that attempts to rewrite history by minimizing, denying or simply
ignoring essential facts,” has been at work for many decades now (Wiki:
“Historical Revisionism”). Negationism concerning Kyoshi’s involvement
in wartime persecution, racial discrimination, fascist nationalism, etc.,
throughout the 15-year wartime period in Japan (1931-45) has been instrumental
in shaping his postwar image. The purpose of this Addendum is to present
historical documentation of some of Kyoshi’s wartime activities, so that an
accurately revised assessment of him can be made. Listed below are seven
prevalent contemporary statements concerning Kyoshi, oft repeated as historical
truth. The sources are left anonymous (it is not an aim of this article to
single out any particular haiku school or cultural group). Each statement is
followed by a commentary drawing upon relevant historical documentation.
Kyoshi was steadfast in his non-involvement in war mongering and was not
involved in nationalism.
fact, Kyoshi was deeply committed to war mongering and nationalist activities
for many years. In 1937, when the Japan-China War started, Kyoshi began a
special serial feature segment on the war in his Hototogisu journal. In
1939, he published war‑praising haiku in his edited anthology, The
Collected Japan-China‑War Haiku (Shina-jihen kushû). He gave
numerous lectures on “The Holy War,” not only in Japan, but in the then‑colonies
and puppet states of Japan, including Korea, Taiwan and Manchukuo. One of his
several radio lecture series, The Holy War Haiku Selection (Seisen
haiku-sen), was published in 1942.
In 1954 Kyoshi was awarded The Medal of Cultural Merit (Bunka-kunshô),
an award of great distinction. This esteemed award was never conferred upon
anyone involved in World War II propaganda, persecution, or similar activities.
truth, a number of those involved in wartime propaganda and persecution were
awarded the Medal of Cultural Merit (this Medal is also known as the Order of
Culture). This Medal or “Order” was founded in 1937 for renowned civilians (for
soldiers, there was the Order of the Golden Kite (Kinshi Kunshô),
established in 1890). The Medal of Cultural Merit can be conferred by the
Emperor upon any renowned person.
example, the General-President of the Imperial-fascist “Japanese Literary
Patriotic Organization JLPO (Nihon bungaku hôkokukai),” Tokutomi Sohô
(1863-1957), who was also a promoter of the ratification of the “Axis
Tripartite Pact,” a Class-A War-Criminal, was awarded the Medal in 1943. (Sohô
was held under arrest during the occupation of Japan, December 1945‑August
1947. The charges never came to trial, partly because of his advanced age. For
further information, see, Sihn Vihn, Tokutomi Soho, 1863-1957: The Later
Career. Toronto: University of Toronto-York University, Joint Centre on
Modern East Asia, 1986). After the war, Sohô expressed deep regret concerning
his commitment to the JLPO, returning the Medal in 1946.
are others directly involved in wartime propaganda/persecution activities who
have received the Medal. For example, Kobayashi Hideo (1902-1983) acted as a
member of the special propaganda company of the Imperial Army, a group comparable
to Germany’s “PK” (Propaganda Kompanie). In 1938, he first campaigned at
the Battle of Whuhan, China, as a member of the Imperial Army’s propaganda
company. During the war, he visited the battlefields and the occupied lands of
China, Korea and Manchukuo several times for the Literary Home-front Movement (bungei
jûgo undô). Along with his battlefield propaganda activities, he acted as
one of the Director-Trustees of the JLPO Essay Branch. After the war, in 1967,
he was awarded the Medal of Cultural Merit (cf. Etô Jun, Kobayashi
Hideo, Tokyo: Kôdansha, 1961; Sakuramoto Tomio, Bunkajin tachi no daitôa
sensô: PK-butai ga yuku [The Asia-Pacific War and Cultural Figures: The
Campaigns of the Japanese “PK”]. Tokyo: Aoki-shoten, 1993). There are numerous
Kyoshi has famously stated, “The war did not have any influence on the essence
of haiku at all. I will continue to write my haiku in the same consistent
style.” This statement has been interpreted to mean that Kyoshi’s haiku
activity was free from the socio-political circumstances of the war; that he
wrote haiku purely in kachôfûei style—a compositional style based upon
the traditional sense of the beauty of nature and the use of officially
sanctioned season words (kigo); i.e., those found within
Hototogisu-published season-word dictionaries (saijiki). The implication
of kachôfûei style then is that Kyoshi did not write within the “Holy
War Haiku” genre (haiku which proselytized the war and Imperial‑fascism).
The argument goes that true haiku are not influenced by socio-political
circumstances, and therefore Kyoshi’s kachôfûei haiku are beyond the
temporal world and history: such haiku are emblematic of “true” and “pure”
haiku. A corollary to this logic is that the New Rising Haiku movement and its
stylism perished, not due to persecution but rather because this movement and
its poetics did not represent “true” or “pure” haiku.
Kyoshi briefly discussed his beliefs in his Autobiography (Kyoshi
Many newspaper and magazine
reporters have caught up to and queried me. The questions posed were such as
the following: “Did the war have an influence on haiku?” and, “What do think
about haiku in the postwar era?” I answered, “The war did not have any influence
on the essence of haiku at all. I will continue to write my haiku in the same
consistent style” (Takahama Kyoshi, Teihon Takahamakyoshi zenjyû [The
Entire Collected Works of Takahama Kyoshi], vol.13, Tokyo: Mainichi Newspaper
Press, 1973, p. 407).
two statements, “The war did not have any influence on the essence of haiku at
all,” and “I will continue to write my haiku in the same consistent style,”
quoted above, are known as “Kyoshi’s famous statement.” Notwithstanding, Kyoshi
published not a few haiku during the war. For example, in the Hototogisu
Journal of March 1942, he published his “Conquering Singapore” war haiku
is shocking to discover that in the massive 15-volume collection, The Entire
Collected Works of Takahama Kyoshi (1973-75), and in virtually all books
one finds on Kyoshi, whether discussing his work or biography, his war-haiku
works are completely excluded and his activities over the long wartime
years are not mentioned, or at most lightly glossed. This purposeful
whitewashing is a blatant example of negationism.
the risk of stating the obvious, the New Rising Haiku schools did not perish.
In fact, these poets resumed their creative activities after the war. The New
Rising Haiku movement continued to evolve and flourishes today as the modern
haiku (gendai haiku) movement.
Kyoshi directly protected and supported poets who were experiencing persecution
by the Fascist government, such as Nakamura Kusatao (1901-1983), whom he
protected from the Secret Police, at great risk to himself.
have it that, “When one of the Director-Trustees of JLPO, Ono Bushi
(1889-1943), urged him to accuse Nakamura Kusatao, Kyoshi rejected this demand
and kept protecting Kusatao.” However, this assumption is doubtful. Kusatao
himself insists that Kyoshi warned Kusatao to: “Write haiku in kachôfûei
style [the style of Kyoshi’s Hototogisu School] or you shall be arrested — do
you know about the arrests in Kyoto and elsewhere?” Kusatao himself also
reports that a Hototogisu haiku poet and one of the directors of the
Imperial-fascist JLPO Organization, Tomiyasu Fûsei (1885‑1979), warned
that “an arrest warrant for you [Kusatao] has already been issued.” When Fûsei
presented these facts to Kusatao, Kyoshi was in attendance. So, the warning can
be understood to be a threat. As a consequence of this warning/threat, Kusatao
resigned from the Hototogisu group (cf. Kosakai, Shouzô, Mikoku:
Showa haiku danatsu jiken [Betrayer/Informer: Showa era haiku persecution],
Tokyo: Diamond-sha, 1979, pp. 170-85).
why was it that Kusatao was not arrested? The reasons do not have to do with
Kyoshi’s intervention. In fact, Ono Bushi attempted to arrest Kusatao,
collaborating with the infamous Secret Police high officer Abe Gengi
(1894-1989), head of the Internal Ministry Secret Police Bureau (Naimusho
Keiho Kyoku-chô). (Abe is listed as a Class A War Criminal by the
International Military Tribunal for the Far East.) The arrest was never made,
partly because Bushi was suffering from a severe illness, and also Abe Gengi
was reluctant because his close friend, Umeji Shinzô (1885-1968), a scholar of
physics, was opposed to it. To explain this relationship a bit further, Umeji
was Kusatao's senior colleague (sempai) at Seikei High School (today’s
Seikei University). Seikei High School was founded by the Mitsubishi Zaibatsu
group as an elite educational institution with a seven-year course of study,
and the teachers carried the title of “Professor.” As Professor Umeji Shinzo
had high social status and was opposed to Kusatao’s arrest, the plot to arrest
Kusatao was delayed and Bushi passed away during this interim. Kusatao thus
escaped arrest by the Secret Police due to such happenstances. Concerning the
case of Kusatao, Kyoshi never performed an act of heroism, or any such thing (cf.
Ehime Newspaper ed. Nakamura Kusatao: hito to sakuhin [Nakamura Kusatao:
his personality and works], Ehime: Ehime Newspaper Press, 2002).
Kyoshi had nothing to do with the suppression of the New Rising Haiku poets or
movement, during the wartime period.
is true that Kyoshi did not himself personally command the Secret Police
to persecute New Rising Haiku poets. However, he maintained a strong attitude
against the New Rising Haiku. In 1939, Kyoshi himself censored the comprehensive
haiku anthology, Haiku Sandaihû [The Haiku Trilogy], ordering the
publisher to exclude the all works of the New Rising Haiku poets. This was a
direct action, but his indirect actions were much more significant. That is,
Kyoshi was the center and main instigator of a neo‑fascist
nationalist/traditionalist haiku ideology, which maintained a strong opposition
to the New Rising Haiku. This ideology itself became closely allied with
Imperial‑fascist nationalism, persecution, and the suppression the New
Rising Haiku. Unfortunately, this ideology of intolerance, elitism and far‑right‑wing
nationalism continues in some quarters today.
Kyoshi never expressed any regret concerning his wartime activities, because he
did not commit any action for which an expression of regret was called for.
wonders about Kyoshi’s sense of privilege and entitlement. When the air-raids
became a fearsome burden, he moved to the rural countryside, Komoro, in Nagano
Prefecture. In the countryside, he spent a quiet, pleasant time. However, he
remained the President of JLPO Haiku Branch, and continued to earn a hefty
salary from the Intelligence Bureau. Kyoshi’s negation of his own wartime
activities may reveal a lack of a sense of social responsibility, a continuing
belief in the appropriateness of his ideology, or both.
Kyoshi never used his Presidential post and/or artistic influence to glorify
the war or government, and in fact he never spoke of these matters at all.
the war, Kyoshi acted a chief member of several culture-control/propaganda
organizations. In 1940, he became the President of Japan Haiku Poets
Association (nihon haiku sakka kyôkai), which acted to control
the haiku world for the promotion of “The Holy War.” In December 1941 (the
month of the Pearl Harbor Attack, Invasion of the Malay Peninsula, Hong Kong,
The Philippines, Thailand, etc.), he attended the Patriot Conference of
Literary Writers (bungakusha aikoku taikai), and in a highly prominent
role gave a historically significant speech, reading aloud “The Imperial Great
Declaration of War against America and Britain,” in the name of the Emperor.
Included in Figure 1, below, is a newspaper report of this event.
1942, the umbrella organization under the Fascist Intelligence Office, the
Japanese Literary Patriotic Organization (the JLPO: Nihon bungaku hôkoku kai)
was founded. Kyoshi was one of the five original signatories. See Figure 2
below, which is a photocopy of this document. Kyoshi then became the President
of the Haiku Branch of the JLPO. One of the JLPO’s activities, which he
organized, involved the raising of funds for the Imperial Army and Navy.
Furthermore, as President of the Haiku Branch of the JLPO he attended the Great
Asia Writers Conference (daitôa bungakusha taikai), which attempted to
“reform” or “re-educate” writers in the Japanese colonies around Asia to become
‘good and worthy’ Imperial subjects. Kyoshi remained president of the Haiku
Branch of the JLPO throughout the entire course of the war.
a cursory examination of Takahama Kyoshi in relation to historical negationism
reveals that Kyoshi these days is generally considered a heroic and indeed
saintly figure, one whose actions and works are seen as worthy of esteem, both
within the traditional haiku world and in the wider cultural arena. It is
disturbing to discover the extent to which historical truths have been removed
from the official record of his life (including educational textbooks). Indeed,
an entirely fictitious picture of a “haiku saint” (an epithet with which he is
often referred) has resulted.
painful historical truths of Kyoshi’s life need to be acknowledged, along with
the fact that Kyoshi has also left us haiku masterpieces. By way of comparison,
it is worth considering the contemporary valuation of Western luminaries such
as Ezra Pound and Martin Heidegger, who both advocated National Socialism; in
Germany Heidegger famously joined the Nazi Party and informed on colleagues,
while Pound preached National Socialism and Anti‑Semitism in Italy; both
are held accountable and accessed concerning these activities, in the light of
history. By contrast, Kyoshi’s involvement in Japanese Imperial‑fascism
was much more direct and potent then Heidegger or Pound: he was a leader and policymaker,
allied with the highest levels of the Imperial‑fascist government. In the
West there has occurred a lengthy multi‑generational process of exposing
WWII war criminals—the necessity for a public presentation of criminal
responsibility for war crimes is an ethical given. In Japan, the exigencies of
the Cold War and need for a rapid rebuilding of the country caused much to be
swept under the rug, and this has partly resulted in a conspiracy of silence.
Only of late, and after long delay, are certain uncomfortable wartime facts
returning to light. We cannot and must not negate these historical
truths. Kyoshi’s accomplishments in the field of haiku need to be evaluated
within the wider context of his social and political actions, rather than in
denial of them.
1. Takahama Kiyoshi Reads the Declaration of War at the Patriot Conference
of Literary Writers.
and photo: Asahi Newspaper, December 25, 1941 (reprinted in Nihon
bungakuhôkokukai [The Japanese Literary Patriotic Organization
(JLPO)], Sakuramoto Tomio, Tokyo: Aoki Shoten, 1995, p. 63.)
1) Title: hotobashiru
aikoku no netsujyô
[An Outpouring of
2) Subtitle: kessenka
no bungakusha taikai
[Men of Letters
Confer Under Decisive Battle]
3) Body text: first two
under the great support of Taisei Yokusankai [the ‘right-socialist’
government of the Totalitarian State], one of the Cultural Persons’ Patriot
Conferences, the Patriot Conference of Literary Writers, was held on December
24, at the third floor conference room of the Taisei Yokusankai Building. It
began at 1:30 in the afternoon. Under the “Decisive Battle,” around 350
writers with ardent patriotic hearts gathered from the whole literary world:
the poetry world, the tanka world, and the haiku world. It was surely an
epoch-making conference, due to the mobilization of all these writers. As
well, in order to create an exceptionally well-ordered totalitarian writers
organization, [i.e. the “Japanese Literary Patriotic Organization (JLPO)”],
29 committee members were elected, including Kikuchi Hiroshi (a.k.a. Kikuchi
Kan) (1888-1948). The Conference began with the “National Ceremony” — the
salute, and worship in the direction of the Imperial Palace; the singing of
the National Anthem; prayers of reverence and gratitude to the war dead; and,
a silent prayer for the Imperial Army’s victories and fortune, followed by Takahama
Kyoshi reading aloud of the “Imperial Great Declaration of the War against
America and Britain” in the name of the Emperor. After Kyoshi’s
reading of the Declaration of the War, speeches of praise were made by the
Vice-President of Taisei Yokusankai, Ando Kizaburo (1879-1954), and the
President of the Intelligent Bureau, Tani Masayuki (1889-1962) this was
followed by …” [emphasis mine].
Body text: Last four lines:
Conference, the writers were arranged in three quads, and paraded to the
Imperial Palace from the Taisei Yokusankai Building, in four columns; and in
front of the Imperial Palace, the attendant writers all shouted “banzai”
[long life to the Emperor!] three times, and thus the conference was party
was completed, with this deeply heartfelt expression.”
Please note that at the green 4)
the name “Takahama Kiyoshi” appears. (Additional notes to Figure 1 follow the
“Endnotes” section, below.)
Kiyoshi: One of five founding members of the Imperial‑fascist JLPO
Title: Nihon bungaku hôkokukai,
dai nippon genron hôkokukai: bungakuhôkokukai setsuritsu kenkei shorui
[The official documents of the foundation of “The Japanese Literary Patriotic
Organization (JLPO)” and “Japan Patriot Literary Speech Organizations”],
(Kansai University Library (ed.), Osaka: Kansai University Press, 2000, vol.
1, p. 69.)
Text: On Showa 17 (1943) May 26, at
the Supreme-General Conference of the Japanese Literary Patriotic
Organization (JLPO), the following issues were decided, according to the
opinion of the chairperson Kikuchi Hiroshi (a.k.a. Kikuchi Kan, 1888-1948):
The appointment of the Foundation Committee was authorized by the
Council. The Council appointed the following five persons [listed on
the left, with personal signature seals]. The Foundation Committee members
elected Kume Masao (1891-1952) as their representative, on the same day
(Showa 17, May 26).
Committee members’ real names (not pen names) with their seals are on the
left side of the page. They are]:
(Takahama Kyoshi) (1874-1959)
Tokuda Sueo (Tokuda
Please note that: 高濱清Takahama Kiyoshi: real name. 高濱虚子 Takahama Kyoshi: pen-name.
reveals that Kyoshi (Kiyoshi) was a chief founding member of the JLPO
List of the 46
Arrested Haiku Poets
February 14, 1940: First wholesale
arrest of Kyôdai Haiku
新木瑞雄 Araki Mizuo
辻曽春 Tsuji Sôshun
(岸風三楼 Kishi Fûsanrô
May 3, 1940: Second wholesale arrest
of Kyôdai Haiku
三谷昭 Mitani Akira
August, 1940: Third arrest of Kyôdai
西東三鬼 Saitô Sanki
February, 1941: Wholesale arrest
of the four major New Rising Haiku
島田青峰 Shimada Seihô
古家榧夫 Furuya Kayao
東京三 Higashi Kyôzô
(a.k.a. 秋元不死男Akimoto Fujio)
細谷源二 Hosoya Genji
小西兼尾 Konishi Kakeo
神代藤平 Kamiyo Tôhei
November, 1941: Wholesale arrest of
the Yamanami group
June, 1943: The wholesale arrest of
the Kirishima and Ujiyama-Keitoujin-kai groups
December, 1943: The arrest of the
1 The series of wars initiated by the
Imperial-fascist government of Japan, 1931-1945, from the battle of Manchuria
to the end of the Pacific War.
2 Hasegawa Sosei (1907-1946) was a
graduate of Kyoto University and a founding member of the Kyôdai Haiku group.
He insisted upon applying traditional haiku style, and left the group, entering
the Hototogisu School and then, the front-lines of the war. On the battlefield
he wrote many war haiku. His war haiku collection was published as Hôsha
(Gun Carriage). Due to Kyoshi and other haiku poets' praises, his book became a
bible of Holy War Haiku, and as a result greatly promoted Holy War haiku. After
the war he was accused as a Haiku War Criminal; however, some of his works can
also be read as anti-war expressions. His valuation remains controversial among
examples along with others have been
co-translated by myself and Richard Gilbert (Associate Professor, Kumamoto University),
and have appeared in NOON: Journal of the Short Poem 4 (Philip Rowland,
ed., Tokyo, 2006).
4 The disciples of Ogiwara Seisensui
(1884-1974), the free-verse haiku poets Kuribayashi Issekiro and Hashimoto Mudô,
together founded the Proletariat Haiku Poets Association (puroretariahaijin
dômei) in 1931, and their journals were banned five times—including Haiku
Seikatsu, whose publication was the immediate cause of arrests undertaken
by the Secret Police (Asano, 147).
5 “The Peace Preservation Law (chian
iji hô),” went into force in 1925 for the persecution of communism, was
strengthened in 1928 and once again in 1941 to include the persecution of any
liberal thoughts which could be against “The Imperial Order (kokutai).”
In the first article, the law clearly states that any crime against “The
Imperial Order” is punishable by death. Using this law, the Secret Police
arrested many people. However, the Secret Police tended to produce “converted”
people rather than perform executions. According to the record of the Shihô-shô
(the Ministry of Justice of Japan during the wartime constitution), the number
of victims of this law were listed in the following statistics: 75,681 people
were sent to prosecutors, 5,162 people were indicted. There was no record of
execution under this law. However, the above statistics deal only with the
numbers of the people who were “officially” sent to prosecutors. There were
many unrecorded arrests and victims. In fact, the name of the haiku poet Kishi
Fûsanrô is not recorded in the “official” record of the wartime government.
According to the statistics given by the League of the State Compensation
Requirement for the peace Preservation Law Victims (chian iji hô giseisha
kokka baishô yôkyû dômei), 65 people were killed extra‑judically, 114
died due to torture, 1,503 died due to disease caused by filthy prisons, and
half a million people were arrested. As well, in Korea, Taiwan, Manchuria, and
other colonies, many people were arrested, and many were tortured and executed
under this law.
6 The draft of “The Humanity Declaration”
in English was written by R. H. Blyth, the very author who published the four
volumes of Haiku (1949-52), which did much to bring about a North
American renaissance in haiku.
7 During wartime, the censorship of the
haiku magazine Kanrai was relatively loose because an officer of the
Imperial General Headquarters was a prominent member. Therefore, to an extent,
the magazine was able to serve as a place to foster the younger generation,
including Kaneko Tohta. However, after the war, the relationship with the army
was revealed, and many young haiku poets left the magazine. The incident was
led by Harako Kôhei, (1919-) and called “a tiny coup” (Kanekao, Waga sengo,
97). Throughout the resulting turbulence, Kaneko Tohta remained at the magazine
for a time, playing the role of mediator between the sides of Shûson and Kôhei.
8 He was soon released, and not listed in
the Secret Police Journal, so some scholars do not count him as a victim.
9 He was suspected of being a spy not by
such agencies but by his friends. Sanki was arrested on several different
occasions, but each time quickly released. Because of this repetition of arrest
and quick release, poet-colleagues suspected that he was a Secret Police spy.
However, this arrest pattern turned out to be a Secret Police tactic. Each
further suspicion begat new suspicion among the haiku poets, so that the haiku
groups lost some of their unity. These suspicions remained for some years after
the war, but after Saitô’s death, and following a thorough review of the
evidence, the Court in a 1983 ruling pronounced him innocent on all counts.
1: Additional Notes
1) Taisei Yokusankai (the “Imperial Rule Assistance
Association,” or “Imperial Aid Association”) was created in 1940 by Japanese
Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoye (1891-1945), who decided to end party politics
in Japan. Under the Shintaisei Doctrine he moved to dissolve all the traditional
parties. As a replacement there was the Taisei Yokusankai, a
"right-socialist" entity or umbrella group. Its creation therefore
was equivalent to making the Empire of Japan a single-party state. The
President of Taisei Yokusankai was to be the Prime Minister, so at the time of
the Conference, the President was Tôjo Hideki (1884-1948), then-Prime Minister
of Taisei Yokusankai. This ‘entity’ also developed a public surveillance and
monitoring system, known as Tonarigumi. (cf. Wikipedia: Taisei Yokusankai; in Japanese at: http://tinyurl.com/247zfs. Also see: Wikipedia:
Tonarigumi; and in Japanese here: http://tinyurl.com/2qnttt.)
2) The Imperial Great Declaration of
the War against America and Britain
(Sensen no taishô or Sensen no shôchoku) was published on December 8,
1941, the same date in Japan as the Pearl Harbor attack and the Imperial Army’s
Invasion of the Malay Peninsula. The text contained in the document was
believed to be the voice of the “living-god.” The contents emphasized the war
as a necessity of self-defense (English/Japanese: http://tinyurl.com/2sbtaq). The first recitation of this
Declaration was heard by radio, on the Broadcasting Corporation of Japan
(today’s NHK) station, at 11:40 a.m., December 8, 1941 (Japanese time and
date). It was read by the radio newscaster Nakamura Shigeru. This radio recitation
was performed in order to spread the Declaration among the common people. On
the other hand, Kyoshi’s recitation some two weeks later was designed as a
singular event to arouse patriot passion toward the war among leading figures
and groups in the literary world.
3) Ando Kizaburô (1879-1954), was a Lieutenant
General of the Imperial Army and a Vice-President of Taisei Yokusankai. Between
1943-1944 he was elected to the Cabinet of Tôjo Hideki, becoming the Minister
of Internal Affairs. After the war he was sentenced as Class-A War Criminal.
Due to the outbreak of the Cold War he was later released.
Tani Masayuki (1889-1962) was the President of
the Intelligence Bureau. After the war he was also sentenced as a Class-A War Criminal.
As with Ando Kizaburô, above, due to the outbreak of the Cold War he was later
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