Detailed Pedia

Takaaki Yoshimoto

Takaaki Yoshimoto (吉本 隆明, Yoshimoto Takaaki, 25 November 1924 – 16 March 2012) also known as Ryūmei Yoshimoto, was a Japanese poet, literary critic, and philosopher from Tokyo. He is the father of Japanese writer Banana Yoshimoto and of cartoonist Yoiko Haruno.[1]

Early life

Yoshimoto was born in 1924, in Tsukishima, Tokyo. His family were boatmakers who had moved from Amakusa, Kumamoto prefecture, making small rental boats. In his teens Yoshimoto came under the influence of literature while receiving private tutoring, and began to write poetry in his teens. He was influenced by the work of Takamura Kotaro and Miyazawa Kenji. He was a 'militarist youth' during the war, but experienced the end of the war while mobilized for manual labor, and thereon became fascinated by Marxism.

Yoshimoto attended Tashima Elementary School in the Kyobashi Ward of Tokyo, Yonezawa Engineering School (Now Yamagata University), and graduated in 1947 from the Engineering Division of Tokyo Institute of Technology with a degree in Electrochemistry. During his studies, he became acquainted with the Mathematician Toyama Hiraku.

After graduation, Yoshimoto moved to industry, became a research student in 1950, and in 1952 took a position at Tokyo Ink Manufacturing Company Ltd. He continued his poetic output, writing his first representative works, Dialogue with Particularity and Ten Works for a Change in Position, and won the Arechi prize for new poets. He published a work of criticism, On Takamura Kotaro.

As a father figure to the New Left

Yoshimoto, who had pursued a theory of war responsibility of the literati, supported the movement against the 1960 Anpo treaty as an expression of the contradictions of the postwar order fifteen years after the end of the war. He was an "enthusiastic supporter" of the Zengakuren, and gave a lecture at the June 15, 1960 resistance assembly inside the National Diet.[2] Yoshimoto was arrested in the incident which followed,[3] which resulted in deaths from clashes with the police who had arrived to suppress it.[citation needed]

Afterward, Yoshimoto founded the magazine Shikkou with the like-minded Tanigawa Gan and Murakami Ichiro. The journal published articles by Miura Tsutomu, who had been expelled from the Communist Party after the critique of Stalin, his disciple Takimura Ryuichi, Nango Tsugumasa, and others. Edazawa Shunsuke and others made their debuts as critics in Shikkou.[citation needed]

Yoshimoto developed a positive theoretical discourse in the midst of the collapse of the Communist Party's heroic status and splits in the new left. Yoshimoto was widely read and supported by students and intellectuals, for his work in The Decline of a False System (1962), which developed an independent theory of the arts in the face of criticisms of the Communist Party and sectarian literary theories, emphasizing the aesthetics of language and psychological phenomena, and his concept of kyoudou gensou (共同幻想, "communal fantasy"), describing how the propaganda and militarism of the wartime era "swept away virtually the entire population in a wave of war frenzy".[4] This became a refuge for students and intellectuals exasperated by the then-current sectarian and bureaucratic Marxism. Yoshimoto's collected works were published beginning in 1968.

As a result, Yoshimoto's anti-sectarian philosophy of independence became a major influence and theoretical resource in the 1960s and 1970s for the Zengakuren, Zenkyoto, and other 'non-sect' New Leftists, and Yoshimoto came to be seen as an ancestor for some New Left activists.[5] This was in spite of his critical stance in relation to the protest and activism movement of the 60's, a stance which is a consequence of his aversion to sectarianism and party-driven movements, which he may have considered a form of kyoudou gensou (共同幻想, "communal fantasy") similar to that which had led Japan to war in the first place.[6] Yoshimoto gave qualified support to the activities of Zenkyoto.[citation needed]

From the 1980s

Beginning in the 1980s, Yoshimoto published a theory of the masses, The Mass Image, and particular a theory of the city in The High Image I-III. At this time, Yoshimoto appeared in the women's magazine AnAn wearing clothing by Comme des Garçons. Criticized by Haniya Yutaka as "wearing capitalism itself", Yoshimoto was criticized for turning right. Indeed, afterwards Yoshimoto did become more politically conservative, becoming a supporter of Ichirō Ozawa.

In the latter part of the 1980s, Yoshimoto criticized the anti-nuclear power and anti-nuclear weapons movements started by intellectual advocates of postwar democracy such as Kenzaburō Ōe as 'Anti-Nuclear Fascism".

In the 1990s, after characterizing the yoga practices of Asahara Shoko of Aum Shinrikyo as expressing the inner core of early Buddhist asceticism, Yoshimoto was criticized along with Nakazawa Shin'ichi as a defender of Aum following the Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway.

In August 1996, Yoshimoto was in critical condition after falling unconscious while swimming in Toicho, Shizuoka Prefecture, but survived. After the mid-1990s, his work tended towards informal essays.

In 2003, he won the Kobayashi Hideo Prize for his book Reading Natsume Sōseki (夏目漱石を読む), and his collected works received the Fujimura Memorial prize.

Philosophy and reception

Yoshimoto was a wide-ranging author who wrote on literature, subculture, politics, society, and religion (including Shinran and the New Testament).

Yoshimoto is known as a giant of postwar thought, and had an enormous influence in the 1960s and 1970s in Japan. He published many dialogues with overseas intellectuals visiting Japan, such as Michel Foucault, Félix Guattari, Ivan Illich, and Jean Baudrillard.

Yoshimoto, who did not hold an academic pedigree, supported intellectuals who have devoted themselves to solitary study. He has also engaged in a number of belligerent exchanges. Famous among these have been his dispute with Hanada Kiyoteru, with New Testament scholar Tagawa Kenzo, and his former friend and critic Haniya Yutaka.



  • Carl Cassegard. "From Withdrawal to Resistance. The Rhetoric of Exit in Yoshimoto Takaaki and Karatani Kojin". Archived from the original on 2015-04-26. Retrieved 2015-04-26.
  • "Literary critic Yoshimoto dies at 87". Kyodo News. Mar 17, 2012. Archived from the original on 2012-03-19. Retrieved 2015-04-26.
  1. ^ Kyodo News (2012), second-to-last paragraph
  2. ^ Cassegard, section "Maruyama Masao", final paragraph
  3. ^ Cassegard, section "Maruyama Masao", final paragraph
  4. ^ Cassegard, section "Yoshimoto Takaaki and the celebration of privatization", first paragraph
  5. ^ Cassegard, section "Yoshimoto Takaaki and the celebration of privatization", first paragraph
  6. ^ Cassegard, section "Yoshimoto Takaaki and the celebration of privatization", first paragraph. Yoshimoto's status as an influential figure to the New Left is contrasted with his criticisms of the activism of the era

This page was last updated at 2019-11-12 19:16 UTC. Update now. View original page.

All our content comes from Wikipedia and under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.