The Thai–Japanese Cultural Research Institute (Nippon–Tai Bunka Kenkyusyo) opened in Bangkok on December 21, 1938, with a subsidy from the Cultural Affairs Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and closed on July 31, 1943, was a pioneer of organized Japanese cultural promotion projects in Thailand. The institute’s two main functions were Japanese language education and promotion of Japanese culture.
During four and a half years, Thai–Japanese Cultural Research Institute published 16 publications introducing Japan, focusing on Japanese culture and Japanese Buddhism, for distribution and sale in Thailand.
There are many existing studies on Japanese language education of the Institute. On the other hand, there seems to be a dearth of comprehensive research on its promotion of Japanese culture, which is still underdeveloped.
This article describes the career of Tsusho Byodo (born in February 1903 and died in September 1993), who lived in Thailand for more than two years and seven months from the end of October 1940 to the beginning of June 1943 as the second director of the Institute, and was the first person to implement a full-scale publicity program for Japanese culture in modern Thailand.
Byodo is also the abbot of Zenkyoji Temple of the Nishi Honganji sect of Shinshu Buddhism. Through his experiences in India, the Buddhist Youth Association movement, international Buddhist information exchanges, and civilian employee of Japanese Army during the Sino–Japanese War, Byodo developed the philosophy of ‘Koa-Kobutsu’(Revitalize Asia and Revitalize Buddhism), based on Japanese Buddhism. With this philosophy, he was posted to the Buddhist nation of Thailand in October 1940, where he introduced Japanese Buddhism to the Thai people. Herein lies the distinctive feature of his cultural activities in Thailand.
He criticized ordained Thai Buddhists from the standpoint that Japanese Buddhism was superior to Thai Buddhism, and proposed a plan for reform of Thai Buddhism that expected the role of lay Thai Buddhists.
This paper first details the career of Byodo until he was appointed as the director of The Thai–Japanese Cultural Research Institute in Bangkok in October 1940, and then details his activities during his tenure as the director.
Byodo Tsusho was born in 1903 as the eldest son of the abbot of Zenkyoji in a rural area near Yokohama. Zenkyoji was a wealthy temple that owned rice field with an income of several dozen bales of tenant rice crops every year, which enabled both Tsusho and his younger brother Bunsei to attend Tokyo Imperial University. Near Zenkyoji was the Sanneji Temple of Shaku Kozen (1849–1924), who was ordained in Ceylon in 1890 as a Bhikkhu of Theravada Buddhism and maintained strict precepts for the rest of his life. Tsusho was inspired by Shaku Kozen’s presence and became interested in Southern Buddhism. With a desire to become a scholar of Indology, Tsusho enrolled in the Department of Sanskrit Literature in the Faculty of Letters of Tokyo Imperial University in 1923 and went on to graduate school in 1926. His master’s thesis was published in 1930 as a co-authored work with his advisor, Professor Kimura Taiken (1881–1930). Tsusho was sympathetic to socialism, perhaps due to social circumstance in the 1930s. His younger brother Bunsei joined the communist movement and went to China after his arrest and conversion.
With the recommendation of his former teacher Takakusu Junjiro (1866–1945), Byodo Tsusho was able to obtain a scholarship from Nishi Honganji in 1933. He chose to study at the Visva-Bharati of Rabindranath Tagore in Santiniketan, India. Since he was treated as a visiting professor at Visva-Bharati, he was able to call himself a professor during his stay in Thailand.
In Bangkok, there have been brothels with karayuki-san (Japanese prostitutes) since around 1885. This was before the signing of the Declaration of Amity and Commerce between Japan and Siam on September 26, 1887. This declaration opened diplomatic relations between Japan and Thailand, and since then, Japanese merchants, Buddhist monks, and others have been visiting Thailand. Karayuki-san were the first group of Japanese to settle in modern Thailand. For 30 years from the 1890s to the 1910s, there were roughly four Japanese hotels (brothels) in Bangkok that also served as Western-style bars, and there were 20 to 30 Karayuki-san altogether. Their main customers were Westerners.
In addition to Bangkok, karayuki-san also existed in Chanthaburi, which was occupied by the French from 1893 to 1904, and in Phuket during the boom years from 1916 to around 1917.
The long-running Bangkok hotels (brothels) include the Fuji Hotel, which was run by a Japanese woman known as Grandma Shanghai (Old Lady from Shanghai), as well as the Asahi Hotel and the Bangkok Hotel. Grandma Shanghai run the Fuji Hotel for 30 years, from around 1890 to 1920.
The Thai government enforced the Venereal Disease Prevention Law in 1908 to control whorehouses and prostitutes; during one year, 172 Thai whorehouses (950 prostitutes), 134 Chinese whorehouses (1441 Cantonese prostitutes), 6 Vietnamese whorehouses (58 prostitutes), and 7 Lao whorehouses (50 prostitutes) were registered, but Japanese and Westerners avoided registration as both prostitutes and whorehouses. Compared to the scale of Thai and Chinese whorehouses and prostitutes, the Japanese figures of four whorehouses and around 20 prostitutes were incomparably smaller.
The concept of “human-pet coexistence” in Japan has gained increasing attention of late, as evidenced in a bevy of policy-making by national and local governments, as well as by non-governmental associations. Despite this proliferation in governance concerning pet and human interaction, however, a plethora of media reports inform of considerable troubles and conflicts among pets and people, including ones involving no-pet owners on local streets, parks, and in communities. Yet, the policy of human-pet coexistence provides few tips for actors to rely on to solve these issues in real situations. Notwithstanding, the concept of human-pet coexistence itself has been called for in contemporary Japanese society.
This paper elaborates on troubles gone through by agents in Japan’s pet industry and actions taken by the agents to solve the issues, from 27 qualitative interviews and participant observation the author conducted in urban settings throughout 2022. It uncovers agents’ attitudes as they engaged with other actors in their fields. These practices appear to resonate with Okura’s (2020) concept of “engagement,” based on his study of a dog park in Berkeley, USA.
But the practice of engagement was not adequate to fully capture Japan’s case. Some agents in Japan insisted on the need for exiting from the troubled situation if they became entangled. What is more, this solution appeared appropriate, in as much as cats and dogs generally prefer to stay away from what they dislike, as some of my informants suggested. The conclusion finds that the human-pet relationships stand on a foundation of clear segregation between human and animal beings in contemporary Japan. If human-pet coexistence is desired in the manner noted by the informants in this study, more serious discussion among all stakeholders will be necessary to find an answer to the asymmetrical relationship that is the current norm of practice.
Econometrics is a major discipline of modern economics. Japanese economists also received doctoral degrees from American universities and spread econometrics to Japan. First, the author will explain how Japanese scholars of Asian economics are influenced by contemporary American economics, especially econometrics. Next, the author confirmed that textbooks on Asian economics published since the 1980s contain more charts than those on Asian politics. However, the number of figures and tables did not show any remarkable characteristics when compared with the year of publication of the textbook, the number of pages, the publisher, and the field of study in economics.