At the height of state censorship in Japan, more indexes of banned books circulated, more essays on censorship were published, more works of illicit erotic and proletarian fiction were produced, and more passages were Xed out than at any other moment before or since. As censors construct and maintain their own archives, their acts of suppression yield another archive, filled with documents on, against, and in favor of censorship. The extant archive of the Japanese imperial censor (1923-1945) and the archive of the Occupation censor (1945-1952) stand as tangible reminders of this contradictory function of censors. As censors removed specific genres, topics, and words from circulation, some Japanese writers converted their offensive rants to innocuous fluff after successive encounters with the authorities. But, another coterie of editors, bibliographers, and writers responded to censorship by pushing back, using their encounters with suppression as incitement to rail against the authorities and to appeal to the prurient interests of their readers. This study examines these contradictory relationships between preservation, production, and redaction to shed light on the dark valley attributed to wartime culture and to cast a shadow on the supposedly bright, open space of free postwar discourse. (Winner of the 2010-2011 First Book Award of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute, Columbia University)
Redacted The Archives of Censorship in Transwar Japan
The Censor's Archives and Beyond
Engraved in charcoal gray concrete above the book pickup desk at the National Diet Library (NDL) in Tokyo, an epigraph beckons to all whose eyes might wander while waiting for the vacuum tubes and conveyor belts of the archive to bring forth desired books: 真理が我らを自由にする; a translation, though nowhere attributed, of John 8:32: "Truth shall make us free." The implication is clear: the archive preserves not just books but also access to truth. The NDL advertises in this slogan the imported postwar liberal principles upon which it was founded. This adopted Miltonic tradition reasons that, in the "free marketplace" of ideas or, in this version, with open access to books, "the truth" will rise to the surface.
Assumptions abound in this seemingly simple motto of the Japanese national library: the information and knowledge contained in books lead to the truth, and truth is a universal good. The phrase memorializes an almost direct equating of the terms books, information, knowledge, and truth. Perhaps it would be desirable to have easily accessible truths housed in an institution and served up by conveyor belts, thus releasing us from our enslavement to misinformation, false ideals, half-truths, and lies. This desire is the often-proclaimed reason behind the mass digitization and internet publication of historical documents; it is imbedded in the very nature of research and discovery as defined since at least the Enlightenment; in it, there is a positivism of the most essential sort. But the dream of a library of all books, which seems closer with each new digitized book, also seems paradoxically like an illogical and, more importantly, impractical pipedream, because the bigger the archive and the more items it preserves, the more selection and exclusion are necessary to make sense of it. The dream of easy access to truth through its most distilled source-books-is a laudable aspiration, but it masks a deep anxiety about the value and use of the modern archive in practice.
In practice, the necessary archival and, lately, corporate control over not only the content but also the means of disseminating information has produced effects of regulation on expression similar to those archives aspire to eradicate. Indexing, cataloging, scanning, and posting constantly make more materials accessible today to readers around the world; and yet much is not included. The pages unscanned or misplaced, the books with mistaken catalog entries, or the materials that will never be scanned because they are the wrong size or shape: these seemingly benign, often-unavoidable mishaps of technological transfer in archival preservation and circulation shape the reception of information, the production of knowledge, and the discovery of truths. In the inevitable archive fever and quest for treasures in the library, the Truth that is supposed to be setting us free may be relinquished for numerous examples providing only the singularity of mini-truths and petit réçits, material never attaining the heights of the paragon.
And while the sort of haphazard, unintended control exercised by archival technologies shares little with the randomly enforced intentional bureaucratic forms of state censorship, its effect can be similar: cutting off access. Precisely because archives are thought to be authoritative, complete, and objective and yet are in practice incomplete, uneven, and devoid too often of information about the acquisition of their materials, archival materials and access to them is always circumscribed, often in ways that are unknown to users. Rather than setting us free, this archival control may, in fact, make us more subservient to the limited data garnered from our information providers. This means that the realization of the longings represented in that admirable NDL epigraph-the modern public archives-may reproduce the very means of repression once evinced by the state censors, albeit in comparatively less violent and more subtle ways. And in this, the recent modes of digital archival preservation and dissemination and older modes of government control and censorship are not far apart.
The stakes of the NDL's aspirations are readily apparent in the history of a collection of books it partially holds, books censored during another age and readily accessible today. The books collected by the imperial Home Ministry's office of censorship (Naimushō keihokyoku) are available now to all readers who request them. These examination copies (nōhon) of the Publishing Police (Shuppan keisatsu, 1923-1945) represent the ideals embodied in the modern library and, indeed, the postwar Japanese constitution itself. The examination copies of the censors are now so readily accessible that the digital catalog indexing the books carries only a trace of their historical experience of having been banned. So in a seeming triumph for freedom of the press, readers today may access the once-censored books without even knowing that the copy they hold in their hands was first opened and read by the censors. This chapter traces the archivization of the censor's collection to better understand what its contents might tell us and to reflect upon that which the books can never quite tell us.
An Incomplete Archive Divided
The fascinating travelogue of the archive of the Home Ministry censor's examination copies of books and serials is an important part of the meaning of the archive itself, its relation to censorship, and how we approach the materials preserved therein. The examination copies are not the thousands of volumes forcibly seized, pulped, or burned by the publishing police, but rather the books lawfully submitted by publishers for the review of the censors, the very books the censors read, marked, and saved. The censor's first collection of examination copies of banned books burned to the ground in the Great Tokyo earthquake of 1923. In its place a new archive was constructed that would house copies of all books censored starting in 1923. As a result of the loss of the previous era's banned books to flames, a policy for this new archive was started which dictated that two copies of books be submitted to the authorities, one to the Home Ministry for censorship review, and the other to the imperial library in Ueno for safekeeping. The changed policy recognized the practical, bureaucratic need to record meticulously the work done by censorship. The preservation of the books enabled censors to check, for instance, if a particular text had already been banned in a different form, as in the case of reprints, reissues, and revised editions. The policy change emphasizes the historical value of that which censors had removed from general circulation.
When submitted books were subsequently banned by the Publishing Police branch of the Home Ministry, the Ueno library would be notified and those books would be removed from general circulation and placed on a private shelf as "viewing forbidden." The line between these forbidden volumes and the general collection was more permeable than the designation alone might intimate; academics and freelance researchers had access. For example, in 1931, Umehara Hokumei (see chapter 4) received permission to read such materials in order to compile his collection of news articles banned in the Meiji period (1868-1912). Only later, in 1940, did the most restrictive rules on viewing forbidden and banned books in university libraries become formalized. The preservation of this material suggests that the policy of requiring examination copies was practiced for a limited readership of educated elite as well as for the benefit of the even more limited readership: the censors themselves.
While the books at the Ueno library remained free of the marginalia of censors, those held by the Home Ministry preserved the traces of strict legalistic readings and classifications in stamps, pencil marks, and marginal notes, setting them apart from all other copies in existence. In rare cases, this censor's archive preserves the only extant copy of a given text. Later, during the Occupation of Japan, at a time when a new archive of censorship was being formed under the Supreme Commander of Allied Powers (SCAP), the entire imperial archive of examination copies from the Home Ministry censor-several thousand banned books-was shipped to the United States and held at the Washington Document Center (WDC). The thousands of volumes and documents seized as the spoils of war from the Manchurian Railway Company's library, the Shōwa Research Society, the Japanese Imperial Navy Libraries, the Foreign Ministry Office, and the Home Ministry Office (in which censorship was housed) were kept at the WDC as evidence in the Tokyo War Crimes Trials. In the decision to impound and store the books for evidence of wartime atrocities and lawlessness, we might sense the assumption that truths contained in the information within the books would help Japan and the world return to peace and freedom after the war. However, unused for that original purpose, the books and documents were turned over to the National Archives in Washington after the Central Intelligence Group (the forerunner to the CIA) reviewed them for a different kind of evidence: information about the wartime activities of potential communist insurgents in Cold War Japan. The books were then transferred to the Library of Congress (LOC), and the documents and other paper material were kept by the National Archives.
During the early 1950s, librarians from many of the preeminent East Asian libraries in the United States were invited to Washington to help the LOC with cataloging under The Book Sorting Project, with the proviso that any triplicate volumes found could be shipped to the librarians' home institutions. Research has exhumed Home Ministry examination copies of books that bear the marks of the censors at Harvard, Columbia, Northwestern, the University of Michigan, the University of Chicago, Berkeley, and Yale. Then, in the 1970s, scholars in Japan learned of the existence of the books that remained at the LOC and encouraged the NDL in Tokyo to enter a formal request for their return. Nearly half of the censor's books then held at the LOC were returned to the NDL before the LOC changed its policy, leaving the archive divided among two major national archives and the libraries of no fewer than ten institutions of higher learning.
So the known, cataloged archive of examination copies kept by the Home Ministry censors comprises the group of books returned from the LOC to the NDL to be held in special reserve; the portion left behind at the LOC, locked in a cage indefinitely awaiting microfilming; a group absorbed into the general collection at the LOC; a number of books randomly dispersed over ten East Asian collections at universities in the United States; and some recently found at the Chiyoda Public Library in Tokyo. Though it has been convenient to use the terms the archive and the collection, clearly the collection is not whole or singular. The collection does not dwell in one physical place; it is no longer a collection. As a slash suggests, the collection/s is multiple/are divided.
The story of the archive's movements is an integral part and clear example of the dynamic relationship between preservation and destruction and between absence and presence at the center of the ways censorship functions. The value of the archive extends beyond the materials contained in it: the archiving and rearchiving of books gives a clear picture of prewar, wartime, and postwar censorships and their relationships to the dispersal of discursive power. So the presence of the examination copies should serve as a reminder of what is not present in the archives, what cannot be contained in the archive. Any archive may hold material important for reconstructing histories, but its significance is measured only in relation to that which it does not contain.
Due to their unmarked entry into general collections, these volumes are today requested, retrieved, and read simply as old books, often without knowledge of their checkered history. And while it would be good for readers of the volumes from the collection to understand their provenance (if only to know that the pencil marks in them were made not by some disrespectful reader at the library but by a state official doing their duty), it is also necessary not to overvalue their material role for the transformation of history. The largely silent absorption of books into larger collections is balanced by the degree to which (when the provenance is known) the texts are seen as treasures, a recovered lost discourse, or the outside of public wartime discourse, rather than as marginal literature on the threshold between public discourse and the unwritten. Before assessing where these archival traces might lead, we should recall that the texts are traces of that which could not be written, that which dwells in an exterior to the written and therefore to the archive.
Accounting for Banned Books, Not Discounting Violence to Books
The material contained within the archive is unique and valuable, a trove of untapped censored materials and materials produced by censors. And yet, we need to be wary of taking the archive to represent the sum total loss of books to society at the hands of the censor or of assuming that the collection represents all of the effects of the censoring of literature. In practice, any attempt to discuss the archive of imperial censorship in Japan as an archive, to arrive at some knowable censorship, requires transnational research into several archives. And even that kind of research does not resolve the issues a "pragmatic" researcher might set for him- or herself. For even if it were possible to account for and recover all the materials originally produced by the censor's office, the archive would still be incomplete, and the traces of this incompleteness can be read everywhere within the archive, from the external statistical and historical data of the archive to the marks of the censors themselves. Understanding is not limited to any archive, and it continually demands this outward gaze. And even before considering the implicit, uncountable, unpublished books suggested by the numbers of books explicitly banned, the gaps in these "real" archives are too great to bridge without recourse to other archives exterior to the Home Ministry collection: first and most obviously to the police reports, now conveniently facsimiled and preserved in several important collections; then perhaps to other libraries holding books, magazines, and manuscripts that were banned; to archives of banned literature from other periods, such as the archive of the postwar Occupation censors; and to archives of banned literature at a more distant remove, to archives of other periods and nations. The very notion of archives suggests the problem of insides and outsides, of the material and the immaterial. This has been one of the most practical problems of archival collection, from the inception of the library at Alexandria to the launch of Google Books. When the archives in question are collections of banned books, the questions of inclusion and exclusion, of implicit and explicit, are especially pressing. The state of the Japanese censor's archives reveals this dynamic relation in clear ways.
Elements excluded by the archive abound. For instance, the NDL and the LOC collections themselves include mainly the examination copies of books and serials published after the earthquake in 1923, which were originally held by the Home Ministry's Tokyo offices. As a result, materials banned nationally in the earlier period and the separate and regional variations of smaller-scale, more local police censorships are not represented. Materials from Osaka and other publishing centers outside of Tokyo are largely absent from the collection.
But even when we restrict ourselves to books banned in Tokyo from 1923 to 1945, only about a sixth of those of which we are aware exist in the archives already mentioned. Of the 29,019 titles banned after the quake, only 5,046 were taken to the United States between 1946 and 1950. Presumably the rest were either destroyed in bombing raids (as in the example of a Home Ministry warehouse being bombed in Yoshimura), absorbed into the Ueno Imperial Library and, later, the Chiyoda Library collections, or lost in transit. Of the 5,046 books taken from the Home Ministry archives by the Occupation Forces, only 1,094 were returned to the NDL between 1976 and 1979. The LOC still holds 1,115 titles listed in their catalog as having come from the censor's office. So at least 2,837 (5,046 minus 1,094 minus 1,115) titles have been "lost," absorbed into the LOC collection or other East Asian libraries around the United States with no indication of their indexing that would allow borrowers today to understand their original place of acquisition.
And this situation is repeated at the NDL. The Home Ministry examination copies of stand-alone books are held in a special collection at the NDL and bear marks that make identification easy for those trained to look for them. In addition to the 1,094 returned from the United States, that special collection holds 874 titles transferred originally from the Home Ministry office to the Ueno Imperial Library and not included in the books seized by the United States. And the NDL holds another 372 once-banned titles in its general collection. So 2,340 titles (1,094 plus 874 plus 372) are held at the NDL and cataloged with subject headings that indicate their banned status. Meanwhile, thousands of other banned volumes originally submitted to the Ueno Library as part of the system of double submission put in place after the earthquake now reside at the NDL. These other volumes carry a readable trace of their status as banned either in their current library catalog classification and indexing or in the censor's stamps readable in the books themselves. There are also unknown titles and an unknown number of examination copies from the original archive that have been absorbed into the general collections at the NDL. Finding the exact number and titles from the archive absorbed into the general collections is impractical, because there is no way of doing so short of searching in the NDL or LOC general collections for each of the estimated 29,019 titles banned between 1923 and 1945 and then examining them for marks of the Home Ministry censors.
This means between those two libraries, only 3,455 titles (1,115 plus 2,340) of the 29,019 volumes that were once held in the censor's archive have been cataloged with subject headings indicating that they were banned. This extant, labeled archive of banned books gives us only 11 percent of the imaginable total of the censor's collection.
Because the volumes have been absorbed into the general collections, researchers without the training to recognize the traces of censorship in their classifications or the censor's stamps continue to request them unknowingly and to write histories of the period often based on notions of easy access to the books that were impossible for readers at the time to buy, books that simply were not part of public discourse. This relation between the visibility and the invisibility of the books, between the books as books and the books as rare books, is a continuing theme of censorship.
This is not simply a problem of the archives of the imperial Japanese censor. Turning to the postwar period, the enormous Gordon Prange Collection at the University of Maryland holds the Occupation-period publications submitted for censorship to the occupiers in Japan (both those that were subsequently censored and those that were not) and shares many of the same problems. That collection is now unchartable in its entirety because its cataloging remains unfinished. And faced with the vast collection, we may have an urge to catalog, to wish the books of the postwar censors counted. Okuizumi Eizaburō's catalog of Prange serials, the more recent Waseda University project to maintain an online database of the serialized articles in the collection, and the transportable microfilm archive of Occupation-period serials all point to this laudable desire to see what we have. And the literary scholar Yokote Kazuhiko has compiled a volume itemizing the banned serialized literature alone. So we can now know, for instance, that the postwar censors shared their predecessors' concerns about literature insofar as the most often banned periodical during the Occupation was a right-wing poetry magazine, Fuji. But any future catalog, no matter how complete, cannot contain the full damage of the censor. The Prange does not hold films or audio recordings. Untold numbers of unreported, underground magazines (kasutori zasshi and limited run publications of small social and cultural groups) that hold a key importance for research of the Occupation period lie outside the direct purview of the censor and, therefore, beyond the scope of these postwar archives; yet as their limited print runs and curtailed circulations suggest, they were clearly not unaffected by the presence of censorship. Archives then are wonderful, useful, and necessary places to start, but never the end, if our quest is for understanding.
The Implicit-Explicit Continuum
Though counting banned materials is difficult, it is perhaps the simplest part of the picture to fill in regarding the effects of censorship. We must be wary of taking the number of banned items as the best indicator of censorship's violence to discourse at any given historical moment. Doing so would be like assessing the total damage of war based on the body count alone, discounting the effect the absenting of those bodies has on the potential future generations resulting if those bodies had lived and on other living bodies. To account for other effects of censorship-the books not written or even not imagined-we must imagine an outside of discourse even as we recognize the impossibility of the "real" existence of such a tangible outside. Unthought and unwritten notions can be brought into existence only in this thought about them. If an outside of discourse were not at the very least held to be a worthwhile provisional notion here, the ultimate violence of censorship might be disregarded. We might think that once the censor's archives are opened to the public and once-banned books can be freely read, the damage of the censorship is over. We might think that once we can fill in the gaps in the historical record that were the result of the violence of censorship to discourse, censorship ceases to function. While counting books once banned and returning them to public discourse are important steps in assessing and repairing the historical damage of censorship, such work should also account for the unreturnable and uncountable effects of censorship. At stake in a consideration of discursive exteriorities are the problematic and necessary distinctions between explicit and implicit censorships, the continuum between them, and the very terms upon which we view literature of the margin.
Both in Japanese letters and more generally in discussions of censorship, it has been difficult for critics to escape a stark dichotomy between explicit and implicit forms of censorship. As we have seen, in the late 1970s and early 1980s Etō Jun, drawing on his research at the Prange archives, claimed that where imperial censorship was known, obvious, and public, Occupation censorship had to hide its very existence, which made it all the more insidious. In response, Karatani Kōjin acknowledged Etō's insight but observed:
If we suppose the postwar Japan that was controlled by Occupation forces to be a "closed space," it is not that those Occupying forces (the United States) as well as the individual censors stand in an "exterior," but rather that they, too, are sealed within the "discursive space" that seems both exceedingly self-evident and natural.... A censorship that seems to be already censored by the censors themselves, that seems to not appear by any means as censorship to the censors, this is, as I've said, really nothing more than the true nature of censorship.
Karatani posits a larger framing exterior context to both the Japanese and the American discourses that will inevitably position them as sealed and cut off from some true freedom of speech that lies beyond their realms of possibility. Indeed, in this discussion of censorship from 1981, Karatani resituates what Etō characterizes as the latent, silent, and implicit (inbi sareteiru) censorship from the Occupation period to the 1890s; and this forcefully breaks down the strong prewar and postwar divide that Etō supports so forcefully.
Karatani begins to deconstruct the singular division suggested by Etō's work. But even as he displaces the surrender as a major turning point, he also reinscribes and strengthens the binarism between implicit and explicit censorship that Etō describes, locating it an earlier Meiji moment. Similarly, Judith Butler (for whom implicit repression is the worst kind because it masks its own tracks) lays bare the binary, but persistently maintains the distinction between an implicit and explicit censor (open state censorship):
The operation of implicit and powerful forms of censorship suggests that the power of the censor is not exhausted by explicit state policy or regulation. Such implicit forms of censorship may be, in fact, more efficacious than explicit forms in enforcing a limit on speakability. Explicit forms of censorship are exposed to a certain vulnerability precisely through being more readily legible.
Here Butler clings to a notion that there can be explicit forms of censorship removed from the more insidious implicit ones and that, further, the explicit ones are easier to resist. Yet, even though she maintains the divide, she concedes elsewhere that the very distinction between implicit and explicit may be difficult to determine: "Yet it may well be that explicit and implicit forms exist on a continuum in which the middle region consists of forms of censorship that are not rigorously distinguishable in this way."
Rather than identifying origins or termini for the polar possibilities, we do better to elaborate this "middle region" and illustrate how the balance between explicit and implicit is manifest at particular moments in history. We do better to think of censorship as having a double-layer structure comprising both implicit and explicit forms. This is another way of saying there is never censorship without also self-censorship. An event of censorship, while most readily tangible in its explicit mode, is never without implicit effects, and implicit self-censorship is always related to external stimuli. It is not simply that censorship represents an instance where what something says is taken to offend (incite violence, excite prurient interest, and so on), but rather that the saying (giving offense) and the doing (taking offense) are at times inseparably and indistinguishably bound. Similarly, anticipatory decisions by writers or editors not to publish, not to write, or to retract in an attempt to avoid censorship must be said to have already encountered censorship. To dismiss such behavior, which necessarily accompanies the existence and event of explicit censorship, is to dismiss the ultimate work of censorship, which is both tangible and intangible.
The intangible results of censorship that accompany the tangible ones can be imagined through examination of the dataset consisting of the known censor's archives. Figure 1.1 shows both banned books as a percentage of the total books published in Japan between 1922 and 1944 and, more specifically, banned literature (as defined by censors and the publishing industry) as a percentage of the total books published. The darker line shows that the percentage of the total books that are banned rises in the postearthquake period, hitting three peaks: during the Manchurian Incident (1931-1933) in 1932 at 1.2 percent; the February 26 attempted coup d'état in 1936 at 1 percent; and after a revision of the National Mobilization Law in 1941, at 3 percent. The latter two spikes are anomalies. For two months after the February 26 Incident, the number of books banned nearly doubled before returning to pre-Incident levels in May. The very large second spike in 1941 was the result of a single day's work: on March 7, a retroactive ban was imposed on an unprecedented 558 books, consisting largely of titles published between 1929 and 1935 relating to socialist thought. These two spikes, while important resources for studying the effects of the particular events with which they are connected, are negligible when we look at censored books across the entire period. Ruling them out suggests that the so-called dark valley in cultural production created by explicit censorship (as opposed to paper shortages and other war-related curtailments on publishing) largely occurred before the Yokohama Incident of 1942, before the start of the Pacific War in 1941, and even before the China Incident in 1937. The average percentage of books banned during the Pacific War years (1941-1945) is only high (1.5 percent) because of the anomaly of that single day of censoring. If we remove the books banned on that day from our calculation, the average drops significantly to 0.8 percent, in contrast to the steady bans over the period between 1929 and 1933, which average 1 percent. While this difference of 0.2 percent may seem insignificant, it represents 1,111 books in the period between 1929 and 1934 and 579 books for the Pacific War period. These numbers and the fact that more than half of the 558 books banned on March 7, 1941, were published during this earlier period suggests that writers during the earlier period were either more willing to push the boundaries of censorship than in the later periods or that the boundaries themselves had become not only so limiting but also so internalized that the only things bannable under the new enforcement were books allowed in an earlier period.
What is true for books in general is especially true for literature, as classified by the censors and the book publishing industry: namely, that the bleakest period for literature in percentage of literary books being banned is from 1927 to 1936. This could mean several different things: that the censors were most strict during this period, that the writers were most willing to be bold during this period, or both; that the censors slackened controls during the height of the Pacific War, typically considered a dark period because of its relative dearth of dissent; or that writers and publishers produced less offensive material during the war. This last view suggests that writers and publishers increasingly internalized the wishes, aims, and goals of the censors after having experienced the strict explicit censorship of an earlier period. The earlier period of a heightened number of banned books educated writers and publishers to know what would be considered offensive. The peak of the curve casts a shadow, adumbrating discourse in the period that follows. Comparison of this Japanese prewar shadow and the postwar American shadow described in Katō's The American Shadow: Reconsidering the Postwar is not only possible, but also necessary if we desire to avoid crass generalizations about Japan's postcolonial or post-Occupation status.
Franco Moretti's explanation of graphs of the production of novels in the nineteenth century reveals some of the issues at stake:
The reason behind the downturns seems to be always the same: politics: a direct, virulent censorship during the Kansei and Tempo periods, and an indirect influence in the years leading up to the Meiji Restoration, when there was no specific repression of the book trade, and the crisis was thus probably due to a more general dissonance between the rhythm of political crises and the writing of novels.
This explanation does not account for other possibilities, such as that heightened controls on publication often coincided with nonpolitical though politicized events such as famine and earthquakes or that methods for evading censors while remaining publishable are common, methods such as expurgating reprints or finely tuning plots to avoid taboo. However, it does enable a kind of pragmatism to literary history. If we were to follow Moretti's logic that censorship necessarily affects the number of books (here novels) produced when reading figure 1.2, we might even say that the effects of censorship on literary output from 1923 to 1945 were negligible.
What figure 1.2 suggests is that neither censorship nor the grand publication booms of the era had a lasting impact on the number of literary books published during the period. Though it is true that immediately after the Great Kantō Earthquake, from 1923 to 1926, the relative amount of literature published doubled commensurately with the boom in general publications, the secondary boom of book production from 1932 to 1936 did not have a corresponding boom in literary production. And here Moretti's argument may help, since these years correspond to the height of censorship. As shown in figure 1.3, the fact that levels of literary publication remained relatively steady during a moment of high total book production means a relative fall in literature coinciding precisely with the peak of banning of literature in figure 1.3.
So while the argument about the correlation of a decline in published literature and a rise in censorship may make some sense, such counting fails to explain the later period from 1937 to 1945, when the number of literary books as a percentage of total books rises even amid paper shortages and the supposedly increased focus on serious issues of war. The period from 1937 through 1943 is characterized by relatively low censorship numbers and a relative rise in the amount of literary publications, as seen in figure 1.3. The low censorship numbers and relatively high level of literary production during the war do not reflect the entirety of the censorship story; nor does the rise of literature indicate a return of the repressed but rather a creation and flourishing amid the already repressed. If literature produced in the real world may work something like Freud's dreams, as a potentially successful medium for evading psychic censorship, the rise might indicate the success with which writers had already internalized the codes of censorship. So the numbers of banned books in the archives may outline the contours of the uncountable, identifying that which is beyond measure, beyond identification. Our understanding of the numbers must account for the uncountable.
Thus, Moretti's positivist vision of a "more rational literary history," though perhaps helpful in sketching the contours of the issues involved, can only be the opening to an inquiry into the damage done by censorship. To read the graph of the explicit quantities of banned books without contextualizing would be to disregard everything we know about the cultural descent into darkness during the wartime period, about the literature of conversion, about returns to Japan, and about the implicit censorships attendant with all explicit forms. The long shadow cast by the peak in absolute numbers of banned books lasts beyond the period when the books were banned.
The violence censors commit on a discursive field cannot be measured by accounting for countable traces of their censorship alone (e.g., solely by counting the number of explicitly banned books). Though the open aspects of state censorship tend to obfuscate apprehension of the implicit repression that coincides with and is enhanced by these explicit modes, they are rarely as clearly distinguishable from each other as it might appear from the quotation from Butler. At the moment when censorship seems entirely knowable, external, tangible, and therefore archivable, it is ethically imperative to imagine the archive as but a trace of what is beyond the archive, internal, unknowable, and intangible.
Beyond and Outside the Archive: Into Other Archives
The archives of the prewar Japanese censors often preserve the only known copy of a text; but as we have seen, massive quantities of banned books are missing. The two collections of examination copies for which censorship information is indexed (those in the National Diet Library and the Library of Congress) contain only 11 percent of the titles censored between 1923 and 1945 (and significantly fewer of those censored between 1896 and 1923 as a result of losses due to the archive fire). The remaining 89 percent of banned titles are not forever lost. In the Japanese censorship system, the incompleteness manifested itself in a variety of ways. First, the banning of books was often retrospective (i.e., it occurred after publication), hence the phenomenon of the sold-out banned book. Second, the first half of the censor's designation "banned from distribution and selling" (hatsubai kinshi) was often less enforced than the second, so that even books incurring prepublication bans or deletions were often distributed and circulated privately in unabridged format. So while there may be titles for which examination copies are in fact lost forever, in most cases other copies of a given banned title survive. For instance, the Modern Japanese Literature Archive in Tokyo houses copies of several first editions of banned books and magazines, such as Bungei shijō, Gurotesuku, and Hentai shiryō, that are missing from the extant censor's archives. Similarly, some copies of famously banned books, such as the first edition of Kobayashi Takiji's March 15, 1928, are conspicuously absent from the Home Ministry collections, but are relatively easy to find in private collections. So although the censor's examination copies are extremely valuable for research on censorship, it is necessary to turn to archives beyond those that remain in the collections of the Home Ministry.
In fact, recourse to other archives precedes the search for other banned books because the materials that are held within the Home Ministry collections are not self-evident. For instance, the graphs and statistics in the previous section were based on information from "exterior" archives: the closely related archive of the Publishing Police Records provided information necessary not only for calculating how many books are missing from the Home Ministry collection, but also for determining the titles of those books; statistics archived in the Publisher's Yearbook provided numbers of books and literary books actually published. So it has been necessary from the beginning to move beyond the confines of one archive and into another.
How far outside the censor's archives of examination copies must one venture? The sense of a new beginning apparent in the surviving postearthquake archives of the Home Ministry's examination copies is reinforced by other archival beginnings related to Japanese censorship in 1923. The destructive shocks of the quake led not only to a publishing boom-which was spurred on by the perceived need to replace the thousands of volumes destroyed, the "naturally burned books"-but also to a concomitant rise in the degree of censorship, legally, bureaucratically, and statistically. Beyond the records of the publishing police, there are also various legal archives beginning at least with the promulgation in May 1925 of the Peace Preservation Act. The public statistical archives began in 1926 with the open publication of the number of materials censored in 1923, which was printed in the Publisher's Yearbook, the publishing industry trade magazine. The myriad archives of publishers present modes of editorial self-censorship inspired, but not wholly controlled, by police action. The boom in publications of indexes of banned book titles is one such archive. The archive comprising essays on censorship published in major media outlets from 1926 to 1931 is a related trace of censorship. Finally, the rise and fall in use of fuseji provide another glimpse into how censorship was archived. In the following chapters, we will turn to some of these other archives outside (yet always suggested in and by) the Home Ministry collection.
The necessity of such turns can be further elaborated by a further turn to other exterior archives, never entirely separate from modern Japanese censorship. As we journey beyond the ousiodic structures of a given archive, we might also cross the borders of a given Asiatic nation. One set of archives outside of those of the Home Ministry censors that would be relevant is the multiple archives of contemporaneous censors in other modern countries. Comparing the Japanese censorship from the prewar, wartime, and postwar periods with American censorship has been unavoidable for critics. Etō Jun implicitly compares wartime with Occupation censorship and Japanese with American when he calls Occupation censorship an aberration from democracy, symbolized, for him, by the United States. More recently, Katō Norihiro has pinpointed the Occupation as the birth, source, or origin of the "warped" space of postwar discourse in his readings of postwar Japanese literature. These critics focus on postwar literature to comment on the discursive conditions of the period, but, as the word postwar itself conveys, postwar is never entirely separate from its others, wartime and prewar. The implication of much of Katō's work on the postwar is that things were different before 1945, that the postwar is "warped," as opposed to an earlier flat, undistorted normalcy. Similarly, by culturally locating this literary shift in a particular nation-state (Japan), these critics implicitly seek to distinguish the shifts there from inherently related shifts elsewhere. In doing so, they tend to overstate their case. Comparing the incommensurable-that is, censorship under the centralized imperial regime of prewar Japan and the even more haphazard censorship of the United States in the same period-highlights some surprising global components of censorship while enabling an assessment of its historically and culturally contingent modes; for instance, by ignoring Japan's participation in the League of Nations committee on obscenity or the widely shared international concern over proletarian uprisings after 1917, Etō and Katō presume a prewar Japanese censorship system hermetically sealed off from global events and an Occupation censorship system dominated by unnatural foreign concerns.
Another necessary comparison is between the Home Ministry archives and the Prange collection of Occupation-period materials. And there was another related mode of suppression used by the Occupying forces in Japan, one which is only partially contained in the Prange archive and which would seem to cut against the notion that suppression and censorship are always archival, always leaving a trace. Books written before 1945 that were confiscated by General Headquarters (GHQ) have been the subject of a three-volume study by the reactionary historian Nishio Kanji. In his book Unsealing the Library of GHQ's Burned Books (2008), Nishio makes the incendiary claim that the books seized and pulped by the Occupiers should be called "burned books." He argues that in addition to remembering Occupation-period censoring of works not yet published, we must remember the confiscation by Occupation Forces of over 7,000 books published under the previous regime. And while Nishio's point contributes to our knowledge of the extent of US power over postwar Japanese discourse and appears to be a serious one for anyone grappling with the problem of assessing the total impact of censorship on transwar Japan, his equating confiscation with absence, his downplaying of the fact that the "burners" stipulated that books not be confiscated from "private homes or libraries," and his conflation of seizures and pulping with burning reveal that his position is more political and polemical than historical. Nishio conveniently uses the rhetoric or epithet of "burned books" (funsho) to make the point that a certain strain of Japanese history has remained out of bounds for postwar thought. The confiscated books on which he focuses tell imperial stories about the causes of war, stories that Nishio claims were not only neutered but also rendered impossible due to the seizures and confiscations. It is true that these stories of war have not been the canonical explanations and justifications given since the war, but Nishio is wrong that they were rendered inaccessible or beyond the thinkable. In fact, his ability to make the argument for their absence is based on an overwhelming archival presence; he admits to being able to find over 80 percent of the confiscated titles at the National Diet Library alone. It is not clear whether the content of the absent 20 percent is similar to other books of the period that did not suffer confiscation, pulping, and burning. How he arrives at the statistic is itself the result of an archival trace, a list of titles confiscated. And the documents upon which he bases his argument and which he even reprints in facsimile form specify the confiscations of propaganda materials "held in bulk" (with the exemption of "private homes and libraries") and furthermore specify the means for marking the trace in a "periodic report" to be submitted on the fifteenth and last day of each month to GHQ beginning in March 1946. Nishio would be on better footing if the argument were launched purely in terms of the ideological manipulations attempted in the confiscations because some of the books seem to have been confiscated less for an overt rejection of American authority than for contrary ideas that lent indirect support to the war effort.
Listed as book number 513 to be confiscated in 1946, Greater East Asian War Reports and Memoirs, a collection of stories published in 1943 as the reflections of famous writers and pundits who had recently visited the front, is obvious propaganda. One of the short tales by the Cultural War Criminal Ozaki Shirō, "MacArthur's Boots," gives a tangible sense of that which could not be allowed in the Occupation. "MacArthur's Boots" was in the Occupation-period surely read as blasphemous bits of libel against the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, who in the fictitious story deserts the battlefield to run off with his Australian lover. It tells of a Japanese soldier being asked if he was a lieutenant general by an American prisoner of war at Luzon. Shocked, the Japanese private replies, "'no, I'm only private; why do you ask such an impertinent question?' 'I know your rank by your boots,' the prisoner replied." The story then recounts how the character received the boots from those who seized MacArthur's former residence in Manila on January 4. "A pair of boots that were not distinctive to Japanese eyes except that they were slightly different in style, distinctly gave the airs of a lieutenant general in the eyes of the Philippine troops. At a time when the name of MacArthur, who had fled to Australia, was all but eradicated from this earth, his boots alone on the feet of a private in the propaganda unit-Ozaki-preserved the memory of a lieutenant general. It was a heartening thought." The general scarcity of this kind of story during the Occupation may have gone a long way toward contributing to the generally uncritical reception of MacArthur after the war; yet, it is simply not true that the confiscation was the end of the story for postwar readers. The collection can still be found in libraries and in used bookstores today, and Ozaki's story continues to circulate as part of a larger war reflection titled One Writer's Confession and to be reproduced in various collections including his anthologized works. So at most, we can say the seizures may have played a propagandistic role during the Occupation alone.
As book burnings, seizures, and other censorings can be both constative and performative acts-both removing books from circulation and announcing that such books should be removed from discourse-and since Nishio's appeal for us to remember the "book burnings" is itself a weak claim in terms of its actual destruction of the narratives at hand, we need to ask how Nishio's notion of burning is performing. In contrast to his claims made elsewhere for Japanese textbooks to forget or omit the Japanese atrocities of the war and the violence to human bodies in China, Korea, and beyond, Nishio wants us to dwell on the violence to paper made by GHQ. Of course, not all of the books suffering the traumas of war and Occupation can be found and reconstructed. We cannot list all of the titles of the materials never written. And though the explicit archival traces provide a hint of the kind of books that would have been written, we have no certainty and can only rely on the traces. If what burned was not only the books but also the image of the burning of books in our minds, then the mass circulation of the notion of burned books behaves as censorship itself, a violence that haunts through residual, uncountable "internal" effects.
Historically, state censors and those decrying censorship have both agreed that censorship removes or seeks to remove things from circulation either because those things are deemed to threaten the truth (as defined by the censors) or because they are said to contain the truth (as defined by the censored). Censorship is the process through which ideas have been treated as things with a direct relation to the truth, through which ideas have been manifest, solidified, and commodified as books, films, records, or any other kind of cultural material. In this view, censorship, like the archive, is a materialization, instantiation, and institutionalization of positivism. If we take Slavoj Žižek's notion that fascism is defined by taking the ideational as material, then censorship and archives as institutions and practices are also fascism manifest. Since censorship takes ideas to be manifest in things-texts or people-it seems set to eradicate the world of particular ideas and truths. However, if ideas or truths are more than the paper on which they are printed and more than the writers who pen them, censorship will necessarily fail. But, censors are smarter than that. Though in practice they work on material, their true aim is always ideational. The chilling effect on the minds of writers in the wake of actual books being censored is intangible and immeasurable, and censors know this. So censorship targets books (things) to stop ideas, though its removal of things alone never quite succeeds. It does not have to for the project to be a success. Censorship is always incomplete; yet the public act of removing books or even the existence of an office of censorship has the internalized effects of destroying ideas. The goal of the censor is to obviate the necessity of censorship, to have the censored do the work of censoring on their own.
About the Book
“[Abel’s] thorough, wide-ranging research has uncovered long-buried works and long-forgotten authors, while upending received wisdom about censorship in the period. . . . The book sets a new benchmark for scholarship on its subject, which has long been popular with foreign academics and journalists alike. Abel explodes their errors and misconceptions with uncommon insight and rigor.”—Mark Schilling Japan Times
“[An] original and important book. . . . Abel breaks new ground, and largely achieves his goal of crafting an ethical response to the moral questions posed by censorship.”—Alexander Jacoby Times Literary Supplement (TLS)
"It is difficult to overestimate the path-breaking importance of this book or its broader ramifications for understanding the nature and problems of modern surveillance throughout the globe.”—Sebastian Swann History: Reviews of New Books
“There is much to love about Jonathan Abel’s new book. Redacted: The Archives of Censorship in Transwar Japan brilliantly takes readers into the performance of different modes of censorship in the early and mid-twentieth century. . . . Abel is wonderfully self-reflexive. . . . [The book] is full of contributions to [many] fields.”—Carla Nappi New Bks In East Asian Stds
"What makes Redacted appealing to a broad audience is its ambitious scope and the capacious intellect behind it."—Kristen Cather Modern Philology
"The greatest strength of Redacted is its dynamic conceptualization of censorship as working on a continuum rather than in stark binaries."—Modern Philology
"Abel takes a more micro approach, with many detailed examples of the way specific texts were censored... [He] addresses several kinds of texts: literary manuscripts, bibliographies, censors' archives, and essays."—The Journal of Japanese Studies“Redacted is a major work of original scholarship and a signal critical accomplishment. With impressive daring and persistence, Jonathan Abel has investigated rarely used archives to open a body of materials virtually unknown to English-language readers. This is a stunning achievement, and it is sure to change the landscape of Japanese literary studies.” - Marilyn Ivy, author of Discourses of the Vanishing: Modernity, Phantasm, Japan
“A masterful blending of incisive, close textual analysis, subtle situating of literary texts in their historical moments, attention to the very materiality of book culture, Redacted is a truly original thinking about how literature is formed and malformed, written, received, and read, under the pressure of censorship. It does nothing less than reveal a complex but hidden history of modern Japanese literature. A thrilling example of literary historical scholarship that combines the palpable excitement of archival work and the elucidating intensity of close reading.” - Alan Tansman, author of The Aesthetics of Japanese Fascism
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
Note on the Translation
Introduction: Archiving Censors
Part I. Preservation
1. The Censor’s Archives and Beyond
2. Indices of Censorship
3. Essaying the Censors
Part II. Production
4. Seditious Obscenities
5. Literary Casualties of War
Part III. Redaction
7. Redactionary Literature
8. Beyond X
9. Unnaming and the Language of Slaves
10. Redaction Countertime