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Beyond the Traditional Concepts of Peace in Different Cultures

Author(s): Takeshi Ishida

Source: Journal of Peace Research, Vol. 6, No. 2 (1969), pp. 133-145
Published by: Sage Publications, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/423202
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University of Tokyo

1. Introduction
One difficulty is that the meaning of
Countries at war always say that they
'peace' varies in different cultures. It is
are fighting 'for peace'. If the true
essential to clarify the different concepts
meaning of the word 'peace' were clear,of peace, as the following examples
a great number of past wars might haveshow.
been avoided. While some may argue
The first is Japan during World War
that this lack of clarity is even advan- II. The government leaders stated that
tageous since it makes possible the in- they were fighting for 'peace in the
clusion of important human desires such East'. They called the pacifists and the
as justice and prosperity, the other side dissenters from the Emperor-system, as
of the coin is the danger of the conceptwell as the communists, 'aka' (red) and
being used to justify any kind of war. In suppressed them rigorously. Why did
this age of nuclear weapons we cannot this clash occur between the governuse the terms 'a war for peace' or 'a
ment leaders' concept of 'peace in the
just war' as excuses for starting a war. East' and the pacifists' ideal of peace?
Nuclear war is incapable of bringing
This cannot be fully explained unless
about 'peace', because it can only end we understand the traditional Japanese

in the destruction of mankind. How is

concept of 'peace'. 'The peace of the

it possible to prevent war - both nuclear village', which is still a strong social

war and the technically developed non-force, may indicate the characteristics
of the traditional concept. During the
nuclear war of today? How can we
national election of 1952 irregularities
achieve social justice without war?
In the following I wish to examine aoccurred in a certain village, and a girl
concept of 'peace' which may go somewho lived in the village wrote to a newsway towards solving these problems.
paper exposing them. When the police
We may be able to eliminate ambiguity began to investigate the village bosses,
in the concept of 'peace' and prevent
the eirl and her family were ostracized
and life was made so unpleasant for
abuse of the word by giving it a scientific definition. This may be an efthem that they were finally forced to
fective way to avoid confusion in disleave the village, because the villagers
cussion of peace. Here, however, I
thought that the family had disturbed
would rather emphasize the importance
'the peace of the village'.1 There were
of the study of the semantics of peace many occurrences of this kind before the
war when the whole country was
(i.e., how the word 'peace' has been
understood), and consider why 'wars forthought to be like a village (the present
peace' have been so successfully justi- situation is a little different). The confied in the past.
cept of 'the peace of the village' illus-

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134 Takeshi Ishida

on peace will have to resist.
trated above implies the preservation
the traditional system and customs,Accordingly,
howthe Japanese pacifists had
ever irrational the foundations on which

to face two enemies: the traditional idea

of 'internal harmony' and the idea of

the rest may be. Content analysis
would reveal a high degree of correla-'peace in the East', the slogan used by
the government. From these circumtion between the words, 'heiwa' (peace)
stances we can understand why Japan
and 'chowa' (harmony). The writer is
planning to compute the correlation be- did not have a conscientious-objector
tween the concept of 'peace' and other system until its defeat, which was folconcepts in Japan. The sample to be
lowed by renunciation of war.
analysed consists of speeches by Prime The next example concerns Martin
Ministers, and the method will be either Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi
to use correlation or to use factor anaand their differences of emphasis. The
principles of non-violent direct action
lysis, in order to find conceptual structure concerning the concept of peace.did not differ seriously: King was deeply
influenced by Gandhi, and they were
If a similar analysis were made in
other countries, then it would be posboth influenced by Christianity and by
sible to compare the conceptual structure of peace in different cultures.
We can understand why the Japanese

Thoreau. Their differences in emphasis,

however, seem derived from the differences between the cultural traditions of

pacifists were so fiercely attacked: they,

the USA and of India. In order to

like the communists, seemed to disturb

make non-violent direct action polit-

the social harmony and conformity to

ically effective, they had to resolve dif-

the war effort of the nation. As a result,

ficulties which sprang from opposite ex-

it could be said that the pacifists were

tremes: Gandhi had to teach non-violent

not 'peaceful'.

direct action and King had to teach

One may wonder why the Japanese

non-violent direct action. Their differ-

behaved cruelly in battle and why they

ence in emphasis undoubtedly originated

showed such bravery in their suicide

in the different concepts of peace of

planes. Such deeds were performed to

their respective cultural backgrounds.

achieve 'peace in the East' although the

King wrote: 'The eye-for-an-eye philos-

Japanese loved harmony and hated con-

ophy, the impulse to defend oneself

flicts within their own society. Max We-

ber's dualism, 'Binnenmoral' (morality

when attacked, has always been held

as the highest measure of American

within the group) and 'Aussenmoral'

manhood. We are a nation that wor-

(morality vis-a-vis people outside the

ships the frontier tradition, and our

group), may satisfactorily explain the in-

heroes are those who champion justice

consistency. The more intense the desire

through violent retaliation against in-

to keep harmony among the members

justice.'2 This 'frontier tradition' has its

of a society with a strong ingroup con-

origins in the Judeo-Christian spiritual

sciousness, the stronger the tendency to


fight against any enemy which threatens

India, on the other hand, has a spiri-

the inner harmony from outside. When

tual tradition of ahimsa (i.e., killing no

such groups fight, they employ a moral-

the whole country adopts a warlike at-

living creature), and of santi which signifies a well-ordered state of mind and
is translated as 'peace' in English. As
Romain Rolland said in his Life of

titude to the outside, pacifists with their

Gandhi, teaching non-violent direct ac-

ity different from that applied within

the group. In this cultural context, if

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Beyond the Traditional Concepts of Peace in Different Cultures 135

of peace has a more general purpose.

The differences between concepts of
It is natural that the Judeo-Christian
peace in different cultures indicate the
tradition and the Indian tradition should
contradictory factors involved. What
have different points of emphasis in the must we do to avoid 'wars for peace'?
teaching of non-violent direct action.
What must we do to avoid the passive
Each has its own characteristic conceptquietism that tends to allow injustice (inof peace: in the Judeo-Christian tradi-cluding wars) while still maintaining
tion to the Indian has its significance
in teaching them to say 'No'.

order and calmness of mind? These

tion the inclination is to fight against
injustice, even using force if necessary; difficult problems must be solved in
and in the Indian tradition the inclinaevery culture if we want to maintain
tion is to preserve a tranquil state of
peace. Such a semantic investigation will
mind, even accepting injustice if necessurely be profitable if we want to resary.
concile the contradictions in the concept
The Japanese cultural tradition stands of peace.
much nearer to the Indian than to the

The Table below shows the original

Judeo-Christian, partly because of the

meanings of the concepts of peace of
the world's main cultures and the difinfluence of Buddhism, which was introduced into Japan more than twelve
ferences in emphasis among them. I
centuries ago.
fear I have oversimplified their respecWhat follows is a summary of Part I
tive meanings and ignored their historof my Politics for Peace, recently pub- ical development, placing too much
lished in Japanese. What must the Japanese do to maintain true peace? What

stress on the differences rather than the

of Japan that will serve as its foun-

similarities. The diagram ought to have

been composed of overlapping circles
rather than of mutually exclusive boxes.

dations? and what faults that will hinder

The Table should not be taken to in-

merits are there in the moral tradition

its attainment? The aim of what follows

dicate that, for example, shialom does

is to make a cross-cultural comparison

of concepts of peace. This comparative
study, originally written for the Japanese, may also be useful to people of
other cultural backgrounds.
Further, the study of the semantics

not imply tranquillity of mind. The intention is simply to illustrate differences

of emphasis. If the emphasis moves to

the left, the tendency to 'fight for peace'

and the possibility of taking positive

action to realize justice will increase,

Emphasis The will of Tranquillity

Culture God, Justice Prosperity Order Trnquillity






China (Japan) / ho p'ing or p'ing ho (heiwa)



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136 Takeshi Ishida

and the dangerous tendency toward Shalom

was not a state of being - on
for peace' will arise. This dangerous
the contrary, it was a condition which
tendency diminishes as we move to the the people created through their own
right of the Table, but another danger initiative. For example, the realization
takes its place: the passive quietism
of shalom among the people signified
which permits injustice and give tacit the conclusion of a contract among
approval to a situation which may re- them; more specifically, it was the consult in war. In what follows I shall
tract by which outsiders became cirbriefly explain the concepts of cumcised
peace members of the Jewish faith.
(This is partly why berith in contemporand clarify these relationships among
ary Israel means circumcision.) Max
them. All the concepts analyzed here
Weber says that Jehovah was the God
are denoted by terms usually translated
of contractual union ('Bundenskriegsas 'peace' in English. There is, however, another group of concepts relatedgott'): Israel was based on this contract
to non-violence, such as ahimisa. - In with, and was supported and headed by,
fact, why ahimrsa was not translated Jehovah.5 If shalom is a contract with
'peace' is an interesting question. One Jehovah, it follows that it denotes a
of the reasons was probably that theliving and dynamic relationship and not
terms usually translated as 'peace' de- a static condition.
note vital goals of life, while nonWe have good reason to believe that
violence or ahimsa is usually consideredshatlom was regarded as referring not
to be a question of means. The relamainly to a state of mind but rather to
tionship between these two groups of
concepts needs to be investigated care-

politico-economic relations. The Israelites, as a nomadic people of the desert,

fully, but it is impossible to include

were exposed to the danger of attack
both in the same chart because of the from outside and were threatened by
difference of dimension. For the time the possibility of dissolution from within.
being, let us deal with the first group,Under the internal contract they had to
i.e. the terms usually translated as
present a strong united front against the
outside. Shalom implied that which was
gained in battle and not given by nature;

2.1 G. Kittel says that shailom and

specifically, it was given in battle by
eirene differ in their original forms: the
God. It was the process which revealed
former denotes a quality of relationship
the divine will through the contract with
('Verhaltnis') and the latter a state ofGod. In this respect shalom was not a
being (Zustand').3 Shalom stresses the
state where all tensions were finally
unity in berith (covenant) and the realrelieved.
ization of Jehovah's divine will, and it
Thus shalom did not necessarily opbrings about justice and prosperity. J. pose the concept of war, since it somePederson explains that shalom and betimes signified victory in battle.
The Arab countries which suffered
rith are inseparable, and they were
sometimes used interchangeably.4 Berith great losses in the Six Day War with
Israel (1967) share the same historical
is superior to family or blood relationorigin as their bitter foe, Judaism, and
ships, although they precede it. The
creation of unity in the covenant was have much in common. The name of
the indispensable condition for realizingIslam, a1-Iskam in Arabic, means 'to be
at peace' as well as 'to rive absolute
shalom and was even thought to be
shilom itself.

devotion'. Just as in ancient Judaism, it

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Beyond the Traditional Concepts of Peace in Different Cultures 137

disorder in Hellas was worse than a war

also signifies fighting for the revelation

of God's will.

against outsiders, since barbarians were

The Moslems interpret 'a holy war'

the natural enemy of the Hellenes.
(jihad) as 'a fight for the code of Allah'.
Isocrates took up this concept of
And yet the so-called bellicosity of Ispeace which stressed inner order, and
lam, indicated in the slogan 'the Koran maintained that peace should be underin the left hand, a sword in the right
stood in close relationship to democracy,
hand' is from the Moslem point of viewthus criticizing those political parties
a biased Christian interpretation. Muthat advocated war. Democracy in the
hammad Ali, who translated the Koran Greek polis did not include slaves and
into English, asserts that Islam is trulywomen and differed greatly from the
a 'religion of peace'.

present system. However, Isocrates

The fierce antagonism between Israel

and the Arab countries has been attended by hatred on a national scale
ever since the formation of Israel as a

state. This seems to have been caused

partly by a common tradition of

thought that democracy would be destroyed by war. His treatise was the
first to discuss the relationship between
peace and democracy from the viewpoint that there can be no democratic
monoorder and prosperity without peace.7

theism and a similar militant concept

of peace as a realization of justice by the 2.3 The Roman concept of pax is simdivine will.
We must consider the Graeco-Roman
influence on Christianity, but that it has

ilar to the Greek concept of eirene, in

that it denotes a state. As in 'Pax Ro-

also inherited the shalomic concept of

mana', it was often regarded as a state

of good order and absence of war,

peace (realization of iustice and achieve-

although it sometimes included a state

ment of divine will) is shown by the

of good order achieved by conquest. It

also signified a legal relation based on
a pact (the English word 'pact' itself is
from pax). However, the Roman pact
was a secular one based on Roman law
unlike the concept of the covenant,
berith. Another difference between pax
and shalom is the association of the
former with a tranquil state of mind:
there is the expression 'pax animi', peace

idea of the 'bellum justum' (just war)

and the Crusades.

2.2 Eirene (dip4Yv in Greek), which is

thought to have its origin in a word

meaning union, denoted a state, while

shalom denoted relationship. It stressed
the importance of unity and order. It

was thought to produce prosperity,

although it did not directly signify
prosperity. In this sense, shalom and
eirene have something in common.
Above all we must not forget that the
relation between order and peace gained
importance with the development of the
polis. There was already a marked contrast between the peace within Hellas
and war against the non-Hellenes (i.e.,
the barbarian world) about the time of
the Persian War (fifth century B.C.).6
Plato's day and age was no exception
to this way of thinking. Plato said that

of mind.

2.4 Compared with the concepts of

peace discussed above, traditional concepts of peace in India and China are
rather different.
In India there are santi, usually translated 'peace', which means a well-or-

dered state of mind; and ahimsa, which

means rejection of killing, non-violence,
both already mentioned. The principle
of ahimsa, taking no life, animal or human, was employed by Mahatma Gandhi

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138 Takeshi Ishida

as a social and political weapon for

social reform and independence.
Unlike the concepts of peace con-

fucianism, assumed an affirmative attitude to the secular world, unlike traditional Indian ethics, the aim of which

was to escape from the world. They

sidered so far, traditional santi had
nothing to do with political conditions.
seem to be located at opposite poles in
The Indians had other political conthis respect. However, concepts of peace
cepts, vigraha and sazdhi: the former in China and India have placed similar
was either war as national policy or
emphasis on state of mind. We know
hostility leading to war; the latter was
from many examples in the Chinese
a state of no vigraha. They also had a
classics that the term ho p'ing (peace)
concept sama, meaning a well-governed corresponded to a well-ordered state of
social order.8 A tranquil state of mind mind.
was indeed a part of the Roman conPolitical order, which India was uncept of peace, but it was considered
able to achieve, was usually called ho
mainly within the political context: good p'ing; but the term p'ing ho, which
order within and absence of war withdenoted a state of mind, was also someout. The concept of sainti was regarded
times used to indicate a state of political
only as tranquillity of mind, completely
order. Consequently ho p'ing and p'ing
separated from all political relations.

ho, which are written with the same

In fact, although Hinduism, Buddhcharacters in reverse order, seem to

ism, and Jainism earnestly preached
have similar original meanings, even
santi, the political struggle in the course though the frequency of their usage
varies with time and place. In this conlasted for thousands of years. Max Wenection, it must not be forgotten that
ber says that this characteristic is a
natural and social phenomena were
special feature of Indian religious ethics,
considered to be continuous. Identificwhich aim at escape from this world.
ation between cosmic order and social
Under the caste system rigidly mainorder has been clearly pointed out by
tained in that society, not to die in bed Max Weber as a characteristic of the
(but on the battle field) was the highest
Confucian outlook.9 Social phenomena
desire of the warrior caste Ksatriya to
were often identified with natural phewhich the political rulers belonged. The
nomena. For example, the crops were
Dharmasastra said that the warrior was
believed to depend on rites performed
of which the Gautama clan was ruined

allowed to resort to arms only when all

other means failed and that his conduct

in battle should be limited by dharma

(law, duty). However, the Arthasdstra,

which deals with the education of the
monarch, explains how to weaken the

by the ruler, and natural disasters such

as floods were thought to spring from

failure of the ruler to maintain harmony

with nature. Max Weber says that this
characteristic is common to both China

enemy and achieve victory.

and India. Ho p'ing was regarded as

obedience to the whole cosmic order,

In fact the reign of King Asoka

(reigned approximately 268-232 B.C.),

were inseparable.

from which social and natural order

who followed the principles of Buddhism and whose government was based

on Buddhist ideals, was quite exceptional in the long history of India.

2.6. The concept of heiwa (peace) in

Japan has been influenced by China
and India as have other aspects of her
culture. Heiwa bears a closer relation

to p'ing ho than to the Indian concept.

2.5 Chinese ethics, represented by Con-

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Beyond the Traditional Concepts of Peace in Different Cultures 139

It is written with the same Chinese

The positive orientation toward justice

characters as p'ing ho despite the differin shalo3m, the stress on good order in

ent pronunciation. Besides, both heiwa

eirene and pax, and the emphasis on
state of mind in sainti, p'ing ho and
and p'ing ho are related to political
order. Since Japan had no caste systemheiwa, are all significant components
and had been influenced by Buddhism of peace, and each, to some extent, imfor many centuries, this influence hadplies the others. The differences of
extended both to the samurai (warriors)
emphasis have been somewhat exaggerand to the farmers. For one thing, as ated for the sake of comparison.
the samurai were deeply affected by Zen

But there are difficulties. These three

factors (realization of justice, mainteBuddhism, some of the more courageous

ones grew dubious of the practice of
nance of good order, and tranquillity of
killing and finally became Buddhist
mind) are likely to conflict with one
monks, giving up their swords. More- another. For example, we must oppose
over, to those who did not give up theinjustice in order to realize justice; and
calling of samurai, the meaning of fight- this may threaten both good order and
ing lay not in killing others but in dying tranquillity of mind. Again, too much
bravely, to which end they disciplinedemphasis on peace of mind and hartheir minds.

Heiwa is apt to be understood as an

mony leads to rejection not only of

violence, but also of criticism of the

adaptation to social order as in Con-

established order, and results in a peaceat-any-price attitude which tolerates injustice.

Gandhi, when he came in contact
places an emphasis on emotion, which
with the Christian concept of peace,
distinguishes Japanese Confucianism
grafted many of its good points onto
from classical Chinese Confucianism.
the Indian concept whose emphasis on
Another characteristic is the aesthetic
tranquillity of mind encouraged political
factor added to harmony in which social apathy. By eliminating shortcomings,
order and individual emotional feeling
and by developing further the traditional concept of ahimsa, he established
are respectively involved. This probably
the principle of non-violent direct acderives from the tradition of Shinto,
where aesthetic factors, for example
Martin Luther King, who lived in a
'purity', were dominant.
Judeo-Christian culture, overcame the
frontier principle of fighting for justice
In outlining above the characteristics
of the concepts of peace in ancient Juda- with guns by advocating the principles
of Gandhi. Thus he became a leading
ism, in Graeco-Roman world, and in
of non-violent direct action.
India, China and in Japan, I have perhaps shown lack of caution in discussing
cultures in which I am not a specialist.
3. Some conclusions
However, the intention is not to give
detailed descriptions of the concepts ofI have explained the characteristics of
the concept of peace in different cultures
peace in each culture, but simply to
clarify their differences of emphasis,and pointed out some of the difficulties
we face when considering it. In the
which will be significant when we conoriginal Japanese version, what followed
sider the problems surrounding peace
was a historical example, the Catholic

fucian ethics, because it is closely related to harmony, but it also implies a

tranquil state of mind. Furthermore, it

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140 Takeshi Ishida

French Revolution and the Paris Comattitude towards the bellum justum and
the historical development from Saint
mune when street fighting was more
Pierre to Rousseau and on down to
effective than today.
Kant. I also dealt with the Quaker and
Although violent protest is inappropriMarxist views of war and their applicaate in terms both of moral principle and
tion to actual events. But since this

of practical effectiveness, this does not

mean that protests are not necessary.
I shall omit it here. Instead I wish to
On the contrary, without protest parexpress my views as a Japanese on nonliamentary democracy tends to stagnate.
violent direct action.
The danger of violent protest is that it
Only by fighting for peace by the
may lead to the breakdown of the demnon-violent method, can we overcome ocratic system itself and hence may

discussion is familiar to most Westerners

the contradictions involved in the con-

be followed by a worse form of govern-

cept of 'peace'. But can we really achieve

ment. Thus the only way to reconcile
justice effectively by non-violent action?
the achievement of social justice and
This problem has plagued man since the
the maintenance of democratic procebeginning of history, but today a soludure is to protest by means of nonviolent direct action.
tion is urgently needed.
To prove the necessity of non-violentThe same can be said about the intersituation, in the sense that the
direct action in the present situation national
easier than proving its feasibility. Even
escalation of violence may easily reach
in a country like the United States, in
a point fatal for both sides, and for the
which parliamentary democracy is high- whole of humanity in the case of nuclear war. But at the same time, interly developed, social injustices are not

national injustice should not be tolerated. The difficulty in this case is the
movement was necessary to force the
existence of sovereign states, which have
system to tackle the problem of improvretained huge military forces. Theoreting the situation of the Negroes. As a
ically, there is no reason why a man
result, legislation was carried out to
who kills one person within his counguarantee the right of Negroes to vote,
try's borders should be punished, while
and so on. Nevertheless, much more
one who kills many persons beyond the
pressure is needed to abolish the segborders during war is called a patriot.
regation and inequality which still exist. In this sense, Martin Luther King was
There are many Negroes and students
quite right in applying the 'philosophy
who feel impatient with the delay, andof non-violence from the streets of Selma
violent protest is advocated by some ofand Memphis to the ricepaddies of the
Mekong Delta and jungles of Vietthem. Violent protest, however, frenam'.'0
quently results in an escalation of violHowever, non-violent direct action
ence between protest movement and
within a nation, and disarmament in
the government which suppresses it. In
the present international situation have
terms of political effect, violent protest
a common difficulty: that there is no
cannot be successful in the long run.
Recently in Japan, for instance, violenthistorical evidence that justice was ever
guaranteed by these methods. In the
students protests were used by the police as an excuse for an increase in
former case, a careful investigation of
the philosophy and strategy of Mahatma
armaments. and in the end were harshly
and Martin Luther King gives
suppressed. We are not in the age of Gandhi

easily abolished by the parliamentary

system. For instance, turbulent protest

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Beyond the Traditional Concepts of Peace in Different Cultures 141

some valuable suggestions. Conquest of

Violence by Joan V. Bondurant (revised
ed., 1965, Univ. of California Press) is
an important achievement in this field.
Here, however, I wish simply to deal

two countries. Furthermore, Japan has

a Self Defence Force, created by the
occupation authorities in 1950, at the
time of Korean War. With the passage
of time, the Japanese people have be-

with the possibility of Japan's setting an

come accustomed to the existence of

example by becoming an unarmed and

these 'illegitimate' military forces, and

neutral country.

the percentage of those who approve

the fait accompli has been increasing.

How can Japan, as a country which,

for the first time in human history, has
a constitution that renounces all war,ll

At the end of 1968, 17 %/ of the re-

of an unarmed nation?

that the Self Defence Force was un-

spondents to a public opinion poll consucceed in providing the first example ducted by the Asahi shimbun thought

To be specific some characteristics of

constitutional, while 40 % thought that
it was not.12
the present political situation in Japan
should be mentioned. Besides the existThe acceptance of the existence of
the Self Defence Force does not necesence of 'the peace Constitution', an important advantage is the deep and widesarily imply approval of the maintenance
spread popular opposition to war. In aof a full-fledged army, navy, and air
poll conducted by the Japan Broadcastforce, since many of those who thought
ing Corporation (NHK) in 1968, in an-the Force did not contravene the Constitution held the view that it was, or
swer to the question 'What are you
most concerned about?', the war in Viet-

nam was ranked second (51.7 %), next

to high prices (78.1 % respondents could
mention more than one issue). This does
not necessarily mean that the Japanese
are particularly interested in peace as a
principle. It means, rather, that for the

Japanese people the problem of war and

peace is not remote from their daily
lives: first, they are extremely sensitive
about war because of their experience
of bombing, particularly of the atomic

should be, something other than a military force. For instance, a poll taken
by the Yomiuri shimbun at the end of
1968 produced the following results: to
the question 'How should we deal with
the present Self Defence Force?' the
answers were 'We should strengthen it',

12.3 %; 'We should abolish it', 6 %;

'We should keep it as it is', 43.6 %; and
'We should transform it into a construction corps', 26.3 %. Even among those
who think that the Self Defence Force

bombings, 313,161 victims of which still should be as it is, there are many who
survived in 1967 (this figure was of
think that its raison d'etre is not military
those who were recognized by the govaction, but chiefly rescue-work at times
ernment); and second, the war in Vietof disaster.'3 For instance, 80 % of the
nam means for many Japanese an inrespondents in a 1966 government surcrease in the difficulties caused by
vey thought that 'the Self Defence Force
is most useful for' rescue work at times
American military bases, such as airplane crashes, misconduct of GIs and
of disaster, and other non-military cooperation in civilian life.14
Despite this attitude, Japan is directly The government party, which has
committed to the Vietnam War because
been in power almost permanently since
she provides the United States with
the war, intends to revise the Constitumilitary bases under an obligation imtion to make full-fledged military forces
posed by the security treaty between the constitutional. They have so far been


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142 Takeshi Ishida

unsuccessful because of the strength

of popular feeling in favor of the 'peace
Constitution', as expressed in the opposition party slogan 'Boys! Don't take up
arms! Women! Don't send your sons

was the correct course. It is not very

clear yet in the popular mind, however,
how Japan's security is to be maintained
by unarmed neutrality.

Before dealing with this problem,

something should be said about the
immediate difficulty which hinders JaAsahi poll at the end of 1968 showed
that only 19 % favored revision of the pan's progress toward unarmed neutralConstitution to allow Japan to have
ity. This is the policy line of the governfull-fledged military forces, whereas
ment, which diverges sharply from
the popular attitude described above.
64 % opposed it.
Particularly sensitive is the popular Although many Japanese are impatient
and sweethearts to the battle field!' An

attitude toward nuclear armaments. In

with the fact that the government, ignor-

ing the trend of public opinion, has inthe Asahi poll, 67 % thought that the
American nuclear umbrella actually
directly involved Japan in the Vietnam
War and has strenthened the Self Deendangered Japan, while only 12 %
thought it safe. To the question whether fence Force, the government party has
Japan would be safer if it had its own been in power continuously for more

nuclear weapons, 21.4 % thought it than twenty years, and there is not much

safer, while 55.6 % thought it less safe. likelihood that the governing party will
In the same poll, 49.7 % thought that be changed in the near future.

war is not permissible even in self defence. These facts leave no doubt but

One important reason for the exist-

ence of a semi-permanent government

that the 'peace Constitution' has taken

party is that at election time many voters
root so deeply that there is widespread
are concerned less with the policies a
popular antipathy to war of any sort.
candidate advocates than with the shortIf the majority of Japanese is not in
range return which they can expect
favor of maintaining full-fledged milifrom him. Candidates of the government
tary forces or of strengthening the preparty are, of course, in a better position
sent Self Defence Force, then the questo influence budget allocations for a
tion naturally arises of how the security certain district or group to which the
of Japan is to be guaranteed. To this
voter belongs. The majority of voters
question, a poll conducted in 1968 by
are enlightened enough to know which
the Tokyo shimbun reveals that the mostcandidate will be most useful to them
frequent answer was 'by the United Na- in the short run, but not sophisticated
tions' (30.4 %), and next 'by a policy
enough to realize that more important
is the problem of which policy will be
of unarmed neutrality' (20.3 %). Incidentally, 16.7 % answered 'by maintainmost valuable to them in the long run.'6
ing the Security Treaty with the United
This sort of 'practical' attitude is ofStates', and 15.1 % 'by strengthening
ten supported by the traditional attitude
the Self Defence Force'.'5
toward harmony within the group. AlAlthough 73.9 % of the interviewees
though national conformity, with the
in the Asahi poll thought that Japan
Emperor at its center, was broken down
should maintain its security by its own
as a result of the defeat, group conefforts, not many of them thought that
formity remains strong in fragmented
she should do so by strengthening the
sectors of society. Thus, 'the interest of
Self Defence Force; by contrast, not a
the district' or 'the interest of the group'
few thought that unarmed neutrality
can easily be used, buttressed by group

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Beyond the Traditional Concepts of Peace in Different Cultures 143

conformity, to encourage a bloc vote. expressed, for example, in the form of

protest movements against the govern-

The ostracism which was described in

the first part of this paper is an example

ment, or against any authority considered
of the strength of this group conformity.
to be in charge of the established order.
This sort of group conformity originated
Radical students have organized violent
in communal rural life ('the peace of the
protest movements against the Security

village'), and was very often entangled

Treaty between the United States and
with traditional political apathy which
Japan and against American military
tended to lead to passive obedience to
bases. At the same time, they have
the local bosses and other superiors.
fought against the administrations of the
Although both traditional communal universities, which are, in their view, a
ties and traditional political apathy have part of the 'establishment'. No doubt,
been declining, they are being replaced their violent resistance is the projection
by an increase in the solidarity of groups of a serious discontent. It is probably
devoted to more 'practical' interests andalso true that in order to overcome
a new type of political apathy arising traditional conformism, it is necessary
from the nature of mass society.
to create conflict. There are, however,
two difficulties in the violent action of
These two new tendencies are, in
different ways, related to the traditional the radical students. One is the difficulty

Japanese concept of 'peace', which is caused by the violence itself: sporadic

entwined with that of harmony. Har- acts of violence will either not be efmony within the group means that eachfective because they can be supressed by
member must behave in the same way
a stronger physical force, i.e., the police;
as the others, thus emphasizing the im- or if they are strong enough to overportance of unanimity. In the case of
come police power (not very likely expolitical apathy, 'peace' tends to mean
cept for a short time), there is a danger
that in order to maintain a 'peaceful'
of the country falling into a chaotic
individual (or family) life it is better not situation in which democratic proceto do anything which might produce
dures cannot operate. The other is the
social conflict or disturbance. This sort
difficulty arising from their methods of
of political apathy resulting from privat- strengthening solidarity within their own
ization in mass society is not peculiar

organizations, which often result in in-

to Japan. One characteristic of political

apathy in Japan is its entanglement with
the traditional concept of peace. In to-

creased inner conformism.

If the tradition of group conformity

is as strong as has been said and can be
day's Japan, there is an urgent need to
found even within dissenting groups
put an end to the traditional fusion
such as labor unions, where is the embetween concepts of 'peace' and 'harbryo of emerging non-conformism? As
mony'. What is necessary is the emerthe sense of alienation in mass society
gence of non-conformism, to combat
grows, distrust in the authority of group
this weakness in the traditional Japanese
conformity has emerged because of the
concept of peace.
stagnant situation created by such conIn present-day Japan, there is indeed
formities. The people's dependence on
a strong feeling of resentment against
the group to which they belong is so
established social order, from parliament strong that their disillusionment is also
democracy to the bureaucratized hierarchy of individual organizations, such
Peace organizations have not been
as large firms. This feeling has been
exceptions to this rule. As they grew,

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144 Takeshi Ishida

they became vast in size and at the

States, a movement emerged which sucsame time bureaucratized in their organceeded in despatching 30,000 copies
izational structure. Moreover, factional
within a year. Other similar examples
conflicts due to serious disputes among
could be added,l7 but it is still too early
the socialist parties have resulted in
for us to be optimistic about any rapid
splits in the peace organizations. Ingrowth of civic concern in Japan. Alcreased political apathy is one result of
though the trend toward overcoming the
this sort of situation; and there has also
weakness of the traditional Japanese
been another result. Some people, still
concept of peace is still limited to a
few in number, who are discontented withsmall sector of society, if it can become
the state of the peace organizations, are so strong that the people's wish for
beginning to realize that they have only peace can dictate government policy so
themselves to depend on to improve
as to realize the spirit of the Constitupresent conditions. Whether or not they
tion, which says in its Preamble: 'never

belong to an established organization, again shall we be visited with the horthey feel it necessarry to do something rors of war through the actionof governon their own initiative. Sometimes, theyment', then can the Japanese have a
are so distrustful of the leadershipof any
great future. Of course, this can be
huge organization that they start form-achieved only through perennial resising very small groups, which can be
tance to the government by non-violent
controlled by the members themselves,

means. And if non-violent resistance to

for civic and peace movements. In fact,

the government can be strong enough

to be successful in controlling it, we do
not need to be much concerned over the

for the first time Japan has a multitude

of voluntary groups ('voluntary' in a
strict sense) to campaign for peace.

participating in this sort of activity are

absence of armaments, because the people

could use the same method of resistance,
with even greater intensity, against alien

still relatively few in number, compared

domination in the event of invasion.

with those organized by huge organiza-

At the moment the people who are

this growing tendency. One is the de-

It is difficult to answer questions

about the political efficacy of unarmed
defence with assurance, because of the

monstration organized by a federation

lack of historical evidence. All we can

of more than two hundred of these

do is to answer indirectly by presenting

a negative view of the problem. Consider the recent Czech crisis. If the

tions. However, two examples illustrate

voluntary groups to protest against the

war in Vietnam, which mobilized 10,000
marchers in Tokyo on June 15, 1968.

letters were sent to the editor expressing

Czechs had had a much more powerful

army and had resisted with force, would
the result really have been better? No
one seems to be able to answer this
question with assurance. Instead of categorically answering 'yes' or 'no' to such
a hypothetical question as whether a
country can be safe without armaments,
what ought to be done is to decide

The other is the movement organized

by a federation of peace groups to
distribute the English translation of a

Japanese correspondent's report from

Vietnam. When a series of ten articles

written by a correspondent in Vietnam

appeared in The Asahi in 1967, 3,390

readers' views on the articles. And as a

where we should direct our efforts. If

result of an appeal in one letter for an

the direction is clear and if we know

English translation of the articles to be

how to proceed, then the way will open

before us, slowly, perhaps, but steadily.

sent abroad, particularly to the United

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Beyond the Traditional Concepts of Peace in Different Cultures 145


1 The girl published a book: Satsuki Ishikawa, Murahachibu no

Tokyo: Rironsha, 1953. A brief description of the affair can be fou
2 Martin Luther King Jr., Why We Can't Wait (New York, 1963
3 Theologisches Worterbuch zum Neuen Testament, herausgegeben
II (Stuttgart, 1935) pp. 400 f.
4 Johs. Pedersen, Israel: Its Life and Culture, I-II (Oxford, 1926)

5 Max Weber, Gesammelte Aufsdtze zur Religionssoziologie Bd. II (Tuibingen, 1923),

pp. 126ff.

6 Wallace E. Caldwell, Hellenic Concepts of Peace. (New York, 1919), p. 69.

7 Isocrates, On the Peace, with an English Translation by George Norlin, vol. 2., The Loeb
Classical Library (London, 1929).
8 J. Duncan M. Derrett, 'The Maintenance of Peace in the Hindu World: Practice and
Theory', The Indian Year Book of International Affairs, vol. VIII. 1959, pp. 361-387.
9 Max Weber, Gesammelte Aufsaitze zur Religionssoziologie, Bd. I (Tilbingen, 1922), p. 441.
10 New York Times, April 7, 1968.
11 Article Nine of the Constitution clearly states: 'Aspiring sincerely to an international
peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign
right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes.
In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as
well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state
will not be recognized.'
12 Published in The Asahi shimbun, January 5, 1969. This poll used a random nation-wide
sample of 3,000 persons over 20 years of age.

13 The Yomiuri shimbun, January 1, 1969. The sample of 10,000 interviewees was chosen
by stratified random sampling from persons between 19 and 79 years of age.

14 Asahi shimbun anzenhosh5 chosakai (The Asahi shimbun Research Group on the
Security Problem), 70-nen no seiji kadai (Political Tasks in 1970), 1967, p. 162.
15 The Tokyo shimbun, January 1, 1969. This poll used a random nation-wide sample of
3,000 persons over 20 years of age. For more detailed information about Japanese public
opinion on foreign policy, see Takeshi Ishida, 'Japanese Public Opinion and Foreign Policy',
Peace Research in Japan, ed. by the Japan Peace Research Group (Tokyo, 1967).

16 For more detailed characteristics of Japanese Society, see Takeshi Ishida, Japanese
Society (New York: Random House, forthcoming).

17 For more detail, see Takishi Ishida, 'Emerging or Eclipsing Citizenship - A Study of
Change in Political Attitudes in Postwar Japan', The Developing Economies, vol. VI, No. 4
(Dec. 1968), published by the Institute of Asian Economic Affairs, Tokyo.

5 Journal of Peace Research

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