chapter  1
The Early Years
Pages 18

Materials relating to Katō Kanji are not inconsiderable but tend to be focused mainly on the theme of naval arms control. Katō himself was not a prolific writer and the main corpus of materials written by him again relates to the subject of naval limitation. This one-dimensional feature of writings by and on Katō is partially rectified by his official biography.1 Yet even in that massive study there is also a tendency towards a one-dimensional portrait. One finds, as in Chinese biography, little hint of the personality beyond that relating to his official function. The paucity of materials that would ‘bring the subject to life’ is especially marked when we try to examine formative influences on Katō’s intellectual development and personality. Whilst it is rather easy to list formative influences which have a certain immediate plausibility it is quite another to provide evidence of a distinct causal relationship. In part this is due to a lack of relevant material on the early lives of Katō and other prominent prewar Japanese figures. Albert Craig stated the problem succinctly: ‘We know little of the early childhood of most historical figures. At best we have only sketchy biographical materials and a handful of anecdotes.’2 In part, it is due to the nature of Japanese biographical writing which indicated the strong links between Japanese and Chinese historical tradition. Again, to quote Craig ‘Part of the lifelessness of official biography lies in the Confucian canons of history by which they were written. These demanded the recording of those aspects of life that would serve as a moral mirror for posterity not the details that would make them come alive.’3