chapter  7
Pages 5

This book analysed the notions of “respect for the strong” and “sympathy for the weak” as they appear in selected works of Japanese narrative. Let me repeat and confirm the result of our discussion. We examined three premodern literary works – The Tale of Genji, The Tale of the Heike and The Eight Dog Chronicles – in addition to four twentieth-century stories by Kawabata Yasunari. As preparation for this analysis, we referred to the philosophical, religious and political writings of Saichd, Tokuitsu, Genshin, Hdnen, Yamazaki Ansai, Ogye Sorai, Itd Jinsai, Fukuzawa Yukichi and Kitamura Tdkoku. We noted the idea of egalitarianism espoused by Yukichi, and that of Hdnen, Jinsai and Tdkoku. We also briefly referred to the theories of Western thinkers, including Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, JeanJacques Rousseau, Karl Marx and John Rawls. The main discussion focused on the relationship between “respect for the strong” (Social Darwinism) and “sympathy for the weak” (egalitarianism) in a manner that problematised two points. The first is the fact that “respect for the strong” and “sympathy for the weak” often appear in the history of Japanese thought and literature simultaneously and contradictorily as both respect for endeavour (respect for the strong) and egalitarianism (sympathy with the weak). The second point problematised the close relationship between egalitarianism and nationalism.