Trinity College Dublin and Osaka University Joint International Symposium

Japanese Studies in a global context: The art of friendship

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How Anglo-Irish relations were referred to in Japan: Against the backdrop of Korean issues

Shoya Unoda, Osaka University

It is well-known that various Japanese poets, novelists and playwrights referred to Irish literature in the early 20th century. But literature was not the only context in which Ireland was referred to by Japanese intellectuals in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The purpose of this presentation is to elucidate other contexts in which Japanese intellectuals at the time referred to Ireland. Thus I will shed light on, in relation to Ireland, some intellectual aspects of Japanese path to nation-state building and empire building.

After the Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese wars, Japan annexed Taiwan and Korea. In the process of colonial empire building, Japan experienced independence movements in colonies, especially in Korea. Colonial bureaucrats studied British colonial rule in Ireland to garner ideas about how to cope with the independence movement in Korea. On the other hand, social scientists, Yanaihara Tadao for example, thought that the status of dominion should be given to Korea in the Japanese empire as Ireland in the British Empire. The establishment of the Irish Free State gave Yanaihara an image of decolonization which could be applied to Korea.

In these contexts, the image of Ireland seems to have been associated with liberal, anti-imperialist sentiments. My presentation will develop this point further.

Short Biography

Shoya Unoda was born in 1967. He completed a master’s programme in 1993 at the Graduate School of Letters, Osaka University and obtained a doctorate in 1997 from the same institution. He was a lecturer at the School of Intercultural Studies, Kobe University, became an associate professor there in 2001 and then became an associate professor at the Graduate School of Intercultural Studies, Kobe University, in 2007. He became an associate professor at the Graduate School of Letters, Osaka University in 2010, and was promoted to be a professor in 2017. He specialises in Japanese intellectual history.