Vol. 26
Articles

The Yijing and Meiji Ideology: Nemoto Michiaki’s Political Interpretation of the Yijing

Published October 24, 2019

Abstract

Following the rise of the tennōsei (emperor-centered system) ideology in late Meiji Japan, many Japanese Confucian scholars cited Chinese classics to support the state ideology. The Yijing (Classic of Changes), like many other forms of learning, was also absorbed into the tennōsei discourse. Nemoto Michiaki (1822-1906) was a renowned Yijing scholar who promoted the tennōsei ideology in his Shūeki shōgi bensei (Correct Meanings in the Images of the Zhouyi, 1901). He regarded the Yijing as a book to advocate unbroken imperial succession based on absolute loyalty, believing that the sages wrote the Yijing to warn the people against revolution. His interpretation of the Yijing had a strong impact in prewar Japan. This article is the first academic study of Nemoto Michiaki’s Yijing scholarship, and focuses on how he loosely interpreted the text and images to uphold Meiji state ideology, which would deepen our understanding of the flexibility of the Yijing that allowed it to survive and thrive in political environments of Meiji Japan.