(Takeuchi's research demonstrates how Asians attempted to ...)
Takeuchi's research demonstrates how Asians attempted to make sense of European modernity without sacrificing their own cultural histories. An authentic method of modernity for Asia, Takeuchi concludes, needs to stress difference and plurality as opposed to the homogenizing force of westernization.
In 1931 Takeuchi graduated from high school and entered the faculty of letters at Tokyo Imperial University, where he met his lifelong friend, Taijun Takeda. During 1937 to 1939 Yoshimi studied abroad in Beijing where he became depressed due to the geo-political situation and drank a lot.
Takeuchi formed a highly successful Chinese literature study group with Taijun Takeda in 1934 and this is regarded as the beginning of modern Sinology in Japan. They published an official organ for the group, Chugoku Bungaku Geppo in order to open up the study of contemporary Chinese literature as opposed to the "old-style" Japanese Sinology. In 1940, he changed the title of the official organ from Chugoku Bungaku Geppo to Chugoku Bungaku in which he published a controversial article, "The Greater East Asia War and our resolve" in January 1942.
In January 1943, Takeuchi broke up the Chinese Literature Research Society and decided to discontinue the publication of Chugoku Bungaku despite the group becoming quite successful. In December, he was called up for the Chinese front and stayed there until 1946. This encounter what he saw as the real living China and Chinese people, as opposed to the abstract China of his studies, made a deep impression on him. He threw himself into a study of the modern colloquial language and during this time, his maiden work was published, the book-length study Lu Xun (1944).
After repatriation, Takeuchi's essays "On leader consciousness" and "What is modernity?" became the focus of public attention in 1948 during the Japanese occupation. It is from such essays that his status as an important postwar critic was gradually acknowledged. After 1949, he was greatly moved by the foundation of the People's Republic of China (PRC) and he continued to refer to the PRC in his articles and books.
In 1953, Yoshimi became a full professor at Tokyo Metropolitan University, a post he eventually resigned from in protest at the abuses of parliamentary voting procedures during the period of civil unrest and protest that arose while the ratification of the revised Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan took place in May 1960. During the struggle, he led the movement as one of the foremost thinkers in post-war Japan under the slogan "democracy or dictatorship".
From 1963, Takeuchi argued in favor of Mao Zedong and the Chinese Cultural Revolution in his magazine Chugoku published by Chugoku no Kai until the diplomatic normalization between Japan and the PRC (1972). He was particularly interested in Mao's "Philosophy of base/ground" (konkyochi tetsugaku) which involves the principle of making one's enemy one's own. For Takeuchi, this was similar to Lu Xun's notion of cheng-cha, or endurance/resistance. In his later years, Takeuchi devoted himself to doing a new translation of Lu Xun's works.
Takeuchi felt guilty about the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937. At that time, Tokyo called China as not "Shina" but "Chugoku" for directing friendship between Japan and the Wang Jingwei regime. In Japanese, "Shina" is a discriminatory word for China. Takeuchi attempted to culturally resist such a manner in a period of a total war.
However, as he knew the Greater East Asia War was also to some extent intended and characterized as a war to liberate Asian nations, Takeuchi pathetically declared his resolve (1942) for what he saw as a war of justice, which is generally interpreted as his cooperation with the war effort. After defeat in 1945, however, he knew that the declared aims of the war were deceptive and he tried to explain its aporias of both the liberation of colonies and anti-imperialism.
In 1954, Takeuchi published Kokumin Bungaku-ron [Theory of a national literature]. He criticized Japanese modernism for avoiding the problem of the "nation". Takeuchi envisaged national literature as needing to address the aporia of the nation as a cultural practice.
Quotations: "Yu Dafu - he was an agonal poet. He pursued self-agony with a sincere manner and brought abnormal influence in the Chinese literary world by coming to light in bold expression. Because his agony sums up his young contemporaries' agony."