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Datsu-A Ron (Japanese Kyūjitai: 脫亞論, Shinjitai: 脱亜論) was an editorial which was first published in the Japanese newspaper Jiji Shimpo on March 16, 1885. The writer is thought to be Japanese author and educator Fukuzawa Yukichi, but the original editorial was written anonymously. The editorial was contained in the second volume of Fukuzawa's complete works in 1933. The title Datsu-A Ron has been translated variously as the argument for “Good-bye Asia,” “de-Asianization,” “shedding Asia,” “escape from Asia,” “leaving Asia,” or “On departure from Asia.”
The article first declared that the “Wind of Westernization” was blowing through the east and either countries would adopt the movement to “taste the fruit of civilization” or be left without a choice in their own destiny. “Civilization is like the measles. And it is better than the measles that it can bring interests.” It was therefore Fukuzawa's assertion that in order to develop personal and national self-determination, one must sail on the aforementioned winds of civilization. Impeding the road to civilization lay a conservative government (Tokugawa Shogunate); only when this government was overthrown could civilization be realized in Japan. The key to get rid of the old, and gain the new would be “Leaving Asia”. During the Meiji Restoration Japan was seen as spiritually “Leaving Asia,” since its two neighbors, China and Korea, did not appear to be embracing such reformation. Unless there were pioneers to reform these countries, they would be conquered and divided by external forces, as evidenced by the unequal treaties and threat of force pushed on Asian counties by the U.S. and other Western powers.
A corroborating passage from Datsu-A Ron reads:
|“||Once the wind of Western civilization blows to the East, every blade of grass and every tree in the East follow what the Western wind brings... The spread of civilization is like the measles... In my view, these two countries [China and Korea] cannot survive as independent nations with the onslaught of Western civilization to the East... It is not different from the case of the righteous man living in a neighborhood of a town known for foolishness, lawlessness, atrocity, and heartlessness. His action is so rare that it is always buried under the ugliness of his neighbors' activities... We do not have time to wait for the enlightenment of our neighbors so that we can work together toward the development of Asia. It is better for us to leave the ranks of Asian nations and cast our lot with civilized nations of the West... Those [who] are intimate with bad friends are also regarded bad, therefore I will deny those bad Asian friends from my heart.||”|
"Datsu-A Ron" has been said to be Fukuzawa's response to a failed attempt by Koreans to organize an effective reform faction, an attempt he had supported. He had invited young Korean aristocrats to his school. He supported Yu Giljun who is the first foreign student of Korea, and one of his disciples, Kim Okgyun, tried a coup d'état but failed. These failures pushed Fukuzawa to develop his “Leaving Asia” ideology. Neverless, the assistance provided to radical Koreans during this era was generally not intended to lead to complete independence for the peninsula, but rather sought to bring Korea under ever greater Japanese influence. This culminated in the cynical power-plays undertaken in Korea by both Koreans supported by Fukuzawa and the Japanese Imperial Army during the Sino-Japanese War.
His enthusiastic support of the Sino-Japanese War had much to do with his opinions about modernization. Like many of his peers in the government, Fukuzawa ultimately believed modernization in Asia could best be achieved at the point of a gun. He believed that China suffered from archaic and unchanging principles. At the time of the war, foot binding was still the practice in China as well as cruel punishments like torture that Japan had already outlawed, opium was sold on the street, and political institutions were failing to fend off foreign incursions, and interests like railroads and taxation were sold to pay debt. Japan, similarly, suffered the humiliation of having to endure unequal treaties with the Western powers, and Fukuzawa hoped a display of military prowess would sway opinion in the West towards treaty revision. In his hopes for a strong Japan, Fukuzawa saw the Asian countries around Japan as potential deterrents in need of guidance.
- On March 16, 1885 Datsu-A Ron was first published as an editorial of newspaper Jiji Shinpo without a signature. Then, strictly speaking, the writer is not clear.
- In 1885, no comment was found about Datsu-A Ron. Yo Hirayama researched Jiji Shinpo after March 16, 1885, he could not find any reference of Datsu-A Ron. And Hirayama researched the three newspapers: Tokyo Yokohama Mainichi Shinbun, Yubin Houchi Shinbun, and Choya Shinbun from March 17 to March 27, he could not find any comment of Datsu-A Ron. So, Hirayama concluded that the editorial had no effect in 1885.
- The editorial had been forgotten for 48 years. No comment is found in these years.
- On July 1933, the editorial was contained in Keio Gijyuku ed., Zoku-Fukuzawa Zenshū (続福澤全集, “The Continued Complete Works of Fukuzawa”) vol.2. Since then the writer has been regarded as Fukuzawa. Then, still no comment is found from 1933 to 1951.
- From Hirayama's research, the first comment was found as a paper on November, 1951. It is the paper of Nisshin-sensō to Fukuzawa Yukichi (日清戦争と福沢諭吉, “The Sino-Japanese War and Yukuchi Fukuzawa”) by Shigeki Tōyama.
- The second comment was found as a paper of May, 1952, that Toyo-ni-okeru Nihon-no ichi (東洋における日本の位置, "The position of Japan in the Pacific") by Shiso Hattori.
- The third comment was found as a paper of August, 1953, that Bunmei-kaika (文明開化, “The civilization”) by Shiso Hattori.
- The fourth comment was found as a paper of June, 1956, that Nihon Kindai-Shiso-no Keisei (日本近代思想の形成, "The formation of Japanese modern ideas") by Masanao Kano.
- In June 1960, the editorial was contained again in Masafumi Tomita, Shun-ichi Tsuchihashi ed., Fukuzawa Yukichi Zensyu (福澤諭吉全集, “The Complete Works of Yukichi Fukuzawa”) vol.10.
- The fifth comment was found as a paper of July 1960, that Ajia-no-nakano Nihon (アジアのなかの日本, "Japan in Asia") by Koji Iizuka.
- The sixth comment was found as a paper of 1961, that Nihon-to Ajia (日本とアジア, “Japan and Asia”) by Yoshimi Takeuchi.
- In August 1963, Takeuchi contained the full text of Datsu-A Ron in Gendai-Nihon Shiso Taikei (現代日本思想大系, “The survey of current Japanese ideas”).
- In 1967, two paperback were published which commented Datsu-A Ron. These are Fukuzawa Yukichi—Ikitsuzukeru Shisoka (福沢諭吉—生きつづける思想家, "Yukichi Fukuzawa--Living Theorist") by Kenji Kono and Fukuzawa Yukichi (福沢諭吉, “Yukichi Fukuzawa”) by Masanao Kano. Then, the editorial became popular in Japan and it became notorious as the theory of Japanese Imperialism.
- In 1970s, there were many papers with almost same comment.
- In March 1981, Junji Banno published the new interpretation of Datsu-A Ron in the commentary of Fukuzawa Yukichi Sensyu (福沢諭吉選集, “Selected works of Yukichi Fukuzawa”) vol.7, ISBN 4-00-100677-4. Banno interpres Datsu-A Ron as the declaration of failure to attempt by Koreans to organize an effective reform faction.
- In 1996, Shinya Ida developed the decision method of writer by style and lexicon about literary works. Ida adapted his method to Datsu-A Ron and presumed the writer as Yoshio Takahashi or Yukichi Fukuzawa. It is written in History and Text (歴史とテクスト) ISBN 4-89542-189-9 (Japanese).
- Legacy list from:Hirayama, Yo (2004). Fukuzawa Yukichi no shinjitsu (福沢諭吉の真実) (in Japanese). Bungei Shunju. pp. 193–239. ISBN 978-4-16-660394-7. OCLC 57495623.
- Sinh Vinh (October 1984). "On departure from Asia: Datuaron". Fukuzawa Yukichi Nenkan (Tokyo: Fukuzawa Yukichi Kyokai) 11.
- David John Lu, ed. (November 1996). "Good-bye Asia (1885)". Japan: a documentary history : The Late Tokugawa Period to the Present. Armonk, New York: M.E. Sharpe. pp. 351–353. ISBN 0-7656-0036-6.