Journal - Volume 5, May 2014

The Context behind Naoya Shiga's "Rōjin": Björnsen and Current Literature

Kumiko OKUNO
Modern Japanese literature, Naoya Shiga, Björnstjern Björnsen, Current Literature

Explanatory Note

"Rōjin (The Old Man)," an early short story by Naoya Shiga, is a work that depicts half the lifetime of an old man based on certain happenings written in chronological order and gives remarkable expression to the loneliness of aging. Shiga's diary from this period as well as his recollections on his writing subject and motive in his later years still exist. However, discrepancies can be found in his memoirs, and precedent research has considered "Rōjin" to have been modeled on Strindberg's "The Phoenix."

Shiga, however, also stated in a memoir written seventeen years after the work's publication that "there were short stories published by authors from the European continent in each issue of the American journal Current Literature," and that he adopted the format of his story from "a short piece by Björnsen that [he had] forgotten the title of." This paper uncovers this "short piece by Björnsen" in Current Literature and reveals it to be "The Father (original title, ‘Faderen')." Through comparison, it analyzes how "Rōjin" skillfully incorporates both the formats of "The Phoenix" and "The Father."

At the same time, while no studies have been made thus far in regards to the fact that modern Japanese writers used the American literary journal Current Literature for their creative work, from the diary of Naoya Shiga and the contents of letters from his friends it has become clear that Current Literature was used in critical and creative activities by Shiga and his colleagues. The purpose of this paper is thus to clarify the creative process behind "Rōjin" and to reveal — for the first time — part of the influence of Current Literature on modern Japanese writing.

The District Supervisor Office Field System and Its Actual Operation: A Window on Ancient Japanese Regional Society

district supervisor, district supervisor office fields, Rice Paddies Code, Tang Civil Code, Attame jōri (field system) site, mokkan (wooden document)

Explanatory Note

The main aim of this contribution is to make an examination of the office fields (shikibunden) of district supervisor from both aspects of the legal system and actual historic conditions.

District supervisors were regional government officials in ancient Japan, bureaucrats who were entrusted with administering their districts. They were chosen among men of influence in their local areas, and thus were persons intimately connected with the local society.

Office fields were paddy lands provided to the person currently holding a particular office, who could take the harvest as his income while in that office. Under the civil code, office fields were provided to officials from the top echelon of the State Council (Ministers and Senior Counselors) and local bureaucrats of Dazaifu Headquarters, as well as the district supervisors.

In this contribution, an evaluation of the legal basis of office fields of district supervisors, stipulated under the Rice Paddies Code, is made while taking into consideration the Tang Civil Code, which was the model for the Japanese Civil Code.

As a result, aspects of the administration and operation of district supervisor office fields that were not stipulated in the Rice Paddies Code have become clear. This indicates that the discretionary powers of those persons allotted these paddies was strong, and that they were lands to which the influence of the central government did not easily extend. Accordingly it has been possible to form the hypothesis that the actual conditions of district supervisor office fields go back to the time prior to the ritsuryō system, and that lands over which the local elite’s influence had been strong were likely redefined as office fields.

Next, as this hypothesis needs testing, an examination was made using an actual example of district supervisor’s office fields. A mokkan (wooden document) recovered from the Attame jōri (field system) site in the city of Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, is related to the district supervisor’s office fields, and it is believed that the office fields of the Iwaki district supervisor were located in the vicinity.

As the region is held to have been a base for the locally powerful elite from the Kofun period on, this situation conforms closely to the hypothesis given above, that office fields of district supervisors were redefined lands over which the local elite’s influence had been strong.

From the above it can be said that the position of district supervisor office fields within the legal structure reflected the realities of local society. From this, whereas the new institutional framework of district supervisor office fields was established on the one hand through the implementation of the ritsuryō system, it can be seen that the traditional influence of the regional elite was not necessarily negated on the other, and from this the limits to the ancient state’s centralized control over the regions, and the actual shape of conditions in regional society, can both be read.

This contribution appeared in the academic peer-reviewed journal Nihon Rekishi (No. 728, 2009), issued by the Nihon Rekishi Gakkai (Japan Historical Society) established in 1949. For this contribution, translation permission has been granted by the headquarters of the Nihon Rekishi Gakkai, housed in the offices of the publisher Yoshikawa Kōbunkan. For the convenience of English readers, the translated article was fully reviewed; and necessary information about proper names, historical events, and Japanese titles was added.

Compensation versus halo effects in competitive or cooperative social settings: Mediation effects of social comparison-based emotions

Naoya YADA, and Tomoko IKEGAMI
competition, cooperation, impression formation, compensatory judgment, social comparison-based emotions


The purpose of this study is to investigate how competitive or cooperative social settings influence person perception. More specifically, we explore conditions under which compensatory judgment based on competence and warmth is triggered, with a focus on the mediational role of social comparison-based emotions: admiration, envy, pity, and contempt. We hypothesized that the type of self-target relationship, which is either competitive or cooperative, determines the nature of emotions aroused by a competent or incompetent target person, which in turn influences the evaluation of this target. A total of 124 undergraduates formed impressions of a single target person depicted as academically competent or incompetent under one of three experimental conditions in which they expected to compete, cooperate, or not to interact with the target. We found a typical compensation effect where high-competence targets were judged as less warm than low-competence targets in a one-target situation regardless of the status of the self-target relationship. Moreover, we obtained clear evidence for the meditational role of upward comparison-based emotions: For the high-competence target, envy facilitated the compensation effect but admiration attenuated it. The role of downward comparison-based emotions (i.e., contempt and pity), however, remains unclear. The limitations of the role of self-target relationships and emotions in compensatory judgment are also discussed.

Editorial Note