Skip to menu

How to Use Historical Records. -The Search-

HOME > How to Use Historical Records. -The Search-

Exploring the Background by Comparison with Other Materials - The Search -

Why was YAMANASHI Katsunoshin so concerned about TAKARABE Takeshi, to the extent that he felt he had to send a letter to SAITO Makoto? Let's explore the reasons by digging into various other historical records besides the letter.

Evidence from YAMANASHI's Autobiography

YAMANASHI, Autobiography wrote of the circumstances of the time:
"Minister Plenipotentiary TAKARABE seemed nervous and lacking in confidence, and I thought it would not be such a good idea to have him return to Japan at this juncture, so I dispatched Adjutant KOGA (Mineichi) to Harbin to bolster him. Fortunately, Minister TAKARABE had the chance to meet with Commander-in-Chief, TANIGUCHI (Naomi) of the Kure Naval Base and Governor General SAITO of Korea who were inspecting military personnel in north Korea, and who greatly encouraged him. Then firmed up his resolve, and he returned to Tokyo on 19 May ."
p. 129, "Yamanashi, Posthumous Writings of Katsunoshin-sensei" (1968), ed. YAMANASHI Katsunoshin-sensei Memorial Publication Committee.

Just as we read in the letter, we can see from the "Autobiography" that YAMANASHI was concerned about TAKARABE. And the "Autobiography" also seems to show that SAITO Makoto was serving in the capacity of a confidante to TAKARABE. Still, as the "Autobiography" was written many years later as a retrospective, we need substitution from contemporary 1930 (Showa 5) historical records. What in reality was the case?

Evidence from TAKARABE Takeshi's Diary

If we read the entry of 7 May 1930 (Showa 5) of the Diary of TAKARABE Takeshi, we note that while he touched upon the meeting he had with SAITO Makoto, he unfortunately included no further details. However, TAKARABE does leave some notations in the Diary hinting at his perception of the situation. There, he writes of a concerning the visit from a Tokyo Nichi Nichi Shinbun reporter, and comments, "This has given me a hint of the hard questions I will face from reporters", adding that he learned through the newspapers that "the problem of the prerogative of supreme command is at the boiling point in Tokyo".

Diary of TAKARABE Takeshi (Papers of TAKARABE Takeshi, #44, Constitutional Government Documents Collection, National Diet Library)

Diary of TAKARABE Takeshi Papers of TAKARABE Takeshi #44[photograph]

Diary of TAKARABE Takeshi Papers of TAKARABE Takeshi #40, 41, 42, 43, 45[photograph]
Diary of TAKARABE Takeshi Papers of TAKARABE Takeshi #40, 41, 42, 43, 45

It thus appears that a key point in understanding the letter is to study the newspapers from that period. With this as a clue, let us go on in exploring the situation.

Evidence from contemporary newspaper accounts

As TAKARABE wrote in his Diary, the newspapers of the time were printing daily accounts of the fierce struggle being waged in the Diet over the issue of the Emperor's prerogative of supreme command. The actions of TAKARABE, in particular, were a focus of attention, to the point that, among them, TAKARABE's "imprudence" was at the root of the disputation.

Navy Minister TAKARABE's imprudence brought about this mess Tokyo Asahi Shinbun, 9 May 1930 (Showa 5) evening
Navy Minister TAKARABE's imprudence brought about this mess
Tokyo Asahi Shinbun, 9 May 1930 (Showa 5) evening

If the actions and words of TAKARABE, who was in the thick of this political dispute, were lacking in consistency, then the complication was the inevitable result. Perhaps YAMANASHI Katsunoshin was concerned about TAKARABE.

London Naval Treaty - What happened afterwards?

The HAMAGUCHI Cabinet, backed by the Genro, Jushin (senior statesmen), and public opinion, successfully maneuvered the Treaty through the National Diet, and then rammed it through the Privy Council, finally achieving ratification it on 2 October. The following day, TAKARABE resigned as Navy Minister.

Deep seated condemnation of the Treaty's signing remained, describing on the ground that it involved the "violation of the prerogative of supreme command," and in November 1930 (Showa 5), Prime Minister HAMAGUCHI Osachi was shot and wounded badly of a radical nationalist. A few months later, in April 1931 (Showa 6), the HAMAGUCHI Cabinet collapsed.

The conclusion of the London Naval Treaty thus stirred up great political turmoil. Japan pulled out of the Treaty in 1936 (Showa 11), putting an end to the era of disarmament.

What has been presented in this corner is merely one example of how to make use of the historical documents. By simultaneously looking at other documents that were written from different perspectives, one may gain a more "substantial" understanding.

We would be glad if this explanation has enlightened you even a little bit about how a single letter can reflect the situation that existed at the time, and that this exercise will serve as well as a guide on how to look at the documents on display at this exhibition.

Related Materials

Diary of TAKARABE Takeshi (Papers of TAKARABE Takeshi, #44, Constitutional Government Materials Room, National Diet Library)
"Yamanashi, Posthumous Writings of Katsunoshin-sensei" (1968), ed. by "YAMANASHI Katsunoshin-sensei Memorial Publication Committee."<NDL #GK158-39>

Historical Records related to London Naval Conference (Link to explanation of documents 3-17, 3-18)

Scene of Naval forces agreement Signing ceremony Tokyo Asahi Shinbun, 7 May 1930 (Showa 5) evening[image]
Scene of Naval forces agreement Signing ceremony
Tokyo Asahi Shinbun, 7 May 1930 (Showa 5) evening

Related References Works

For example of sosho (calligraphic) writing:
"Dictionary of Handwriting Examples," New Edition (Tokyo-do Press, 1993) <NDL #KC612-E52>
Biographical information on navy officers:
"Comprehensive Dictionary of the Japanese Army and Navy," 2nd printing, HATA Ikuhiko, ed. (University of Tokyo Press, 2005) <NDL #A112-H259>
Biographies of Japanese statesmen and political personages:
Catalog of Bibliographies of Modern and Contemporary Japanese political personages
For those interested in further information on the historical background:
"The Road to the Pacific War," Vol. 1 (New Edition, Asahi Shinbunsha, 1987), ed. by the Pacific War Causes Research Department of The Japan Association of International Relations. <NDL #GB531-246>
ITO Takashi "Research into the Political History of the Early Showa Period: The Conflicts and Coordination of Various Political Factions vis-á-vis the London Naval Treaty Problem" (University of Tokyo Press, 1969) <NDL #GB521-3>
Copyright © 2006-2010 National Diet Library. Japan. All Rights Reserved.