Volume 6, 2017
Ethics and Justice / Éthique et justice
The Lack of a Concept of Justice in Japan
How to Recognize the Balance Between Opposite Views
In the case of Japan, we accepted the Chinese philosophy of morality when we received the Chinese character Yi: it means responsibility to Heaven (vertical) and, at the same time, responsibility to community (horizontal). An act having this structure might be our responsibility as human beings: yi means “justice”, keeping balance between Heaven and Earth. The Japanese people had such a balance until the Edo era. In 1868, when the Meiji Restoration occurred, the Japanese government tried to accept Western ideas. Cyoumin Nakae introduced the Western philosophy of law and the constitutional system. He translated Rousseau’s The Social Contract into Japanese and gave a series of lectures on the social contract. The fundament of his thought is concentrated in the “rights of Liberty”. He emphasized transcendental liberty beyond personal, phenomenal liberty and found the same structure in Mencius. His idea of ft suggests the way of justice. Unfortunately, this idea was crushed with the death of his talented disciple in prison. After the book of Bushido, ft was only translated as “duty” for the community (horizontal), and we lost the vertical perspective: transcendental liberty.