In 1943, Governor-General Koiso kicked off the new year by intensifying his campaign to further restrict the public spaces in which the Korean language can be used. Apparently, there were still employees in the Seoul prefectural government who spoke Korean at work, but this article from Janauary 1943 indicates that the regime started to crack down on them, so that government employees were no longer allowed to speak Korean at all, either at work or at home. The purported reason for this draconian measure was the “reform of general administration and the simplification of administrative work”. To paraphrase it in the words of Governor-General Koiso, the brain and the limbs had to speak the same language for the body to move in an orderly fashion. This was all part of the “Japanese-Korean unification” policy that was ruthlessly pursued to suppress Korean language, culture, and ethnic identity in Korea, leaving lasting trauma that is still being felt even to this day.
Gyeongseong Ilbo (Keijo Nippo) January 20, 1943
The year of decisive battles, the rush to put things into practice (2) Seoul Edition
Seoul government employees shave their heads and begin to use the Japanese language regularly
Total efforts to simplify administrative work
“The establishment of a Righteous Korea can only be fully realized by training all 24 million people in the various occupational areas to truly adhere to the true meaning of the National Body as Imperial subjects …” were the words of Governor-General Koiso‘s instructions. Every word of his instructions at the opening ceremony of his administration was a fireball that shot into our ears and strained our hearts. Let’s take a look into the “spirit of training” of the Seoul prefectural government employees who are leading the charge on behalf of the 1,000,000 Seoul residents, who have begun the new year full of vigor and determination.
Heroic battles are being fought in the name of the three encouraging principles of the Governor-General that are the key to dealing with the mountain of prefectural administrative work that is piled up before our eyes: “Thorough practice of character-building and training, decisive increase in production capacity, and epoch-making reform of general administration”. These are the enlightened ways for government officials to speedily move forward administrative affairs and reform general administration in the midst of decisive battles. Let’s look into how these three calls have inspired the top executives and staff of the Seoul government at the very beginning of the new year, and how they have begun to pledge their resolve.
From 3:00 p.m. on January 19th in the Prefectural Governor’s room, there was a “Roundtable Discussion on the Rush to Put Things into Practice”. In attendance were Prefectural Governor Furuichi, Mr. Chida, Director of General Affairs, Mr. Hoshimura, Director of Finance, Mr. Tanaka, Director of Internal Affairs, Mr. Matsuo, Director of General Affairs, Mr. Inagaki, Director of the Total National Movement, Mr. Egashira, Director of Industry, Mr. Kaneko, Director of Conscription, Mr. Fujioka, Director of Accounting, and Mr. Takera, Director of Auditing. They have forged strong relationships with Seoul residents by interacting with them at service windows. The participants expressed a level of determination that was appropriate for wartime.
Reporter: “How thorough are the character-building and training programs at the Seoul prefectural government?”
Prefectural Governor Furuichi: “We are doing a great deal. However, that is true of all government offices as well, and we are only doing what we should have been doing all along. For example, all employees visit and worship at Shinto shrines on the 20th of every month, and regular character-building lectures are held at Seoul Citizens Hall on the 10th.”
Mr. Matsuo, Director of General Affairs: “The Seoul prefectural government was the first among the government offices to implement the visiting and worshiping at Shinto shrines, and we have been doing it for 12 years since 1932, when Mr. Inoue was Prefectural Governor. The Shūyōkai (Character-Building Association) began in 1938 to host lectures delivered by renowned speakers, and it has been very effective thanks to the cooperation of the Buddhist community, banks, universities, and the military.”
Prefectural Governor Furuichi: “Last year, a Misogi Training Session was held at the Shūyōdan (character-building) Dōjō for the executives of the government, which was very effective. Most of the participants were from the Department of the Total National Movement. This year, we are planning to extend the training to all employees as soon as the Dōjō is available.”
Mr. Hoshimura, Director of Finance: “It was my first time participating in Misogi, and I attended it only out of curiosity. But as I took the lessons, I discovered how great the Japanese spirit was, and now I am looking at it totally differently. I am currently promoting it to Korean youth.”
Mr. Chida, Director of General Affairs: “Regarding physical exercise, each department has been conducting warm-up exercises, but this time we have decided to newly adopt some ‘Naval-style exercises‘. We are currently conducting a four-day training session for the instructors. We hope to spread the exercises to all 4,000 employees in the near future, so that they can acquire the military spirit and improve their health.”
Reporter: “I heard that the prefectural government is conducting military training.”
Prefectural Governor Furuichi: “We have already conducted military training several times at Kyōnaka Grounds in order to raise awareness of the need for discipline in the workplace, and the results have been very good each time. This year, we would like to make a special effort to conduct group drills in each department, and we will conduct inspections to ensure the thoroughness of the drills.”
Reporter: “I heard that the prefectural government is going to focus exclusively on the regular use of the Japanese language this year. Do you have any ingenious ideas about this in your departments?
Mr. Tanaka, Director of Internal Affairs: “There is one language for 100 million people. The unification of the languages is the first priority for both the reform of general administration and the simplification of administrative work. The exclusive regular use of the Japanese language was agreed upon at the meeting of the heads of the departments on the Day of the Imperial Rescript on the 8th.”
Mr. Fujioka, Director of Accounting: “In my department, we are so serious about it that we have even written a sworn pledge, and we hang slogan cards on the telephones encouraging the exclusive regular use of the Japanese language.”
Mr. Kaneko, Director of Conscription: “I have always been a strict man, and my employees know it, but I have decided that those who do not use the Japanese language regularly are weak-willed and will not receive any promotions or bonuses.” (laughter)
Mr. Matsuo, Director of General Affairs: “I held a regular meeting in the department, and everyone made a pledge to speak correct Japanese at home as well, since the home is an extension of the government office.”
Reporter: “His Excellency the Governor-General compares the current situation in Korea to defects of the brain and nervous system, and he is apparently changing the situation where the policies and guidelines that he had planned have often been inadequately put into practice.”
Prefectural Governor Furuichi: “In order for the four limbs to work in an orderly fashion and with immediate responsiveness under the command of the brain and nervous system, there is no other way but to forcibly put into practice the training of Imperial subjects for everyone, regardless of whether they are government officials or ordinary people. Reform of the general administration is an urgent task at this time.”
Mr. Tanaka, Director of Internal Affairs: “I believe that the bad habit of government offices is that they maintain the status quo and lack progress, stretching out one day into ten years. They refuse to acknowledge any room for improvement, and it seems that there is a lot of waste hidden in the current wartime state of affairs.”
Mr. Kaneko, Director of Conscription: “Some of the employees may be considered inferior, but I try to set my own inherent disposition as an example. I always admonish my subordinates by reminding them that I have not missed a day of work or taken a vacation day in the 31 years since I arrived in Korea.”
Mr. Fujioka, Director of Accounting: “I sometimes hear complaints at the service window, so I try to be as prompt as possible in my work and avoid wasting time with regulations.”
Mr. Takera, Director of Auditing: “Above all, we need to reform our personnel. It is no good if they are absent or tardy, or if they take their 20-day vacation as a matter of course.”
Mr. Tanaka, Director of Internal Affairs: “We hold a special Jingu Taima exorcism ceremony in front of the department, and hold a morning meeting every morning at 9:00 a.m. Those who are late are not allowed to enter because of the shame that they bring.” (laughter) “Thanks to this, we have increased our attendance rate at work.”
Mr. Inagaki, Director of the Total National Movement: “This year, I would like to thoroughly enforce the ‘shaved head’ movement. Unless there are special circumstances, all workers should have their heads shaved.”
Mr. Egashira, Director of Industry: “On my part, I have taken the initiative in cutting off most of my hair, and this attitude has been immediately reflected in my work and has had a positive effect. I believe that the increase in production capacity is also a result of a selfless and dedicated attitude toward work in the workplace.”
The top leadership of the Seoul Prefectural Office, the capital of the Korean peninsula, is in high spirits. The cry to rush forward to put things into practice will be heard in the hearts of the 1,000,000 residents of Seoul. This year, we will see “Our Governor-General” put great things into practice in a big way. Let’s go, Seoul!
[Photo: Group training of Seoul prefectural government employees]