Korean candidate defiantly ran for office in 1943 Seoul elections without official endorsement, only to be forced to drop out and thank Master Imaizumi for soothing his ‘dissatisfaction with the world’

This article details the story of Mr. Kanemitsu (likely originally Mr. Kim) a member of the Seoul prefectural assembly during the Japanese colonial period. It portrays his initial decision to run for office, only to withdraw his candidacy later. The backstory likely involves Mr. Kanemitsu (Kim) committing what the colonial regime viewed as a “grave sin”: running for office without receiving an endorsement from the official ‘nomination system’ of the colonial regime. His candidacy, supported by many sympathetic Koreans hoping for positive changes, likely posed a significant challenge to the colonial authorities.

Mr. Kanemitsu could have suffered severe repercussions for his “grave sin”, ranging from imprisonment to worse. However, his popularity and support among the Koreans probably led to a negotiated settlement. The regime, realizing the advantages of co-opting rather than crushing him, might have offered to drop charges in exchange for his withdrawal from the election and his endorsement in this article calling upon fellow Koreans to embrace the teachings of Master Imaizumi, a prominent spiritual leader propagated by the regime to instill loyalty and obedience among the Koreans. The published story framed his decision to drop out as influenced by a life-changing encounter with Master Imaizumi (see this earlier post, which explores Keijo Nippo’s coverage of Master Imaizumi and his preaching tour through Korea in 1942).

This article likely aimed not only to discourage similar acts of defiance but also to reinforce the regime’s ideological dominance by showcasing Mr. Kim as a model Korean who humbly submitted to Imperial authority. It exemplifies how the regime used media to control the narrative, suppress dissent, and maintain its power over the Korean populace.

Master Imaizumi Teisuke, who is depicted as converting Mr. Kim into a loyal Imperial subject, was a towering figure in the landscape of Shinto theology and a pivotal figure in the colonial regime’s efforts to justify and solidify their rule over Korea. As a prominent Shinto theologian, his life’s work centered around Kokugaku, a nativist movement that valorized Japan’s ancient Shinto traditions while rejecting foreign influences like Christianity, Buddhism, and Chinese philosophy.

By the time of his 12-day lecture tour in Korea in 1942, Imaizumi was an 80-year-old man with a flowing white beard, embodying the image of an ancient sage. His long life had spanned the radical transformation of Japan from a feudal society into a formidable empire. His rigorous defense of Japan’s ancient customs and Shinto roots made him a revered figure, with his words often seen as gospel truth by the colonial rulers in Korea.

During his lectures in Korea, Imaizumi portrayed Japanese-Korean unification in starkly paternalistic terms—comparing it to the relationship between a husband and wife, or a horse and its rider, and later as between a parent and child. These analogies, while paternalistic and demeaning by today’s standards, were aimed at reinforcing the colonial hierarchy and legitimizing Japanese dominance. His speeches, extensively covered in the Keijo Nippo, reveal the religious and ideological zealotry that underpinned Japan’s colonial policy, including the forceful imposition of State Shintoism on the Korean populace.

Despite being the grand spiritual leader of Imperial Japan, Master Imaizumi apparently experienced a dramatic fall from grace sometime between 1943 and 1944, because his death on September 11, 1944 was marked by a notably perfunctory obituary, reflecting his diminished stature. Today, his works are no longer in print and have faded into obscurity, largely forgotten even among Japanese neo-imperialists. This decline in relevance could partly be attributed to his political outspokenness against the wartime policies of the Imperial Japanese military. Though these critical comments led to censorship of his works, precise details of his criticisms are scant and remain a subject for further research.


Gyeongseong Ilbo (Keijo Nippo) May 9, 1943

“I made a mistake by running for office”

Preparing to Sever Bonds with Friends, He Withdrew Gracefully

He was Guided by the Teachings of Master Imaizumi

As previously reported on May 6th, Mr. Kanemitsu Satoshi (40 years old), the current member of the Seoul Prefectural Assembly from 44 Yeongdeungpo-Dong, had intended to run in the upcoming Seoul Prefectural Assembly election on May 21st with the encouragement of many of his close supporters. However, before filing for his candidacy, he came to know the significance of the nomination system, and realized that running for office as a free candidate during wartime could disrupt the solid unity between the government and the people. Despite desperate pleas from his close supporters, he visited Gyeonggi Province on May 7 and, having resolved to even sever ties with old friends, he announced his decision not to stand as a free candidate, impressing the officials present.

Mr. Kanemitsu was elected as a member of the Gyeonggi Provincial Assembly in 1937, and he greatly contributed to his district by founding Sinheung School and Yeongchang School, and by serving as the head of the local defense group. The development of Mr. Kanemitsu’s profound nationalistic ideas was unexpectedly influenced by the teachings of the Kokugaku scholar Imaizumi Teisuke, who had traveled around the Korean peninsula last October preaching the True Essence of the National Body. This has led to a deeper appreciation of Master Imaizumi’s remarkable influence, on which Mr. Kanemitsu commented as follows: [Photo: Master Imaizumi (left) and Mr. Kanemitsu]

“Listening to Master Imaizumi’s lectures can soothe anyone’s dissatisfaction with the world. Such is the virtue of the teacher. I have been his disciple for a long time, and it was always a pleasure to listen to his lectures every time I visited Tokyo. I remember him teaching that the True Essence of the National Body is to return to the gods. This also means that once a policy is determined as ‘the right way’ by those above, those below must absolutely follow and promote it.

In that context, even if there were some dissatisfactions with the nominated candidates, I realized that standing as a free candidate would incite unnecessary competition and waste resources, which would be an act against the nation. Therefore, out of admiration for the teacher’s virtue, I have steadfastly refused the persuasions of many acquaintances and decided against running as a free candidate. It is rumored that I have already submitted my candidacy, but that is certainly not the case. Even if I filed as a free candidate by mistake, that would surely be dishonorable to Master Imaizumi, would it not?”


京城日報 1943年5月9日









Source: https://archive.org/details/kjnp-1943-05-09/page/n5/mode/1up

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