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.

[Translation]

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?”

[Transcription]

京城日報 1943年5月9日

”立候補、我れ誤まてり”

友との義絶も覚悟、潔く撤回

蔭に今泉翁の訓え

既報=六日、近親知己多数の声援を得て来る二十一日の京城府議改選に出馬の意志を持っていた現府会議員京城永登浦町四四、金光敏氏(四〇)は、届け出前において早くも推薦制の意義を知り、自由立候補を行うこと自体が戦時下官民協調の固き結束を破る基であるとして、近親の切なる勧めにも拘わらず遂に振り切ったが、更に旧友と義絶も覚悟の上、七日京畿道を訪れ、改めて自由立候補の意志なき決意を述べて関係官を感嘆させた。

なお同氏は昭和十二年には京畿道会議員に当選、現在の新興、永彰二学校を設立、或は町総代警防団長に就任するなど、大いに町のために尽くした。この崇高な氏の国家的観念を培養した原因がはからずも昨年十月来鮮して半島に国体本義を説き巡った国学者今泉定助翁の手近な訓えを蒙った結果であることが判り、翁の感化力の偉大さに今更感を深めたが、これについて氏は次のように所懐を述べた。【写真=今泉翁(左)と金光氏】

「世の中にどんな不満があっても今泉先生の御講話を聴けば誰しも心が和みます。それほど先生の徳は高いのです。私は予てから先生に師事し、上京毎に訪れて御講話を拝聴するのが何よりも楽しみでした。先生は日頃から、国体の本義は神に帰一することだ、と訓えて下さったように記憶しておりますが、これは一度上が”これだ”と示した方針には絶対下が従ってこれを盛り上げて行くという意味にもなります。

その意味において今回の推薦された人々に対しては多少なりとも不満の点があったとしても、そのために自由立候補して無駄な競争を起させ、資源を減らすことはより以上に反国家的な仕打ちで私はあくまでも先生の徳を慕い、幾多知友の勧めも断って自由候補に立つことは止めました。

世間の噂では一度届けを提出したといわれているそうですが、決して左様なことはありません。たとえ間違っても自由候補の届を出したとあっては今泉先生に相済まぬことではありませんか。」

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

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