Thursday, June 11, 2009
Lords of the Samurai 1: Hosokawa Morihiro
"Lords of the Samurai" is an amazing new exhibit opening Friday for the summer at the Asian Art Museum.
It could just as easily be called "Treasures from the Hosokawa Family" because just about the entire exhibit consists of holdings from one of Japan's oldest royal families whose belongings, through luck and circumstance, were never destroyed in wars or bombings over 700 years.
Hosokawa Morihiro (above), a genuine Daimyo (Lord) from the Hosokawa family, was at the museum's press preview.
The American Occupation abolished Japanese peerage in 1947, so Hosakawa Morihiro was a marquis for his first nine years, and then became a journalist and a politician in the 1970s, serving in the National Diet (Congress) for two terms before becoming governor of Kumamoto until 1991.
In 1992, he publicly proclaimed himself disgusted with the corruption of the LDP Party which had run Japan for 38 years, and he started the reform "Japan New Party," where he was swept into office as Prime Minister in 1993.
This didn't set well with his opposition and they dug up a scandal involving misuse of funds in the 1980s which drove Hosokawa Morihiro out of office after 8 months.
Still, those eight months were historic, including the first apology to the rest of the world by a Japanese leader for its actions in World War II, "a war of aggression, a mistaken war."
To gauge how brave this gesture was, imagine how long it's going to take before an official leader of the United States utters similar words about Vietnam, Iraq and now Afghanistan.