Portal site for Russellian in Japan


Bertrand Russell at Keio University, July 1921(5)
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Russell appended the following, perhaps ambiguous, comment to the letter: "Humbug is international."*11 This "staff member" was actually Yamamoto Sanehiko*12 the editor of Kaizo. It is difficult to gauge Russell's feelings towards Yamamoto, although judging from Yamamoto's own reminiscences*13 (he describes Russell's behaviour as childish) their was some friction. Russell may certainly have regretted taking up Kaizo's invitation. Yamamoto might have been responsible for the somewhat effusive English language "Welcome to the Hon. Bertrand Russell" printed in the July 1921 edition of Kaizo on his arrival, in which it is stated that despite a critical illness "he is now among us, a star to illuminate the dark sky of our realm of thought ... he is the first of the great thinkers of the West to be invited by Reconstruction to lecture in this country ..." and ends with the rather misplaced hope that "among the hot springs, the blue mountains, and the natural beauties of our countryside, he will recuperate himself peacefully and at leisure..."
 Russell and Dora Black were hounded by the vernacular press throughout their stay in Japan, with the consequence that the philosopher ardently refused to give interviews, to the point of turning his face aside and keeping his mouth shut whenever a Japanese journalist approached. This inevitably incurred the enmity of the press:

He has been a guest of Mr. Young of the Japan Chronicle since his arrival, but somehow or other he is on his guard against Japanese journalists. When interviewed by Press representatives at Moji, he handed them a piece of paper stating that Mr. Bertrand Russell, having died (according to the Japanese Press) three months earlier, he [sic.] had no statements to issue to the press*14.


*11 Autobiography, p. 140.
*12 Founder of the company Kaizosha, which published the magazine from 1919 to 1955. It ran into trouble with the government in 1942 and was suspended in 1944, but resumed in 1946, eventually to collapse after an industrial dispute in 1955. Among the regular contributors during the earlier period of the magazine's publication were Sakai Toshihiko, Yamakawa Hitoshi, Osugi Sakae and Kagawa Toshihiko.
*13 Yamamoto Sanehiko, Shuppanjin no ibun [Essays of an Editor] (Tokyo: 1968). Yamamoto erroneously dates the Kejo lecture as July 27th.
*14 Japan Chronicle, Friday, July 29, 1921, p. 5. "As the Japanese papers had refused to contradict the news of my death, Dora gave each of them a type-written slip saying that as I was dead I could not be interviewed. They drew in their breath through their teeth and said: Ah! veree funnee!" Autobiography, p. 132. See also Dora Russell, The Tamarisk Tree, p. 144.