Paul Swanson, “Buddhist Socialism in Japan: Thoughts on a Buddhist Monk and Martyr” – April 12

4:15-5:15 p.m. in LaRose Digital Theater (KOBC 101).

Takagi Kenmyo (1864–1914) was a True Pure Land Buddhist priest who was arrested by the Japanese government on trumped-up charges during a crackdown on “socialist elements” in 1910. As part of this so-called Taigyaku “Great Treason” Incident, the government identified Takagi as a troublemaker on account of his social activism for anti-discrimination and anti-war causes during the Russo-Japanese war (1904-05). After Takagi’s arrest, his Buddhist denomination immediately renounced him, rescinded his ordination and drove his family from their temple and home. Takagi himself was sentenced to be executed, but died in prison in 1914, reportedly by his own hand. His honor was finally restored in 1996 with an official apology and the posthumous restoration of his priestly rank. In this presentation Swanson will look at the life and times of Takagi, and examine his experiences and writings (mainly his essay on “My Socialism”) that attest to his role as one of a very few Buddhist priests who conscientiously opposed the official policies and social pressures of early 20th century Japan.