Contestation and consensus: The morality of

abortion in Japan
By William R. LaFleur
Philosophy East and West
XL:4 1990.10 p. 529-542
(C) by University of Hawaii Press


p. 529 I. ETHICAL DISCOURSE AND ITS CARETAKERS IN JAPAN One of the things we in the West still lack is anything even approximating a Western-language history of ethical thought in Japan. We have mere bits and pieces. One unfortunate result of this Lack of an adequate historical account is that Western studies easily fall prey to whole-cloth attempts to identify the Japanese ethic--as if it were something timeless and changeless. Moreover, inasmuch as Western work on Japanese intellectual history is still so sketchy, talk about Japanese ethics habitually becomes a discussion of "the Japanese system of values," and, once there, it is a simple and easy matter to adopt and revalorize the findings of anthropologists and social psychologists--but without recognizing that the supposition of synchronicity is built into this method from the outset. History loses out every time. This, of course, means that present patterns of social and moral life tend to be projected back into the whole of the past. It is no wonder, therefore, that "seamless-garment" descriptions of Japan dominate our literature, both scholarly and popular. One concept that seemingly bedevils all efforts to break this pattern is the widely held assumption that in Japan the life of the mind was neatly categorized and parcelled out. In this telling it was to Buddhists and the practitioners of Shinto that the religious life went, whereas to Confucianism was given the whole of the moral and ethical domain. It is usually assumed that this neat differentiation "worked" throughout the ages, so that Buddhism and Confucianism, for instance, usually stayed out of each other's territory. In this way, what I would call a kind of "intellectual etiquette" is imagined, one in which ideas stay in set places and friction is minimal if not nonexistent. On this view it is often believed that, if and when Buddhism aspired to be comprehensive, the fact that it was "other-worldly" meant it had virtually nothing to say about ethics, and, as a consequence, Buddhism usually plugged this particular lacuna within itself by adopting norms and values that were Confucian in origin. In this view ideas are at their best when characterized by a kind of hardware-store handiness; they plug and fill holes in systems. The West's favorite version of this is usually cast in the neat "this-worldly/ other-worldly" rubric, a concept that for many decades has not only filled the pages of social science writing but has also left a deep imprint on attempts of humanists--not only in the West but reflexively in Japan as well--to deal with the great complexities of Japanese intellectual, moral, and religious history. This compartmentalization is, I maintain, not something to which all Japanese thinkers, and especially those early in history, would have readily ------------------------------ William R. LaFleur is a professor of Japanese in the Department of Oriental Studies at University of Pennsylvania. Philosophy East & West, volume 40, no. 4 (October 1990).copyright by University of Hawaii Press. All rights reserved. p. 530 assented. They seem not to have shared our more modern and hard distinction between religion and ethics--or the notion that these are divisible domains. Kukai(a) (774-835), for instance, in a work like Sango shiiki(b), strongly preferred Buddhism over Confucianism (and Taoism as well), but not because Buddhism is religious and as such belongs to an intrinsically different (or higher) realm. Rather he saw it in its entirety as a religio-ethical system more comprehensive and satisfying than Confucianism. That is, in his interpretation, it is as an ethic too that Buddhism was to be preferred. Extending arguments used in China. Kukai held that Buddhism was more ethically penetrating than Confucianism because it does not narrowly focus on duties to parents but articulates the principle of "great filial piety," according to which all creatures are deserving of attention and respect.(n.1) Becoming a monk or leaving "householding life" was for Kukai an act of unity with this larger moral community.(n.2) In a similar way Buddhists in early Japan argued for acceptance of the teaching of karma--Kyokai(c) in the eighth century for instance--because in their view karma was the mechanism for greater moral sensitivity.(n.3) Thus, it would have amazed them to hear modern discussions of a Buddhism needing Confucianism to take care of ethical matters. It was possibly not until the Muromachi period (1334-1573)--and especially with new language about the "three teachings'' (Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism) and their complementarity--that a different model was offered. Even then, however, this was a controversial matter and remained so throughout much of the Tokugawa period. It was not until the Meiji era (1867-1912) that the notion of divided mental labor became fixed--a dogma that was in many ways ideological. The peculiar thing is that we inherit that short history--and think it long. We also, of course, often think it "natural." That division, however, has had a semblance of truth in part because throughout the centuries prominent Japanese Buddhists did not appear to formulate specifically ethical systems. That is, there was a considerable reluctance on their part to conceive of ethics as an independent object of inquiry--and especially not as the subject for a genre of writing identifiable as "the treatise on ethics." It should come as no surprise, then, that when Watsuji Tetsuro (1889-1960), having been encouraged by others early on in his career to write a truly modern and systematic work on ethics from a Buddhist perspective, faced this problem in 1927 in writing his Genshi Bukkyo no jissen tetsugaku(d) (Original Buddhism's Philosophy in Praxis). Both his dilemma and his approach are instructive. After a lengthy preface he began his first chapter by taking up the problem of `Saakyamuni's famous "silence'' when the latter was addressed with certain kinds of questions.(n.4) Although the usual explanation of `Saakyamuni's "silence" was that he refused to answer such questions because they had no value in the quest for religious liberation--as if "religion" in that narrow a sense were the Buddha's prime concern--Watsuji rejected this view. Instead he insisted on reading the Buddha's silence as signaling an p. 531 enlightened refusal to buy into the problematics of an abstract metaphysics; like Kant he wanted to turn instead to the realm of the practical and what has been experienced. Watsuji read `Saakyamuni as having turned to the "experience" of everyday life. Since in this way he took it as primarily concerned with matters of praxis, Watsuji has been reclaiming Buddhism as an ethic. It may be that Watsuji, in trying to reclaim ethics as a realm of primary interest to Buddhists, overstated the case and in his own way neglected "religion." (n.5) His attempt to correct the Meiji distortion of Buddhism by restoring its place within traditional Japanese ethics, however, is important-- and a point with which modern studies still have not adequately reckoned. Japanese history will be incorrectly rendered if it is assumed that throughout it Buddhism handled ultimate religious questions and left ethics and the whole of diurnal life in the care of Confucianism. The "this-worldly/other-worldly" way of categorizing things, so important to modern interpreters, must be treated with caution and suspicion when used to describe the past. I am also suggesting here that the tendency to overlook or dismiss Buddhism's investment in the ethical dimension arises from the fact that the bulk of Buddhist ethical positions and insights have--at least in Japanese history--often come down in "mixed'' forms: in discussions of the workings of karma,(n.6)in ritual actions that are more interested in adumbrating "order,"' (chitsujo(e)) than in what Western ethics identify as a concern for "justice," and in treatises like Shotoku Taishi's(f) "Constitution of Seventeen Articles'' (Jushichi-jo-kenpo(g))--the latter being a document in which the Buddhist component can be easily, but mistakenly, read as being little more than merely doxological. There can be no neat correlation between a given tradition's actual contribution to a people's moral and ethical life and the corpus of its discursive writings dealing distinctively and unmixedly with ethics. Actual moral reasoning is more likely to combine a variety of disparate things. Borrowing Levi-Strauss' term, Jeffrey Stout has written of the need to recognize the reality of "moral bricolage," and I think he is right.(n.7) Actual reasoning often employs bricolage. Lack of clarity on that point has meant that the scholarly community, especially in the West, has habitually by-passed or denigrated vast amounts of materials that are important to understand the history of ethical thinking in Japan. It has also led to a systematic pattern of ignoring and downplaying those times and ways in which there was real conflict and contestation in Japanese ethical and religious life. In keeping with the fact that some recent works in Japanese have paid increasing attention to the reality and energy of intellectual contestation in Japanese history,(n.8) I am here suggesting that we, at least for heuristic purposes, reject as flawed the common assumption that there usually was a neat division of intellectual labor in Japan. To assume that Buddhists merely plugged Confucianism into their teachings as a kind of caretaker for "the world," ethics, and the family is an assumption that tends to flatten the real shape of ethical discourse in Japan. It also reads as complementary and "harmonized" certain points that were, in fact. often fraught with conflict over both principles and practice. II. ABORTION IN JAPAN: THE CONTESTATION I believe this to be eminently true in the case of Japanese thinking about abortion. I have elsewhere narrated what I take to be the history of Japanese Buddhist thinking about abortion as a moral and religious problem.(n.9) Within that history I have located a phase in the early half of the nineteenth century when what I call a distinct difference between Buddhists on the one hand and Confucians and Shinto-based Kokugaku scholars on the other took shape. I detail why it is clear that the Buddhists for the most part took the position that abortion was what we call a "necessary evil"--although their term was a "necessary sorrow." Their opponents rejected all abortion as morally and religiously wrong. A common Buddhist position, in this sense comparatively "soft" on abortion, is expressed in the tradition of memorial rituals (kuyo(h) ) provided in cases of abortion; it can also be known from the materials in which Buddhists were attacked on this point by their opponents. This is not to say that Buddhists had no qualms about abortion or did not recognize a tension between its practice and the precept against taking life. It is merely to note that they were more flexible on this point than were the Confucians and proponents of late Kokugaku. The latter, especially. mixed religion and politics unabashedly; beginning in the nineteenth century a family's reproductivity was read as an index to patriotism. This became intense in the Meiji period--an eloquent demonstration of Bellah's observation that in Japan "the family does not stand over against the polity but is integrated into it and to an extent penetrated by it."(n.10) Therefore, the Buddhist stance at that time was charged with being a threat to national well-being and as a flagrant offense to the gods--gods that protect the nation and are happiest when people's 'seeds" germinate into whole persons in great numbers. Of course, the fact that there was a political aspect to the entire discourse also helps explain why the Buddhists dared to express their "soft" stand only indirectly. In fact, the Buddhist "position" on this was articulated not so much through treatises as through ritual, surely a "safer" medium in their situation. I would, however, point out that this indirect, mixed, or muted discourse on specific moral questions had by this point already become 'traditional' for Japanese Buddhists. Here was an instance where a traditional mode of expression also happened to be the only politically viable one; that it came in a muted form, however, does not mean it was not a distinct and discernible position. Its opponents knew it was at odds with their view and we, too, can reconstruct why that was so--and, therefore, its structure as an ethical stance on abortion. p. 533 During the later half of the nineteenth century, much changed in Japan. What the government perceived as a "population stagnation" conflicted with imperial designs. Japan's growing need for human manpower, a need that was to grow with rapid industrialization and a military buildup for foreign wars, fit hand-in-glove with the antiabortion arguments advanced early in the nineteenth century by Kokugaku advocates and Confucians. This meant that a process was in place that led to the criminalization of abortion soon after the Meiji Restoration in 1868. During the latter half of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth, therefore, the case against abortion, identifiable with this Shinto revival and with Confucian points of view, held sway in Japan. What I call "fecundism" became the order of the day and was associcated in the public mind with "family" values. Given the fact that in 1945 Japan underwent as thorough and total a crisis as can be imagined, the ban on abortion. too, began to be rethought. Whereas during the decades of rapid industrialization, militarization, colonial expansion, and war, abortion had been proscribed, after the Pacific War things were completely different. To some degree what had been the Kokugaku/ Confucian opposition to abortion had been totally discredited by the events of history, most especially Japan's a own defeat in 1945. Beginning at that time--especially given the tightness of basic resources--there was a deep concern about an explosion of the population. Thus once again a more "Buddhist' view, traditionally amenable to seeing abortion as a "necessary suffering," was the view that for all practical purposes was adopted when, in 1948, the process was begun to legalize abortion once again. Although what we here call "the Buddhist view" was not articulated in terms of explicit arguments, it was implicit in Buddhism's readiness to provide "rituals of memorial" for aborted fetuses (mizuko(i)), a view widely perceived as tolerating abortion. It is probably not an exaggeration to say that, at least since 1948, on this ethical question it has been the Buddhist view which, consciously or not, has been what underlies actual practice. The point that I want to emphasize here is not the one that ethical positions merely traipse along in the wake of political needs but, in fact, a quite different one--namely, that ethical discourse in Japan has in fact been much more diverse and conflict-ridden than most commentators assume. It also interests me that, once we begin to derive our readings of ethical positions from materials that are "mixed" and do not necessarily come in a genre recognizable as "the ethical treatise," we can more readily reconstruct what clearly seems historically to have been a distinctly Buddhist approach to abortion in Japan, a position in actuality quite different from the total opposition--at least from the early nineteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries--to it by persons selfconsciously representing Confucianism and the Neo-Shinto phase of Kokugaku. This is not to say that certain schools of Buddhists, especially those in the Pure Land tradition, have not objected both to abortion and to the p.534 mizuko rites. It is merely to note a trajectory of comparative tolerance of the practice. III. ABORTION IN JAPAN: CONSENSUS What are we to make of the fact that, whereas what I call Japan's conflict over abortion was most aggravated in the middle of the nineteenth century, there is relatively little debate today--when in Europe and America the debate has become strong and often acrimonious? One might expect that, given the high rate of abortion in Japan as well as the diversity of religious positions represented there, Japan would have been the locus of protracted and spirited debates about the ethics of abortion in recent years. Such, however, has not been the case. What is impressive, at least to the Western scholar looking for such, is the fact that comparatively little has been written on this topic during the past few decades--and that what has appeared has for the most part dealt with the politics of abortion, the legalization of the contraceptive pill, and criticisms of certain entrepreneurial temples for capitalizing on the mizuko boom. Voices advocating the repeal of legalized abortion have, by contrast, been almost nonexistent. I think it significant that what a century ago had been strongly expressed Confucian and neo-Shinto objections to legalized abortion have today in Japan largely dissipated and disappeared. There are groups--such as Seicho no Ie(j) (The House of Life), a "new religion"--that vocally oppose abortion. Such groups during the early 1980s evoked strong opposition from the Women's Movement in Japan, but as far as the general public is concerned these rather small groups opposed to abortion are little more than a blip on the screen of public consciousness. Some Buddhist and Christian groups express alarm at the number of abortions performed, yet in Japan today there could hardly be anything that could rightly be called a real or wide public debate on this issue. Books on abortion as a public policy problem can scarcely be found. Many assume that the legalization of the pill will in time cut back the abortion rate. In fact, it is the absence of such a debate at the present time which, in my opinion at least, is the salient datum that deserves exploration and interpretation. I would contend that this absence of public debate also needs to be interpreted as a sign of something present-namely, a fairly wide consensus on this matter. There is a consensus that abortion constitutes a painful social necessity and as such must remain legal and available, although religiopsychological mechanisms for relieving bad feelings about abortion--the mizuko rites, for instance--in most cases probably play a positive, therapeutic role. And, of course, this is to say that it is now what I have termed a Buddhist position on abortion which has, for all practical purposes, won the day. A "position" is expressed not only by what is said but also by what goes p. 535 unsaid. Therefore, in my view, it is significant that within the Japanese Buddhist community the discussion of abortion is now limited largely to criticisms of those temples and temple-like organizations which employ the notion of "fetal retribution" to coerce the "parents" of an aborted fetus into performing rituals that memorialize the fetus. remove its "grudges, " and facilitate its rebirth or its Buddhahood. Many Buddhists find repugnant such types of manipulation of parental guilt--especially when expressed in the notion that a fetus in limbo will wreak vengence (tatari(k)) on parents who neglect to memorialize it. But, of course, the focus here is on the morality of using this concept of retribution; the question of the morality of abortion perse is, by comparison, something that goes almost without discussion. In other words, it seems now widely accepted that the Buddhist praxis developed over centuries on this issue is itself basically a moral and viable way of handing this complex and vexing problem. Although I cannot here recapitulate things discussed in more detail elsewhere, a very rudimentary statement of the matter is that most Japanese Buddhists have accepted abortion as a necessary sorrow but at the same time have contextualized the termination of pregnancy--and also infanticide in an earlier epoch--through Buddhist ritual. One result of my analysis has been to demonstrate that historically the belief in transmigration and rebirth effectively attenuated any sense of "finality" in abortion--thus giving the "parents" of an aborted fetus the expectation that the fetus' entry into the world had been merely postponed. Thus parental prayers and ritual memorializations were expected to palliate guilt, create what is taken to be a continuing relationship between parents in this world and a fetus in a Buddhist "limbo," and render close to moot many of the West's protracted debates about life's inception, fetal rights, and ownership of the bodies of women. Although those Japanese Buddhists who take this position face various conceptual and ethical problems in its wake, these are rather different--and in terms of upheaval in the larger society certainly less severe--than the problems we have faced in trying to deal with abortion in the West in general and the United States in particular.(n.11) This is not to say that women's rights advocates feel no need for vigilance vis-a-vis Buddhist institutions on this matter. It is merely to call attention to the fact that, even though their acknowledged concerns are political and focus on the danger of being, as women, manipulated, those feminists who have written about Buddhism and abortion have tended to focus their criticisms on those who employ the concept of "fetal retribution," and that is something which, as noted above, many Buddhists themselves are quick to condemn.(n.12) My sense is that many feminists in Japan find, at least in the present context, a kind of odd, unanticipated ally in the Buddhists. Those feminists who are also p. 536 ideologically Marxists are troubled by this convergence, but most feminists show reluctance to refuse the Buddhist hand that seems to render indirect help to this part of their cause. Obviously the Marxist critique of religion is itself "softened" in this. My own personal conversations with representatives of various religious constituencies in Japan leads me to conclude that, especially if the legalization of "the pill" and a wider use of contraceptive devices can effectively reduce the number of abortions, there will be no deep objection to the continued legalization of abortion and the tendency to keep in place those Buddhist kuyo rituals that ritually memorialize fetuses and may serve as a conscience-solace for parents. The status quo, especially if numbers can be controlled, is acceptable to a surprisingly wide spectrum of persons engaged in discussions of religious and ethical questions. To that degree at least--and in contrast to American society--there is in Japan a fairly wide public consensus on this matter. IV. MORAL HIGH GROUND Sometimes on moral questions a consensus forms because the participants in a protracted debate are exhausted or the issue no longer seems so important. On other occasions, however, consensus comes into being because something tagged as a "higher" value is recognized and respected by those who had earlier been partisans of differing positions; in such instances the "higher" can begin to override the former concern to sharpen differences. If a sense of exhaustion happens to coincide with a sense of moving towards a value deemed "higher" by both sides, the potential for consensus becomes eminently realizable. My view is that in Japan's consensus on abortion today we can observe an instance where these two motives have, in fact, coincided quite remarkably. Interest in opening the old wounds is minimal--especially given the high social cost of the years of abortion-proscription. In addition, there is a widely generalized perception that abortion, however much regretted as a source of suffering, is not only demographically necessary but even a means for protecting what are felt to be "family" values. In most basic terms it is necessary to prevent the hemorrhaging of population in a land where the density is already unusually high. More importantly, however, abortion is perceived as a mechanism whereby families can maximize the opportunities for their children by a "rational" investment of resources in the education and upbringing of a limited number of children, usually two. It would not be too much to say that in Japan the high emphasis placed upon family life is itself a factor in the current consensus in favor of keeping abortion legal and available. Religious institutions--perhaps Buddhist ones in particular--articulate and reinforce these family values in Japan. This means that in most instances such p. 537 institutions cannot be expected to move in any significant way to curtail a practice they perceive as a regrettable but necessary component in ensuring the persistance of good family life and national life. The consensus among religious groups to leave abortion legal and available will, I suspect, remain as long as it seems clear to the majority that, however unpleasant and painful abortion may be, family life in the aggregate is far better served by having it available than by criminalizing it once again. In my own conversations with Buddhist clergy in Japan on this problem 1 detect two concerns, but they are not, it should be noted, of sufficient weight to prompt any strong movement for a change in the rather liberalized law. The first concern is that people not become inured to abortion and trivialize it. Many Buddhists are worried that, especially if there is no real grief and ritual, a kind of personal degradation becomes the pattern: from repeated abortions to a flippant acceptance of the practice and from there to a deterioration in a person's (read: woman's) capacity for generalized sensitivity. This consists in a "hardening," something serious because in the psychoethical vocabulary of the Japanese this is a matter of the kokoro(l) or "heart.'' If too many people within society become persons who take abortion as simply a matter of course, then the tenor of society itself will change for the worse. The legal and social admission of abortion as a practice is different from being psychologically and spiritually inured to it. Japanese Buddhists worry more about the latter than the former and focus their energies accordingly. Japanese Buddhists will often go on to argue that the meaningful performance of remembrance rites can, in fact, offset what is to be most feared. That is, the ritual of mizuko kuyo, a kind of "requiem mass" for the fetus, can, it is claimed, do much to prevent this 'hardening" of the kokoro and dehumanization. The second concern is for a possible nexus between the accessibility of abortion and an appreciable growth in the numbers of persons who adopt what is now called the "single" (shingaru(m)) style of the larger urban centers. Within Buddhist periodicals, for instance, there can be found more and more discussions of the single life-style as a threat to family life. A decline is detected and projected: from the extended family to the nuclear family and from there to the single life-style and the one-parent "family." It is important to note that virtually every Buddhist institution is committed to the superior values of the traditional family and is itself dependent upon such a family's readiness to support temples for the performance of ancestral rites. Partially no doubt because of this, the single life-style is pinpointed as a threat to societal values in general. It is also seen as an index to the growth of a dangerous form of (Western-style) individualism, and fundamentally contrary to traditional values that are at the same time understood to be "national" values. On the basis of things I have heard and read. it probably can be predicted p. 538 that, if the single-life style were to become really widespread, the ready accessibility of abortion could eventually come under attack. To date, however, this does not seem likely. The anxiety about a nexus between "liberated sex" and a changing structure of the family has for now focused on the danger of making "the pill'' readily available. If that anxiety tends to deepen, it will more likely jeopardize the legalization of the contraceptive pill rather than the availability of abortion. In fact, "conservative" views in Japan can at times take strikingly unexpected turns--at least when judged by what would be expected if they are thought to be the equivalent of "conservative" views in American public life. For instance, one privately will often be told in Japan that the availability of abortion is in fact protective of family values to the degree that it makes unnecessary the birthing of unwanted children. Then, because it is assumed, first, that unwanted children are both pitiable and more prone to become problematic for society itself and, second, that family strength and well-being are maximized when it can be assumed that all persons within it are wanted and valued, logic seems to compel the conclusion that abortion is needed as a necessary "safety valve" to ensure familial, societal, and national strength. Buddhists go on from this to argue that, especially if the "hearts" of persons who have had abortions can be "softened'' via the rituals that keep alive a sensitivity to the departed fetus as still alive in the Buddhist limbo (sai no kawara(n)), the cumulative danger to society is reduced. In Japan, surprisingly then, it seems to be the case that the most politically effective argument for legalized abortion, even though it comes down in muted forms, is based on fairly "conservative" concerns for the quality of family life. To many persons with fairly traditional religious and social views in Japan it is difficult to imagine why "conservative'' Americans can be found favoring a public policy--the criminalization of abortion--that will in effect result not only in giving birth to obviously unwanted children but, beyond that, also to the psychic pain, both individual and social, that is bound to follow such a policy. In addition it is assumed in Japan that there must be some close correlations in any society among the degree to which children are wanted, such children's perceptions of being wanted and loved, the quality of the care they receive, and whether or not their subsequent behavior becomes deviant or criminal. To criminalize abortion, thus, looks irrational and socially foolhardy. To Japanese ready to express candid views on these things, this scarcely seems to be the direction in which American public life should sensibly be moving today. Given the existing problem of large numbers of unwanted children as well as the exorbitant crime rate in America, those who push for abortion's recriminalization appear to be courting what to some Japanese looks like a kind of social suicide. To some Japanese it is even somewhat baffling why p. 539 certain Americans, viewing themselves to be "conservative" in their views of the family, do not recognize that forcing others to have children they do not really want is itself a morally questionable stance. Clearly that location called the "moral high ground' can be approached from different directions. What is interesting--and potentially instructive--in the Japanese case is that interpretations of the relationship between religion and abortion have not been forced down the either/or chutes of "rights of the unborn" or "rights of the woman." In part that is undoubtedly because the Japanese traditional concern for social order (chitsujo(e) ) still seems almost automatically to take immediate precedence over any public scenario of "rights" and "liberation." V. ABORTION AND THE POLIS I believe the chief value in the study of Japanese thinking about abortion may be heuristic. That is, in this way we can see a society permitting abortion while avoiding interminable debate over conflicting rights. In a sense we can see a society that, through trial and error, has learned to opt for access to abortion as a way of enhancing the quality of social life itself. Neither the rights of the individual fetus nor those of the individual woman are high-lighted; instead these claims--often taken in the West as "opposite"--are both seen as driven by the ideology of individualism. There are other reasons to legitimate abortion, reasons which, it is felt, have to do with the quality of common life of the society itself. The health of the larger society is at issue. Robert Nisbet grasped this point. As an advocate of the contemporary relevance of the position on these things held by ancient Greeks and Romans rather than by medieval Christians, Nisbet found in the Japanese case a ready instance of exactly what he had in mind. In the entry on "abortion" in his Prejudices: A Philosophical Dictionary, he wrote: In the contemporary world it would be hard to find a family system more honored and more important in its authority than that of Japan. But abortion there has for long been easily available.(n.13) My own analysis has suggested that, although Nisbet did not realize how historically complicated things really had been in Japan and how painful had been the process to legalize abortion there, he was entirely accurate in his grasp of the nexus between tolerance of abortion in Japan and the high valorization of family life there today. That is, he grasped that there is an argument for abortion based upon familial and societal values, an argument furthermore that is not hound to prioritize individuals and individual rights. Alasdair MacIntyre, in his Whose Justice? Which Rationality? refers to "the unborn" in a way that suggests how he reads the history of Europe very differently from Nisbet. In depicting what he calls the emergence of the "Au- p. 540 gustinian alternative" to Aristotelianism, MacIntyre locates the moral payoff of that alternative as making itself evident in the following way: The law of the civitas Dei requires a kind of justice to the unborn which Aristotle's proposed measures for controlling the size of the population of a polis deny to them.(n.14) It would be difficult to find a more pithy statement of what many in the West have often held to be how Christianity gained its own moral high ground, a position assumed to be superior even to that of Aristotle, The problem, of course, is that the trajectory right into individualism seems to have been prepared at the same time. Augustine, says MacIntyre, had found a way to require "a kind of justice to the unborn" but he neglects to point out that in Augustine the importance of the polis was at the same time being drastically reduced. In his De nuptus et concupiscentia, the Bishop Hippo, having declared that childbearing is "the end and aim of marriage," goes on to judge that, unless they have that intent of being fecund, a man and woman, however legally married, are really only having sinful sex. Without the aim of propagation a woman is just her "husband's harlot" and the man is his own "wife's adulterer."(n.15) Ultimately marriage is something for the Church to define, not the state. Once such views were injected into the consciousness of the West--and later defined in such a way that something uniquely "Western" and morally "higher" was implied in their observance--it became extremely difficult to go back and recapture Aristotle's important and still valid point about eugenics and the quality of life in the polis. That point had been compromised, of course, because Aristotle had viewed it, unnecessarily I think, as something the polis must force upon its citizens. But the Christians went beyond merely objecting to the coercion. With their polemic against paganism, Christians tended toward the obscuring of the view that the polis might have eugenic concerns that are legitimate and, in fact, ethically worthy. In this way, what was important in Aristotle was effectively obliterated by the "Augustinian alternative," and with the articulation of that alternative the course of the West was set. If eugenics become a matter of consensus rather than coercion, however, the picture changes significantly. Then it appears to be possible to avoid, on one side, the forced compliance that Aristotle mandated and, on the other, the prizing of individual rights--either to "life'' in the fetus' case or to "choice" in the pregnant woman's--at the expense of what is good for the larger social entitily.(n.16) While I do not imply that the Japanese have arrived at a perfect solution to these problems, their present practice with respect to abortion and the family avoids, I wish to suggest, some of the most serious pitfalls of our own practices. In addition, an understanding of how their p. 541 practice has been put together as an instance of moral "reasoning" is--however initially odd by our usual criteria--itself a reason for studing it with care. NOTES 1. Kukai, Major Works, trans. Yoshito S. Hakeda (New York: Columbia University Press, 1972), p. 125. 2. Ibid., p. 129. 3. See my The Karma of Words: Buddhism and the Literary Arts in Medieval Japan (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. 1983). pp. 26-48. 4. Watsuji Tetsuro zenshu, vol. 5 (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten), pp. 90-172. (Original version published in 1927.) See also Yuasa Yasuo, Kindai Nihon tetsugaku to jitsuzon shiso (Tokyo: Sobunsha, 1970), pp. 113-116. 5. Yuasa Yasuo implicitly suggests as much in his own interpretation of "jissen" (praxis) as something embracing also the physical-spirtual disciplines (shugyo(o)) (Lecture in Department of Ethics, Tokyo University, June 11, 1985). 6. See my The Karma of Words. chap. 2. 7. Jeffrey Stout, Ethics After Babel: The Languages of Morals and Their Discontents(Boston. Beacon Press, 1985), pp. 74ff. 8. For example, Imai Jun and Ozawa Tomio. eds., Nihon shiso ronsoshi (Tokyo: Perikansha. 1979). 9. William R. LaFleur, [tentative title] Liquid Life: Budddhism, Abortion, and the Family in Japan. Published studies on mizuko in English to date include: Anne Page Brooks, "Mizuko kuyo and Japanese Buddhism, "Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 8, nos. 3-4(September-December 1981):119-147; Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney, Illness and Culture in Contemporary Japan: An Anthropological View (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984). pp. 78-81; Hoshino Eiki and Takeda Dosho. "Indebtedness and Comfort: The Undercurrents of Mizuko Kuyo in Contemporary Japan." Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 14, no.4 (December 1987): 305-320;and Bardwell Smith. "Buddhism and Abortion in Contemporary Japan: Mizuko kuyo and the Confrontation with Death," Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 15, no. 1 (March 1988):3-24. There is, of course, an extensive bibliography in Japanese. 10. Robert N. Bellah, Tokugawa Religion: The Values of Pre-Industrial Japan (Glencoe. Illinois: The Free Press, 1957), p. 19. 11.For the incredulous, somewhat appalled response of a Japanese woman legal expert present at European debates trying to pinpoint the exact time of a soul's entry into the body, see Nakatani Kinko, "Chuzetsu, Dataizai no Toraekata," in Nihon Kazoku Keikaku Renmei, ed.. Onna no jinken to sei (Tokyo: Komichi Shobo, 1984), p. 29. 12. See, for example. Anzai Atsuko, "Mizuko kuyo' shobai no ikagawashisa," in Nihon Kazoku Keigaku Renmei, ed., Kanashimi o sabakemasu ka (Tokyo: Ningen no Kagakusha, 1983), pp.137-138. The critique of tatari from within Buddhism, however, is also strong. There is widespread censure of it, for instance, in a special issue devoted to this problem in the interdenominational Buddhist journal Daihorin, vol. 54(JuIy 1987). For details see my larger study. 13.Robert Nisbet, Prejudices: A Philosophical Dictionary (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1982), p. 1. 14.Alasdair MacIntyre, Whose Justice? Which Rationality? (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1988), p. 163. 15.Augustine, ''Of Marriage and Concupiscence," in Marcus Dods, ed.. The works of Aurelius Augustine. Bishop of Hippo, trans. Peter Holmes (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1985), vol. 12, p. 116. 16.For a discussion of how, in fact, history shows there is nothing absolute about "respect for life" in the West's religions, set John A. Miles, Jr., "Jain and Judaeo-Christian Respect for Life," Journal of the American Academy of Religion 44. no. 3 (1976): 453-457. p. 542 a 空海 i 水子 b 三教指歸 j 生長的家 c 景戒 k 崇э d 原始佛教ソ實踐哲學 l 心 e 秩序 m Ё⑦ヮю f 聖德太子 n 賽ソ河原 g 十七條憲法 o 修行 h 供養