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The National Traits of Japan and Honorific (keigo) Seen in Haga Yaichi’s Kokuminsei jūron (Ten National Traits of Japan)

Baek Eunju 1

1연세대학교 국학연구원

Accredited

ABSTRACT

In his book Kokuminsei jūron, Haga Yaichi, a pioneer-scholar of Japanese literature, examines etiquette, particularly, honorific (keigo), which Japanese people treasured. As a key tradition that buttressed the kokutai (polity) grounded in the unbroken imperial lineage, Haga highlights the Japanese way of honorific expressions nurtured in line with the unity of loyalty and filial piety directed to the emperor. Haga traces the origin of respectful language to the gods who were honorifically mentioned in the Kojiki in conjunction with emperors. According to Haga, the speech act of honorific spread from the emperor to the general populace. Haga’s theory of honorific was amply reflected in the Japanese textbook for elementary schoolchildren (Jinjō shōgaku tokuhon) he played a key role for its revision. In this way, Haga associated the national traits of Japan with honorific and, thereby, contributed to raising the kind of etiquette and morality which the nation state of Japan tried to inculcate to its people – a legacy that has galvanized the practice of honorific in Japan.

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* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.