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Gandhi Journal Article-I (May 2016) - Mahatma Gandhi : The Japanese Connection

Gandhi Journal Article-I (May 2016) 

Mahatma Gandhi : The Japanese Connection

By Thomas Weber and Akira Hayashi

At Gandhi's Sevagram Ashram prayers still commence with the Japanese Nichiren Buddhist mantra of "Nammyo ho renge kyo." This raises questions about the connection between Gandhi and the Japanese. Gandhi admired Japanese self-respect, unity and patriotism which were demonstrated with Japan's defeat of Russia in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5. Later he became concerned by Japanese imperialism in China, the swamping of India with cheap Japanese cloth, and the prospect of a Japanese invasion of India during the Second World War. His open letter to the Japanese complaining of their brutal imperialism was quoted very selectively in Japanese papers so as to provide justification for the policies that he had condemned. Other Japanese writings about him played down his political activism making him useful for propaganda purposes rather than as a model for political activism. However, Gandhi's most important connection with Japan came through the various Japanese visitors to his ashrams, especially the Nichiren monks who stayed with him and left a lasting impression. The legacy of these monks continued in fostering understanding between the two countries in the early decades after Indian independence.


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