2012 New History
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The Discourse of Gonghe and the Political Thought of Nineteenth-Century Japan and China

Hung-yueh Lan

Institue of Social Research and Cultural Studies, National Chiao Tung University

Gonghe (J. kyowa 共和) was first translated from the Western concept “republic” in Japan in the nineteenth century; later, the translation spread to China. However, in East Asia there existed several different languages and writing systems. We should pay attention to this background when dealing with the problem of translation in Japan and China in the nineteenth century. Based on this consideration, I aim to illustrate the process of the translation of gonghe/kyowa and the development of relevant political discourses in Japanese and Chinese intellectual history in the nineteenth century. I discuss the political movements and discourses of the Bakumatsu period and survey the political discourses of the Freedom and People’s Rights Movement to define the concept kyowa in modern Japanese intellectual history. I then examine the dialogue between Miyazaki Tōten and Sun Yat-sen and the political debates between New Citizen Journal and People’s Journal to see how the concept gonghe became an important political idea in modern China.


Keywords: gonghe, Japan, China, translation, political thought