Kaneko Fumiko (金子 文子, Kaneko Fumiko, January 25, 1903 – July 23, 1926) or rarely Pak Fumiko and Pak Munja (Korean: 박문자; Hanja: 朴文子), was a Japanese anarchist and nihilist. She was convicted of plotting to assassinate members of the Japanese Imperial family.

Kaneko Fumiko (circa 1925)

Quotes edit

Because I Wanted To (1923–5) edit

Because I Wanted To (1923–5), compiled and partially translated by Max Res, who is a part of Viscera Print Goods & Ephemera
  • What an extraordinary contradiction for a Christian to preach love on the street corner then fail to follow through on a pure, unblemished love. Christians have become fettered to the concept of God which they created. Theirs is a cowardly faith of slaves. The virtue and beauty of human beings is to live naturally, ungoverned by external forces. I decided that I could not embrace Christianity, which preaches the doctrine of life that conflicts with the ideals of beauty and virtue. So I abandoned Christianity.
  • I got disgusted with the widespread desire among socialists to get their names in the paper.
  • I had imagined that socialists were people that rose above the meaningless customs and morality of the society. I imagined them to be courageous fighters with no interest in so-called fame and honor and social reputation. I thought they were warriors fighting to destroy the perverted society of today and striving to create an ideal society. However, even though the denounce the irrational and hypocritical aspects of the society, and pretend that they are indifferent to social criticisms and to fame and reputation, they in fact governed by and are concerned about the standards of the mundane society. They seek to adorn themselves with conventional ornaments, and take upon themselves conventional values. Just as generals take pride in the medals on their chests, socialists covet records of arrests in order to earn their bread. They take pride in this. When I realized this fact I gave up on them.
  • I feel boundless anger against parental authority, which crushed me under the high-sounding name of parental love, and against state and social authority, which abused me in the name of universal love.
  • Because the wielders of power continue to defend their authority in the usual manner and oppress the weak – and because my past experience has been a story of oppression by all sources of authority – I decided to deny the rights of all authority, rebel against them, and stake not only my own life but that of all humanity on this endeavor.
  • I cannot destroy my current self so that my future self can survive. Officers, let me proclaim courageously to you once more: “Rather than prostrate myself before the wielders of power, I prefer to die and be true to myself. If this displeases you, you may take me anywhere you wish. I am not afraid of anything you may do to me.” This is the way I have felt in the past and it is the way I feel now.
  • By nature human beings should be equal. And yet human beings who are equal by nature have been made unequal because of the presence of the entity called the emperor. The emperor is supposed to be august and exalted. Yet his photograph shows that he is just like us commoners. He has two eyes, one mouth, legs to walk with and hands to work with. But he doesn’t use his hands to work and his legs to walk. That the only difference. The reason I deny the necessity of the emperor rises from my belief that human beings are equal.
  • We have in our midst someone who is supposed to be a living god, one who is omnipotent and omniscient, an emperor who is supposed to realize the will of the gods. Yet his children are crying because of hunger, suffocating to death in the coal mines, and being crushed to death in factory machines. Why is this so? Because, in truth, the emperor is a mere human being.
  • Under the emperor system, education, laws, moral principles were all devised to protect the imperial authority. The notion that the emperor is sacred and august is a fantasy. The people have been led to believe that the emperor and the crown prince represent authorities that are sacred and inviolate. But they are simply vacuous puppets. The concepts of loyalty to the emperor and love of nation are simply rhetorical notions that are being manipulated by the tiny group of privileged classes to fulfill their own greed and interests.
  • For a long time I’ve thought deeply that all humans are equal. Everyone being human, they must all be equal. In that there’s no difference between stupid and smart or strong and weak. As humans that exist naturally on earth, I believe that all humans are completely equal in value, and following from the sole qualification of being human they should enjoy completely and equally their right to human activity. To put it concretely, all actions that have been done, are being done and can be done by humans are built on the foundation of their being human. Thus I think all of these actions, built on a natural foundation and performed by humans on the earth, should be recognized as equal human activities by the sole qualification of their being done by humans. And yet, how very much these natural actions, this natural existence itself, are being denied and controlled in the name of laws made by humans. Humans who should be by nature equal, how unequal their situation is in this society. I curse this inequality.
  • From the start, things like countries, societies, peoples and rulers are nothing but ideas. Nevertheless, in order to bestow the rulers of these ideas with majesty, political power and holiness, there exists in this very Japan something that represents what I just wrenched out – the divine right of kings. Just as anyone born on Japanese soil is instilled with this idea, even grade school students, in order to impress upon the guileless people notions like the Emperor himself being descended from the gods, or his right to rule being something bestowed by decree of the gods, or else the Emperor being someone who controls the power of the State in order to realize the will of the gods, and thus the law is the will of the gods, they base these things in fantastic legends, vaunting and solemnly offering praise to things like a mirror, a sword and a jewel like they were given by the gods, completely deceiving them. The poor deceived people, engulfed in these absurd legends, consider things like the government and Emperor to be incredible gods beyond compare, but if the Emperor was a god himself or descended from the gods, if the people were under the protection of these gods, existing under the spirits of successive generations of these god-emperors, no Japanese soldiers should have to die in times of war, not one Japanese airplane should fall from the sky, and some tens of thousands of loyal subjects shouldn’t die in the gods’ own backyard due to a natural disaster like the one last year.
  • The police, who administer the law which teaches only the path to a better life for society’s victors and submission to authority, lower their sabers and menace human actions, taking everyone who they fear might shake the pillars of power and bam, bind them up one and all. And the judges, those respectable officials, flip through law books and hand down arbitrary judgments on human actions, alienating themselves from human lives, denying even their humanity as they undertake their duty as protectors of authority. Like when Christianity was at its height and, in order to protect its sanctity, they banned scientific research for fear of shaking the pillars of the superstitious miracles of God and long-held traditions they preached, things like the sanctity of the State or the holiness of the Emperor are also ephemeral, and force is used to oppress those ideas and arguments that would expose them as nothing more than illusions. Thus the earth is currently occupied and being trampled upon by a devil called power, because the lives which should by their nature be enjoyed by humans who are natural existences on the earth are only permitted if they fulfill the mission of serving it.
  • The empty substance of this Japanese nation that’s considered the land of the gods is nothing more than a provisional system for increasing the personal gains of the privileged few, the ideology of self-sacrifice for the nation called “loyalty and patriotism” that’s glorified and propagandized and even considered a national slogan being in truth nothing more than a cruel desire to sacrifice the lives of others for their own benefit wrapped up in pretty adjectives as a means of indulging their self-interest.

The Prison Memoirs of a Japanese Woman (1991) edit

The Prison Memoirs of a Japanese Woman. M.E. Sharpe. 1991. ISBN 978-0-87332-801-2.  Translated by Jean Inglis
  • The little weed twisted around my finger.
    When I tug at it gently, it cries out faintly,
    “I want to live.”
    Hoping not to be pulled out, it digs its heels in.
    I feel mean and sad.
    Is this the end of its bitter struggle for life?
    I chuckle softly at it.
    • p. XVIII
  • It began suddenly at 11:58 A.M. the first of September in the twelfth year of Taisho [1923]. A violent rocking deep in the earth shook the Kanto region on which the capital city of Tokyo rests. Houses creaked and whined, twisted grotesquely, and collapsed. Inhabitants were buried alive, while those lucky enough to flee in time ran about screaming like crazed animals. What had once been a thriving center of the civilized world was in the space of a moment transformed into hell itself. One aftershock came only to be followed by another violent tremor and yet another aftershock. Fires broke out all over the city, and great columns of smoke billowed up toward the sky as from a giant volcano. Tokyo was soon under a blanket of thick, black vapor. The terrible tremors left the population in the grip of fear. Then those outrageous rumors started spreading and pandemonium broke out.
    • p. 3
  • Now we lived by the sea, which was considered to be more conducive to my father’s health as well as my own; for I was a sickly child. The house was located on the coast at Isogo in Yokohama, and we were drenched with salt water and blown by sea breezes from morning to night. This period did in fact transform me into a healthy person, but whether this was a blessing, or nature’s cruel scheme to bind me to the life of suffering fate had in store, I cannot say.
    • p. 9
  • People are the pawns of fate.
    • p. 11
  • Every joy that some experience is paid for by the sorrow of others.
    • p. 16
  • In my view, if a village can cultivate silk worms, the peasants should spin silk thread and wear silk clothing, even for work. There is no need for them to buy striped cotton “country clothes” and obi from traders from the city. But, of course, the villagers cannot do this. The villagers sell their cocoons and charcoal to the city and then must turn around and buy inferior cotton and hair ornaments, losing the money they earned to the city in exchange. The temptation, money, is there, and they sell their cocoons and charcoal in order to get it. Merchants from the cities come into the villages to take advantage of them. A peddler bundles up boxes of goods which he carries on his back into a village. [...] Girls buy collars and hair ornaments without telling their fathers. Mothers come with cocoons or hand-spun raw silk or dried persimmons, or wasabi still covered with earth and wrapped in straw, and exchange these things for something worth only a third as much. Year in and year out, villagers have the fruit of their hard labor stolen by such people.
    • pp. 40-41
  • It was a quiet day, and I was alone in the kitchen, squatting in front of the stove. Lulled by the lethargic pounding of the pestle, the drizzle of the rain, and the soulful tones of the shamisen, I was lost in my own melancholy thoughts and savored the quiet that my loneliness afforded.
    • p. 69
  • Make children take responsibility only for what they have actually done! Otherwise you rob them of a true sense of responsibility, you make them servile, and you teach them to be two-faced, in both thought and deed. No one should have to make promises about their actions to another. Responsibility for what one does cannot be entrusted to a custodian. Each person, and that person alone, is the subject of his or her actions. Only when one realizes this will one be capable of acting responsibly, autonomously, and with true conviction, deceiving no one and in fear of no one.
    • p. 72
  • Adults make their children suffer for the sake of appearances, or to save themselves a little trouble. But it is the job of an adult, especially a mother, to help her child develop its natural abilities. It is a terrible wrong to deprive children of their freedom and rob them of their personalities. Let your children play as they please! To play freely on this earth is the one privilege nature has given to children. If they are allowed to play, they will grow up to be healthy human beings. Of this, at least, I am absolutely certain.
    • p. 89
  • Beautiful Bu Yong Bong towered off in the distance, and at its base, coursing leisurely from east to west like a silken obi, the Baek Cheon sparkled brilliantly with the reflected rays of the autumn sun. Along its sand banks, a mule plodded along under its burden, and at the foot of the mountain a Korean hamlet of low, thatched-roof houses peeped out here and there from between the trees. The peaceful village dimly emerging out of the mist could have been a scene from a Chinese painting. As I gazed upon all this beauty, I felt that now, for the first time in my life, I was really alive. Overcome by a feeling of well-being, I dropped to the grass and gazed up at the sky. How deep it was. If only I could penetrate those depths! I closed my eyes and gave myself over to thought. A cool breeze stirred the grass about me, and when I opened my eyes again, there was a dragonfly perched on the end of my nose. My ears were humming with the sounds of crickets and bell-ring insects.
    • pp. 93-94
  • I descended back down into the grove of chestnut trees. I felt so light-hearted that I broke into a song I had learned at school. There was no one here to find fault with me; I was free as a bird. I sang until I was hoarse, making up my own songs, too. Emotions that I constantly had to repress now rose up freely, uninhibited, and I felt comforted. Thirsty, I picked some pears in the orchard beside the shack where we stored the chestnuts and devoured them, skins and all. Then I tumbled to the ground again to gaze up at the patches of sky and cloud that showed through the trees. I was assailed by the suffocating odor of the grass and the aroma of wild mushroom, and I breathed them in voraciously.
    • p. 94
  • Nature! Nature in which there is no deceit! Simple and free, you do not warp a person’s soul as humans do. I wanted to cry out my thanks to the mountain with all my heart … until I remembered the way that I lived; then I felt like crying. And cry I did, on and on, until there were no tears left. This day in the mountain was, after all, the only time I had to find myself. This was my one and only day of liberation.
    • p. 94
  • Then, just like that, because I had ceased to resist, it rose up from within and appeared before me in all its simplicity—death. That was it: just die. How simple everything would be. With that thought I felt I had been saved; and indeed I had. I was suddenly flooded with strength, body and soul. My limp limbs tensed, and before I knew it I was on my feet, concerns like my empty stomach left behind forever.
    • p. 102
  • I ran for all I was worth, radiant at the thought that I was leaving all behind and going to the salvation of death.
    • p. 102
  • I looked then, once, at all that lay around me. How beautiful it was! I listened intently to the sounds around me, and how peaceful and still they were. This was farewell, farewell to the mountains, to the trees, to stones, to flowers, to animals, to the sound of this cicada, to everything…. I was suddenly sad. I could escape in this way the coldness and cruelty of my aunt and grandmother, but there were still so many things, countless things, beautiful things, to love.
    • p. 103
  • I cannot die now, I thought. No, I have to seek vengeance; together with all the other people who have been made to suffer, I have to get back at those who have caused our suffering. No. I must not die.
    • p. 104
  • With one foot over the threshold of the land of death, I had suddenly turned back. I returned to what was for me hell on earth. [...] But now one ray of hope, albeit a black and gloomy ray, shone for me, and I had the strength to endure any suffering that lay in store.
    • p. 104
  • Religious life appears to be extremely peaceful; but peace does not hold much interest for young people. In fact, young people could not care less about a peaceful life; it is only people who are castrated who want peace. Healthy young people want a more vigorous life; they want a life in which they can stretch their arms, their legs, their desires as far as they will go.
    • p. 134
  • There was the boundless sea, the blue sky that stretched out endlessly, the waves, the wind, the clean fresh air, and the raucous ways of the healthy sailors.
    • p. 134
  • To someone set on a goal, determined to carve out a new life, particularly in the academic field, no place could beckon more alluringly than Tokyo. This is true not only for the wealthy youth who have their every expense provided; even for someone like me from the ranks of the dirt poor, barely able to scrape together the train fare, Tokyo exerts an irresistible pull. It may not in fact be as perfect as it seems, but to a young, naive woman it appears a veritable paradise on earth, holding out the promise of everything she desires. Tokyo, city of my dreams! Will you fulfill my one desire and give me a life of my own? Yes, I believe you will, I know you will, in spite of the hardships and trials in store.
    • p. 168
  • Socialism did not have anything particularly new to teach me; however, it provided me with the theory to verify what I already knew emotionally from my own past. I was poor then; I am poor now. Because of this I have been overworked, mistreated, tormented, oppressed, deprived of my freedom, exploited, and ruled by people with money. I had always harbored a deep antagonism toward people with that kind of power and a deep sympathy for people from backgrounds like mine. [...] Socialist ideology merely provided the flame that ignited this antagonism and this sympathy, long smoldering in my heart.
    • p. 216
  • I felt at that moment as if my one remaining lifeline had been severed. I was plunged into an abyss of despair where even tears were irrelevant.
    • p. 229
  • I can state from my own experience that what people fear in death is the loneliness of having to leave this world forever. Though people may not be consciously aware of all the phenomena around them under normal circumstances, the thought that that which makes them themselves will be lost forever is a terribly lonely thing. In sleep, that which is ourselves is not lost, merely forgotten.
    • p. 233
  • That’s the question; it’s been on my mind a lot. I want to do something, but I don’t know what. I’m sure, though, that it’s not slaving to put myself through school. I believe that there is something that I must do, that I have to do, no matter what, and I’m trying to discover what that something is.
    • p. 235
  • Although I had once pinned all my hopes on putting myself through school, believing that I could thereby make something of myself, I now realized the futility of this all too clearly. No amount of struggling for an education is going to help one get ahead in this world. And what does it mean to get ahead anyway? Is there any more worthless lot than the so-called great people of this world? What is so admirable about being looked up to by others? I do not live for others. What I had to achieve was my own freedom, my own satisfaction. I had to be myself. I had been the slave of too many people, the plaything of too many men. I had never lived for myself. I had to do my own work; but what was it? I wanted so badly to find it and to set about accomplishing it.
    • p. 236
  • I was gradually beginning to understand how society works. Up until then the true shape of reality had been thinly veiled, but now it all began to become clear. I understood why someone poor like myself could never study and get ahead in this world, why, too, the rich got richer and the powerful were able to do anything they liked. I knew that what socialism preached was true. But I could not accept socialist thought in its entirety. Socialism seeks to change society for the sake of the oppressed masses, but is what it would accomplish truly for their welfare? Socialism would create a social upheaval “for the masses,” and the masses would stake their lives in the struggle together with those who had risen up on their behalf. But what would the ensuing change mean for them? Power would be in the hands of the leaders, and the order of the new society would be based on that power. The masses would become slaves allover again to that power. What is revolution, then, but the replacing of one power with another?
    • pp. 236-237
  • I, too, believed it was impossible to change the existing society into one that would be for the benefit of all; neither could I espouse any given ideal for society. But [...] I felt that even if one did not have an ideal vision of society, one could have one’s work to do. Whether it was successful or not was not our concern; it was enough that we believed it to be a valid work. The accomplishment of that work, I believed, was what our real life was about. Yes. I want to carry out a work of my own; for I feel that by so doing our lives are rooted in the here and now, not in some far-off ideal goal.
    • p. 237
  • The nights were still cold, and we clasped hands in the pocket of Pak’s overcoat, letting our feet take us where they would. There was not a soul in the park. The stillness of the night was broken only by the feeble echo of a distant train; the only light was the silent glistening of the stars in the sky above and the arc lamps on the earth below.
    • p. 246
  • My presence will shortly be effaced from this earth. I believe, however, that every phenomenon continues as such to exist in eternal actuality even though it be physically obliterated.
    • p. 248

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