Friday, September 23, 2011


IV Phan's Illusions
Believers in Social Darwinism, Phan B¢i Chau and his comrades refused to remain
37) Nguy~n Thu.'c Canh (or Tran TrQng Khilc), one of Phan B¢i ChAu's followers who went to
Japan, wrote in his memoire, Nam MU'o'i Bon Nam Hdi Ngoqi, (1971), pp. 13-14, "(Hearing about
the result of Russo-Japanese War), the French were disappointed, while we Vietnamese were
delighted, because Japan, an Asian country of the yellow race, had triumphed over a European
country of the white, Russia, and because this defeated country was allied with the French
38) In this context it would perhaps prove useful to cite the following remarks which he made,
"Our aim was only to restore our country and to establish an independent government. We had
no other idea yet than that." (Ttl Phan, p.29) or, "The aim of our party was one and only;
to drive out the French. Whether to choose monarchism or democracy was another problem
which was to be resolved after independence was restored." (Nglf-c Trung Thu', pp.41-42)
According to those words, we could consider that Phan B¢i ChAu's first and last aim was to
restore independence to his country.
39) In the prospectus (1906) of Vi¢t Nam Duy TAn H¢i, Phan B¢i ChAu declared that his aim was
"To overthrow the French government, restore Vietnam, and build a country of constitutioual
monarchy." (Tlf-' PhOn, p.63) The prospectus (1912) of Vi¢t Nam Quang Phl;lc H¢i said that its
aim should be "To drive out the French robbers, restore Vietnam, and build the Vietnamese
Republic of democracy." (ibid., p.147) In both, Phan B¢i ChAu !insisted two points at first;
driving out the French and restoring the independence of Vietnam. Only through these slogans
do we come to his ideas concerning political systems. The third portion of his program obviously
not as constant as the first two.
cast in the role of weak nation, and hoped to become a great power. They wanted to
follow the model of Japan which was becoming stronger and stronger, and they hoped
to win Japanese sympathy and aid. They felt that these hopes were realistic, because
they thought Japan would agree with their argument in favor of the yellow race's
solidarity against the whites.
However their hopes were gradually destroyed during their stay in Japan. The
Japanese government valued official relations with France more than the friendship of
the Vietnamese nationalists'. So Phan BOi Chau's group was forced to abandon its hope
of getting military aid. They were helped unofficially by some Japanese individuals.
They had to limit their activities to organizing a movement appealing for Vietnamese
youths to come and study with them in Japan.40 )
Japan became a strong country and joined the imperialist powers. Japan had
dissociated herself from the Asian world. She was no longer a chief of the yellow
race's league against the whites, but on the contrary conspired with England, Russia
and even France. Japan did this in order to suppress the nationalists of weak Asia,
and finally she annexed Korea. For Japan, the solidarity of the yellow race could be
a useful own slogan, only as long as she could take advantage of it for her aims.
As mentioned above, Phan BOi Chau had an ulterior motive for the conception of
power politics which lay behind his advocacy of the solidarity of the yellow race. He
believed that Japan was an enemy of Russia, which was an allied country with France.
He thought that this would automatically make Japan an enemy of France. But
ironically enough, Japan established friendlY relations with Russia and even France,
after the Russo-Japanese War. The realities of international power politics were far
removed from Phan BOi Chau's optimistic expectations and naive conceptions.
In 1908, one year after the Franco-Japanese Treaty, the Japanese government
dissolved the Vietnamese students' organization and expelled its two leaders, Phan BOi
Chau and Cu'o'ng D~.m
Thus the hopes of Phan BOi Chau and his comrades were rejected in the end by
Japan. It is very probable that they felt they were betrayed by Japan, and in the end
they realized that they had no choice but to cooperate with the weak nations, who
were "of the same sickness" as themselves.42 )
In his last days in Japan, Phan BOi Chau energetically tried to establish close
40) This movement was called the Bong Du movement.
41) Phan BQi Chl1u, Ttl Phfm, pp. 106, 124, 128. Shinjiro Nagaoka, op. cit., pp.263-264, 267-268.
42) Phan BQi Chl1u expressed his ideas about this problem in Ttl Phan, p. 124. "In this world of
power politics, any organization of justice and rightness can not be permitted by the imperialists."
He also wrote in ibid.. p.120, "In the 10th month of 1908 (according to the lunar calendar), we
dissolved our organization of students, and Cong Hien HQI was completely dead. I realized that
we could not rely upon Japan any more. I pinned my hopes on the realization of a Chinese
revolution and on the peoples of the same sickness as us."
M. SHIRAISHI: Phan Boi Chau and Japan
relations with the nationalists from the weak Asian countries. For example, he was
very active in organizing Toa Domei Kai Ofi].JiIJ:1JM~) (1908), which aimed at "organizing
all the patriots in Asia, all the peoples who have lost their countries, into one
party and waiting for the time of simultaneous revolution."i Chau's disappointment with Japan, some of his comrades still
had some hope for Japanese aid. Phan B(>i Chau instead turned his attention to China.
It was Cu'O'ng De who remained involved in the Pan-Asianism of Japan whether
willingly or not. Thirty years later, Cu'b'ng De was betrayed by Japan for a second
46) In reading Phan B¢i Chl1u's autobiography, Ttl Phd-n, one can see that he did not mention Liang
Ch'i Ch'ao again after describing the incidents of 1907. Instead Phan B¢i Chl1u often mentioned
the names of Chinese revolutionaries in the part of the book which dealt with activities of his
later years in Japan.
Incidentally, the Chinese who came to Japan in order to seek "new knowledge" or get Japan's
help, were also disappointed by the reactions of the Japanese. Thus the pro-Japanese feelings of
the Chinese at the time of the Russo-Japanese War gradually changed to antipathy toward Japan.
For example, see Shinkichi Eto, Kindai Chugoku Seiji-shi Kenkyu, (On the Modern Political
History of China, Univ. of Tokyo, 1968), pp.256-257.
47) See, Kiyoshi Komatsu, Vietnam, (Shincho-sha, Tokyo, 1955); Cuo'ng f)~Q, Cuc Do'i Cach Mqng
CU'o'ng De, (Saigon, 1957); Hong Chu'o'ng, "Cuo'ng f)~, Anh Hung Cuu Nuo'c hay Vi¢t Gian Ban
NU'o'c?" NghiCn Cu'u Lfch Su!, no. 43.

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