Playing with the Plural Use of the First Person "We": A Prologue to Further Discourse on "we" from Kato's "After Defeat in War"(『敗戦後論』)
by Mashimo Shinobu

     Kato Norihiro, the author of the discourse, insists that after we, the Japanese people, lost the Second World War, we also lost our identity as the Japanese "nation". Since that bitter experience, the identity of the Japanese people has been divided. While some of the people stand by their Left Wing opinions, based on Marxism, others stand by their Right Wing opinions, based on nationalism, and communication between the two groups has become impossible. Thus, Kato suggests, we, as a nation, have become "distorted", and to modify this condition we must construct a new "we" which represents all of the japanese people, transcending the present division of opinions. Kato's suggestion has been criticized by almost everyone. Isn't his insistence on the construction of a new Japanese "we" both anachronistic and nationalistic? Wouldn't such a step return us to the old Japan, before the World War?

     To answer these questions, we must analyze Kato's discourse, questioning the meaning of the plural in the description of the "subject" in his essay. In his description of the "subject", Kato adopts four ways of expressing the first person in Japanese: <わたし>, <わたし達>, <われわれ>, and <「われわれ」>. Isn't he in fact playing with the expression of the first person, first between singular and plural, and then among the plurals alone? In this paper, I hope to make clear that in spite of his stated intention of constructing a new "we" (<「われわれ」>) as an expression of "nation," Kato's "we" finally converges on and assimilates with the first person singular "I". This means that the "we" which he wants to construct will actually disappear in the assimilation with "I", and the positive sense of "we" in its plurality will be lost forever. "We" (plural) dissimulate ourselves under the mask of "I" (singular). Kato's descriptive style, by adopting four different expressions of "subject" in the construction of a new "we", reveals the actual loss of such concepts as , , and in this assimilation.

     Kato claims his "we" is conceived through a plurality of opinion. However, he actually first assimilates others into his "we", and finally into his "I". Therefore, what he has built in his essay is not a "we", but rather an egocentric "I". In the fact of Kato's "we", we must try to open further discourse on "we". This paper is prologue of a continuing essay for that purpose.

Key Words: Kato Norihiro, After Defeat in War (『敗戦後論』), Playing with the first person, Discourse on "we", Thinking from <others>