Minae Mizumura - Novelist
We who write, read and study modern Japanese literature take for granted the existence of modern Japanese literature. We also take for granted that it should exist in the present form, written in the Japanese language, with kanji mixed into kanamoji. It is true that, soon after Japan came into contact with the West, the western-style novels began to flourish in the Japanese language as if it were the most natural course of events. Yet, when we examine the past, we see that specific historical conditions were necessary for the modern Japanese literature as we know it to emerge and to thrive. Moreover, when we examine the present, we see that those very conditions are quietly disappearing as we move deeper into the age of English. Indeed, what I face today as a Japanese writer is the uncertain fate of the Japanese language itself. For it may well be that the Japanese language, which attained the status of kokugo, the national language, in the days following the Meiji Restoration, is now turning into a lesser language – a mere local language, incapable of shouldering the intellectual, moral and aesthetic burdens that a language ought to shoulder if it is to remain the true medium of literature.