Student Question

In "Patriotism" by Yukio Mishima, how does Bushido influence Takeyama's decision to commit suicide?

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In "Patriotism" by Yukio Mishima, Takeyama dies by suicide to preserve his honor and avoid betraying his country or his comrades.

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In “Patriotism,” Yukio Mishima places ritual suicide (seppuku) within the context of loyalty and betrayal. These concepts influence the decisions of Shinji Takeyama and his wife, Reiko, in several ways. Their deepest loyalty to emperor and Japan is contrasted to Shinji’s loyalty to his fellow soldiers, while Reiko must remain loyal to her husband as well. Betraying his oath to the emperor would be self-betrayal as well because without honor, he cannot consider himself a man.

The idea of honor applies to both characters in part through their connection to the military. Takeyama is a lieutenant in the imperial forces, and Reiko has fully embraced the role of a soldier’s wife. In the position of an officer, Takeyama is entrusted to providing direction for the men in his unit. Instead, members of the unit had taken part in an attempted coup; he had no knowledge of the advance planning. Takeyama’s utmost loyalty is to his country, of which the emperor is the embodiment. The idea of taking arms against the emperor is inconceivable to him, as it would constitute treason and make him go back on his sacred oath.

Although the rebellion was taking place on his days off, as soon as he goes back on duty, he will have to defend the emperor. That requirement will cause a dilemma, as he will be forced to use violence against his fellow soldiers and officers. As soon as he begins to explain this dilemma, Reiko understands that he will end his own life and that she must do the same.

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