A brief of biography of Abe Kobo

by Kato Koiti

Abe Kobo was born in Tokyo, Japan on March 7 1924. His real name is Kimifusa ("Kobo" is a Chinese-like-pronunciation of "Kimifusa"). He was brought up in Manchuria accompanied with his father, a doctor of the hosipital attached to the Imperial Medical Colledge of Manchuria. In elementaly school, he was educated in the experimental way, in which an ambitious teacher trained children to debating and rapid reading (Abe could read a page in a few seconds).

The Manchuria Empire was set up by Japan and was ruled substantially by Japanese bureaucrats, who, like ones of British Empire, had their sons return to Japan for education. Young Abe went back to Tokyo as well and went to Sejo Koko Highschool, a famous private school. He was admitted to the faculty of medicine of Tokyo University. In 1944 he heard that Japan would lost the war before long and he forged a medical certificate of TB to get home to Manchuria.

When Japan was defeated, the Manchurian Empire was disappeared. Japanese pioneers, chased by Soviet Army and attacked by guerrilla bands, dropped into refugees and stole foods one another. A lot of old men were left behind in Manchurian desert and a lot of women killed their own children and themselves. In which disorder Abe had his father die of cholera and he was wandering around to get back to Japan at the end of 1946.

He moved and lived at the hometown of his father in Hokkaido for a while, but he went back to Tokyo to return for medicine in the next year. At that time Marxism was prevailing among young Japanese in reaction to militarism. He made friends with avant-garde artists, writers, including Marxists, like Okamoto Taro, Tesigawara Hirosi, Haniya Yutaka, Hanada Kiyoteru and so on. He got married to Yamada Matiko, who was later known as Abe Mati, a fine theater artist and a patient cooperator of Abe (all his plays and books were designed by her). He published Mumei Sishu (Anonymous Poems, 1947) with cheap mimeograph (only 50 copies) for the memory of his father and his friends died in Manchulia.

In the next year he graduated medical school but he did not become a doctor. He published his first novel, Owarisi Miti no Surubeni (For a Signpost at the End of Road, 1948), imaging another life of his best friend, Kanayama Tokio, who run away from home and died in Manchulia desert. Abe joined the Japan Communist Party to organize literary circles for workmen. He, however, became also a pupil of Isikawa Jun, who was consistently against Marxism. In 1951 he got the Akutagawa Award by his first masterpiece, Kabe (The Walls), in which we can find not only Kafka's influence but also Owell's one, and published it with a brilliant preface of Isikawa.

(to be continued)

Copyright 1998 Kato Koiti
This page was created on April 6 1996; Updated on August 8 1997.

Tabel of Abe Kobo

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