Publication Date


Document Type

Working Paper


Professor John Hall

Journal of Economic Literature Classification Codes

B12, B31, N25, P11

Key Words

Fukuzawa Yukichi, Imbalance of power, Japan, Meiji Restoration, National independence


This inquiry seeks to establish that it was Fukuzawa Yukichi who played a key roled in developing ideas that assisted the modernization of Japan, leading up to and especially after the Meiji Reformation of 1868. In An Outline of a Theory of Civilization [1875], Fukuzawa advances a clear understanding that Japan should make the shift from a producer nation to a manufacturer nation, and without having to bear the costs of importing vast sums of foreign capital. Under suspicion that the 250 year rule of the Bakufu left the Japanese economy stagnant and weak, Fukuzawa asserted that the only means for securing national independence against pressures of western colonization was the rapid dissemination of western knowledge. In understanding the consequences of the separation of the productive and unproductive classes and the subsequent split in the accumulation and expenditure of wealth, Fukuzawa argues in favor of a more liberal Japanese society and economy, but while also remaining wary of predatory, western colonial trade practices.


© Karson M. Pence

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