Fukuzawa Yukichi

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Fukuzawa Yukichi
BirthplaceNakacheu, Osaka, Japan
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Fukuzawa Yukichi


Born Dec. 12, 1834, in Osaka; died Feb. 3, 1901, in Tokyo. Japanese thinker; ideologist of the liberal bourgeoisie in the last third of the 19th century.

Fukuzawa was born into a samurai family of moderate means. He began to study European sciences in 1854, first in Nagasaki and later in Osaka; in 1857 he became director of a boarding school in Osaka. In 1858 he moved to Edo (now Tokyo) and opened a “school of Western sciences,” which in 1868 became the Keio Gijuku, or school of Keio (named after the period of the reign of Emperor Komei, 1865–67), and eventually, in 1890, became Keio University.

From 1860 to 1867, Fukuzawa was in the service of the sho-gunate. He made three official visits to the USA and Europe (including Russia) in 1860–61, 1861–63, and 1867, after which he left government service altogether. In 1879, Fukuzawa became the first president of the Tokyo Academy of Sciences (Academy of Sciences of Japan). In 1882 he founded the daily newspaper Jiji Shimpo, in which his own writings appeared almost daily until his death. He was regarded as the ideological mentor of Kaishinto, a reform party founded in 1882 and headed by Okuma Shigenobu. Fukuzawa also had contacts with Korean reformers.

As an ideologist of bourgeois individualism, Fukuzawa attacked feudalism and its vestiges and defended individual freedom; he regarded equality as the natural state of individuals as well as nations, holding that inequality depends on the level of scientific and cultural achievement. An adherent of English utilitarianism, he subscribed to the cult of the “energetic personality”; he spoke out in favor of the people’s “rights” in harmonious coexistence with the rights of the state. During the Sino-Japanese War of 1894–95, Fukuzawa justified Japanese aggression.

Fukuzawa greatly influenced social thought in his time and was one of the ideologists of the bourgeois reformation in Japan.


Zenshu, vols. 1–21. Tokyo, 1958–64. (Complete collected works.)
The Autobiography. Tokyo, 1954.


Sovremennye iaponskie mysliteli. Moscow, 1958. Pages 72–92. (Translated from Japanese.)


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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His translations included versions of Der Kampf ums Recht (Quanli jingzheng lun [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] [The Struggle for Law]) by Rudolf von Jhering (1818-1982), Shiyong jiaoyuxue [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Practical Pedagogy, source unknown), and Discourse on Associations between Men and Women (Japanese/Chinese title: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] by Fukuzawa Yukichi [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (1835-1901), and textbooks on history and education, all published by Wenming Shuju [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Civilization Press).
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Fukuzawa as a Western and Japanese Thinker: The Early Thought of Fukuzawa Yukichi. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2009.
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