Fukuzawa Yukichi

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Fukuzawa Yukichi
BirthplaceNakacheu, Osaka, Japan

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.)


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