Adam Smith in Japan

  • Chuhei Sugiyama
  • Ikuo Omori
  • Hiroshi Takemoto

Abstract

Many Japanese scholars who have visited Scotland have found to their surprise that the man in the street is not well acquainted with Adam Smith. Indeed ‘Adam Smith, who?’ is their response almost without fail. But such scholars soon learn that this is not so odd as they had tended to believe, for it is also an experience shared by many Japanese historians of economic thought asked by their British colleagues why Adam Smith has been so popular a subject of study in Japan, a country so detached from him not only geographically but also historically. It is indeed true that Smith was for so long more popular here than in his native country, so much so that his name even appears in the textbooks used in secondary schools in Japan, though nowadays it might no longer possibly be the case, at least among British historians of economic or other thought. The answer to this question is complicated. One possible answer may be that the phrase ‘civil society’ used by Adam Smith and his contemporary or preceding writers sounded somehow peculiarly significant to prewar and even postwar Japanese social thinkers. To them it seemed to mean, rightly or wrongly, something that had never existed in their country, that is to say, a civilized, unmilitaristic and secular or religion-free society with no remnants of feudalism in human and social relations, hence an ideal state of things that had to be attained somehow and at some time.

Keywords

Europe Steam Indonesia Omic Exter 

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Notes

  1. 11.
    Daidō Yasujirō, Smith Keizaigaku no Seisei to Hatten (The Formation and Development of Smith’s Political Economy) (Tokyo, 1940; reprinted 1988), 258.Google Scholar
  2. 13.
    Takashima Zenya, Keizaishakaigaku no Konponmondai: Keizaisha-kaigakusha toshiteno Smith to List (The Fundamental Problems in Economic Sociology: Smith and List as Economic Sociologists) (Tokyo, 1941), 183.Google Scholar
  3. 16.
    Sakamoto Yasaburō, ‘Adam Smith no Kachiron’ (‘Adam Smith on Value’), Kokumin Keizai Zasshi (Journal of Political Economy and Commercial Science), 48, 2 (1930), and ‘Smith no Keizaigakukōgi ni okeru Shizenkakaku ni tsuite’ (‘On the Natural Price in Adam Smith’s Lectures on Political Economy’), ibid., 60, 4–5 (1936).Google Scholar
  4. 17.
    Uchida Yoshihiko, Keizaigaku no Seitan (The Birth of Political Economy) (Tokyo, 1953; enlarged edn 1962), 127.Google Scholar
  5. 19.
    Kobayashi Noboru, Friedrich List Josetsu (An Introductory Study of Friedrich List) (Tokyo, 1943).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Hiroshi Mizuta and Chuhei Sugiyama 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chuhei Sugiyama
  • Ikuo Omori
  • Hiroshi Takemoto

There are no affiliations available

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