Physicists on the Left: Sakata and Taketani

  • Morris Low


As in wartime Japan, postwar scientists were asked to subordinate their individual freedom to conduct research for the interests of the much larger group—the nation. This was a source of continuing conflict. Despite Nishina’s call for science to first help revitalize the Japanese economy, Shōichi Sakata and Mituo Taketani responded by arguing for research autonomy and a commitment to basic research. This chapter focuses on the role of the two physicists, Sakata and Taketani, in the postwar democratization of science and technology. Despite great differences in socioeconomic background (described in the first two sections), both shared a common interest in Marxism, reflecting the times in which they lived. Both were particularly outspoken regarding the need for science and democracy in “modernizing” Japan. They held the view, as many scientists after the war, that science and democracy were matching wheels for social progress.1 The third and largest section of this chapter describes how Sakata and Taketani attempted to prove the veracity of this conviction.


Social Responsibility Atomic Energy Atomic Bomb Fukuoka Prefecture Dialectical Materialism 
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Copyright information

© Morris Low 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Morris Low
    • 1
  1. 1.Johns Hopkins UniversityUSA

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