Toward the Meiji Revolution
The Search for “Civilization” in Nineteenth-Century Japan
Translated by David Noble
Published Titles / History
Published by JPIC | Hardcover | ISBN 978-4-86658-059-3 | 256 pages | 210mm (h) x 148mm (w) | March 2019
About the Book
In 2018, Japan marked the 150th anniversary of the collapse of the Tokugawa shogunate and the establishment of a new government under Emperor Meiji. This was not simply a transfer of political authority but instead signaled revolutionary transformation in Japan, including the abolition of the domains and the formation of a modern nation-state in the years that followed. A period of radical social change was ushered in with the abolition of the class system, the introduction of Western industrial and military technology, the development of mass media, and the establishment of constitutional government.
The impact on Japan of diplomatic, economic, and cultural pressure from the United States and other Western powers from 1853 onward was previously thought to be the immediate catalyst of this “Meiji Revolution.” But Japan’s modern transformation was rooted in a much deeper process of social and intellectual development that gradually unfolded throughout the latter half of the Tokugawa period. Surveying a diverse group of thinkers spanning the Tokugawa and early Meiji years—Ogyū Sorai, Yamagata Bantō, Motoori Norinaga, Rai San’yō, Fukuzawa Yukichi, Takekoshi Yosaburō, and others—this ambitious book liberates modern Japanese history from the stereotypical narrative of “Japanese spirit and Western technique,” offering a detailed examination of the elements in Tokugawa thought and culture that spurred Japan to articulate its own unique conception of civilization during the course of the nineteenth century.
In the latter half of the Tokugawa period, Japan faced many possible alternate paths as it gradually advanced toward its encounter with “civilization”—which could also be described as an encounter with the unknown. This book offers the reader a bird’s-eye view of this process of encounter, which provides a fascinating model for the advancement of understanding and coexistence among the world’s diverse cultures. Exploring the legacy of Japan’s quest for “civilization” in the nineteenth century thus serves as a lens for examining our world today, while also suggesting an alternative narrative to the conventional success stories of Japan’s modernization.
About the Author
Karube Tadashi (b. 1965) is a professor in the School of Legal and Political Studies at the University of Tokyo, where he earned his Doctor of Laws (LL.D.). He is a specialist in the history of Japanese political thought, and his published works include Hikari no ryōkoku: Watsuji Tetsurō [Domain of Light: Watsuji Tetsurō]; Utsuriyuku “kyōyō” [Cultivation of Humanity and Its Changing Forms]; Kagami no naka no hakumei [Through a Glass Darkly], winner of the Mainichi Book Review Prize; Rekishi to iu hifu [The Membrane of History]; Seijigaku (Hyūmanitīzu) [Political Theory (Humanities)]; Abe Kōbō no toshi [The City in Abe Kōbō]; Chitsujo no yume: Seiji shisō ronshū [The Dream of Order: Essays on Political Thought]; and Monogatari Iwanami Shoten hyakunen-shi 3: Sengo kara hanarete [A Narrative Centennial History of Iwanami Books: Farewell to the Postwar Era]. Maruyama Masao: Riberaristuto no shōzō, winner of the Suntory Prize for Social Sciences and the Humanities, was published in English as Maruyama Masao and the Fate of Liberalism in Twentieth-Century Japan.
1965年、東京都生まれ。東京大学法学部教授。東京大学大学院法学政治学研究科博士課程修了。専門は日本政治思想史。著書に、『光の領国 和辻哲郎』、『丸山眞男―リベラリストの肖像』（サントリー学芸賞）、『移りゆく「教養」』、『鏡のなかの薄明』（毎日書評賞）、『歴史という皮膚』、『政治学（ヒューマニティーズ）』、『安部公房の都市』、『秩序の夢―政治思想論集』、『物語岩波書店百年史 3―「戦後」から離れて』など。
Original Japanese Version / 原書情報
苅部 直 著