[I-House Academy] The Historical Legacy of Takahashi Korekiyo (高橋是清): A Liberal Visionary in the Early 20th Century

[An edited version of this lecture is available in the IHJ Bulletin, Vol.28, No.2, 2008.]

  • Speaker: Richard Smethurst, Professor, University of Pittsburgh
  • Moderator: Masato Shizume, Professor, Research Institute for Economics &
  • Business Administration, Kobe University
  • Date & Time: Friday, June 20, 7:00 pm
  • Venue: Lecture Hall, International House of Japan
  • Admission: 1,500 yen (Students: 1,000 yen, IHJ Members: Free)
  • Language: English / Japanese (simultaneous interpretation provided)

Playing a pivotal role as “Japan’s Keynes” by implementing countercyclical fiscal and monetary policies to bring about economic recovery during the Great Depression between 1931 and 1936, Takahashi Korekiyo (1854-1936) is regarded as one of the most important financial statesmen in Japan between the Meiji Restoration and World War II. An advocate of international cooperation, the decentralization of governmental power, of limiting military expenditures, and of civilian control of the military and foreign policy, Takahashi was a liberal visionary and the last fortress against the rise of aggressive militarism. Facing strong resistance to his critique of excessive military spending from the Army and Navy, he was assassinated by young army officers in the coup d’etat attempt of February 26, 1936.

In the light of the current economic and socio-political situation in Japan, evident in widening gaps in income between rich and poor, lessened employment opportunities, increasing demand from both inside and outside Japan for it to play a greater role in international military and security affairs, and debates over how schools should teach about Japan’s past, what can we learn from Takahashi’s liberal vision and ideas? Based on his recent publication of a biography of Takahashi entitled from Foot Soldier to Finance Minister: Takahashi Korekiyo, Japan’s Keynes, in this lecture Prof. Richard Smethurst will trace Takahashi’s life and works, highlight the contemporary significance of his thought and actions, and draw on historical lessons in exploring Japan’s future direction.

Dr. Richard Smethurst

Dr. Richard SmethurstDr. Richard Smethurst received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan and is a well-known scholar of the modern history of Japan, especially Japanese economic history. He has written numerous papers and books including From Foot Soldier to Finance Minister: Takahashi Korekiyo, Japan’s Keynes (Harvard University Asia Center, 2007), to be published in Japanese by Toyo Keizai Shinposha in 2008, Agricultural Development and Tenancy Disputes in Japan, 1870-1940 (Princeton University Press, 1986) and A Social Basis for Prewar Japanese Militarism: The Army and the Rural Community (University of California Press, 1974).