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Fukuzawa Yukichi Biography Review

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  1. Introduction
  2. The youngest son in the family
  3. The signing of the Treaty of Kanagawa in 1854
  4. Fukuzawa: A vassal to the bakufu during the civil war
  5. The organization of the second punitive expedition
  6. Fukuzawa's participation in Japanese society as a private citizen
  7. Social and cultural debates
  8. The focus of the entire nation of Japan after the signing of the first unequal treaties
  9. Conclusion

The biography on Fukuzawa Yûkichi written by Helen M. Hopper explores one of the most influential private citizens and his views and actions during a critical period of development in Japanese history. The aim of the book is to explore the large contributions, and the influence that Fukuzawa had in the modernization of Japan. Hopper explores the life of Fukuzawa in a chronological order and relates the events in his life to the happenings of Japanese society on the whole. The origins of Fukuzawa from the lowly the Nakatsu-han and from the lower part of the samurai ranks is a source of dissatisfaction for Yûkichi, however Yûkichi knowingly exploits his position and the system to achieve future success. Events in the Japanese world after Fukuzawa's break from the rigid social hierarchy of Tokugawa Japan would see him turn further west than originally planned: Yûkichi would anticipate the Japanese turn to America and the English language in place of Dutch scholarship.

[...] Fukuzawa himself would serve as a main example of this smooth transition. Although Fukuzawa may have held a grudge against the system, it was his birth into this hierarchal system that would allow him to lay the foundations for a successful future. As the youngest son in the family Yûkichi was able to pursue interests outside of serving the daimyo as his father, and later the eldest son (Sannosuke) would have to. Being part of the lower class allowed his family (while his father was alive) and son (when he took over for his father) the opportunity to make connections in Osaka and take advantage for Yûkichi to pursue his own interests. [...]


[...] Through editorials in his wide spread newspaper Fukuzawa would advocate his new ideas supporting an imperialist Japan where they would influence the people. Fukuzawa's Keiô University would also graduate key business leaders that would play pivotal roles as leaders in industrial Japan that would help lead it to modernization and equality on the international stage. Fukuzawa would not live to see the Sino-Soviet war where Japan would achieve its goal of equality with the Western powers, as he would die on February 3rd 1901. [...]


[...] The money that Fukuzawa obtained in order to open Keiô later on was obtained from his position as hatamoto, and the writings and translations based on Western institutions and ideas. The knowledge and ideas he gained from the Western world would be the foundation of his ideas that would prove to be so influential in Japan's quest for modernization (although contrary to his statements as Hopper and Tetsuo Najita note, Chinese classical Confucius thought did influence his ideas as well[18]). [...]

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