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. [...]
[...] Although Fukuzawa would also venerate individual freedom and representative government he did so in a way that legitimized the new government by addressing the fact that it did away with bad laws of the previous bakufu, and stressing the goal of modernization that the government was pursuing. In 1875 when the ruling oligarchy was cracking down on press laws to counter growing political opposition Fukuzawa would publish Outline of a Theory of Civilization” that would support the embattled oligarchy under fire from the recent movement for free and popular rights movement that was itself a creature that existed from liberal translations of Yûkichi's Invitation to Learning”. [...]
[...] After arriving home Fukuzawa Yûkichi would find himself caught in an anti-foreign and violent Japan that would soon ignite into a civil war. The Meiji restoration lead by the Satsuma Choshu Han alliance would see the office of shogun banished, and the Emperor backed by a committee of oligarchs in power. Fukuzawa had become a vassal to the bakufu during the civil war, however by keeping a low profile he was able to fulfill his duties to the shogunate, further increase his abilities in the English language, and personally thrive within the chaos of the times without being targeted. [...]
[...] Fukuzawa also made it clear to state that he not make any distinctions at all in the raising of his children, boy or girl” however it seems he is hypocritical as all his male children would attend schools for higher education, his female children however were successful based on marrying into other families. Fukuzawa seems to have left the education of his daughters up to his wife who seemed to have believed in the inferiority of women. Although in his auto-biography Yûkichi praises himself for the freedom he gave his children and how they treated them all equally even with the availability of schools for higher learning within Japan for women (such as Fukuda Hideko's school and missionary schools), and his knowledge of the women's political rights movement within Japan he still saw success as a measure of when and who they married. [...]
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