chapter  4
Pages 25

Abe Isō was already a clergyman when, at the age of 26 in 1891, he went to study for three years at Hartford Theological Seminary in the USA. When he returned to Japan in 1895, it was not only as a Christian but as a socialist too. According to Abe’s recollections, Edward Bellamy’s immensely popular novel Looking Backward had a stunning impact on him when he read it as a student at Hartford in 1893.3 In Looking Backward Bellamy gave an account of an imaginary, state-capitalist society4 (where, incidentally, Christianity was still well in evidence) set in Boston in 2000 A.D. It did not occur to Abe that the society which Bellamy described was simply a variation on capitalism as it already existed in the USA. On the contrary, as far as Abe was concerned, it was Looking Backward which ‘finally made me a socialist’.5 In addition to his reading, Abe also seems to have been influenced by the Christian Socialists among his fellow students at Hartford and like them (respectable rebels that they all were) sported a red tie as a demonstration of his conversion to ‘socialism’.6