chapter
11 Pages

Translations of Adam Smith’s Works in Japan: Hiroshi Mizuta

The Tokugawa Shogunate government deliberately isolated the Japanese nation from Western culture from around 1639 to 1854. A Christian monotheism which presupposed the equality of human beings before one God was thought dangerous to official political doctrine, that of the Chu sect of Confucianism, which understood the structure of society through an analogy with that of the family – that is to say, in terms of domination and subordination. This hierarchical ethic hinders Japanese understanding of Western moral philosophy, including that of Adam Smith, which is founded upon mutuality. Even after opening up to the West the Japanese were taught in government-issued textbooks about the evils and dangers of individualism.