The City as Subject: Seki Hajime and the Reinvention of Modern Osaka

By Jeffrey E. Hanes | Go to book overview

5
A New Urbanism

On New Year's Day 1914, Seki Hajime resolved to confound the fates. Astrologically speaking, he faced the prospect of an “unlucky year” (yakudoshi), and this possibility put him in an introspective frame of mind. In his daily diary, where he normally recorded his comings and goings, Seki waxed unusually philosophical. He recalled Tokugawa Ieyasu's defiance of the fates at the battle of Sekigahara, where the great lord had quelled the fears of a skeptical aide with the wise observation that “an unlucky day is also an unlucky day for one's enemies. ” 1 Truth be told, Seki had every reason to dread the coming year: He and his colleagues at the Tokyo Commercial College had become embroiled in yet another bitter dispute with the Ministry of Education.

The controversy erupted in July 1913, when the Ministry proposed that the College be absorbed into the School of Economics at Tokyo Imperial University. In November, as Seki shuttled between Hitotsubashi and the Ministry of Education, he resolved to throw down the gauntlet. Remarking fatalistically that “the inevitable course of events [would] demand a martyr, ” he decided to confront the Ministry with his uncensored opinion of the ill-conceived scheme. Seki took heart from the example of his late brother, whose diary overflowed with admonitions always to act “in the interest of people and the interest of society, ” and he took strength from the support of Shibusawa Eiichi, who had urged the Minister of Education to reconsider the proposal. 2

Under similar circumstances barely four years earlier, Seki had been forced to tender his resignation before the Ministry backed down. The Tokyo Commercial College faculty had rewarded his leadership with trust and mounted a campaign to appoint him headmaster. According to his friend and confidant Tsumura Hidematsu, Seki nipped their initiative in

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The City as Subject: Seki Hajime and the Reinvention of Modern Osaka
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Twentieth-Century Japan: the Emergence of a World Power *
  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Illustrations ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction - Seki Hajime and Social Progressivism in Prewar Japan 1
  • 1 - A Portrait of the Economist as a Young Man 10
  • 2 - The People's National Economy 53
  • 3 - Class and Nation 97
  • 4 - Toward a Modern Moral Economy 127
  • 5 - A New Urbanism 169
  • 6 - The Livable City 210
  • Notes 269
  • Bibliography 315
  • Index 335
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