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Yukichi Fukuzawa, the founder of Keio University,
was a radical and at the same time, a profound and reflective thinker.
He is well known for contributing greatly to the making of modern Japan,
but the majority of what he advocated has not yet been realized until today,
and it is no exaggeration to say that his life was filled with discouragement and setbacks.
Fukuzawa held a lifelong hope for the people of Japan.
In his autobiography written in his later years,
Fukuzawa noted that Japanese people lacked full recognition
and practice of the sciences of “number and reason”
and the doctrine of “independence,” which he considered to be of paramount importance.
In other words, his hope was for a society that can continuously produce people
who have the ability to think logically,
who can think for oneself, and take action based on that understanding.
He believed that only at the hands of such people can society become affluent and civilized.
Fukuzawa was a man of the Enlightenment
Born into a low-ranking samurai family,
Fukuzawa was keenly aware of the humiliation felt by those who were looked down upon,
as well as of the disparity in access to information.
To inspire, through scholarship,
those who were inhibited by their social rank from advancing themselves,
Fukuzawa began to write books and published them one after another.
Among these books, the Encouragement of Learning is one of the most celebrated.
Written in easy to understand terms, the book was, according to some accounts,
bought by one in 160 Japanese people, becoming an immediate bestseller.
He also wrote a vast number of books for children on world geography,
science, morals, calligraphy, and letter writing.
He held the opinion that one must write in simple terms no matter how complex the topic is;
the most trivial matters can be written in the most complicated way;
and one must never be fooled by difficult texts.
Fukuzawa was a man of dedication
During the Edo Period in Japan, it was common to study the West through Dutch literature,
but one day in 1859, Fukuzawa realized the importance of English.
The following day, he quickly shifted his studies from the Dutch language and started to teach himself English.
That year, he volunteered his services to the government envoy dispatched to the United States,
and this opened his eyes to the world.
He held firmly to his belief that it was only through learning could a country advance.
Despite a raging battle in Edo in May 1868, which threw the city into a state of chaos,
Fukuzawa continued to give a class in economics amid the sound of gunfire.
He believed that keeping the torch of scholarship burning was more important
than the major political change that was to take place with the fall of the Tokugawa Shogunate.
Fukuzawa was a man of action
There is a telling anecdote about Fukuzawa that during the time
he was proactive in trying to rid Japanese society of the traditional class system,
he would go out of his way to wear clothes worn by the lower classes
and would purposely lay around on the floor when meeting people of high rank.
Fukuzawa believed that in order to become independent,
people must develop the habit of expressing their opinions.
Along with his students, he trained hard in delivering Western-style “speeches”
and built a dedicated hall in which Fukuzawa initiated the art of public speaking in front of a large crowd.
From there, Western-style public speaking spread throughout the country
and played a significant role in the Freedom and People's Rights Movement of Japan.
Fukuzawa was adamant that the management of Keio remain in the private domain.
This was putting into practice his belief of not being dependent on the government
and living a life of personal independence.
Yukichi Fukuzawa was one of the most dedicated educators and ardent enlighteners of his time.
His unfinished legacy lives on at Keio University where knowledge and wisdom is cultivated for tomorrow.


福沢諭吉の生涯をかけた戦い ( Yukichi Fukuzawa's Lifelong Fight )

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Sophie 2019 年 11 月 7 日 に公開
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