Japan’s Elites, Update

Last summer, I responded to a request for scholarly opinion on the “leaders” of Japan from 1840-1920. Ms. Kim has now completed compiling responses and doing her own research and reports back her list (roughly in chronological order):

  • Abe Masahiro (1819-1857)
  • Ii Naosuke (1815-1860)
  • Kujo Hisatada (1798-1871)
  • Okubo Toshimichi (1830-1878)
  • Saigo Takamori (1828-1877)
  • Tokugawa Nariaki (1800-1860)
  • Yoshida Shoin (1830-1859)
  • Fukuzawa Yukichi (1835-1901)
  • Ito Hirobumi (1841-1909)
  • Iwakura Tomomi (1825-1883)
  • Kido Takayoshi, also known as Koin (1833-1877)
  • Okuma Shigenobu (1838-1922)
  • Sakamoto Ryoma (1835-1867)
  • Shibusawa Eiichi (1840-1931)
  • Inoue Kaoru (1835-1915)
  • Kuroda Kiyotaka (1840-1900)
  • Matsukata Masayoshi (1835-1924)
  • Yamagata Aritomo (1838-1922)
  • Hara Takashi (1856-1921)
  • Katsura Taro (1847-1913)
  • Matsukata Masayoshi (1835-1924)

There’s a few names on there that aren’t on my list: Kujo Hisatada is a pretty good addition for the early period, where I was pretty stumped; Sakamoto Ryoma was left off my list because I was paying too much attention to the chronological boundaries, I think; Kuroda Kiyotaka doesn’t seem more important to me than Saigo Tsugumichi, or Mori Arinori, who were on my list, and the Meiji Emperor seems like a pretty serious omission.

Let’s face it: if we got through a survey of Japanese history and our students knew who all these people were, we’d be doing OK, I think. Of course, there’s no cultural figures here, etc….

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