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Fukuzawa Yukichi

(1835-1901). Prominent educator, writer, and propagator of Western knowledge during the Meiji period (1868-1912); founder of Keiō Gijiku (now Keiō University). After traveling with the first Japanese mission to America in 1860, he traveled with the first Japanese mission to Europe in 1862. Upon his return, he took as his mission in life the education of his countrymen to a new way of thinking based on the principles of Western civilization. He claimed that Japan was backward because it lacked two critical elements: science and the spirit of independence. He thought that by inculcating these elements into Japanese society, Japan would soon grow in power and rival the Western powers. By the time of his death, he was revered as one of the founders of the new Japan. His principal works include Gakumon no susume (1872-76; tr An Encouragement of Learning, 1969), Bunmeiron no gairyaku (1875; tr An Outline of a Theory of Civilization, 1973) and his lively autobiography, Fukuō jiden (1899; tr The Autobiography of Yukichi Fukuzawa, 1972). (adapted from Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. Tokyo: Kodansha, 1993)

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