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Hajime Kawakami Edit Profile

economist , Lawyer , politician

Hajime Kawakami was a Meiji, Taisho, and Shôwa period economist, social thinker, and Doctor of Law.


Hajime Kawakami was born on 20 October 1879 in Yamaguchi Prefecture.


He graduated from the law course of Tokyo Imperial University in 1902 and the same year became a lecturer in the agricultural course of the university.


For a period of two months he threw himself into the “selfless love” movement but soon withdrew when he found himself in disagreement with the leader of the movement. He also worked as a reporter for the Tomiuri Shimbun, but resigned in 1907 and founded a magazine called Nihon Keizai Zasshi, in which he attacked the free trade views of Tagüchi Ukichi and argued in favor of protectionism. In 1908 he became a lecturer at Kyoto Imperial University and the following year advanced to the rank of assistant professor. He spent the period 1913-15 studying in Europe and on his return to Japan became a full professor, lecturing on economics.

In 1933 he was arrested in Tokyo at the house where he was in hiding and was put in prison. He refused, however, to compromise his integrity as a scholar. He was released in 1937 and thereafter devoted himself to the writing of his autobiography, which was completed in 1944. He died of illness in Tokyo in 1946, a year after the conclusion of the Pacific War.


  • Other Work

    • In 1905 he published a work called S/iakai shugi hyoron (“Critique of Socialism”), which appeared serially in the Tomiuri Shirnbun under a pen name and attracted considerable attention. With the conclusion of the work, he resigned his teaching position.

    • The poem entitled "Greetings to Comrade Nosaka,” which was carried in a number of newspapers, was his last work.


In 1916, he began publishing serially in tire Osaka Asahi Shimbun a work of fiction entitled Bimbo monogatari, which dealt with the problems of poverty that existed beneath the surface of Japan’s post-World War One prosperity. The work attracted a wide readership and made Kawakami the most renowned scholar of economics from a journalistic point of view. But because he sought a solution to the problems of poverty in a reform of the human spirit, he came under attack from Marxist-oriented economists. This led him to take a deeper interest in Marxism, and he was very quickly converted to its teachings. In 1919 he founded a private magazine devoted to the subject, entitled Shakai Mondai Kenkyü, which continued publication until 1930. In 1926, when the police stepped in to suppress a Marxist student organization at Kyoto University, Kawakami’s house was searched, and in 1928 he resigned his position at the university. In 1929 he joined Oyama Ikuo and others in forming the Rônotô (Labor Farmer Party), but the following year called for dissolution of the party and separated himself from it. From 1932 on, he became active in underground movements, and at the request of the Japan Communist Party translated the 1932 Thèse into Japanese. In the same year he became a regular member of the party.