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Sakuzō Yoshino Edit Profile

lawyer , politician , writer

Sakuzō Yoshino was a Political scientist and Doctor of Law of the Meiji, Taisho, and Shôwa periods.

Background

Sakuzō Yoshino was born on 20 January 1878 in Miyagi Prefecture.

Education

He attended a high school in Sendai and in 1906 graduated from Tokyo Imperial University.

Career

He returned to Japan in 1909 and became an assistant professor at Tokyo University.

After spending the years 1910-13 studying in Europe and America, he advanced to the rank of professor in 1914, lecturing on political history and political science. At the same time, breaking away from the stereotyped academicism typical of the national universities, he began to publish articles in the magazine called Child Koron that were written in simple style and dealt with political topics or the issues of the times.

In 1924 he resigned his position as professor of Tokyo University and joined the Asahi Shimbun, writing editorials on political affairs, but he was forced to resign when the newspaper incurred government censorship. He thereafter served as a lecturer at Tokyo Univershy.

Achievements

  • He set up the Meiji Bunka Kenkyukai, an association for the study of Meiji period culture and, with a number of associates, succeeded in editing and publishing a twcnty-four-volume work entitled Meiji bunka zenshu (1927-30) containing basic sources for the study of Meiji culture. In 1926 he assisted in the formation of the Shakai Minshuto (Social Popular Party). Earlier, in 1919, he had established a consumers’ cooperative union called the Katei Kobai Kumiai, and had devoted much effort to hospital work. His numerous works include Nisshi kosho-ron, Shina kakumei shoshi, Futsu senkyo-ron, and Gendai kensei no un’yo.

Religion

He became a Christian while still a high school student in Sendai.

Politics

When he entered the law course of Tokyo Imperial University, he joined the I-Iongo Church headed by Ebina Dan jo and became friendly with such exponents of Christian socialism as Abe Isoo and Kinoshita Naoe. In 1906, after his graduation, he was invited to go to Tientsin by the Chinese political and military leader Yuan Shih-k’ai, where he taught at a school specializing in legal and political education.

Views

His articles published in 1916 dealing with the establishment of constitutional government, which called upon the political leaders to take into consideration the wishes of the populace as a whole in formulating government policy, were particularly influen-tial, and helped to lay the theoretical foundations for the so-called era of Taisho democracy. Such views brought him under attack from right-wing groups such as the ultranationalistic Roninkai, a branch of the Gen’yosha, but he was able to defend himself successfully. At the same time, he gained support among students and intellectuals, and in 1918 played a central role in the formation of the Shinjinkai, an ideological organization made up of Tokyo University students who were members of the Study Group on Universal Suffrage. He thereafter exercised considerable influence on the student social movement.

In the same year, he also founded the Reimeikai, a society for the advancement of enlightened democratic thought, and from the following year began to hold lecture meetings along w'ith another leader of the movement, Oyama Ikuo. He continued to be very active in journalistic circles, calling for reduction of the powers entrusted to the Upper House of the Diet and the Privy Council and the immediate establishment of universal suffrage, and criticizing the militarists.