"Japanese Students at Cambridge University in the Meiji Era, 1868-1912: Pioneers for the Modernization of Japan" - A Translation from a Japanese Original

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University professor sheds new light on Japan's modernization in the Meiji era (1868-1912).

Cambridge University graduate, university professor in Japan and expatriate author Ian Ruxton (48) has recently published an English translation of a book by Noboru Koyama, librarian of the Cambridge University Library in charge of the Japanese and Korean collections.

“When I first read the book in Japanese I realized it was an important work and one which demanded to be translated,” explains Professor Ruxton. “This story is simply unknown outside Japan, and it goes a long way to explaining how Japan managed to modernize so rapidly in the 19th century after the Black Ships of U.S. Commodore Perry came calling in 1853. It was no longer necessary or sensible to rely on translations of Dutch texts. The best way was for young Japanese to be sent to leading universities such as Cambridge and others in Europe and the U.S.A.”

The key personality in the book is Kikuchi Dairoku (1855-1917) who first came to England as the youngest member of a group sent by the Tokugawa Shogunate. Kikuchi was just eleven years old when he got his first taste of British education at University College School in London. He visited Britain again to enter and attend Cambridge, and twice thereafter to give lectures on Japanese education.

After Kikuchi came such important figures as Suematsu Kencho(1855-1920), the first translator of the Genji Monogatari and later a statesman who explained Japan’s case to Europe during the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05), and Inagaki Manjiro (1861-1908) who became Japan’s first diplomatic representative in Siam and wrote pioneering works on the history and importance of the Pacific Rim before his premature death in 1908.

Kikuchi later became a Minister of Education and was influential in establishing the system in Japan of government review of text books which continues somewhat controversially to this day.

This book is available online from amazon.com and affiliates amazon.co.jp and amazon.co.uk . It was first published in September 2004 by Lulu Press, Inc. .For further details see http://www.dhs.kyutech.ac.jp/~ruxton/hatenkou.html


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