Date of this Version
This article explores the views of two eminent Meiji intellectuals, Abe Isoo (1865–1949) and Kawakami Hajime (1879–1946), regarding poverty and its possible cures. Both men addressed this subject at a time which saw the rapid development of monopoly capitalism in Japan. Politically, this period was typified by the social and political oppression that followed the Public Order Police Law (1900) and the High Treason Incident (1910). The latter marked the beginning of the “winter” of the socialist movement in Japan. Abe, the father of Japanese socialism, and the younger Kawakami, a bourgeois economist and later a Marxist, were two of the more prominent intellectuals concerned with poverty. This article outlines their thoughts on poverty and its possible cures in the period between 1903 and 1916 as expressed in their most representative works on the issue, Abe’s Saikin no shakai mondai (Current Social Problems), (1915) and Kawakami’s Bimbô monogatari (The Tale of Poverty), (1916).