Date of this Version

January 2007

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Details

Masako Gavin (2007) Poverty and its possible cures: Abe Isoo and Kawakami Hajime

Preprint version


I would like to thank the School of Humanities & Social Sciences, Bond University, for the 2006 research grant, and the International Center, Doshisha University, Kyoto, for the 2006 visiting scholarship. Such support from both institutions has enabled me to carry out an intensive research for writing this paper. In addition, comments by the two anonymous referees of East Asia - An International Quarterly (Rutgers) concerning the earlier version of this paper have been most valuable.

Copyright © Masako Gavin, 2007.


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).



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