Information Bulletin of the Union of National Economic Associations in Japan No. 13 (1993) pp. 17-22.
(Chuhei SUGIYAMA; Scanned and corrected by Aiko IKEO in 1997)
The number of the historians of economic thought, and so the number of books published on that subject, were by no means small in pre-war Japan, perhaps even greater than their counterparts in the Western world, but it was as late as 1950 that the Society for the History of Economic Thought was officially organized, with an original membership of 123. The membership grew steadily and in the tenth year of the Society's foundation it was about four times as large, i.e. 482; in the both anniversary it amounted to 679 and in the 40th anniversary year it amounted to 805.
Along with this growth in membership, regional branch activities also proceeded. The Kanto (East) and Kansai (West) Branches started as early as 1952, and the Seinan (South-West) Branch in 1956. On the 30th anniversary of the Society's foundation, i.e. 1980, the Tohoku (North-East) Branch was also organized to cover the rest of the country.
The Society moved to make itself still more like an authentic academic institution by starting its own bulletin in 1962. In due course the bulletin itself consolidated its academic outlook even more, because up to No.26 in 1988 it was restricted to a reporting function for surveys, book reviews, conference and study group reports, obituaries and so on, but from the next issue it also began to include original articles. Furthermore, the Society started publishing its Newsletter in 1992.
The Society's publications go further than these. In 1967, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the publication of Karl Marx's Das Kapital , vol. I, it edited a book entitled Shihonron no Seiritsu (The Birth of Das Kapital ), published by Iwanami-shoten, Tokyo, and in 1976 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the publication of Adam Smith's An Inquiry into the Nature and Closes of the Wealth of Nations , it edited a book entitled Kokufuron no Seiritsu (The Birth of The Wealth of Nations ), published also by Iwanami-shoten. Then to commemorate the both anniversary of its own foundation, it edited and published a booklet entitled Keizaigakushi Gakkai Sanjunenshi (Thirty Years of the Society for the History of Economic Thought) in 1980. A book entitled Nihon no Keizaigaku (Economic Studies in Japan) was published in 1984 by Toyo Keizai Shimposha, Tokyo, and again to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Society's foundation, a book entitled Keizaigikushi: Kadai to Tenbo (History of Economic Thought: Tasks and Perspectives) was published in 1992 by Kyushu Daigaku Shuppankai (Kyushu University Press), though the publication of the last two books was delayed by four and two years respectively after the actual anniversary years.
In addition, the Society's Seinan (South-West) Branch edited, quite independently, a book Kindai Keizaigakushi Kenkyu (Studies in the History of Modern Economics) in 1972. and Keizaigakushi Kenkyu (Studies in the History of Economics) in 1973, both published by Minerva-shobo, Kyoto.
The comparison between the themes taken up in the programme of the past general meetings, and those in the most recent one, i.e. in 1992, may show what kind of continuity and change in the interest of the historians of economic thought in this country are to be recognized. The Society used to hold biannual general meetings until 1962, when it was agreed that the general meeting should be annual instead of biannual from the next year. The papers read at the first general meeting over forty years ago, in 1950, were: "Ricardo and the Industrial Revolution , M. SUMIYA; "Ricardo and Bailey on the theory of value", Y. TAMANOI; "Ricardo's theory of distribution", T. HORI; "Marx's concept of abstract labour", K. SUGIYAMA; "Tableau economique and its significance for the modern age", S. KOSHIMURA; "Mercantilism and the formation of modern states", S. SHIRASUGI. Here we see that half of the papers read were on classical political economy and one each was on mercantilism, physiocracy and Marx.
Ten years later, i.e. in 1960, the following papers were read in a biannual meeting: "Marxism in Britain", K. IDA; "John Miller's view of the French Revolution", S. YAMASAKI; "Moses Hess and Karl Marx", R. YAMANAKA; "Wilhelm Weitling's revolutionary thought", T. MORITA; "The logic and construction of Tableau conomique , T. YOSHIHARA; "The character of moral philosophy in the 19th century American economic thought", T. HAYASE; "Substance and form of the value of commodity", A. WATANABE; "Fixed capital and accumulated fund in Marx's expanded reproduction scheme", S. NIHEI; "Modern revaluation of Hilferding's Finanzkapital ", T. FURUSAWA. Here we see that more than half of the whole papers were on Marxian economic thought.
Another ten years later, i.e. in 1970, the papers read in the annual meeting were as follows : "The process of the formation of the reproduction scheme", A. TAKAGI; "A study of effective demand from the history of economic thought point of view", I. ARITA; "An examination of Schultz's theory of inflation", K. NAKAMURA; "Schumpeter's theories and their present day significance", Y. TAMANOI; "Saint-Simon and the French Revolution", A. HIROTA; "On the methodology of Proudhon's system of economic thought", S. SATO; "Hess and Marx", K. HATA; "The formation and significance of the theory of capital revolving", T. YAMADA; "Ricardo's images of developing society", Y. YOSHIZAWA; "Controversy at the time of the formation of credit unions", S. MORI; "Economic journals in the Meiji era", S. SUGIHARA; "The significance of the 'birth of modern economics' for the history of economic thought", J. HAYASHI. Here, too, we see that one third of the whole papers read were on Marxian economic thought.
After about another tan years, or rather ten years ago, i.e. in 1983, the number of papers read at the annual meeting was beyond all comparison with those seen above. The papers read in three different rooms on the first day were: "On the formation of Marx's thought centering around his econo- philosophical manuscripts", T. OISHI; "Interpretations in the present century of Adam Smith's view of the measure of value", E. NAKAGAWA; "Theories of value in the mercantilism age" E.YAMAMOTO; "Marx on estrangement", H. YAMAMOTO; "The construction of Adam Smith's theory of value", K. IDA; "Inflation and the agricultural interests in the first half of the 19th century", T. NISHIZAWA; "Capital in general and the accumulation of individual capitals", K. KAWAMOTO; "Adam Smith's moral philosophy in his Theory of Moral Sentiments ", K. KAWAKUBO; "The economic thought of Francis Wayland" , A. FUJIWARA; Marx's theory of capital accumulation as seen in 1861-63 manuscripts", N. HARA; "Scottish Enlightenment and Thomas Reid", H. SHINOHARA; "J. A. Hobson's theory of underconsumption" Y. OMIZU; "Marx's two reproduction schemes", A. MIYAGAWA; "Ricardo's theory of value and circulation", T. MIZUTA; "Keynes's theory of capital", J. SOGA. The papers read in the first half of the following day were: "Problems in Marx's theory of international value", Y. KIHARA; "Mill and Marx: their methodologies", S. MAWATARI; "A Russian liberal's view of state: B. N. Chicherin and the absolutist government", S. SUGIURA; "Some materials on Hilferding so far scarcely studied", M. KUROTAKI; "Mill and the wage fund theory", T. NEGISHI.
Out of 20 papers in all six were on classical political economists and seven were on Marx or Marxists. Moreover, the second half of the day was solely devoted to a symposium on Marx with three presenters and three commentators. Fairly different in kind from all these were the papers read in the latest annual meeting in 1992. On the first day the following papers were likewise read: "Government and economy in Charles Davenant's thought", S. ITO;"James Stueart's theory of the rise and fall of a great commercials country", N. KAWASHIMA; "Adam Smith on natural jurisprudence and his Theory of Moral Sentiments " T. MORIMOTO; "Adam Smith's political economy reconsidered", I. INAMURA; "J. S. Mill's image of ideal society and state", M. MAEHARA, "conventional minimum, moral minimum and national minimum: the construction and logic of the Webb's Industrial Democracy ", T. FUJII; "Reproduction scheme and Capital circulation", J. HAYASHI; "Studies made in Holland on Rosa Luxemburg's Die Akkmulaltion des Kapitals ", M. KAMISHIRO; "Early Hilferding's thought on economic policy , H. KONO; "Later Hilferding's economic thought" M. KURATA; "Nature's control and law: from Descartes to Physiocrates", K. MORIOKA; "J. A. Hobson's theory of market and some organismic elements", J. HIMENO; "Theoretical and methodological viewpoints of Schumpeter's Das Wesen und der Hauptinhalt der theoretischen Nationalkonomie " , K. HAYASHI; "Statistical studies made on rice market", A. IKEO; "Tanzan Ishibashi's politico-economic through", K. IDA.
Apart from the special lecture by J. M. Pullen on "Why modern economists should read Malthus's Principles of Politician Economy , the following papers were read on the second day: "The third way: visions of fraternal socialism, Y. KOBAYASHI; "Smith and Malthus : Smith's criticism of corn export bounties and Malthus's defense of the protection of agriculture", T. YOKOYAMA; "Malthus and Ricardo: different developments from Smith", K. WATARAI; "Malthus and J. S. Mill: their connections in thought, method, theory and policy", H. MAWATARI.
Interest in classical political economy is apparent in all these meetings over forty years but there are obvious differences in between. Although there is still some strong interest in the economic thought of the Marxian school in the latest annual meeting, yet the papers of that sort have obviously become smaller in number. Another characteristic, if not quite as apparent in the 1992 meeting, is that the meetings in recent years such as those in 1990 and 1991 show a steady increase in the number of papers on modern economists such as Walras, Menger, Marshall, Schumpeter, Post-Keynesians, and Sraffa. This tendency is further backed by the programme of the 1993 meeting, which, though it has not yet been officially published in printed form, includes such papers as: "The birth of dynamics in Keynes and Harrod"; "Market theory of the later Hicks"; "The theory of market process in the New Austrian School".
This tendency is also apparent in the articles inserted in the recent numbers of the Society's bulletins. Apart from No.28, 1990, which was devoted to the 200th anniversary of the death of Adam Smith, No.27, 1989, which was, as stated above, the first number to include articles, contained such articles as "On the quantitative method in the Wealth of Nations ", C. TADAKOSHI; "Malthus's Essay and Principles ", Y. NAKANISHI; "A paradox in the history of modern economics: Reconsideration of Bhm-Bawerk's earlier thought", S. TOMO; "Speculation in Keynes's General Theory : on Leijonhufvud's view", M. KANO. NO.29, 1991, besides an article "Wicksell on capital, finance and economic science", A. IKEO, devoted the rest to the centenary of Alfred Marshall's Principles by including such articles as "Marshall on method in the Principles ", S. HASHIMOTO; "Statics in Marshall's Principles ", M. SAKAGUCHI; "Dynamics in Marshall's Principles ", E. NAGASAWA; "Marshall's Principles and the Cambridge School" M. NEI, and No. 30, 1992, presented such articles as "Malthus on the revision of the Corn Laws after the Napoleonic War", T. HATORI; "Malthus and his contemporaries on commercial society', Y. FUKAGAI; "Ricardo's intellectual circle and political economy", H. IDA; "Journalistic experience of Carl Menger", K. YAGI; "Helvetius: the 'honour' in utilitarianism", T. MORIMURA; "J. S. Mill and the quantity theory of money in his pro-Principles period : the formation of a question for Principles ", H. TAKEUCHI; "Lon Walras on state intervention: equality, competition and entrepreneur", K. MISAKI; "The aggregative structure of assets and the effectiveness of monetary policy in Keynes's General Theory ", M. KANOU.
Along with such a tendency, some interest in the history of Japanese economic thought has also become clearer. If not as apparent as far as the papers read in the annual meetings are concerned, with only one paper on Tanzan Ishibashi in 1992 as shown above and another on Yukichi Fukuzawa (J. UMEZU) in 1990, the interest is no doubt in steady increase. Among some study groups, not officially registered as academic societies or associations, or even inner branches of the Society, such as the Hume-Smith study group composed of those members interested in the Scottish Enlightenment, or the history of economics research group, or the history of economic doctrines research group composed mostly, if not wholly, of the younger generation of the Society's members interested in modern economics, particularly active is the group on the history of Japanese economic thought, holding meetings fairly regularly. In 1993 it has gone as far as to hold a special meeting, not in Tokyo as usual but in Matsuyama. On top of this, as though reflecting this fact, a quarter part of the coming annual meeting of the Society is to be allotted to a symposium on the history of Japanese economic thought, covering Edo, early and mid-Meiji and late Meiji periods.
Another fact may also be pointed out to characterize a recent tendency, which is the internationalization of the activities of the Society and its members. Besides inviting some notable historians of economic thought from abroad to give lectures at annual or branch meetings, the Society has been sending its members, though only from time to time, to conferences held abroad, in some cases to read papers there. Along with such activities of the Society itself, there are some tendencies in its members' participation in international activities, among which particularly notable may be as follows:
The one is a three-year international project on the institutionalization of political economy, the aim of which was to do research in how political economy came to be recognized as a subject to be taught in higher educational institutions in different countries and to publish the results. The Japanese team was the very first, earlier than any other team from the member countries such as the U.S.A., Italy, France, Germany and Britain, to publish a book on the results: Enlightenment and Beyond.' Political Economy comes to Japan , edited by Chuhei SUGIYAMA and Hiroshi MIZUTA and published by the University of Tokyo Press in 1988.
The other is the research meeting held in Nagoya in 1990 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the death of Adam Smith. Similar meetings were to follow in Scotland and Canada, but it is believed that the Nagoya meeting was the most fruitful of all. Nineteen participants read their papers, namely one each from China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Russia and the U.S.A., four from Britain, two from Canada and six from Japan, and the results were compiled in the book Adam Smith: International Perspectives , edited by Hiroshi MIZUTA and Chuhei SUGIYAMA and published by Macmillan, London, in 1993.
One more fact may also be added, which is that not a small part of the members of the Society has been and still is interested in so-called social thought, in the sense different from sociology. Even after the official launching of an independent society for the history of social thought in 1976, the Society for the History of Economic Thought did not alter the part of its rules and regulations stating its aims with reference not only to the history of economic thought but also to the history of social thought.
To prove this fact, as already shown above, some papers of that kind were read at the annual meeting in 1983 on such topics as Adam Smith's moral philosophy, Scottish Enlightenment and Thomas Reid, Marx's thought on estrangement, and still in 1992 such topics as Adam Smith's natural jurisprudence, Mill's image of ideal society, and the like. Moreover, at the 1993 meeting such papers are also scheduled to be read as on "Montesquieu's social theory," "The natural theology of Lord Kames", and "The Wealth of Nations and politics'.
Lastly, the Society has had fourteen representatives since its establishment. At first they could be elected to the office for any number of successive terms, but later it was agreed that their office should be confined to one term of two years only. The exceptional case was C. SUGIYAMA, who had to serve a little more. Their names and the terns of service are as follows :
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