New Online Discussion Group: Modern Japan History Research Society

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Modern Japanese History Research Society


We are an informal group of historians working on modern and contemporary Japan who meet on Zoom once a month. The group is open to university faculty, graduate students, and others interested in modern Japan. We seek to provide a regular forum in which those interested can present their current research, discuss recent academic books, and receive feedback about specific research topics.



ZOOM from 7~8:30pm (JST) the first Monday of each month.



One presenter for each monthly session followed by Q and A.  

Presentations can focus on individual research themes as well as recent academic books for group discussion.


*July 4th presentation:

Dr. Justin Aukema

Associate professor, Osaka Metropolitan University


Paper Title:
Kawakami Hajime’s Syncretic Marxism in A Tale of Poverty


Paper abstract:

In this paper, I examine Kawakami Hajime’s “syncretic Marxism” in A Tale of Poverty. Kawakami Hajime was a famous Japanese economist and one of the first people to study Marx seriously in Japan. In 1917, he wrote A Tale of Poverty as a serialized set of articles for the Osaka Asahi Shimbun. In the articles, which were later published as a book, he tried to investigate the causes of poverty. He blamed poverty on too much luxury spending and consumption by the rich. So, this can be called the “luxury thesis.” Kawakami also tried to recruit Marx’s theories of capitalism into his analysis. However, since his understanding of Marx was still incomplete, he ended up drawing more from his classical training background in Confucian thought. Thus, his final analysis and conclusions are a combination of sources, and what I call a “syncretic Marxism.” In this essay, I introduce Kawakami’s arguments in A Tale of Poverty and examine his luxury thesis. Basically, his luxury thesis of poverty is wrong from a Marxist perspective. But this is not the point I want to emphasize. Rather, I want to indicate Kawakami’s syncretic Marxism as an early example of the introduction of Marx’s thought into Japan, and which contains unique insights in and of itself.


*If you would like to join the July 4th meeting, please contact and include your name and affiliation. A |ZOOM link will be sent to you in advance. You can also contact us if you would like to present or to discuss a recent academic book.


Thank you and we hope to see you all soon!


Curtis Anderson Gayle

Professor, Waseda University