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Descripción de editorial
During the sweeping changes taking place in 19th century Japan, no thinker was more important than Fukuzawa Yukichi (1835-1901). Born into a low-ranking samurai family, he traveled to Nagasaki at age nineteen to study Dutch. In 1858, he was sent to Edo to teach Dutch to domain students. In his spare time he taught himself English using a Dutch-English dictionary. Two years later, he was appointed a translator of diplomatic documents at the shogunal office of foreign affairs. In 1862, he founded a school that is now Keio University. Eager to introduce Western history and ideas to the Japanese, he wrote a series of books, including the bestselling Conditions in the West (1866).
In the late 1870s, he turned his attention to the prospects for parliamentary government in Japan. The central government was firmly in place and elective prefectural assemblies were about to be established. He wrote essays on the workings of such a system, drawing on his earlier travels abroad and his reading of de Tocqueville, John Stuart Mill, Walter Bagehot, and others. A realist and optimist, Fukuzawa assured his readers of the eventual success of parliamentary government in Japan. This book provides the first-English language translation of five essays that bear directly on the development of his thought and its legacy in Japanese culture.