The quest for civilization: Encounters with Dutch jurisprudence, political economy, and statistics at the dawn of modern Japan

Research output: Book/ReportBook


The Quest for Civilization illuminates the origins of modern Japan through the lens of its cultural contact with the Netherlands providing a rare contribution to the field in English-language literature. Following the "opening" of the country in the 1850s, Japan encountered Western modernity through a quest for knowledge personified by Nishi Amane and Tsuda Mamichi, two young scholars who journeyed to Leiden in 1863 as the first Japanese sent to study in Europe. For two years they were tutored by Simon Vissering - one of the leading Dutch economists of the nineteenth century. Following their return home, their work as government officials and intellectuals played a key role in the introduction of the European social sciences, jurisprudence, and international law to Japan, thereby exerting a decisive influence on the establishment of the modern Japanese state and the redefinition of the international and cultural order in East Asia.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages291
ISBN (Electronic)9789004245372
ISBN (Print)9789004245365
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Aug 12


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)

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