From his birth in the lowest stratum of the samurai class to his
assassination at the hands of right-wing militarists, Takahashi
Korekiyo (1854-1936) lived through tumultuous times that shaped the
course of modern Japanese history. Takahashi is considered "Japan's
Keynes" in many circles because of the forward-thinking (and
controversial) fiscal and monetary policies--including deficit
financing, currency devaluation, and lower interest rates--that he
implemented to help Japan rebound from the Great Depression and
move toward a modern economy.
Richard J. Smethurst's engaging biography underscores the
profound influence of the seven-time finance minister on the
political and economic development of Japan by casting new light on
Takahashi's unusual background, unique talents, and singular
experiences as a charismatic and cosmopolitan financial
Along with the many fascinating personal episodes--such as
working as a houseboy in California and running a silver mine in
the Andes--that molded Takahashi and his thinking, the book also
highlights four major aspects of Takahashi's life: his unorthodox
self-education, his two decades of service at the highest levels of
government, his pathbreaking economic and political policies before
and during the Depression, and his efforts to stem the rising tide
of militarism in the 1930s. Deftly weaving together archival
sources, personal correspondence, and historical analysis,
Smethurst's study paints an intimate portrait of a key figure in
the history of modern Japan.
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