Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Fukuzawa Yukichi

Japanese Reformer, Author, Writer, Teacher, Translator and Political Theoriest who founded Keio University

"One hundred volumes of international law are not the equal of a few cannons; a handful of treaties are not worth a basket of gunpowder. Cannon and gunpowder are not aids for the enforcement of given moral principles, they are implements for the creation of morality where none exists."

"In its broad sense, civilization means not only comfort in daily necessities but also the refining of knowledge and the cultivation of virtue so as to elevate human life to a higher plane… It refers to the attainment of both material well-being and the elevation of the human spirit, [but] since what produces man’s well-being and refinement is knowledge and virtue, civilization ultimately means the progress of man’s knowledge and virtue."

"It is said that heaven does not create one man above or below another man. Any existing distinction between the wise and the stupid, between the rich and the poor, comes down to a matter of education."

"Each individual man and each individual country, according to the principles of natural reason, is free from bondage. Consequently, if there is some threat that might infringe upon a country’s freedom, then that country should not hesitate even to take up arms against all the countries of the world."

"I think I have made it clear that I never intended to make enemies. But in an age when anti-foreign sentiment was running high, it was unavoidable that in my position as an advocate of open intercourse and free adoption of Western culture, I should make some adversaries."

"Moreover, the argument for national polity, for Christianity, and for Confucianism... are also insufficient to bolster people’s hearts. What, then, will? I say there is one thing: namely, to establish our goal and advance toward civilization... The way in which to preserve this independence cannot be sought anywhere except in civilization."

"Therefore, to teach them [women] at least an outline of economics and law is the first requirement after giving them a general education. Figuratively speaking, it will be like providing the women of civilized society with a pocket dagger for self-protection."

"Once the wind of Western civilization blows to the East, every blade of grass and every tree in the East follow what the Western wind brings... We do not have time to wait for the enlightenment of our neighbors so that we can work together toward the development of Asia. It is better for us to leave the ranks of Asian nations and cast our lot with civilized nations of the West... We should deal with them exactly as the Westerners do."

"The world is large."

"To recount the history of assassination since the beginning of our foreign intercourse — in the beginning, people simply hated the foreigners because all foreigners were "impure" men who should not be permitted to tread the sacred soil of Japan... As I have said before, I felt my life in greatest danger during the twelve or thirteen years around the period of the [Meiji] Restoration."

"Powers of the Western Ocean carry back abundant fruits of far-away tropical lands which they possess, multiplying wealth of their home countries; and prosperity of these nations is a fair reward to the civilization who dare without fear through the thousands miles of treacherous waves, relying on its knowledge of geography and navigation."

"Whatever happens in the country, whatever warfare harasses our land, we will never relinquish our hold on Western learning. As long as this school of ours stands, Japan remains a civilized nation of the world."

"Robbery and murder are the worst of human crimes; but in the West there are robbers and murderers. There are those who form cliques to vie for the reins of power and who, when deprived of that power, decry the injustice of it all. Even worse, international diplomacy is really based on the art of deception. Surveying the situation as a whole, all we can say is that there is a general prevalence of good over bad, but we can hardly call the situation perfect. When, several thousand years hence, the levels of knowledge and virtue of the peoples of the world will have made great progress (to the point of becoming utopian), the present condition of the nations of the West will surely seem a pitifully primitive stage. Seen in this light, civilization is an open-ended process. We cannot be satisfied with the present level of attainment of the West."