Tokutomi Soho

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  • Birth: 1863
  • Death: 1957
  • Japanese: 徳富蘇峰 (Tokutomi Sohou)

Tokutomi Sohô was a best-selling author of the Meiji period, known for his writings on a variety of social and political subjects.

A journalist, Christian, and founder of Kokumin no Tomo ("Friend of the Nation's People"), Japan's first modern mass market journal, Tokutomi was initially an outspoken pacifist and supporter of parliamentarianism.

In the 1890s, however, he began to gain a strong interest in the writings of Herbert Spencer, and the ideas of Social Darwinism, shifting from his earlier pacifism to now advocate imperialism. In a 1913 text called Jimmu ikkagen ("A Tract for the Times"), he writes that Japan has only two choices - self-reliance or dependency - and, like many other thinkers of his time, argues that Japan can only choose between imperialism, or risking being imperialized. He notes the great costs of Japan's past imperial efforts, from the Taiwan Expedition of 1874, to the very costly Japanese victory in the Russo-Japanese War in 1905, from which he claims Russia recovered quite quickly, to such a degree that one might even think it was Japan that had lost the war. Still, he argues that such costs are unavoidable if Japan is to follow the path towards securing its ability to be self-reliant, and free from Western domination. "It is a policy," he writes, "born out of necessity if we are to exist as a nation and survive as a race."[1]


  • Marius Jansen, "Japanese Imperialism: Late Meiji Perspectives," in Mark Peattie (ed.), The Japanese Colonial Empire, 1895-1945, Princeton University Press (1984), 65-66.
  1. Jansen, 66.