Kuwata Kumazō (1868-1932) was one of the outstanding specialists on social policy in the first three decades of 20th century Japan. Today he has almost been forgotten. As a scholar of German social policy and co-founder of the Association of Social Policy around 1900, he contributed to the spread of social knowledge. As a policy adviser for the Japanese government in the 1920s he put his ideas into practice. The aim of this research project is two-folded: first, it will explore Kuwata’s social thought in the context of the Japanese discourse on social issues, and second, it will put Kuwata’s contributions into the broader framework of cross-cultural explorations into poverty and the welfare. He will be portrayed as a conservative social reformer in Meiji and Taishō Japan and as a “bridge-builder” who reached out to social reformers in Germany, Britain and France.
In his sociology of domination, especially in the chapters on charisma, Max Weber often mentioned cases in Japanese history to prove or illustrate his theory. The sociologist Nakane Chie, however, emphasized that the concept of "charisma" was a useless one for a proper analysis of Japanese society. In Japan, she argued, social relationships are based on personal contacts. Therefore charismatic leadership is possible only in close social environments. How do we explain these contradicting views? The project explores a whole set of various forms of charismatic leadership in Japanese history and society over a long period of time, reaching from the military leadership of Tenmu Tennō in the late 7th century, to wandering Buddhist monks in the middle ages and new religious movements in 20th century Japan.