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The unknown, multifaceted and pioneering activities of the first president of Waseda University, Sanae Takata

Mr. Masayuki Manabe
Research Associate of the Waseda University Archives

Shigenobu Okuma was the founder of Waseda University. But, from the founding of Tokyo Senmon Gakko until it became Waseda University, it was actually Sanae Takata, Kenkichi Ichishima, Shoyo Tsubouchi, and Tameyuki Amano, also known as the "Honorable Four of Waseda," who managed and did the administrative work over a long period. They were all classmates at University of Tokyo, and 2010 marks the 150th anniversary of their births. At Waseda University Archives, we have decided to shine the spotlight on the leader of them, Sanae Takata, and to open a "Sanae Takata Exhibition" as our autumn project.

From left: Sanae Takata, Tameyuki Amano, and Shoyo Tsubouchi

At the 70th anniversary party (from left: Kenkichi Ichishima, Sanae Takata, Shoyo Tsubouchi and Kazutami Ukita)

The man who put in the most distinguished service for the development of Waseda University

Anybody who is affiliated with Waseda University at least knows the name Sanae Takata. And, even if not in detail, they would know that Takata is the man who built the foundations of Waseda University in the initial stages. As well as becoming a teacher at the inception of Tokyo Senmon Gakko, he also took on the core activities of school management, and in 1902, when the name Waseda University was adopted, he was appointed as its first chancellor. He resigned as president in 1905 in order to take up the Minister of Education post, but after the "Waseda Dispute" that happened later on, he temporarily left the university. But after Waseda University was officially recognized as a university in line with the University Law in 1918, and after the demise of Shigenobu Okuma in 1922, he returned to manage the university as president, stepping forward to oversee the university's development until the early Showa era.

But Takata wasn't only involved in the growth of Waseda, and the fact that he was involved in pioneering activities in every area in modern Japan is probably unknown to most people affiliated with Waseda, let alone the general public.

Putting everything into the introduction of pioneer learning

Sanae Takata in his University of Tokyo days (front row right)

Of these activities, the first example I can give is his results as an academic and researcher. Starting with Anglo-American politics at University of Tokyo, Sanae Takata studied the latest works, and later published a wide range of books on, of course, politics, economics related topics such as money and taxes, and rhetoric ("Bijigaku") etc., and introduced the latest Anglo-American academic work. The outstanding characteristic of Takata's studies was its pioneer spirit, as he continued to introduce academic work that Japanese people at the time had yet to lay their eyes on. For example, Takata was among the first to translate and introduce American political scientist Woodrow Wilson's "The State" ("Seiji-Hanron"), when Wilson was still a young researcher in his 30s, and a name unknown to most Japanese. But Wilson later asserted himself in the political science world, becoming known throughout the world as the 28th President of the United States and advocate of establishment of the United Nations.

"Bijigaku," which introduced Western rhetoric to Japan

"The State" (Seiji-Hanron), written by Woodrow Wilson, translated by Sanae Takata

Activities as a politician

Sanae Takata and his wife during his time as Minister of Education (at the enthronement ceremony of the Taisho Emperor, Yoshihito)

Takata didn't only search for the academic side of politics, he flung himself into the political world. In the first House of Representatives election held in 1890, he ran and was elected in the Saitama Prefecture Ward 2 (Kawagoe area) constituency, and was to be elected a total of six times, actively participating in 14 national assemblies as a member of the House of Representatives. He was a steadfast member of Okuma's political parties (the Constitutional Progressive Party, the Progressive Party, the Constitutional Party, and the Real Constitutional Party), and with his good-looks and position as Okuma's brain trust, was called the "Progressive Party's Zhang Liang." In order to focus on the management of Waseda University, he didn't run for office after 1904 and retired from politics, but on the creation of the second Shigenobu Okuma Cabinet in 1914, he was chosen as Minister of Education in the cabinet reshuffle the following year and returned to the political sphere.

"You should stay one step ahead of society, never two"—as a journalist

Yomiuri Shimbun serial article "Questions and Answers on the Diet"

Takata was also active as a journalist. In January 1886, he was invited to write editorials for Yomiuri Shimbun, and wrote under the penname of "Master of Matsuya." He was subsequently employed as chief editor for the same newspaper on October 1, 1887. Takata reorganized the layout of the pages, invited prominent literary figures, and Yomiuri became well-know as a "literary newspaper." Also, from another angle, he put a lot of effort into enriching political articles. As a journalist, Takata's motto was, "you should stay one step ahead of society, never two," and he printed serial articles providing easy-to-follow commentary on the newly formed political system, such as "Questions and Answers on the Diet," and "Exposition of the Common Japanese Imperial Constitution," urging the political growth of the people. Through the results of the newspaper reorganization, sales of Yomiuri Shimbun skyrocketed.

"Pioneer Critic"—Literary and artistic activities

He didn't only raise the popularity of Yomiuri Shimbun as a literary newspaper, Takata also performed as a literary art critic. Takata critiqued "Disposition of Students Today," penned by close friend, Shoyo Tsubouchi, and had a review of bestseller at the time, "Kajin no Kigu (Coincidence of the Good)" printed in "Chuo Academic Journal." He showed advanced methods in modern literary art reviews, and was labeled "Pioneer Critic" by people at the time. Also, in the theatrical world, he engaged in improvement activities aimed at modernization of theatre, contributing to the development of this area. He gave full support to the creation of Tokyo Senmon Gakko Literature Department, founded by close friend, Shoyo Tsubouchi, introducing numerous literary figures as lecturers.

Aspect of a business manager

Archives relating to the establishment of Nisshin Printing Co.

There was also a side to Takata as a starter of new businesses. Most representative of this was his management of Tokyo Senmon Gakko Press (now Waseda University Press). When the publisher run into financial trouble, Takata separated it from the university, and took the risk upon himself to rebuild operations. He also took on a midwife role at companies founded by people with links to Waseda University, Nisshin Printing Co. (now Dai Nippon Printing Co. Ltd.) and Nisshin Life Insurance Co. (now T & D Financial Life Insurance Company). He also introduced industry figures like Eiichi Shibusawa to old school-friends aspiring to start businesses, propping up these acquaintances' start-up activities from behind the shadows.

A chance to change our view of Sanae Takata

The "Sanae Takata Exhibition" will shine the spotlight on, of course, his involvement in the growth of Waseda University, as well as the not so well known diverse range of pioneer activities of Takata mentioned above. We have also loaned materials from Sanae Takata's descendants, allowing us to reveal his private side. I would be very pleased if many people, at the least, came to see the "Sanae Takata Exhibition," and gain an interest in Takata. Now, valuable testimony covering various areas of modern Japan remains in Sanae Takata's memoirs, "Hampo Mukashibanashi (Hampo's Old Stories)," and Waseda University Archives has also published "General Research of Sanae Takata," covering a wide range of Takata's academic activities. I recommend that people who visit this exhibition and gain an interest in Takata, take the time to read these works and I would be extremely pleased if this becomes an opportunity for people to change their view of Takata, one of the great people Waseda is proud of.

—"Commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the Birth of the Honorable Four of Waseda Sanae Takata Exhibition"—

Venue: Okuma Memorial Tower 10F 125th Anniversary Room
Dates: October 15, 2010 (Fri) ~November 27, 2010 (Sat)
Closed on Sundays and public holidays. Open October 17 and November 7.
Also closed on Anniversary of the University Founding (October 21)
Hours: 10:00-18:00
Enquiries: Waseda University Archives Tel: 03-5286-1814

Mr. Masayuki Manabe
Research Associate of the Waseda University Archives

Born in 1973. Majored in history (Japanese history) at Graduate School of Letters, Arts and Sciences, Waseda University. PhD (Literature). Publications include "Research on Shigeki Nishimura" (Shibunkaku, 2009), "Research on Tokyo Senmon Gakko" (Waseda University Press, 2010), and "Modern Japanese Political Parties and Society"(co-authored, Nihon Keizai Hyouronsha, 2009).