History and Development

The Heritage of Studies in Business and Commerce at Keio University: The Spirit of Jitsugaku

Keio University is the oldest university in Japan among the modern universities that exist today. In celebrating its 100th Anniversary in 1957 (Showa 32), we split the Faculty of Economics into two and created the Faculty of Business and Commerce. Just four years later in 1961 (Showa 36), we founded the Graduate School of Business and Commerce. Both the Faculty of Business and Commerce and the Graduate School of Business and Commerce carry on the legacy of Yukichi Fukuzawa’s “Spirit of Jitsugaku.” Jitsugaku is often translated as “practical learning” but means science in the truest sense of the word. (See https://www.keio.ac.jp/en/about/ for further information on Jitsugaku.) It is our founding principle for understanding the rapidly evolving contemporary global industrial society and social structure. This is studied from both a theoretical and empirical approach to provide insights in terms of progress and change.

The founding of the Faculty of Business and Commerce and Graduate School of Business and Commerce dates back to 1890 (Meiji 23) when Keio University established the first university departments of literature, law, and economics, which were the precursors of the current Faculty of Letters, Faculty of Law, and Faculty of Economics/Faculty of Business and Commerce, respectively. (See https://www.keio.ac.jp/en/about/history/ “Keio University establishes a college with three departments” for further information). The mission was to send capable individuals into the business world. Initially, it was debated whether the Department of Economics should be called “Business and Commerce” but in the end this was the decision, as more importance being placed on the fields related to business and commerce at the time. In 1873 (Meiji 6), Yukichi Fukuzawa translated “Bryant & Stratton's Common School Book-keeping” by H.B.Bryant and H.D.Stratton. It is a well-known fact that this was published under the Japanese title of “帳合之法 (Common School Bookkeeping)” and it served as a forerunner in establishing the field of accounting in Japan.

In 1920 (Taisho 8), the courses in the Department of Economics were classified into two categories: those belonging to economics and those belonging to business and commerce. Having gone through an organizational reform of the educational system in 1929 (Showa 4), the Division of Economics and Division of Business and Commerce were established within the Department of Economics in 1938 (Showa 13).

As illustrated above, the initial stage of the Faculty of Business and Commerce and Graduate School of Business and Commerce were born at the time of Yukichi Fukizawa’s achievements and grew as part of the Department of Economics. Later, this was to become a faculty of its own, when studies in business and commerce reached maturity.

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