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In Memoriam: Kozo Yamamura (1934-2017)

February 22, 2017

Kozo Yamamura
Kozo Yamamura, who taught Japan studies at the Jackson School for over 30 years, passed away on Feb. 15, 2017.

We are saddened to report that Kozo Yamamura, who taught Japan studies at the Jackson School for 32 years before retiring in 2003, died on February 15, 2017, in Honolulu. Professor Yamamura held the prestigious Job and Gertrud Tamaki Endowed Professorship from 1988 to 2003, and was an integral part of the Japan Studies Program within the Jackson School.

Yamamura was a world-class scholar and amazingly prolific, writing or editing more than 20 books and scores of articles on the Japanese economy and its history, and on the nature of capitalism.  In his first book, Economic Policy in Postwar Japan (1967), Yamamura laid out his analysis of the policies and institutions that promoted Japan’s economic growth after the postwar Occupation; this he refined in subsequent publications.

His second book, A Study of Samurai Income and Entrepreneurship (1974) challenged standard interpretations of Tokugawa and Meiji economic history. He coauthored two other books that followed on these separate lines of research: Economic and Demographic Change in Preindustrial Japan (1977, with Susan B. Hanley) and Asia in Japan’s Embrace (1997, with Walter Hatch).

Yamamura devoted great energy to a number of significant collaborative research projects including The Cambridge History of Japan, a series on U.S.-Japan trade relations, three volumes of interdisciplinary research on the political economy of Japan, and two comparative studies of the Japanese and German economies. For a quarter of a century he was a tireless contributor to the Journal of Japanese Studies, serving as an associate editor.

In retirement, he collaborated with his wife Susan Hanley in writing four novels, under the pseudonym Michael S. Koyama.

His final book, to be published in 2017 by Policy Press at the University of Bristol, Too Much Stuff, is a proposal for reforming capitalism.

A legendary teacher, Yamamura challenged generations of UW students with courses on the postwar Japanese economy and the economic history of Japan. Many benefited from his guidance on issues ranging from senior thesis topics to career choices. He was a generous academic mentor and colleague.

This memorial note was prepared by Kenneth B. Pyle, Professor Emeritus and Japan expert, Jackson School of International Studies