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Japanese history is replete with heroes admired for successfully challenging the status quo. Nostalgia for such figures increases during tough times, as seen in the “Ryoma boom” borne from the TV series on Sakamoto Ryoma, the Meiji Restoration hero. However, the nation might benefit more from studying a different rebel, one who as an economic reformer enjoyed his own victory over the prevailing orthodoxy.

Such a man was Korekiyo Takahashi (1854-1936), who thanks to Richard J. Smethurst’s impressive new biography can now be given the international stature befitting the title of “Japan’s Keynes.” Much has been written in Japanese about the man described by the author as “one of the two most important financial statesmen in Japan between the Meiji Restoration and World War II.”

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