Economist and environmental activist Hirofumi Uzawa dies


Hirofumi Uzawa, a noted economist and critic of the mass pursuit of profit, died Sept. 18 at his home in Tokyo, his family said Friday. He was 86.

A professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo, Uzawa gave his name to a theory on the mechanism of economic growth. He was also known as a man of action for his engagement in environmental issues.

His book “Jidosha no Shakaiteki Hiyo” (“The Social Cost of Cars”) in 1974, which criticized Japan’s growth-oriented society and analyzed the structure of automobile pollution, has been a longtime seller.

Uzawa also played a role in reconciling the government and local farmers in the bitter dispute triggered by the 1966 decision to build Narita airport in rural land outside Tokyo.

To address global warming, Uzawa argued for carbon-emissions taxes and the creation of an international fund.

He continued to speak out on social issues, most recently expressing opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free trade agreement currently being negotiated by Japan, the United States and other Pacific Rim countries.

A native of Tottori Prefecture, Uzawa studied mathematics at the Faculty of Science at the University of Tokyo but switched to economics and went to the United States in 1956.

His posts there included professor at the University of Chicago before returning to Japan in 1968. He is believed to have left the United States in protest of the Vietnam War.

In Japan, Uzawa served as an economics professor at the University of Tokyo as well as head of the university’s Faculty of Economics.

In 1997, the government awarded him the Order of Culture, an honor that recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the development of Japanese culture.

Among Uzawa’s many books are “Chikyu Ondanka wo Kangaeru” (“Thinking about Global Warming”) and “Shakaiteki Kyotsu Shihon” (“Social Common Capital”).

The cause of death was given as pneumonia.