Engineering Education and the Spirit of Samurai at the Imperial College of Engineering in Tokyo, 1871-1886
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The Meiji Restoration was the revolution that overthrew the feudal regime of the Tokugawa period in late nineteenth-century Japan. It was also the time of the opening of the country to the rest of the world, and Japan had to confront with Western powers. The Meiji government boldly accepted the new technologies from the West, and succeeded in swiftly industrializing the nation. However, this same government had been aggressive exclusionists and ultra-nationalists before the Restoration.
In light of this fact, I investigate how national identity is linked to engineering education in Japan. My focus is on the Imperial College of Engineering (ICE), or Kobu-daigakko, in Tokyo during the late nineteenth century. The ICE was at the forefront of Westernization in the Meiji government. I specifically examine Yozo Yamao and Hirobumi Ito, who studied in Britain and were the co-founders of the college; Henry Dyer, the first principal; and the students of the ICE.
As a result of the investigation, I conclude that the spirit of samurai (former warriors) was the ethos for Westernization at the ICE. They followed ethical code for the samurai, the essence of which was lordly pride as a ruling class. They upheld their ethical standard after the Meiji Restoration. Their spirit of rivalry and loyalty urged Yamao, Ito, and the students to emulate Western technology for ensuring the independence of Japan. The course of the ICE's development reveals that non-engineering motivations shared a mutual relationship with the engineering education of those at the ICE.
- Masters Theses