Lectures Notes on Natural Law, International Law, Constitutional Law, Political Economy, and Statistics


In 1853, after the arrival of Commodore Matthew C. Perry (1794–1858), there was an urgent need to introduce Western learning and technology in Japan. The Bakufu (shogunate) therefore devised a plan to acquire Western ships and to send Japanese to study abroad. At first Japan considered the United States as the best country from which to order warships and to send students, but it was unable to do so because of the American Civil War. The Bakufu therefore approached Holland and negotiated and finalized with the Dutch an order for warships and the dispatch of students to the Netherlands. The students were to study naval technologies, the social sciences, and medicine. They received their orders on April 11, 1862, left Edo on July 14, arrived at Nagasaki on September 16, and boarded a Dutch trading ship on November 2. They arrived at Rotterdam on June 2, 1863. Most of them went on to Leiden, but some also went to The Hague. They began their studies the following month. This document is the proposed curriculum for five subjects (natural law, international law, constitutional law, political economy, and statistics) to be taught to the Japanese students by Simon Vissering (1818–88). It summarizes the courses and the fundamental objectives of the lectures. Translated by Nishi Amane, it is recorded as having been written by both Nishi and Tsuda Mamichi (also seen as Tsuda Masamichi)‏, who worked for the Bureau for the Inspection of Barbarian Books and accompanied the students.

Last updated: April 23, 2015