Yuji Aida

           Yuji Aida

                                              (1916 – 1997)

       Area of expertise: Academic Research/Renaissance and Reformation

       The Book selected: Renaissance, Kodan-sha, 1973

       Alma Mater: Kyoto University


It is our opinion that he analysed these two historical events most accurately as he firmly captured the existence and importance of precursory developments for both Renaissance and Reformation. It was all about the modern concept and its venture spirit, which led the world ever since.

The salient points of his findings are as follows:

1) Renaissance, or by Aida’s expression – ‘Centuries of Genius’, started in Milan first. When the power of the principal city opened for trade with all richest regions beyond its Northern Alps was taken over by, a parvenu, Gian Galeazzo Visconti (1351 – 1402), despite papal opposition. He was a tough and shrewd politician and the man who promoted new trend in art and literature, and built the city’s stunning Cathedral. Galeazzo insisted that government must be a rational enterprise that had to achieve a certain economic development for every participant in politics.

 2) For the Reformation, Aida insisted that John Wycliffe (1324 – 1384) started this movement initially in England, criticizing superstitious beliefs advocated by many priests such as selling remission of a sin. Despite the threatening pressures directed to him, the conscientious arguments put forward by Wycliffe had eventually influenced even a most prominent figure of the Reformation, such as Jan Hus who was pivotal to all German/French speaking regions and its dignitaries including Martin Luther and Jean Calvin.

So, what was Aida’s personal-geopolitical advantage? For instance, what would have happened, If Yukichi Fukuzawa wasn’t born in Nakatsu city in Kyushu as Samurai-class child in his time…instead, if he was living as a Marchant-class kid somewhere in Honshu? Then, Fukuzawa couldn’t have learned Dutch properly in Nagasaki, so most likely-scenario would have been, he had to abandon his brilliant career as the fatal detriment to the Japanese modernisation.

For Aida’s case, his most extraordinary experience occurred when he was contemplating his career as university lecturer. Then, he was suddenly enlisted to join the Japanese army as a soldier in Burma (…not in China, Indonesia, nor anywhere else but), and subsequently detained in a Rangoon’s British prison camp. During this period, he vividly saw the commanding system of two (one ancient and one modern) nations in the close vicinity. In that particular time, he had convincingly learned something about modern European organisation, its philosophy and culture, which was definitely positive for writing his own version of European history with such forceful observations.