Reasonable Men, Powerful Words traces the development of political culture in twentieth-century Japan through a social and intellectual biography of six Japanese economists who influenced national political life in significant ways. They dedicated themselves to an extraordinary range of public policies, including eliminating poverty, reducing disparities of wealth, reshaping the relationship between government and citizen, building a strong economy devoid of a military component, and creating an educated and politically active populace in Japan.

Laura Hein is associate professor of Japanese history at Northwestern University. She is the author of Fueling Growth: Energy and Economic Policy in Postwar Japan, 1945–1960 (1990), and co-editor of Censoring History: Citizenship and Memory in Japan, Germany, and the United States (2000).

A book launch event was held at the Wilson Center on January 24, 2005.


The Ōuchi Group

1. Introduction: Making a Difference in the World

2. Professionalization and Politics

3. Reckoning with the State

4. Economics as Politics in Occupied Japan

5. Making Peace Work

6. Taming the Contradictions of Capitalism

7. Consumption and the Democratic Household

8. Thinking Globally, Acting Locally: The Tokyo Governorship

9. Conclusion: Remembering the Ōuchi Group and Twentieth-Century Japan 


“Hein’s work now makes available in English a rich introduction to the history of Japanese political economy.”—Mark Metzler, Enterprise & Society

“This is a splendid book, and the research—unusually challenging in both its nature and its scope—is strong. Laura Hein introduces us to the lives and work of an influential group of mid-20th century Japanese economists and to the rise of social-science thinking in modern Japan. She conveys in vivid detail a number of developments that highlight the complex nature of the country’s modernity.”—John Dower, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

“In telling the story of a small group of Japanese economists and their efforts to apply social science to the reform of politics, Lauran Hein provides a vivid pictures of both the turbulent years that culminated in the disaster of World War II and the postwar struggles that created high-speed growth and the Japanese miracle. But her story of the Ōuchi Group does more, for she also sheds valuable light on the questions of political culture and civil society that continue to by important for Japan in the twenty-first century.”—Daniel Yergin, author of Commanding Heights: The Battle for the World Economy

“Laura Hein has given us a very valuable contribution to the history of social sciences in Japan, especially the history of economics as a social science, and most of all as a demonstration of the salience of Marxism in economic thought on the left across decades from the late 1920s through the 1970s.… She writes invitingly and engagingly.”—Andrew E. Barshay, University of California, Berkeley