Shūichi Katō (critic)

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Shūichi Katō
Shūichi Katō (1919–2008).jpg
Born(1919-09-19)19 September 1919
Died5 December 2008(2008-12-05) (aged 89)

Shūichi Katō (加藤 周一, Katō Shūichi, 19 September 1919 – 5 December 2008) was a Japanese critic and author best known for his works on literature and culture.


Born in Tokyo, Katō trained as a medical doctor at the University of Tokyo during World War II, specializing in haematology. The experience of living under Japan’s fascist government and American bombing of Tokyo would shape a lifelong opposition to war, especially nuclear arms, and imperialism. It was also in this period that he began to write.

In the immediate postwar period, Katō joined a Japanese-American research team to assess the effects of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. He subsequently travelled to Paris for a research fellowship at the Pasteur Institute. When he returned to Japan, he turned to writing full-time. After participating in a 1958 conference of writers from Asia and Africa, he gave up practicing medicine entirely.

Fluent in French, German, and English, while being deeply focused on Japanese culture and classical Chinese literature, Katō gained a reputation for examining Japan through both domestic and foreign perspectives. He served as lecturer at Yale University, professor at the Free University of Berlin and the University of British Columbia, guest professor at Ritsumeikan University (Dept. of International Relations), and curator of the Kyoto Museum for World Peace. From 1980 until his death, he wrote a widely read column in the evening culture pages of the Asahi Shimbun in which he discussed society, culture, and international relations from a literate and resolutely leftist perspective.

In 2004, he formed a group with philosopher Shunsuke Tsurumi and novelist Kenzaburō Ōe to defend the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution of Japan.

He was a polyglot fluent in English, French, German, Italian and Chinese.[1]

Selected works[edit]


  1. ^ Ihab Hassan, Between the Eagle and the Sun : Traces of Japan, University of Alabama Press (2015), p. 73
  • Shuichi Kato, A History of Japanese Literature: The First Thousand Years,Kōdansya press. ISBN 978-4-7700-2934-8