Charles A. Beard, Shinpei Goto, and “The Light of Western Experience”
Rutgers Presbyterian Church
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Charles A. Beard, a prominent American scholar, and Shinpei Goto, Home Minister and former mayor of Tokyo, forged a close friendship in 1922–23 based on their mutual interest in the so-called scientific management approach to planning, urban management, and public administration. In New York City, Beard directed the programs of the fifteen-year-old Bureau of Municipal Research and Training School for Public Service, which fostered reform and practical improvements in public management through applied studies. Goto invited Beard to Japan to lecture, study the problems of Tokyo, and help develop the Tokyo Institute for Municipal Research which Goto established and chaired. Beard’s influence was already cemented by June 1923 when his report—later published as “The Administration and Politics of Tokyo”—was presented to Goto. Their relationship would deepen and expand after September 1, 1923 when the Great Kanto Earthquake occurred and Goto again reached out to Beard in what was likely the first telegram out of the country after the disaster, asking Beard to return to help. Beard returned for six weeks, during which the general outlines of reconstruction were developed by the Reconstruction Bureau headed by Goto. Much has been written about those six weeks, about the failure of Goto to win support for his grandest plans, and about the role Beard may have played in helping to shape both Goto’s thinking and the actual, scaled down plans that were approved and built. On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Great Kanto Earthquake, it is worth revisiting the literature and looking more closely at Beard’s contributions.
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