Meirokusha (明六社)

Meirokusha, which was established in the early Meiji period, was the first Japanese modern academic society for enlightenment.

The society, whose aim was activities promoting enlightenment, was set up in the autumn of 1873 by Arinori MORI, who had returned to Japan from the United States of America in July of that year, along with people such as Yukichi FUKUZAWA, Hiroyuki KATO, Masanao NAKAMURA, Amane NISHI (an enlightenment intellectual), Shigeki NISHIMURA, Mamichi TSUDA, Shuhei MITSUKURI, Koji SUGI and Rinsho MITSUKURI. It was named after the sixth year of the Meiji period (1873) when it was established. They had a meeting on the first and the sixteenth days of each month. Most members were former officials of the bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) and people who had been involved in the Kaiseijo (School for Western Studies).

Their bulletin, "Meiroku zasshi" (three volumes in total, Iwanami bunko), was first issued in March 1874, and it played a leadership role in educating people during the Civilization and Enlightenment period. However, due to the Zanboritsu (Libel Law) and the Shinbunshi Jorei (Press Ordinance) put into effect by the government in 1875, the bulletin was forced to suspend and cease publication after the forty-third issue, and the society was, in effect, dissolved. After that, Meirokusha changed to Meirokukai, becoming a forerunner of societies afterwards, such as Tokyo Gakushikaiin (the Tokyo Academy), the Teikoku Gakushiin (the Imperial Academy) and the Nippon Gakushi-in (the Japan Academy).

For the details, see 'Meirokusha' (Kodansha Gakujutsu Bunko) by Toshiaki OKUBO.