Concerning misunderstandings within the recent reception of Adam Smith in Japan

The reception of Adam Smith, the Scottish founder of modern political economy, in Japan offers many opportunities for international and interdisciplinary comparisons. In such a perspective, Smith may well appear as a so-called early “economic philosopher” as much as the “father of economics” or “the economist par excellence”. As far as Japan is concerned, he remains “the Professor of Japanese economists” as the latter regard him as the embodiment of the liberal way of looking at economics. The main purpose of this essay is to introduce to a Western audience how, despite an honorable tradition of scholarship, Smith’s ideas at a historical, social and intellectual level, were distorted, not only due to his economic doctrine, but in relationship with the latter’s philosophical tenets.