14 Accounting publications and
research in twentieth-century
Japan’s interest in modern accounting began in the late nineteenth century with Alexander Shand [1844–1930].2 The Japanese translation of Shand’s (1873) Bank bookkeeping proved to be so important that his system of bank accounting became legally obligatory for the newly established banking system of the Meiji era. In the same year, Fukuzawa (1873–74) published a Japanese translation of Bryant and Stratton’s (1871) textbook, Common school bookkeeping. Yukichi Fukuzawa [1835–1901], a prominent Japanese scholar and the founder of Keio Gijuku University, was no professional accountant but his translation proved to be most inﬂuential in improving accounting practice and in spreading the idea of double-entry in schools as well as in private Japanese companies beyond the banking sector. Finally, Naotaro Shimono [1866–1939] introduced his Boki seiri (Shimono 1895/1982), an authentic Japanese text of double-entry accounting. For details about early Japanese cost accounting applications, we referred in section 2.7 to Kimizuka (1991).
Japanese accounting research in the twentieth century is characterized by two eras divided by the Second World War. Before and during this war, German accounting exercised great inﬂuence on Japanese scholars; while after the war, Anglo-American accounting became dominant. In the late 1960s a new epoch of academic accounting began when the English publications by Chambers, Mattessich, Ijiri and others became known in Japan. But here, we discuss ﬁrst the contributions of the following eminent Japanese accounting scholars: Tetsuzo Ohta, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Wasaburo Kimura and Iwao Iwata. Later, other and more recent scholars (Kenji Aizaki, Nobuko Nosse, Fujio Harada and Yuji Ijiri) and publications are mentioned.
14.2 Early contributions in the twentieth century
Tetsuzo Ohta [1889–1970] was undoubtedly one of the leading Japanese accounting scholars in the early twentieth century. Ohta’s (1922) ‘Kaikeijo no shisan’ was the earliest paper that brought a dynamic theoretical point of view to Japanese accounting and its revenue–expense matching approach – perhaps even
Accounting research in Japan 231
independently from Schmalenbach’s work in Germany. Ohta deﬁned assets as an accumulation of expenditures, expected to yield future income or to save costs. This required a historical cost basis for asset evaluation (in contrast to the current cost basis); it also marked the departure from the static accounting theory that dominated the Japanese Commercial Code and Tax Code at the time. Further details can be gathered from the autobiographical essay by Ohta (1968), describing his 60-year experience (from 1907 onwards) as an academic and professional accountant. Kiyoshi Kurosawa [1902–90], originally trained in sociology, was probably Japan’s most proliﬁc and eminent accounting scholar, with a wide range of interests in a variety of accounting ﬁelds. He played a crucial role in the major phases of Japanese accounting regulations, from the rationalization of industry in the crisis years of the 1930s, to the economic state control during wartime and, ﬁnally, the economic democratization during the rehabilitation of the postwar years (cf. Chiba 1994: 194). Kurosawa authored or edited more than 100 books (including dictionaries and manuals), and has some 600 papers to his credit. His major contributions may be summarized by the following three themes: (1) the establishment of Japanese Business Accounting Principles and their inﬂuence; (2) promoting a scientiﬁc (instead of a purely legalistic) approach to accounting, particularly the theoretical integration of micro- and macro-accounting, and (3) pioneering research for a political or normative accounting able to cope with social and ecological–environmental problems – Fujita and Garcia (2005) emphasize related traits of Kurosawa’s work. They point at Kurosawa’s attempt to...
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