Keio University traces its beginnings to the original Keio Gijuku, an institution of Western learning unlike any other in Japan in its time. Founder Yukichi Fukuzawa (1835–1901) was a man of uncommon courage, vision, and wisdom who defied the established powers of the time and pursued knowledge above all else, endeavoring to understand the society and morals of 19th century civilization in Europe and North America. His beliefs were very progressive in a Japan that was just beginning to awake from centuries of isolation. His convictions and deeds made an indelible mark on the country that would, barely more than a century later, become the second-largest economic power in the free world.
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Since its founding in 1858, the history of Keio University parallels the history of Japan's modern era. The vision and clarity of founder Yukichi Fukuzawa's original teachings have held up well for nearly a century and a half of serious academic inquiry in the service of Japan's development and modernization. Fukuzawa believed that Japan's only choice for catching up with Western technology and social organization was to "always strive for progress and enlightenment, and provide the academic and moral education needed to create a generation of wise and capable leaders." To this end, Keio University has continued to provide intellectual leadership that addresses the issues facing Japanese society in its quest for development, transformation, and modernization. As we face the challenges of the post-industrial era of the 21st century, Keio continues to uphold the pioneer spirit of its founder in his pursuit of peace, prosperity, and progress.