Tokyo Mathematical Association

The Mathematical Association of Tokyo

The Mathematical Association of Tokyo was founded in 1887.

Japan had its own mathematical tradition of Wasan. This was essentially all of Japanese mathematics until the middle of the 19th century. However, after the Meiji Restoration in 1868 a unified educational system emphasizing Western learning was established throughout Japan. In 1862 Western mathematics, and not Wasan, became an official subject in the new schools.

In September 1877 the first Japanese learned society, the Tokyo Mathematical Society, was founded. Wasan was at this time still dominant and 82 of the 114 members of the Society were of this traditional school. At the first meeting of the Society the importance of mathematics from the West (in contrast to Wasan) was put forward and the Society proposed to devote its efforts to promote Western mathematics. It was Tomochika Kawakita (1840-1919), a Wasan mathematician dissatisfied with the direction of the Tokyo Mathematical Society, who led the attempts to found a new Association which would devote itself to Wasan mathematics. In 1887 Kawakita wrote about how the Tokyo Mathematical Society had changed its character in only a few years [4]:-

The establishment of the Tokyo Mathematical Society in the autumn of 1877 was the beginning of meeting of mathematicians in our country. Seventy percent of the members of the society were those who had once studied Japanese native mathematics. But after the society was renamed the Tokyo Mathematico-Physical Society, it consisted mostly of men of Western learning. In contrast, the members of 'wasan' mathematicians were only twenty per cent of them.
This movement to emphasis Western mathematics was not liked by many in Japan interested in mathematics so supporters of Wasan founded their own Society in 1887 which they named 'Sugaku Kyokai', the Mathematical Association of Tokyo. The Association published its own journal, the Journal of the Mathematical Association of Tokyo. Chikara Sasaki writes that the Mathematical Association of Tokyo [4]:-
... was just a club for those without university positions sharing a common interest. Some of them began to write their swan song, the history of Japanese mathematics. Endo Toshisada (1843-1915) was one of these scholars.
In fact Toshisada published the first critical history of Japanese mathematics which was published in 1896.

List of References (4 books/articles)

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JOC/EFR February 2018 School of Mathematics and Statistics
University of St Andrews, Scotland