Fuess, Harald

views updated

Fuess, Harald


Education: Princeton University, B.A.; Harvard University, M.A., Ph.D.


Office—National Institute of Japanese Studies, Sheffield University, 301 Glossop Rd., Sheffield S10 2HL, England. E-mail—[email protected]; [email protected].


Writer and educator. Sheffield University, Sheffield, England, School of East Asian Studies, lecturer in business and Japanese history, White Rose East Asia Centre, director of postgraduate studies; previously taught at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA; University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany; and Sophia University, Japan. Served as visiting lecturer at Columbia University, University of Tokyo, and Oxford University. Has worked for the German National Institute for Japanese Studies, Tokyo, Japan; Boston Consulting Group, Frankfurt, Germany.


European Association of Japanese Studies (member of executive council), British Royal Asiatic Society (fellow).


(Editor, with Hendrick Meyer-Ohle) Japanstudien 9: Consumer and Service in the 1990s, Iudicium (Munich, Germany), 1997.

(Editor) The Japanese Empire in East Asia and Its Postwar Legacy, Iudicium (Munich, Germany), 1998.

Divorce in Japan: Family, Gender, and the State, 1600-2000, Stanford University Press (Stanford, CA), 2004.

Contributor of chapters and articles to various anthologies.


Writer and educator Harald Fuess earned his undergraduate degree at Princeton University, then went on to complete his education with first a master's degree and then a doctorate from Harvard University. He spent a year at Sophia University in Japan where he was an exchange student, as well as three years at the University of Tokyo as a research scholar. In addition to speaking both English and Japanese fluently, he is also functional in German, French, Latin, and Classical Greek. An expert in the history and business affairs of Japan, he has taught at a number of prestigious universities, including Harvard University, in Cambridge, Massachusetts; the University of Duisburg-Essen, in Germany; and Sophia University, in Japan. In addition, he has served as a visiting professor at Columbia University, the University of Tokyo, and Oxford University. As a member of the faculty at Sheffield University in England, Fuess works at the School of East Asian Studies, where he is a lecturer in business and Japanese history, and serves as the director of postgraduate studies at the University's White Rose East Asia Centre. His primary areas of research and academic interest include the history of modern Japan, particularly the economy and society, both of which he addresses from the point of view of a more widely envisioned global context. Examples of his research include such widely varying topics as East Asian beer production and consumption over the past century and a half, the influence of Christian missionaries on universities in Japan since the twentieth century, and how legislation pertaining to adultery and resulting court cases reflect changes in crimes that are linked to gender in Meiji Japan. Beyond his academic efforts, Fuess has served several times on the executive council of the European Association of Japanese Studies. He has also worked outside of academia, both for the German National Institute for Japanese Studies in Tokyo and for the Boston Consulting Group Financial Service Division. He has also written and/or edited several books, including Japanstudien 9: Consumer and Service in the 1990s, which he edited with Hendrick Meyer-Ohle, The Japanese Empire in East Asia and Its Postwar Legacy, for which he was the sole editor, and his book Divorce in Japan: Family, Gender, and the State, 1600-2000, which was published in 2004.

The Japanese Empire in East Asia and Its Postwar Legacy collects the writings of a broad range of international scholars as they attempt to address the place in history that Japan has carved out for itself in the wake of World War II. The writers analyze Japan's role in Asia and in the world as a whole, looking in particular at the different political agendas that have shaped the world during this period, including imperialism, nationalism, and totalitarianism, while also addressing the shaping forces of both war and an ever-increasing march toward modernity. The book is divided into three sections, one of which analyzes Japanese imperialism, one of which looks at the function of Japan within the wider scope of East Asia, and the final section addresses the legacy of Japan following the war, paying particular notice to the effects on China and the Soviet Union.

In Divorce in Japan, Fuess takes a broad look at the roles of gender in Japan over a wide period of history, addressing the way that marriage has changed over the centuries. He looks at the history of marriage from its early structure as a purely economic enterprise, involving careful matches for political purposes, dowries, and distribution of labor, then broadens his view point to include family structures, and the way marriage and its laws was intertwined with the developing legal system. Fuess does not look merely at the history of the institution, but includes research that involves the opinions of a wide range of social scientists, including anthropologists, political scientists, economists, and sociologists. It is when he finally addresses the part of marriage alluded to in the title of his book—divorce—that his findings become most interesting. Prior to 1900, the divorce rate in Japan was extremely high, in both cities and the country, the latter of which boasted nearly a forty percent divorce rate in certain rural regions in 1879. By the 1880s, the rate of divorce for the nation was approximately three for every one thousand people, much higher than the figures noted in other regions of the world. Fuess spends a large portion of his book addressing this high divorce rate, and attempting to determine what caused it.

However, as of the start of the twentieth century, the divorce rate in Japan began to decline, falling steadily over the first half of the century. By the 1960s, the divorce rate in Japan was at a new low, one that was now lower than the rates calculated in other countries around the world. But by the late 1960s into the 1970s, divorces started rising again, eventually climbing to match the divorce rate of France—approximately two per thousand—by 2002, a rate that is considered to be normal. Fuess looks at a number of factors regarding marriage during the late nineteenth century and the majority of the twentieth century, attempting to determine what caused such wide shifts in the divorce rate in Japan, what caused the sudden drop in the rate at the turn of the century, and why it finally evened out to a rate roughly equal to those of most other developed nations. His theories revolve in large part around both law and economics, each of which are traditionally considered major motivating factors in whether or not a marriage continues. Elise K. Tipton, in a contribution for the American Historical Review, remarked that "Fuess's history of divorce thus tells us a lot about larger social changes and the state's surprisingly noninterventionist role in a key matter related to the family and gender roles." Sean Curtin, reviewing for the Japan Society Web site, commented: "By skillfully utilizing a broad spectrum of modern and classical Japanese and European language material, Fuess furnishes the reader with the most comprehensive English language guide ever assembled…. The author marshals this formidable arsenal to systematically demolish the myths and misconceptions that distort our understanding of Japanese divorce."



American Historical Review, December 1, 2004, Elise K. Tipton, review of Divorce in Japan: Family, Gender, and the State, 1600-2000, p. 1549.

American Journal of Sociology, July 1, 2005, James M. Raymo, review of Divorce in Japan, p. 333.

Canadian Journal of History, September 22, 2006, Leslie Winston, review of Divorce in Japan, p. 419.

Japan Forum, November, 2005, review of Divorce in Japan, pp. 431-437.

Journal of Social History, June 22, 2005, Anne Walthall, review of Divorce in Japan, p. 1136.

Law and Politics Book Review, October 1, 2004, Leonard J. Schoppa, review of Divorce in Japan.

Law and Social Inquiry, September 22, 2005, review of Divorce in Japan, p. 861.

NWSA Journal, June 22, 2006, Kaye Broadbent, review of Divorce in Japan, p. 244.

Pacific Affairs, March 22, 2005, Aya Ezawa, review of Divorce in Japan, p. 140.

Reference & Research Book News, May 1, 2004, review of Divorce in Japan, p. 135.

Social Forces, September 1, 2005, Yean-Ju Lee, review of Divorce in Japan, p. 613.


Canadian Journal of Sociology,http://www.cjsonline.ca/ (November 1, 2004), Karen M. Kobayashi, review of Divorce in Japan.

Harald Fuess Home Page,http://www.freewebs.com/fuess/personal.htm (May 20, 2008).

Iudicium Verlag GmbH Web site,http://www.iudicium.de/ (May 20, 2008), author profile.

Japan Society Web site,http://www.japansociety.org.uk/ (May 20, 2008), Sean Curtin, review of Divorce in Japan.

Sheffield University Web site,http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/ (May 20, 2008), faculty profile.

White Rose East Asia Centre Web site,http://www.wreac.org/ (May 20, 2008), faculty profile.