More young Japanese look to Marx as pandemic, climate crisis magnify economic inequalities

Japan Today -- May 06
As the global challenge of climate change mounts and the coronavirus pandemic magnifies economic inequalities, Karl Marx, who pointed to the contradictions and limitations of capitalism, is gaining new admirers in Japan, particularly among the young.

The boom has been ignited by a 34-year-old associate professor at Osaka City University who reimagined the theory expounded in the 19th-century German thinker's seminal "Das Kapital" from the perspective of environmental conservation in a bestselling book published last September.

In it, Kohei Saito argued that the realization of sustainable development goals set by the United Nations is as impossible as "drawing a round triangle" under modern-day capitalism.

The success of the book resulted in an invitation from Japan's public broadcaster NHK to present a commentary on Marx's foundational theoretical text, known by its full title in English as "Capital: A Critique of Political Economy," on a program aired in January.

"Many people noticed the contradictions of capitalism when they saw only socially vulnerable people struggling during the coronavirus pandemic," Saito told Kyodo News in a recent interview.

Younger people, who have no memory of the Cold War or the mass student protests of the 1960s, showed a strong interest in the ideas Saito discussed in the program. Letters poured in from those in their 20s and 30s to NHK Publishing Inc, which had released Saito's simplified textbook version of Marx's difficult-to-read work in the lead-up to the broadcast.

- Japan Today