Toyohiko Kagawa: Gandhi of Japan?

Toyohiko Kagawa (1888-1960) was a Japanese social reformer, labor activist and Christian evangelist known as “Japan’s Gandhi.” As a social activist, pacifist and public figure, Kagawa was well-known during his lifetime – both in his home country of Japan as well as in the United States. He was nominated for the Nobel Prizes in literature and peace on numerous occasions. However, today he is a mostly forgotten figure. The Washington National Cathedral has a statue of Kagawa, clad in traditional kimono-like clothing – but most visitors to the site have probably never heard of him, and he is hardly remembered in the United States today. Similarly, although some people in contemporary Japan may recognize his name, he is largely forgotten among his countrymen, decades after his death. Who was this Japanese Christian pacifist and social reformer? What were his achievements and legacies? And did he deserve the title of “Gandhi of Japan”?