Wakimura Yoshitarō, a prominent Japanese economics professor and art collector, helped establish or sustain at least eight art museums in postwar Japan. He did so to create important institutions of democratic empowerment rather than nationalist displays of power. The crucial context was defeat in World War II, which left many Japanese, including Wakimura, committed to taming capitalism. Wakimura was particularly interested in creating new practices of art appreciation that could mediate relations between potentially antagonistic groups of Japanese, and in building museums as fresh spaces to house these newly egalitarian relationships. He emphasized the value to society created when individuals developed their aesthetic and thus political judgment. His efforts help explain the proliferation of both public and private art museums in postwar Japan as well as the nature of postwar political culture.

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