Professor Emeritus of Economics, Columbia University, James Nakamura died in Silver Spring, Maryland on February 13, 2015.
Professor Nakamura was best known for radically revised thinking about the dynamics of Japanese growth in the Tokugawa and Meiji periods, which was published in his first book, Agricultural Production and the Economic Development of Japan, 1873-1922 (Princeton, 1966).
He was born in Toppenish, Washington, in 1919 and grew up in Arroyo Grande, California, where he obtained his Associate of Arts degree from Santa Maria Junior College (1939). During World War II, from 1942-44, he and his family were placed in an internment camp in Gila River, Arizona. Later Professor Nakamura served as a member of the U.S. armed forces, completing tours in Manila, Philippines, and Tokyo, Japan, from 1946-1950.
Upon returning to the United States, Nakamura obtained both his Bachelor of Science (1952) and his Ph.D. (1964) at Columbia University. He was appointed assistant professor (1964-1968), associate professor (1968-1980), and professor of economics (1980-1989). In addition, he was Ford Foundation Fellow, 1952-1955, 1962-63; and, Fulbright-Hays fellow in 1967. Professor Nakamura was a co-founder of the Japan Economic Seminar which continues to be an annual event of the Center on Japanese Economy and Business at Columbia’s Business School.