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Human Development &
Capability Association

Agency, Well-Being and Justice

In Memoriam – Kotaro Suzumura

With great sadness, we inform members of HDCA that Kotaro Suzumura, emeritus professor at Hitotsubashi University and Waseda University and a Fellow of HDCA, passed away on 15 January 2020 after a battle with cancer. Our thoughts are with members of Kotaro’s family and we offer them our deepest condolences.

Born on 7 January 1944 in Takoname, Aichi, Japan, Kotaro did his Ph. D. in economics from Hitotsubashi University, Japan, in 1980.  During his long and highly distinguished academic career, Kotaro taught at many institutions including Hitotsubashi University, Kyoto University, University of Pennsylvania, University of British Columbia, London School of Economics, and University of Essex. The range of Kotaro’s research interest was wide and spanned diverse areas including the theory of rational choice, the theory of social choice and welfare, competition and welfare, and economic policies in Japan. Through his numerous papers and several books, Kotaro made seminal contributions to all these areas. In particular, he was one of the most prominent figures in the theory of rational choice as well as the theory of social choice and welfare economics. Kotaro read widely and his keen awareness of the historical background of modern normative economics was a distinctive feature of his work on social choice and welfare. Together with K. J. Arrow and A. K. Sen, Kotaro edited the Handbook of Social Choice and Welfare, Volume 1 (North-Holland, 2002) and Handbook of Social Choice and Welfare, Volume 2  (North-Holland, 2011), which continue to serve as definitive works of reference for scholars working on  social choice theory and welfare economics.

Kotaro was elected a Fellow of the Econometric Society in 1990. He was the President of the Society of Social Choice and Welfare in 2000-2001 and the President of the Japanese Economic Association in 1999-2000.  In 2004, he received the Medal with Purple Ribbon, one of the highest honors that the Government of Japan confers for academic and artistic achievements, and he received the Japan Academy Award in 2006 for his work on social choice and welfare economics. As an active member of many scholarly bodies, Kotaro rendered extensive and varied service to the profession.

Kotaro was one of the founding Fellows of the HDCA and made many contributions to the association, including as a keynote speaker at the 2012 HDCA conference and as an advisor to the Tokyo conference organizers in 2016, where he was also a featured speaker in a plenary panel.  He generously taught at the 2016 Summer School for young researchers.

Kotaro’s death is an enormous intellectual loss for the community of scholars working in areas of his research interests; it is also a great personal loss for his numerous colleagues, students, coauthors, and friends, who cherish fond memories of him. All of us in HDCA will sorely miss him.


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