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Japan in Transition

Japan in Transition: From Tokugawa to Meiji

MARIUS B. JANSEN
GILBERT ROZMAN
Copyright Date: 1986
Pages: 498
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7ztkvk
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  • Book Info
    Japan in Transition
    Book Description:

    In this book social scientists scrutinize the middle decades of the nineteenth century in Japan. That scrutiny is important and overdue, for the period from the 1850s to the 1880s has usually been treated in terms of politics and foreign relations. Yet those decades were also of pivotal importance in Japan's institutional modernization. As the Japanese entered the world order, they experienced a massive introduction of Western-style organizations. Sweeping reforms, without the class violence or the Utopian appeal of revolution, created the foundation for a modern society. The Meiji Restoration introduced a political transformation, but these chapters address the more gradual social transition.

    Originally published in 1988.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5430-1
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. LIST OF FIGURES AND MAPS
    (pp. vii-vii)
  4. LIST OF TABLES
    (pp. viii-x)
  5. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xi-2)
    M. B. J. and G. R.
  6. CHAPTER 1 OVERVIEW
    (pp. 3-26)
    MARIUS B. JANSEN and GILBERT ROZMAN

    This is a book about the changeover from Tokugawa (1600-1868) to Meiji (1868-1912) in nineteenth-century Japan. It was a transition from early modern (kinsei) to modern (kindai), as the Japanese put it; from late-feudal to modern institutions, as many historians have described it, from shogunal to imperial rule, and from isolation to integration in the world economy. Most accounts treat it chiefly in its political dimension, focusing on the events associated with the return of power to the throne. The Meiji Restoration, the central event of that transition, thus serves as its symbol. Too frequently it also serves to shield...

  7. PART ONE: ADMINISTRATION

    • INTRODUCTION TO PART ONE
      (pp. 29-35)
      MARIUS B. JANSEN

      The theme that best sums up the administrative changes of the transition decades is that of centralization. The Japan that awaited the coming of Perry’s flotilla in 1853 had some 260 units of political administration, each with its own capital, its own bureaucracy, its own army, and its own taxation system. Each was headed by a daimyo, of whom the shogun was the greatest and most powerful, so powerful that all others were required to spend alternate years in attendance upon him at his capital city of Edo, where they resided in estates allotted to them. The political order of...

    • CHAPTER 2 THE CENTRAL GOVERNMENT
      (pp. 36-67)
      ALBERT M. CRAIG

      Was the Meiji Restoration inevitable? Could it have happened otherwise than it did? Might some random act of human will have made a difference? Or does the very idea of inevitability include the random factor, error, and the indeterminacy of human decisions? At one level of discourse the resolution of the question may be metaphysical. But it can be phrased in a homelier fashion: do vital events sometimes hinge on decisions so individual that no social science could ever predict them, or even explain them systematically after the fact?

      Consider the situation in Chōshū toward the end of 1864.Bakufu...

    • CHAPTER 3 THE RULING CLASS
      (pp. 68-90)
      MARIUS B. JANSEN

      The Tokugawa-Meiji transition transformed the complex social strata established in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries into a simplified and rationalized social order suitable for the modern capitalist state that would emerge in the twentieth century. It was a transformation made under pressure—in the perception that foreign danger required more effective management of human and material resources—and it was accompanied by a good deal of uncertainty and violence. Most discussions have stressed the speed, relative ease, and “success” of the program that was pursued, and they have tended to neglect the strains that accompanied it. Emphasis on speed risks...

    • CHAPTER 4 FROM DOMAIN TO PREFECTURE
      (pp. 91-110)
      MICHIO UMEGAKI

      In the late summer of 1871, the 260-oddhanwere declared abolished. William Griffis, who was in Fukui, described the reaction of samurai to this turn of events: they were stunned by what appeared to them to be a reversal of post-Restoration developments.¹Haihan chiken,as historians term the event, deprived the daimyo of their powers and summoned them to Tokyo. Yamagata Aritomo would later refer to it as “a second Meiji Restoration.” The domains were subjected to a series of mergers that, within a few years, reduced the number of administrative units to fifty. By the end of 1871,...

    • CHAPTER 5 LOCAL ADMINISTRATION: THE EXAMPLE OF AWA-TOKUSHIMA
      (pp. 111-130)
      ANDREW FRASER

      The transformation of local administration between 1860 and 1890 was one of the major achievements of modern Japan. In these thirty years some 260 domains, differing widely in size and complexity, were regrouped into three metropolitan cities and forty-two prefectures more or less uniform in population and administrative structure. Within them, cities, urban and rural districts, towns and villages were established as standard units, each with offices, elected assemblies, schools, and police posts conforming to national standards laid down by the central government.

      I have selected the province of Awa-Tokushima as an example of local transition. In 1860 it was...

  8. PART TWO: ORGANIZATIONS

    • INTRODUCTION TO PART TWO
      (pp. 133-142)
      D. ELEANOR WESTNEY

      Japan in the 1870s embarked on one of the most remarkable organizational transformations of the nineteenth century. In less than a decade, Japan witnessed the inauguration of new national systems of central and local administration, primary schools, police, postal communications, telegraph offices, and law courts; a national army and navy; banks, factories, newspapers, railways, chambers of commerce, and joint-stock companies. The emergence of new organizations modeled explicitly on those of the major Western powers dominated the processes of transformation, but by no means monopolized them. Existing organizations continued to operate in many sectors, and in some cases even increased in...

    • CHAPTER 6 BUDDHISM: THE THREAT OF ERADICATION
      (pp. 143-167)
      MARTIN COLLCUTT

      Many Buddhists believed that the political upheavals of the late Tokugawa period, the intrusion of the Western powers, and the vigorous pro-Shinto policies of the new Meiji government had brought Buddhism face to face with the most severe crisis in its long history in Japan. The Pure Land Buddhist priest Fukuda Gyōkai (1806-1888), for instance, was very pessimistic about the prospects for Buddhism:

      At the present, provincial temples are being destroyed; people are withdrawing their memberships and this causes temple revenues to decline; priests are gladly returning to secular life. Although there is no demand to destroy Buddhism there probably...

    • CHAPTER 7 THE MILITARY
      (pp. 168-194)
      D. ELEANOR WESTNEY

      Military institutions were the leaders in the organizational transition from Tokugawa to Meiji. They were the first areas of major structural change, the first to adopt Western organizational patterns, and the first to hire foreign advisers. The army and the navy rapidly became the largest-scale organizations in Japanese society; and not only did their demand for resources act as a major stimulus in the development of other systems, from the centralized tax system to universal primary education, but they also served as powerful models for those systems.

      One can identify three phases in the transition to a modern military organization....

    • CHAPTER 8 EDUCATION: FROM ONE ROOM TO ONE SYSTEM
      (pp. 195-230)
      RICHARD RUBINGER

      The most important organizational development in the history of Japanese education was the creation of a national system of schools by the end of the second decade of the Meiji period. Despite the epochal nature of the event, scholars have not yet adequately analyzed the continuities and changes in educational institutions, policies, and practices from thebakumatsuyears (1853-1868) to the late 1880s.

      This chapter focuses on three fundamental shifts: 1) from wide regional variation in the provision and quality of schooling to greater national standardization; 2) from officially sponsored schools that exhibited sharp class distinctions to an integrated system...

    • CHAPTER 9 THE PRESS
      (pp. 231-247)
      ALBERT A. ALTMAN

      A modernizing society requires channels through which those at the helm can provide information about their destination, and thus win over the mass of the population that must be drawn into the national endeavor. In Japan, the press provided such channels. But the press was also at the disposal of widening sections of the population, as a place to air their views and to mobilize others for attaining goals at variance with official ones. Because most Japanese were concentrated on the narrow coastal plains, it was relatively easy to reach them; high and growing literacy made it certain that the...

    • CHAPTER 10 SHIPPING: FROM SAIL TO STEAM
      (pp. 248-270)
      WILLIAM D. WRAY

      The most visible characteristic of the transition in the shipping industry was the collapse of traditional commercial agencies and the rise of new, large companies backed by the Meiji government. Examples of these large-scale organizations are Mitsubishi, formed in the early 1870s and originating in the Restoration struggle itself, the Ōsaka Shōsen Kaisha (OSK), formed in 1884, and the Nippon Yūsen Kaisha (NYK), the result of a 1885 merger between Mitsubishi’s shipping assets and a government-sponsored firm, the Kyodo Un’yu Kaisha (KUK), established in 1882. This transition was accomplished in a short time; by the mid-1880s, large firms with their...

  9. PART THREE: CITIES AND POPULATION

    • INTRODUCTION TO PART THREE
      (pp. 273-279)
      GILBERT ROZMAN

      In recent decades, social scientists have been groping for a term to apply to changes that precede modern economic growth and help make it possible. They have proposed such labels as “sprouts of capitalism,” “preconditions of modernization,” and “proto-industrialization.” Whatever the choice of terminology, specialists have increasingly drawn attention to four concerns that figure importantly in the chapters that follow: 1) the use of statistical records; 2) the examination of local and regional variations; 3) the differentiation of short-term and long-term fluctuations; and 4) the investigation of decision making at the household level, as reflected in aggregate data. Two of...

    • CHAPTER 11 POPULATION CHANGES
      (pp. 280-317)
      AKIRA HAYAMI

      A careful study of Japan’s population on the eve of industrialization will help resolve the longstanding debate over which came first—population growth or modern economic development. It should shed light on the crucial problem of how the demographic indices of a premodern society, such as general population trends, birth and death rates, average age at marriage, and average life expectancy, can affect that society’s subsequent industrialization. Finally, it should even allow us to determine which indices contributed to industrialization, and to what extent, so that we can posit population as an independent variable against economic development. One of the...

    • CHAPTER 12 CASTLE TOWNS IN TRANSITION
      (pp. 318-346)
      GILBERT ROZMAN

      What happened to the castle towns (jōkamachi)? Apart from the question of what happened to the samurai, there is probably no more obvious question to ask about the transition away from the Tokugawa social order. A planned spatial distribution of settlements and, within them, of social classes had been essential to the Tokugawa system. The end of that system brought the inevitability of change. Study of the changes that were taking place in urban networks and urban land use can tell us a good deal—both about the decisions of large numbers of families in the wake of reform and...

    • CHAPTER 13 THE EDO-TOKYO TRANSITION: IN SEARCH OF COMMON GROUND
      (pp. 347-374)
      HENRY D. SMITH II

      No city in Japan was so profoundly affected by the collapse of the Tokugawa regime as its political capital. In the space of less than seven years, Edo lost half of its population of more than 1 million, with a final exodus of more than 300,000 in 1868 alone. The decision on September 3 of that year to make Edo the capital of the new imperial regime, however, meant that the 1868 disaster was a momentary nadir, from which recovery was swift and sustained. By 1890, Tokyo had recaptured the dimensions of Edo, both in population and settled area. It...

  10. PART FOUR: RURAL ECONOMY AND MATERIAL CONDITIONS

    • INTRODUCTION TO PART FOUR
      (pp. 377-381)
      KOZO YAMAMURA

      In 1880 about 70 percent of the gainfully employed in Japan were engaged in agriculture on a full-time basis, producing nearly 47 percent of the gross domestic product and paying approximately three-quarters of all taxes. Japan in the transition period was predominantly rural and agrarian. Thus, an understanding of how village life changed during the transition period is of utmost importance in better comprehending the reasons for—and the character of—the political, social, and economic changes that occurred through thebakumatsuyears and the first years of the Meiji period.

      However, in carefully examining both English and Japanese literature...

    • CHAPTER 14 THE MEIJI LAND TAX REFORM AND ITS EFFECTS
      (pp. 382-399)
      KOZO YAMAMURA

      The Meiji land tax reform, which some scholars believe was “the single most important reform of the Meiji Restoration,”¹ was begun in July 1873 and was virtually complete by the end of 1876. What the new government accomplished was by any standard a major feat. By determining the monetary value (tax base) of 85.44 million parcels of rice paddies and all other types of land, and issuing 109.33 million certificates of land ownership, the nascent government had replaced the complex and inequitable Tokugawa tax system with a significantly more equitable and efficient land tax system that was essential to meet...

    • CHAPTER 15 THE RURAL ECONOMY: COMMERCIAL AGRICULTURE, BY-EMPLOYMENT, AND WAGE WORK
      (pp. 400-420)
      OSAMU SAITŌ

      It is now widely accepted that many peasants in thebakumatsuperiod were already familiar with the market in various forms—through cash cropping, silkworm breeding, side businesses, paid jobs at home, or wage work during the slack season—¹ and rising tenancy rates are sometimes regarded as a symptom of expanded market ties. The land tax reform of 1873, once reckoned the great divide in agrarian history, simply furthered this trend.² In the decades that followed the reform, growing industry— not only factories in the modern sector, but workshops in the indigenous sector—relied heavily upon labor from peasants...

    • CHAPTER 16 GRAIN CONSUMPTION: THE CASE OF CHŌSHŪ
      (pp. 421-446)
      SHUNSAKU NISHIKAWA

      To know something about the food consumed in a given nation can be the basis for a knowledge of that people’s standard of living as well as a key to understanding social conditions. This is especially true for Japan in the period from thebakumatsuto the decades after the Meiji Restoration. Notwithstanding, there has been little research on this topic, and it is widely believed that the peasantry lived at a mere subsistence level during the last years of the Tokugawa period. The Meiji Restoration of 1868 brought in its wake many changes that might have affected the diet....

    • CHAPTER 17 THE MATERIAL CULTURE: STABILITY IN TRANSITION
      (pp. 447-470)
      SUSAN B. HANLEY

      The changes that occurred in the first few decades after the Meiji Restoration were so profound that they led one foreign observer to introduce his book on Japan with the statement: “To have lived through the transition stage of modern Japan makes a man feel preternaturally old; for here he is in modern times . . . and yet he can himself distinctly remember the Middle Ages.”¹ What struck the foreign observers, the Japanese themselves, as well as later historians, about Meiji Japan were the developments that portended tremendous change for all Japanese—not only in the political, economic, and...

  11. ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTORS
    (pp. 471-474)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 475-485)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 486-486)