This is an extract of our Meiji Tokugawa Japan document, which we sell as part of our Meiji/Tokugawa Japan Notes collection written by the top tier of Cambridge students.
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JAPAN: MODERNIZATION AND EXPANSION (C.1800-1870) Marius B. Jansen, (ed), The Cambridge History of Japan, Volume V: The Nineteenth Century (Cambridge University Press, 1989): Contributions from Jansen, Harootunian, W.G. Beasley, E. Sydney Crawcour, and H. Sukehiro Introduction (Jansen)The nineteenth century saw Japan transformed from a society that was divided territorially, politically, socially, and internationally; Japan's borders were still unclear, for its sovereignty over Okinawa, the Kurils, and Hokkaido was not established; politically, Japan was still structured in the territorial divisions that had been worked out in the early seventeenth century; the Tokugawa Shogun held dominion over lands that produced about one-quarter of the national agricultural yield of rice, which was the sole measure of productivity, but although he retained about half of that for his own house as tenryo, the rest he allocated to his vassals; the balance of the country was divided among some 260 feudal lords, who in turn allocated part of their holdings to their retainers; the lords and their domains were not taxed by the shogun who, as primus inter pares, was restricted to the revenue of his own holdingsThe daimyo were, however, expected to perform acts of fealty to their shogun, and in the absence of warfare, that service had become ritualized in the procedures of alternate attendance whereby they spent half their time in residence at the shogunal capital of Edo; in that city, large estates, usually three each, were set aside for the lords, and these they built up as residences and garrisons for their retainers during their duty stayThe daimyo in turn expected their own retainers to reside in the domain castle towns, in most cases permanently; as a result, the ruling military estate had become a circulating and highly urbanized status group; the polity was premised on a disarmed and compliant countryside, one that had been restrained by the legislative measures of the late sixteenth century when Hideyoshi and his peers separated the warriors from agriculturists, disarmed the countryside, and carried out cadastral registers to provide a sure base for future consolidation of rural governance and productivityJapan was no less divided socially; the four status groups of samurai, agriculturalist, artisan, and merchant, that had been established in the early seventeenth century continued to maintain distinct patterns of status, shown in clothing, appearance, manner, and behaviour, and residence despite considerable changes in relative well-being that developed during the Tokugawa period; gradually, through years of peace, the samurai had become an under-employed and unproductive elite; despite this, and the accelerated movement in and out of lower ranks, and even the sale of status membership, the perquisites of samurai standing in 1800 remained substantially what they had been two centuries earlierIn the early century, Japan's isolation from the outside world also continued the patterns that had been instituted in the 1630s; state-to-state relations existed only in Korea, which sent twelve embassies to Japan in Tokugawa times, and yet even those relations were attenuated and camouflaged by being implemented through the daimyo of Tsushima, who maintained a trading station at Pusan under circumstances of inequality and some indignity; the southern domain of Satsuma had access to Chinese goods through its control of the Okinawa region; yet over the years the exhaustion of Japan's silver and copper mines combined with the development of Japanese handicrafts, which substituted for the Chinese silk and embroidered textiles that had been the heart of the trade, to reduce the number of Chinese and Dutch vessels to a trickleAt the end of the century, Japan was a highly centralized state whose government had little tolerance for local variety and divergence; a powerful Home Ministry appointed governors and mayors; a national police system had replaced the myriad forms of local control with a network of police stations and boxes that were the marvel of Japan's neighbours; the nation was being schooled in gratitude and veneration for a uniformed sovereign whose picture was beginning to appear on the walls of even the most humble of dwellingsThus the Japan of 1900 was no longer the Japan of 1800; the secluded island nation of the past had become an active and aggressive participant in world politics, proud of its achievement and insistent upon its place, ready to enter the European alliance system, and eager for a foothold on the Asian continentThe Tokugawa system was clearly spiralling downward; Matsudaira Sadanobu's efforts to shore up the polity in the Kansei reforms enjoyed some success, particularly where education and the economy and administration of the Kanto were concerned, but the same cannot be said for the reform attempt under Mizuno Tadakuni, the subject of Bolitho's discussion of the TempoIn a larger sense, the nineteenth century is more customarily treated as a beginning, and the Restoration years are best described as a transition between late-feudal and modern Japan; the transition from a warrior to a civil elite, albeit one directed by former members of the warrior estate, is particularly noteworthy and calls to mind Hayashiya's comparison with the transition from civil to warrior rule two centuries earlierEach major transition was also accompanied by archaicization and revivalist rhetoric and action as new governments tried to establish their legitimacy; Hayashiya points to the early Kamakura restorationist emphases in the projects to refurbish the great Nara templesThe century proper began with the Bunka (1804-18) and Bunsei (1818-30) eras; they seem, in retrospect, relatively untroubled decades with good weather and harvests, politically stable in the aftermath of the vigorous reforms of Matsudaira Sadanobu; there was a lag in the frequency of the peasant demonstrations and rebellions that had peaked during the 1780s; the 1820s were a period of growing interest in Western learning; the German doctor Philip Franz von Siebold was attached to the Nagasaki Dutch station from 1823 to 1828; his stay marked both the height of interest in western things, as a variety of able young scholars attended the academy he was permitted to set up in Nagasaki, and the beginning of officials' fears that such studies could lead to subversion and ideological contaminationAlthough there was evidence of future problems in international affairs during the era, however, the growth of public and private interests in things foreign testified to the relative liberality and confidence of the times; urban culture was never more prosperous, the reading public never larger, and publishers never more numerous than during these decades; it might well be characterized as an "era of good feelings" in comparison with the political intensity that lay aheadThere was also inexorable growth of commercialization in central and northern Japan; in the Kanto region, the centrality of Edo in economic life resulted in commercial farming, increased access to commercially-produced goods, growing variety in
consumption, and higher labour costs; vagrancy, flight, migration, and abandoned fields gave evidence of a social and economic differentiation that was brought home by intra-village disputes and violence; response from bakufu: village officials were required to report on peasant side employments, and efforts were made to reduce the less necessary and less desirable aspects of commercialization such as pawn shops, drinking establishments, gambling, and related "lawless" and "luxurious" lifestyles The next two decades (Tempo, 1830-44, Koka, 1844-48, and Kaei, 1848-1854) saw these problems intensify; agricultural disasters; famine as described by Bolitho; but "Tempo reform period" impelled daimyo governments to take on a planning function; domain monopolies were set up to centralize and exploit the growing commercialization of the economy, and in turn they speeded up the process; the most striking evidence of bakufu difficulty came in the 1837 revolt of the Osaka samurai official Oshio Heihachiro; located as it was in the great commercial city of central Japan, the incident had reverberations throughout the entire country; because the participants were for the most part products of Oshio's own school and following, it illustrated some of the possibilities that might be expected from politically motivated teachers and academies and stood as a portent of additional insurrections to come in future decades Then came the foreign crisis of 1854-1860 (the arrival of Commodore Perry); Perry's report to his president predicted a promising future for a Japan he described as "the youngest sister in the circle of commercial nations"; if only, he wrote, the powers would "kindly take her by the hand, and aid her tottering steps, until she has reached a vigour that will enable her to walk firmly in her own strength", commercial and diplomatic relations would soon be firm The bakufu leader Abe Masahiro circulated Perry's letter among the daimyo and at court in an effort to build consensus for a decision he knew to be inevitable; by this act, he helped activate a politics that had long seemed dormant, and succeeding years saw the ripples of participation move outward from the heads of the military families to their retainers and among sectors of the commoners as well The Meiji Restoration was the result of the turbulent politics of the 1860s; Il Naosuke's Ansei purge had turned doubts into convictions for many, and his successors' uncertain course produced a zigzag trail that left even Tokugawa vassals uncertain as to what their course should be; for most of the decade, the bakufu was able to maintain close relations with Kyoto, but professions of loyalty were no substitute for the active support of the most able courtiers around the sovereign; political reorganization in the Bunkyu (1861-64) era brought members of Tokugawa collateral houses into new positions and tried to enlist the co-operation of highly-placed lords from outside domains; these steps succeeded in weakening the control of Edo-centred traditionalists, but without securing the support of the domains they were designed to co-opt The opening of the ports in 1859 brought additional problems into play; foreign relations provided opportunities for selfstrengthening and rearmament for the bakufu, but the same contacts soon made it possible for vassal dissidents to import modern weaponry; the domain monopolies that had been set up in the Tempo years brought resistance to Tokugawa efforts to control and monopolize foreign trade, and domains began to treat directly with outside suppliers and customers through the treaty ports; more serious for the bakufu was a rampaging inflation that broke out in metropolitan areas; the sudden growth in outside markets for Japanese goods, particularly raw silk and tea, raised prices and brought hardships to domestic processors and samurai on fixed incomes The political process was continually exacerbated by the foreign presence and pressure; outraged samurai generated antiforeign incidents for which they had to make amends at cost to its prestige and treasury; in Satsuma, bureaucratic regulars defeated ambitious radicals, and in Choshu, by a much more complex process, those radicals gained leadership of domain policy; eventually, the fifteenth and last Tokugawa shogun was overthrown in 1868bakufu Nineteenth-century Japan speaks differently to each generation of students who pursue its themes, and Japanese continue to seek in it clues to their society's past and future; the movement for "people's history" has unearthed documentary and private sources that crowd shelves
Jansen (Early Nineteenth Century Japan)In the early decades of the century, the Japanese countryside retained the monochrome character of earlier Tokugawa years; in most villages, one or two substantial buildings signalled the presence of the local elite, where goshi (rural samurai) or gono
(wealthy farmers); there were men whose influence and affectations upset the Confucian political economists; their wealth, literacy, and connections with authority made them the natural leaders in the establishment of village schools, the expression of village opinion, and the funding of village activitiesThe central fact of Tokugawa history was the bakufu's inability to improve the imperfect political controls with which it began the period throughout the two and one-half centuries of its rule; by accepting its role as the greatest of the feudal lords, the bakufu closed itself off from the possibility of devising a more rational centralized structure; at the same time, its political controls, which centred on the rotation of the daimyo to th capital, led to ever-larger centralization in the market economyThe Kansei and Kasei years also inaugurated a new awareness of possible danger from the Western world; that awareness began with knowledge of the Russian advance on East Asia from the north, and it intensified with information about the disorder that the Napoleonic wars had produced in the European states systemMito-style Confucianism with its emphasis on loyalism assimilated well with kokugaku (national learning); as one of the Tokugawa branch houses, Mito was in close touch with developments elsewhere in Japan, and its scholars linked such concerns with the foreign danger; the only solution open to Japan was a counterstrategy of religious and cultural transformation combined with military strength; the use of Christianity as a state religion, and mass participation through education and conscription in the West would be offset only by the development of a similar dynamic in Japan Harootunian (Cultural Practice and Political Centralization)Among late Tokugawa writers and activists, none came closer than Yokoi Shonan to grasping in the "current situation" the play of differences represented by new discourses, the destruction of received political identities, and the need to find a way to accommodate the plural claims that were being made in the explosive environment of the 1860s; Yokoi's reading of contemporary circumstances proposed a resolution of the problems of security and assistance that involved installing a hegemonic arrangement capable of stabilizing the political order while retaining the differing articulations; in fact, the conjuncture of discursive claims ultimately became the terrain for a new hegemonic political practice
?In a sense, the initial stage of the Meiji Restoration, or as it was called, osei fukko, appeared at the moment when many believed it was necessary to find a form that would contain and even represent the various interests that undermined Tokugawa control; it should be noted that each movement Harootunian discusses, in its efforts to discredit the centre and replace it with centres, supplied its own conception of political restoration: Mito had already announced the goals of chuko (restoration); nativism lodged its appeal in an "adherence to foundations"; the new religions epiphanized their image of a new order in calls for "world renewal"; and proponents of wealth and defence sought in some sort of conciliar arrangement a way of rearranging the constellation of political forces that existed in the 1860s The modern state managed to exclude surplus social meaning, by fixing the identity of the public interest in its quest for order and security while relegating communitarian claims to the margins of otherness; it should be recalled that all the late Tokugawa discourses projected an image of assistance and relief, even when, as in Mito, that image was an ambiguous mix of loving and caring for the people while treating them as dependent children; but the Meiji leaders recognized that politics must determine the content of culture, rather than the reverse, and felt that social identities must be made to comply with the necessity of the state because an opposite course would have encouraged a continuous generation of new subjectiveness and divisive antagonisms; once the state had arrogated to itself the modes of cultural production, it was possible to remove culture from play and employ it as an ideological instrument to depoliticize the masses; that act required reducing the polyphonic discourses of the late Tokugawa, with their many voices speaking about the same things, to the single voice of an authoritative discourse
Beasley (Foreign Threat and Opening of the Ports)The nature of the treaty port system in the nineteenth century derived principally from the commercial policies of Great Britain; these, in turn, reflected a shift from the eighteenth-century doctrines of mercantilism to those of laissez-faire, linked with the coming of the Industrial Revolution; yet Britain did not open Japan to world trade; as correspondence between Davis and the Foreign Office in 1845-6 makes clear, to the British government and its representatives, trade with Japan was desirable but not worth any great effort; Lord Malmesbury (Foreign Secretary) told his superintendent of trade that "Her Majesty's Government would be glad to see the trade with Japan open; but they think it better to leave it to the Government of the United States to make the experiment; and if that experiment is successful, Her Majesty's Government can take advantage of its successAmerica's interest in Japan, like Russia's, had a Pacific ingredient as well as a commercial one; after about 1820, whaling vessels, of which a large proportion were American, began to appear off the Japanese coast; the national isolation laws, which prevented the ships from calling at Japanese ports for water and supplies, plus occasional Japanese ill-treatment of shipwrecked sailors, caused resentment in the United States, bringing some pressure for a treaty to overcome these difficultiesIn the words of Commodore Perry's official narrative: "He was resolved to adopt a course entirely contrary to that of all others who had hitherto visited Japan on a similar errand - to demand as a right, and not as a favour, those acts of courtesy which are due from one civilized nation to another"If the attractions of the Japanese market proved too small to prompt any determined effort on the powers' part to secure access to it, it is equally true that the development of a commercial economy in Tokugawa Japan did not produce within the country any significant political pressures to overthrow the policy of national isolation for the sake of trade; the events concerning Perry and the Russians brought samurai attention not to commerce, but maritime defence; in a number of domains it brought experiments in iron founding and other industrial skills, which led to the manufacture of cannon and the building of Western-style ships; but notwithstanding the importance of this for Japanese modernization in the longer term, it did not produce significant moves to change the fundamentals of Japanese foreign policy until after the first treaties had been signedHayashi Shihei and Honda Toshiaki recognized that defence had implications for domestic politics; they urged far-reaching changes in Japanese society, designed to strengthen it against the foreign threat, even at the expense of undermining the bakufu; the Mito scholars used much the same arguments to advocate a relaxation of bakufu controls over the great lords, which they saw as part of a "restoration" of the traditional social order, involving a reassessment of the role of the emperorHayashi, Honda, and Sakuma all thought it necessary for Japan to take initiatives of a broadly mercantilist kind, including the creation of a navy and a merchant marine, if it were to develop the means to defend itself; this implied at least the suspension of those sections of the national isolation laws that forbade Japanese to venture overseas; Mito, by contrast, was committed to a policy of joi ("expelling the barbarians"), that is, keeping Japan's ports closed, pending a political regeneration that would make it safe to open themOf course, the Japanese debate over national isolation, which had earlier been intermittent and mostly private, was made urgent and public by the Perry expedition; in the expectation of such an eventuality, Abe Masahiro, the senior member of the Tokugawa council (roju), had gone to some trouble in the previous year or two to reach an understanding with Tokugawa Nariaki, aimed at uniting men of influence in the Tokugawa house and bakufu behind the proposition that until coastal defences could be made effective, the country's foreign policy had to be a cautious oneThe opening of Japanese ports to trade - officially from July 1859 - was accompanied by changes in the role of the various Western powers in the country's foreign relations; Russia, having achieved its immediate territorial ambitions in the north and lacking any great commercial interests in Japan, dropped more and more into the background during the following decade; so did the United States, largely because of the US Civil War; in some respects, then, Japan's foreign relations lost some of their distinctive features, being absorbed into a wider international pattern centring on China; in Japan, as in China, treaties reluctantly conceded proved difficult to enforce; resistance brought conflict, involving the substantial use of forceOne source of controversy after 1858 was directly economic: Japanese criticism of the treaties arose in part from the stresses produced by bringing Japan's hitherto isolated economy into a relationship with that of the rest of the world; there were issues of coinage, silver-percentage in Japanese coinage, and 'exchange rates'; unwilling to revise Japanese gold-to-silver ratios to bring them into line with those of the rest of the world, because of the considerable disruption this would bring to the domestic economy, the Tokugawa government sought instead to circumvent the treaties' provisionsNevertheless, the main Japanese objections to the treaties had political rather than economic roots; at one level, they reflected the fears of a feudal ruling class that change would undermine the existing social order; at another, they were manifestations of cultural conservatism, commonly taking the form of ritual repetition of inherited prejudice against Christianity; there was, however, a more modern ingredient in the form of incipient nationalism (nativism, of which
??Harootunian speaks); Japanese, especially samurai, were becoming increasingly aware that what was at risk was not just a culture or a social order and political order but a territory and a nation; they differed widely in the means they proposed for defending them, but almost all recognized that a decision required political action - as a result, attempts to influence the foreign policy of the Tokugawa government became a major concern of politically-minded Japanese as soon as the terms of the treaties became widely known In May 1861, the shogun's council put the bakufu case to the foreign envoys in Edo; "the price of things," they argued, "is daily increasing, in consequence of the large quantity of products which is exported to foreign countries."; the result had been to strengthen the resentments already provoked by the abandonment of policies of national isolation, "deeply rooted in the national spirit", and thereby to produce a state of popular disquiet in which "it is very difficult, even for the power and authority of the government, so to manage that each one should clearly understand the future advantage, and so cause them to endure for a time the present grief"; the solution proposed was to postpone the opening of further ports and cities as laid down in the treaties, to give time for Japanese resentments to die down and for the bakufu to win wider acceptance of the treaty arrangements In the event, the London Protocol did not prove an instrument for solving the problems of the Japan trade, as Russell and Alcock had hoped; it was designed, in accordance with the principles of gunboat-diplomacy, as worked out in China, to put pressure on a Japanese government, recognised as "legitimate", so as to persuade it to enforce the treaties within Japan; to this extent it represented an ignorance of Japanese politics; it is true that within the bakufu men in authority, especially those whose duties gave them direct knowledge of foreign affairs, had by this time come to accept that there were serious restrictions on Japan's freedom of action in dealing with the West Even while the London Protocol was being negotiated, moves were afoot in Kyoto to force a public change in bakufu policy; the first to materialize was the dispatch of an imperial envoy to Edo, escorted by Shimazu Hisamitsu, in an attempt to bring about a basis for a court-bakufu agreement by securing the appointment of Matsudaira Keiei and Hitotsubashi Keiki to high office (this objective was achieved) At the end of September 1863, Satsuma, its prestige within Japan much heightened by its reputedly successful resistance in the face of British attack, joined with the bakufu to expel the Choshu men and their terrorist allies from the precincts of the imperial palace in Kyoto; the bakufu promptly exploited the situation by proposing a new basis for national agreement on foreign policy, which took the form of a plan to close Yokohama at the bakufu's initiative; this, it was thought, would be a gesture of reconciliation with the anti-foreign movement, which might also be made acceptable to the powers as an alternative to closing Japan's ports entirely; it would have the further advantage of reaffirming the shogun's prerogatives in matters of foreign affairs, which had been seriously challenged by the actions of Satsuma and Choshu during the summer - eventually the Satsuma and Choshu hotheads, who had been willing to risk the consequences of attempting to expel the foreigners for the sake of political gains, were discredited by the demonstrable disparity of strength between their domains and the West
Jansen (The Meiji Restoration)Although the actual events of 1868 constituted little more than a shift of power within the old ruling classes, the larger process referred to as the Meiji Restoration brought an end to the ascendancy of the warrior class, and replaced the decentralized structure of early modern feudalism with a central state under the aegis of the traditional sovereign, the emperor, now transformed into a modern monarchThe process whereby this came about has inevitably become a central issue in Japanese historiography, for verdicts on its content and the nature condition all appraisals of the modern state to which it led; the work of historians has been undergirded by a vast apparatus of sources preserved by a history-minded government concerned with its own origins, and the scholarship that has been produced illuminates the intellectual history of Japan's most recent centuryThe insurrections of the Tempo period proposed few alternatives to the social and economic system that gave them birth; manifestoes and petitions usually focused on recent or threatened violations of what had come to seem as acceptable, though admittedly burdensome, government demands; communication routes were natural conductors for such protest, as the villages along the right of way were expected to provide the sukego porter service that moved travellers and transportRural order was also reinforced by an interesting group of nonofficial rural reformers whose teachings of sobriety, thrift, mutual co-operation and agricultural improvement were designed to give farmers a better livelihood; their teachings were usually moralistic and pietistic, stressing the maintenance and care of land as an essential part of filial piety and ancestral obligationUltimately the most important development in the thought world of the nineteenth century was a growing concern with the imperial institution, which was the product of the kokugaku tradition; this cut across all groups, but it found its most forceful and powerful formulation in a blend of ethnic and Confucian teaching that associated loyalism with morality and justified - and even required - participation in the political process under its imperative; in the slogan "revere the emperor, drive out the barbarian" (sonno-joi), loyalism wedded to antiforeignism became the most powerful emotion of mid-century JapanThere were also trends in Tokugawa policy that gave impetus to this trend of imperial loyalism; in the eighteenth century, the bakufu, increasingly responsive to Confucian morality, demonstrated its respect for the court by protecting and maintaining the imperial tombs and by increasing the miserly stipends that the early shoguns had provided for the court and courtiersEconomic difficulties and military unpreparedness made it important for Japan to avoid military conflict until preparations had been advanced; this required information, money, and political consensus to provide a time of quiet during which plans could be prepared; the search for that consensus brought efforts to consult, and thereby to educate, the daimyo and the Kyoto court?
With central power diminishing, the future of Japan was to be decided by a contest among regional powers, and the chief contestants were the great domains of southwest Japan and the bakufu itself; what we see in the run-up to the Meiji Restoration, then, was regional reform of military and administrative fields Military reforms had been anticipated in some of the frantic preparations for war that followed the coming of Commodore Perry; in the domain of Tosa in the 1850s, for instance, desperate efforts were mounted to procure and produce better weapons; officials were sent to Satsuma to study efforts that had been made to build a reverbatory furnace for arms production; the most
important Tosa innovation was probably the decision to form a people's corps (mimpeitai) made up of commoner formations commanded by rural samurai (goshi), but these efforts were abandoned after a few years' experience; war with the West had not eventuated, and Yoshida Toyo, the administrator who had sponsored these efforts, was assassinated by the loyalistsIn Choshu, however, loyalist extremism accommodated Western arms and methods; in that domain, military reforms began in the 1860s, and as extremism drove the han into solitary opposition to the bakufu and its allies, the sense of crisis served to speed up military reform; more than any other domain, Choshu was becoming a small-scale "nation-in-arms" of the sort that the Meiji modernizers wanted
???????Satsuma, unlike Choshu, experienced no internal violence or political upset; its samurai numbers were large and needed no supplement of commoners; distinctions of rank and income within its samurai ranks were so large that rifle-bearing companies could be mounted with little of the status compunctions that hampered the bakufu levies; fourteen students were selected and sent to London under the guidance of domain officials; once in Europe, the students were set to studying a variety of technological and military specialities; the overthrow of the bakufu, which was not a practical proposition before the reforms of 1862, had become a goal of many men by 1865
???????The changes of the early 1860s made the bakufu itself a regional power; no set of reforms was more impressive and more extensive than the changes that the Tokugawa leaders initiated in their Kinai and Kanto territories; in Tokugawa lands, samurai as a percentage of domain population were relatively few and highly urbanized; the bakufu thus faced particular problems in its military modernization
???????The bakufu's Bunkyu reforms of 1862 included administrative and military changes as well as the relaxation of daimyo controls that have already been discussed; on the whole, these administrative changes were more successful than the political ones; unessential jobs were eliminated, and unemployment relief had to be established for those made redundant
???????Military reforms found the bakufu and its rivals struggling to acquire the most lethal weapons at a time when firearms were undergoing a rapid change in the Western world; extensive plans were worked out for a modern army and navy within the confines of the troop strength that retainers were expected and able to provide
??????It can be asserted that the bakufu leaders were launching a modernization program - perhaps a "Tokugawa Restoration" - that would in time have emulated at many points the programs adopted by their successors in the Meiji government; seen in this light, it can be said that the civil war of 1868 was fought over the issue not of whether Tokugawa feudalism would survive, but whether its demise would be presided over by Tokugawa or anti-Tokugawa leaders; it was no longer a matter of saving the bakufu system but of replacing it, now that it was collapsing; as Totman said of the period immediately before the summer war, "there was no longer in Japan an authority symbol capable of moving the feudal lords...there was no national polity; the bakuhan system no longer existed" Rozman (Urban Transformation)The level of urbanization in Japan remained fairly constant from the early eighteenth century until the 1880s, but there were many signs of significant changes; the concentrated effort to freeze society in a newly create pattern is no less evident in Tokugawa urban policies than in stratification policies; a wave of new construction according to a highly structured plan - both for land use in the city itself and for the place of each city within its region - occurred in the early seventeenth century; the gradual breakdown of the original urban plans through the Tokugawa era parallels the transformation of social classesTokugawa Japanese leaders envisaged a society in which each settlement had a distinct function; villages were to be exclusively agricultural centres, relinquishing military and administrative activities along with the samurai who performed them, and transferring embryonic commercial and craft enterprises to other types of settlementUnlike the Sengoku pattern of multiple-branch castles grouped under a single lord, only a single castle city was permitted in each domain; to the extent possible, all urban functions were concentrated in this one administrative complex; on a nationwide scale, it was of course impossible to preserve the simplicity of this stark dichotomy between village and jokamachi; the Tokugawa plan took this into account by recognizing several additional urban types, all originating in earlier periods of Japanese history; there were the central cities on which elites had long been dependent for specialized production and service; there were the shukubamachi, or post towns, required as transportation centres along the roadways that linked the jokamachi to the central cities; also indispensable in some domains were the shijomachi, or market towns, in the tenryo (lands directly under bakufu rule) and in the large domains where the jokamachi could not absorb the marketing activities in all localitiesImplicit in this precise division of labour among settlements was a corresponding division of labour among the regions; the regions of the central cities - the Kinai and Kanto regions - monopolized the nationally-specialized activities; on the one hand, Kyoto, the historical leader in crafts, and Osaka, the developing commercial leader, drew on the Kinai region's superior commercialized agriculture and numerous smaller urban places to dominate Japan's interregional specialized productionIn comparison with other pre-modern settings, the castle cities supported surprisingly large proportions of their domain populations for many reasons: (i) the forced concentration of samurai and some chonin; (ii) the widespread prohibition on commerce in other areas within and often throughout the domain; (iii) the lure of incentives in the form of tax exemptions, monopolies and the like for chonin; and (iv) the construction of a transportation system centred on the castle city and discriminating against other possible urban points within the domainJust as the dropping of social-class restrictions in early Meiji opened wide the gates of competition, the removal of settlement restrictions resulted in the first flurry of movement and, over several decades, an intense competition for urban growth and prosperity; massive urban reorganization proved a prelude to rapid urbanization, which was already underway in the mid-Meiji period Crawcour (Economy, Early Meiji Restoration: Continuity and Change)Taking up the bakufu's abortive plans to establish a national system of economic control, the Meiji government within six months established an office for the purpose, operating branches in Tokyo, Osaka and Hyogo; these were very much organized along the lines of the old domain monopolies, with both commercial and financial operations entrusted to merchants of the major trading associations under government supervision
?Although the object of the Meiji land tax reform was to secure a stable source of revenue, its effects went far beyond that; land became a capital asset that could be freely and legally sold, and with taxes fixed in money terms, landowners - and not overlords - received the benefits from agricultural improvements, specialization, falling transport costs, and price rises In the midst of its fiscal problems, the government somehow found the means to start building the infrastructure of communications essential to further development; beginning with the Tokyo-Yokohama railroad financed by a foreign loan, 64 miles of government railways were built by 1877, and 2,827 miles of telegraph line installed by the same date
Conrad Totman, A History of Japan, 2nd ed, pp.203-315 During the century or so after 1550, Japan experienced a political transformation. A state of endemic warfare, sengoku or "warring states", gave way to one of durable peace, taihei, "the great peace" as celebrants styled it. In the process, society acquired a structure as clearly articulated and permanent - in theory at least - as that of ritsuryo heyday, a structure known today as the bakuhan taisei, or "power structure of bakufu and daimyo domians"??????
The term "Tokugawa period" is mischievous in its effect because it encourages us to treat the period 1600-1867 as a single unit, albeit one that experienced gradual change as time passed, and to end it abruptly at the Meiji Restoration of 1868; in terms of formal political structure and process, the images of commencement, continuity, and terminus, are valid indeed; in a broader sense, however, the years around 1700 brought Japan more fundamental change than did those around 1600, and "postTokugawa" characteristics did not really come to pervade society until the 1890s or even later The years around 1700 witnessed the end of four centuries or more of sustained socioeconomic growth that Japan had experienced as intensive agriculture spread across the realm; during the early 1700s, Japan entered a difficult period of stasis that persisted for a century and a half until the exogenous force of European imperialism ruptured the established political order; nineteenth-century European imperialism, which was itself driven primarily by the carrot-on-a-stick of early industrial empowerment and western Europe's ecological limitations, undid the Tokugawa political order - along with many others - by depriving it of its stable and non-threatening geopolitical context in which it operated; the European intrusion also brought in its wake, however, the rudiments of an alternative to intensive agriculture; namely, industrialization, with its fossil-fuel foundation and its technological and social ramifications Several developments of the eighteenth century revealed that the Japanese were exploiting their existing resource-base to the full, given the technology, social structure and values of the day; the picture of stasis is suggested by basic census figures, particularly when one compares them to the estimated 13,000,000 of 1600, and 100,000,000 of 1996; in 1721, the population stood at 26,065,425; in 1780, 26,010,600; and in 1846, 26,907,625; it is also clear that the period of rapid expansion in irrigable acreage had ended by 1720 As these figures suggest, Japan after 1700 or so was a society experiencing basic stability; it was by no means, however, an unchanging society; rather, it was engaged in wrestling with the ecological and social consequences of its contextual limits; those limits and the attempts to deal with them are evident in terms of mining and forestry, the use of arable land and irrigation water, the utilization of human labour, attempts to expand the realm, and the proliferation of mechanisms for rationing After 1720 or so, the acreage devoted to paddy culture increased very little; and the persistent conflicts about shifting marginal plots into tillage or woodland suggest that total arable acreage - perhaps some 4.5 million cho, of which roughly 60% was paddy land and 40% dry fields - also increased very little By the nineteenth century, an array of treatises offered peasants guidance on all facets of their lives as cultivators, landholders, villagers, and family members; as for irrigation water, despite increased crop specialization and orchardry, rice remained the predominant crop, in part because governments encouraged it and in part because rice provided a much greater caloric yield per tilled acre than did any other crop By the nineteenth century, it appears, villages were becoming widely characterized by the presence of a very few landlord households, a modest number of small, autonomous landholders, and a large and growing number of partial or full tenant farmers who might be away from home working for extended periods In sum, the loss of exploitable resources and breakup of larger households seem to have created a large rural population of microfarming families; except during times of crop-failure, most were able to cope with their stabilized environmental context by exercising habits of frugality and caution, labouring long hours, working as skilfully as they could, and controlling their family size by other means when illness and infrequent pregnancies failed to suffice; some flourished, becoming wealthy and influential; many more did not, ending up as tenants, semi-tenants, or landless labourers; but as a whole, their strategy for coping with straitened circumstances caused them inadvertently to play the central role in stabilizing Japan's population size and sustaining agricultural and commercial production The later-Edo populace not only maximized the yield of its existing resource base, it also pressed that base outward on land, on sea, and through time; the most fruitful extension was in fisheries development, which enabled Tokugawa society to exploit offshore nutrient resources as food and fertilizer, thereby moving beyond the terrestrial limits that their rulers imposed In any setting, cultural and political trends are the producers of many variables; during the later Edo period, however, difficulties stemming from resource scarcity seem to have been the most influential domestic variables at work, and their effects were evident in the arenas of bakufu and daimyo politics above, village and town politics below, and at intersections of the two; those difficulties also weighed heavily on intellectual life, fostering new conflictive attitudes and lines of thought that helped legitimate demands for remediation and change Unsurprisingly, these broader ecological issues bore least directly on the realm of aesthetics and entertainment, where arts and letters spoke primarily for and to the beneficiaries of the established order; even there, however, ramifications of scarcity were indirectly apparent, most notably in the decline of seventeenth-century elite culture, the associated decline of Kyoto and Kamigata cultural dominance, and perhaps, too, in the tone and quality of the cultural production that became dominant, namely that addressed to lesser warriors and commoners Although Kyoto fell on hard times, the city was never forgotten; indeed, during the nineteenth century it acquired a new, derivative panache, thanks largely to people who had at most only marginal contacts with it and its old elite; the eclipse of Kyoto and its higher culture had undermined the authority of old norms, making new approaches to courtly culture possible
Later-Edo difficulties found particularly overt expression in doctrines expounded by scholars and commentators of diverse sorts; some of the writings were vigorous polemics noisily critical of current conditions; at a more plebeian level, there flourished a less visible body of poorly-articulated ideas and attitudes that encouraged followers to place their trust in powers lying beyond the established rulership After about 1700 political agendas at both government and village levels changed noticeably as the ramifications of scarcity made themselves felt; during the seventeenth century, bakufu leaders had busied themselves arranging daimyo, courtly, clerical, and foreign affairs, building monuments, and regularizing warrior life; during the eighteenth century, the predominant issues for bakufu and daimyo alike related to the fisc, which faced chronic dearth, and to public unrest, which stemmed from material distress and social resentment The Tokugawa regime, or bakuhan taisei, was structurally decentralized, its cohesiveness a result primarily of shared group interest and a common political culture among upper-class bushi; shogun, daimyo, and their senior advisors and household member; rules, routine, and their enforcement maintained stable relationships among these figures and between them and the rest of society These arrangements worked well during most of the seventeenth century, when warfare's cessation and sustained domestic growth provided enough security, comfort, and career prospects for enough people to offset the loss of the opportunity that came with political stabilization; the arrangements worked far less well after the era had passed, when all sectors of society were forced to adapt to more sustained circumstances; and predictably the less-favoured bore the heavier burden; yet the regime and its encompassing social order survived despite famine, hardship, riot, embitterment, infighting, and alienation that found one or other expressions at most levels of society During the nineteenth century, however, that situation changed, and from about 1860 onward the people of Japan were propelled willy-nilly toward an age of industrialism; the great new variable that precipitated this change was a drastic alteration in global context: the rise of incipient industrial imperialism in the forms of British, French, Russian, and American explorers, adventurers, whalers, traders, missionaries, and politico-military empire builders Prior to 1850, the imperialists were unable to impose their will on bakuhan leaders because they were simply too busy elsewhere; in 1853, however, requests gave way to demands, and the Tokugawa, lacking the military means to refuse them, agreed to the treaties that foreigners wanted; the resulting changes in Japan's relationship to the outside world placed the established regime in an untenable position; in short order, its military and political inadequacy became apparent to domestic observers, and within twenty years, challengers had swept the old political structure aside and begun to lay the foundations for a new era As of 1853, bakuhan leaders had a flexible policy in place, but their hearts still lay with the policy of uchi harai and the preservation of the political order in which it was embedded; the barbarian was at the gate, and the rulers' task was to defend the kokutai - civilization itself - against that threat By 1860 policy debates had broken out of the normal framework of factional politics and were drawing new groups and more coercive techniques of persuasion into the political arena; rivals tried to buttress their positions by soliciting imperial support, but the court's involvement served only to complicate matters; it forced political combatants to control not only the shogun but also the emperor, and a whole cluster of considerations historical and structural made the court a volatile and contentious force that was driven mainly by its own internal agendas It was the fiscal ramifications of the imperialist intrusion that had the deepest and most wide-ranging effects; foreign pressure spurred bakuhan leaders to spend unprecedented sums on military training and deployment, and on weapons purchase, production, and placement, to say nothing of the extortionate indemnities that foreigners demanded for diverse slights and injuries; to make funds available for defence work, the bakufu in 1862 agreed to daimyo demands for the "temporary relaxation"
- the end in fact - of the sakin kotai hostage system that had maintained the vitality of Edo and helped keep daimyo under control for over two centuries; more broadly, direct contact with the bullion-based maritime monetary system generated alarming outflows of specie and threw domestic currency arrangements into turmoil; and foreign commerce started rearranging domestic trade-flows, of silk in particular, which damaged interests in some places, Kyoto most notably, while creating dramatic but disorderly new opportunities elsewhere In an immediate sense, the Meiji Restoration was sengoku-like routing of one warrior clique by another; in the months and years following their battlefield triumph, moreover, Sat-Cho leaders pursued policies and dealt with problems in ways that reminded one of the early Tokugawa decades: in the way they appeased powerful figures, suppressed lesser malcontents, articulating governing institutions, pursued legitimizing actions and arguments, designed and implemented fiscal and economic policies, and resolved periodic internal power struggles; in the outcome, like the early Tokugawa, they muddled through Broadly speaking the process of political change that Japan underwent between 1868 and 1890 moved through two phases; during the 1870s, the new rulers disestablished the old: they tore down the remaining elements of bakuhan political structure a piece at a time, tried various new organizational arrangements, and survived a series of violent and non-violent challenges to their power and policy; during the 1880s they stabilized the new, putting in place structures of governance that proved durable and issuing regulations that served their purposes; in 1889 they signalled the completion of that process by having the Emperor formally announce the Meiji Constitution, a document that adumbrated the basic principles and organization of a regime that was intended to be as permanent as the bakuhan taisei it replaced During 1873 Tokyo leaders projected their own control down to the village level by asserting the right to tax production and extract military service from commoners throughout the realm; they issued new land-tax regulations and commenced a nationwide cadastral survey that identified all landholders; they also issued a military conscription law that declared all 20-yearold men subject to three years of active service and four of reserve duty, although they in fact needed - and could afford to recruit, train, and support - only a small fraction of those eligible; by these measures, they claimed key prerogatives common to early-industrialized states: the right to demand military service and material support from all adult male subjects By 1873 Meiji rulers had thus stripped the samurai of their lords, domainal identities, and distinctive social function as warriors; over the next three years the government step by step reduced their hereditary income and discouraged their adherence to customary dress codes, and in 1876 it forbade the public wearing of swords and commuted all samurai stipends - meagrely
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