Competing Priorities of Infrastructure Investment and Military Expansion in Late Meiji Japan

  • John H. Sagers
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Economic History book series (PEHS)


The slogan “rich country, strong military” (fukoku kyohei) famously guided modernization efforts in Meiji Japan, but debates among business leaders and government officials highlighted the contested nature of this formulation. This chapter examines Shibusawa Eiichi’s criticism of policies he saw detrimental to business interests including the transition of Japan’s currency to the Gold Standard and rapid increases in military expenditures, which came at the expense of civilian infrastructure investment. Feeling a Confucian obligation to remonstrate against mistaken government policies, Shibusawa consistently recommended frugality in spending to allow for increased investment in the conviction that a prosperous economy leads to strength where reckless militarism leads to a poor economy and needles hostility from potential trading partners.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • John H. Sagers
    • 1
  1. 1.Linfield CollegeMcMinnvilleUSA

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