Economic Development in Early Modern Japan
This chapter explores some of the author’s research findings and their related issues, with special emphasis on economic development, during the “early modern” period (covering the eras of Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and the Tokugawa Shogunate, according to the standard periodization in Japanese history). The historical category of “early modern” is primarily a political one, and although one may expect some kind of correspondence between political change and economic change (or economic development) in history, it cannot be a perfect one. Here, the term “early modern” is used to cover a period, and economic development that is believed to have taken place in that period, prior to the Meiji Restoration after which “modernization” became a government-set national goal; and by adopting this definition, it should be realized, we do not need to assume that there was a discontinuity in terms of economic development between the “early modern” and “modern” periods. Also, it should not be taken to imply that the term “economic development” is defined as one similar to the course of industrialization in Western Europe, nor does it mean the concept of economic growth or economic development that is used in theoretical economics. If the concept were to be narrowly construed, whether or not early modern Japan really experienced economic development would be highly debatable. Here, the term economic development is taken to mean just the quantitative expansion of economic activity, its intensification, and its permeation into all strata of society.
KeywordsEconomic Development Eighteenth Century Real Wage Seventeenth Century Pessimistic View
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