By G. C. Allen

ISBN-10: 0333263243

ISBN-13: 9780333263242

ISBN-10: 1349861170

ISBN-13: 9781349861170

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Example text

Although the revenues which the daimyo had previously received from their subjects were henceforth due to the central exchequer, it was not easy at first to ensure the collection of these sums. The Government, moreover, had to compensate the lords for surrendering their rights, and at the same time to take over their former liabilities. The most onerous ofthese was the provision ofannual pensions for the samurai, whose functions as feudal retainers had now ceased. Further, the Government made itself responsible for the debts of the daimyo, and it had to provide indemnities for the Buddhist church on its disestablishment.

So, until the end of the century, foreign merchants conducted the major part of the overseas trade. They and the branches and agencies of such foreign banks as the Oriental Banking Corporation and the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation financed much of this trade and, incidentally, the dealers from whom the foreign merchants obtained their supplies. European and American merchants and bankers can, therefore, be regarded as one of the chief instruments of econornic change during these early years.

In the second quarter of the nineteenth century several young samurai secretly left the country against the explicit orders of the central Government for the purpose of studying Western civilization, and these included many Satsuma men who played a prominent part in the creation ofnew Japan. Long before this, moreover, Western intellectual influences had been gradually permeating the country. In the eighteenth century the Japanese intellectual classes began to acquire what was known as the 'Dutch learning' (Rangaku), that is to say, a knowledge of THE DISINTEGRATION OF THE OLD REGIME 25 Western sciences (particularly astronomy, anatomy, medicine and military science) through the medium of the Dutch language.

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A Short Economic History of Modern Japan by G. C. Allen


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