Kyōhō Reforms

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The Kyōhō reforms (享保の改革 kyōhō no kaikaku?) were an array of economic policies introduced by the Tokugawa Shogunate in 1736 Japan.[1] These reforms were instigated by the eighth Tokugawa shogun of Japan, Tokugawa Yoshimune, encompassing the first twenty years of his shogunate.[2]

The reforms were aimed at making the shogunate financially solvent. Because of the tensions between Confucian ideology and the economic reality of Tokugawa Japan (Confucian principles that money was defiling vs. the necessity for a cash economy), Yoshimune found it necessary to shelve certain Confucian principles that were hampering his reform process.

The Kyoho reforms included an emphasis on frugality, as well as the formation of merchant guilds that allowed greater control and taxation. Alternate attendance (sankin kōtai) rules were relaxed, and the ban on western books (minus those relating or referring to Christianity) was lifted.

This reform movement was followed by three others during the Edo period: the Kansei reforms of the 1790s, the Tenpō reforms of the 1830s, and the Keiō reforms of 1866-1867.[3]

Chronology[edit]

The shogunate's interventions were only partly successful. Intervening factors like famine, floods and other disasters exacerbated some of the conditions which the shogun intended to ameliorate.

  • 1730 (Kyōhō 15): The Tokugawa shogunate officially recognizes the Dojima Rice Market in Osaka; and bakufu supervisors (nengyoji) are appointed to monitor the market and to collect taxes.[4] The transactions relating to rice exchanges developed into securities exchanges, used primarily for transactions in public securities.[5] The development of improved agriculture production caused the price of rice to fall in mid-Kyohō.[6]
  • August 3, 1730 (Kyōhō 15, 20th day of the 6th month): A fire broke out in Muromachi and 3,790 houses were burnt. Over 30,000 looms in Nishi-jin were destroyed. The bakufu distributed rice.[7]
  • 1732 (Kyōhō 17): The Kyōhō famine was the consequence after swarms of locusts devastated crops in agricultural communities around the inland sea.[8]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ In the name "Kyōhō Reforms," the noun "Kyōhō" refers to the nengō (Japanese era name) after "Shōtoku" and before "Genbun." In other words, the Kyōhō Reforms occurred during Kansei, which was a time period spanning the years from 1716 through 1736. The reforms overlapped somewhat into the next era, which was proclaimed in 1736 (Kyōhō 21, 21st day of the 4th month) to mark the enthronement of Emperor Sakuramachi.
  2. ^ Bowman, John Stewart. (2000). Columbia Chronologies of Asian History and Culture, p. 142; Titsingh, Issac. (1834). Annales des empereurs du japon, pp. 416-417.
  3. ^ Traugott, Mark. (1995). Repertoires and Cycles of Collective Action, p. 147.
  4. ^ Adams, Thomas. (1953). Japanese Securities Markets: A Historical Survey, p. 11.
  5. ^ Adams, p. 12.
  6. ^ Hayami, Akira et al. (2004) The Economic History of Japan: 1600-1990, p. 67.
  7. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1956). Kyoto: the Old Capital, 794-1869, p. 320.
  8. ^ Hall, John. (1988). The Cambridge History of Japan, p. 456.

References[edit]