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ASIAN STUDIES CONFERENCE JAPAN

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Contact the organizers: Asian Studies Conference (ASCJ) c/o Institute of Asian Cultural Studies, International Christian University 3-10-2 Osawa, Mitaka-shi, Tokyo 181
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1999 June 26 conference

Room 307

13.Individual Papers on Foreign Imports into Meiji Japan
Chair:  Kate Nakai, Sophia University

1)David Wittner, University of Tokyo / Ohio State University. "The Mechanization of Japan's Silk Industry and the Quest for Civilization, 1870-1880"

In the decade following the Meiji Restoration, Japan embarked on a program of industrialization the likes of which the world had never seen before, nor is it ever likely to see again. The Meiji government's"program of industrialization" may, however, be more accurately described as ad hoc industrialization: a series of haphazard ventures whose only elements of commonality were the adoption of Western industrial technologies, and loosely fitting within the rhetoric of fukoku kyohei ideology permissible under the unequal treaties.In short, there was little or no detailed planning involved.At Tomioka, the government's premier silk reeling facility, for example, no one even considered, who would work there.This lack of planning and foresight was typical of early efforts at technology transfer and industrial development.

From the perspective of technology transfer, the first decade of industrialization can be roughly divided into two periods: from 1868 to approximately 1873, and from approximately 1874 until 1881. The dividing line between these periods is the end of the Iwakura Mission, the Meiji government's first official tour of Western Europe and the United States. The impact of the Iwakura Mission, and hence its role in the transformation of Meiji technology policy, was a change in the way technologies were selected. Prior to the mission, the government's choice of technique was based on any number of factors, but most frequently it relied on personal connections, associations continued from bakufu- or han-based business ventures, or a Western official's recommendation reflecting political ambition. Post-mission choice of technique was more indicative of the Meiji government's analysis of a country's political and/or economic standing. In both periods technologies were also imported based on their ability to bring Western civilization to Japan, regardless technical rationality. From the government's perspective, importing what it believed to be the most modern methods and most the modern machinery made from the most modern materials would be indicative of the extent of progress and civilization in Japan. In its efforts to renegotiate the unequal treaties imposed on Japan by the West, to build a "Rich Nation and Strong Army," the Meiji government's "program of industrialization" was based on having Japan conform to Western ideals of progress and civilization in developing countries. It was not necessarily based on a technical examination of conditions in Japan that would facilitate or hinder the transfer of a specific technology. Moreover, the government's insistence on importing only what it perceived as the most advanced technologies was, at times, counterproductive to their statedgoals.

Through an examination of government led initiatives and private efforts to mechanize Japan's silk reeling industry in the decade following 1868, this paper will demonstrate the haphazard nature of the Meiji government's "program of industrialization." I will also show that the preeminent consideration which guided choice of technique and technology transfer was ideological, not technical. In government sponsored enterprises, beliefs in modernity and material representations of progress and civilization were more important for technology transfer than empiricism.

2)John Sagers, Rikkyo University / University of Washington. "Developmental Ideology and Financial Institutions in Meiji Japan"

Discussions of Meiji economic ideology often point to the slogan "rich country, strong army" (fukoku kyohei) as if the government somehow spoke and suddenly, it was so.Yet there are numerous cases in history where other governments found this goal elusive.We must dig a little deeper to see how Meiji economic ideology actually contributed to economic performance.

The evolution of Meiji financial institutions provide an important key to this problem. As dealers in highly liquid assets, they show most clearly the character of a country's markets. As human creations, they also bring to light the less tangible realm of laws, customs, and values. The story of Japan's financial institutional development provide a number of insights into Meiji era economic ideology.

To tell a small part of this story, this paper will examine the writing ofMatsukata Masayoshi and Maeda Masana who despite rather similar personal backgrounds reached quite different conclusions regarding the role of banks and other financial institutions in economic development.They both were lower ranking samurai from the Satsuma domain, were involved in their domain's reforms in the 1850s, traveled to France, and acknowledged their intellectual debts to French financial officials. Yet they reached different opinions as to how much the government should be involved in Japan's banking system. Maeda and Matsukata's debate suggests that in addition to ideological or theoretical commitment, trial and error, ad hoc policy making, and factional politics also influenced to Japan's developmental vision.

3)Yoko Suzuki,University of Wisconsin-Madison. "Criminology and Poverty Relief during the Late Meiji Period: A Study of Journals on Prison from 1888 to 1912"

In 1908, the Home Ministry held the first seminar of Kanka Kyusai Jigyo (reform and relief policy), which aimed to encourage both the reform of delinquent youth and the relief of poverty.This seminar has been considered an indication of the new attitude of Meiji government. Although a great deal of studies have been made on this seminar,they have focused on ideological aspects. Few studies have been based on the fact that crime prevention was raised as the one of the purposes of the seminar.

This paper attempts to deal with this neglected fact by contexualizing the seminar within thedevelopment of criminological theories in the late Meiji era. It analyzes two major journals of prison, Dainihon Kangoku Kyokai Zasshi (1888-)and Keisatsu Kangoku Gakkai Zasshi (1889-) (integrated into one journal, Kangoku Kyokai Zasshi in 1899), which were published by and mainly circulated among the officials of the Home Ministry and Ministry ofJustice.In particular, the paper examines two questions: (1) how the officials had linked the problem of poverty with the problem of crime; (2) how new European criminological theories (criminal anthroplogy and criminal sociolog) had influenced the discussion on crime and poverty. Through these examinations, the paper aims to elucidate the form of the conceptual link between crime prevention and pverty relief, and to throw new light on the origin of contemporary Japanese welfare policy.

4) James Stanlaw, Illinois State University. "The Meiji and the Minolta: An Anthropological Look at the Early History of Japanese Photography"

The American opening of Japan in 1853 by Commodore Perry started the tidal wave of Japanese-American mutual cultural influence that remains unabated to this day. Around this time several early western photographers captured some several thousand images of the country fresh from a tremendous social and political revolution standing on the precipice of modernization. These included pictures of the last of the samurai,landscapes, scenes of daily life, and several genres of portraits of women. At the same time, dozens of Japanese photographers, newly trained in this imported art form, also began the (infamously stereotypical) Japanese love affair with the camera.

In this paper I examine some of these nineteenth century photographs to explore some of the ways identity and image in early Meiji Japan became conflated and reified with notions of nation and the "other" (both Westerners with respect to the "other" Japanese, and vice versa). I also probe the relationship this new technology had with traditional Japanese visual arts, such as wood block prints and painting.All pictures, of course, hide as much as they show, and all make pointed political statements. Byattempting to capture what they felt was a "natural" and pristine Japan, these early Western photographers imposed and established a certain model of technical and artistic composition. Their idiosyncratic "orientalism" contributed to an idealized construction of how Japan was supposed to be, instead of how Japan really was. Still, these early visual explorers were influenced by the Japanese arts in numerous ways, especially in the use of color, pattern, and line. The result, then, was an intriguing visual syncretism incorporating Western views of Japan with Japanese views of the West, some of which have still lingered, in spite of war, economic competition, and various kinds of love-hate relationships on both sides of the Pacific.

5) Takase Nobuaki, Sophia University."Lingering English Influence in the Meiji Constitution"

In the Meiji period's early years, Japan's leaders looked to England as a model of power and prosperity.By the 1880's, however, Germany seemed to replace Great Britain as Japan's teacher.This change was perhaps most noticeable in the field of Constitutional law.As a result ofIto Hirobumi's study with Stein and other German legal scholars, many German ideas were institutionalized in the Meiji constitution.

It is important to note, however, that the German constitution was not imported in its entirety. Some English elements were still alive in it, such as the electoral system and parliamentary government.This suggests that the Meji leaders never gave up on making an ideal country incorporating elements from various systems and adapting them to the Japanese environment.This paper will focus on their study, selection and reorganization to adopt European system for Japan. The evolution of Mutsu Munemitsu's political ideas serves as a good example of this process. Most of the scholarship surrounding Mutsu Munemitsu (1844-1897), who is most known for his role as foreign minister during the Sino-Japanese War and his success as negotiator to reclaim Japan's extraterritorial status, centers on this period near the end of his life.Moreover, many scholars have argued that while he had been highly active in the Jiyu minken Liberalization movement early in his life, upon his return to Japan from a two-year study abroad in Europe and resumption of an active political career, he flip-flopped his political views from that of a liberal to an elitist conservative who was not in favor of popular democracy.This dramatic change has been attributed to his five-year imprisonment for harboring these liberal political views. 

This paper argues that, in fact, Mutsu, did not relinquish his political idealism in regard to parliamentary democracy , but rather took a gradualist and adaptive approach to incorporating elements of the English parliamentary system to the Japanese setting.Due to lack of scholarship during the period prior to becoming foreign minister, I argue that more emphasis should be placed on Mutsu's study in England where he primarily researched the representative form of government of the English parliamentary system. Together with this, I assert that Mutsu was also influenced by Stein's lectures on the primacy of the executive branch of government over the legislative branch. Merging these two strands of political thought, I conclude that there was uninterrupted continuity of Mutsu's political ideas but that he took a more practical and compromising approach to applying these political principles to the Japanese political environment of the time. Idraw primarily on Mutsu's "Kenpo-ron" (Theories on Constitutional Law) in which Mutsu writes a critical analysis ofEnglish parliamentary law and its applicability to the Japanese constitution and Lorenz von Stein's lectures on "State Science."

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