The Japan in period of ruling Tokugawa Dynasty


The process of establishing the authority Tokugawa. The establishment of Tokugawa authority. The history of Japan during the power of this dynasty. Attention to the history of Japan during the reign of the Tokugawa. Features of the Bakufu-Han System.

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Literature review

Japan in the period of Tokugawa (economy and inner policy)”




Nowadays, Japan is a natural leader in the Pacific and the global financial world. It takes place in Group of Eight countries. The technology of Japan takes one of the first places in world. And in economy it's a main indicator of development. As all we know, Japanese are very clever and workaholic. They are also very unusual and, of course, their culture is something especially.

So why did I choose this theme? Firstly, I always feel some weakness for their culture, history and for Japan on the whole. And I want to know this country more and more closely. That is very interesting for myself. Secondly, I can feel like I'm taking part in these historical actions. Like a movie. Thirdly, I saw a film “The Last Samurai” with participation of Tom Cruise. And that film left a deep trace in my mind. I really like this film. Fourthly, I will know more in this field and my historical knowledge will increase.

This work covers a considerable period in the history of Japan from period when Tokugawa was a leader. This topic is very interesting because there a lot “white spots” in history of Japan in this period, and we still don't know exactly what and when there were historical actions.

The purpose of this study - to consider the process of establishing the authority Tokugawa , pay special attention to the history of Japan during the reign of the Tokugawa, as well as to see the period when Emperor returned. And try to get this topic in detail as best as I can. I will try to do my best.

The work will seek the following tasks:

- To consider the establishment of Tokugawa authority;

- Explore the history of Japan during the power of this dynasty;

- Find the reasons caused of the weakening power of the Tokugawa;

Finally, I will cover three scholarly articles to understand the topic in detail.

Literature review:

According to Rodriguez:

“Tokugawa tried to build in this two ways: firstly, to keep the peasantry and urban poor in check and not allow any exemptions that can give them any kind of opportunity to organize themselves to fight, and secondly, keep a watchful eye on foreigners and keep doors locked up in Japan.” New Histoty of Asia and Africa, A.M Rodriguez (Smolensk, 2004) page 61

There was a long term “preface” that Tokugawa dynasty got their power of Japan. When Tokugawa became a Head of Japan and become the Emperor, he created a lot numbers of changes in social, political and economy structure. He tried to unite all territories into one strong nation and state.

And also he wanted to build the politic of “Closed doors” and don't have any relations with European counties.

If continued cite Rodriguez, he wrote that

“To this end, the government practiced a broad intervention into the life and economy of the peasants in an effort to completely subjugate them to his administrative and political control.

Thus, in the village, crushed by heavy feudal oppression and self-political powerlessness, there were internal processes, undermining the principle of the immutability of the feudal system, which underlies the whole of the feudal regime and its policies”. New Histoty of Asia and Africa, A.M Rodriguez (Smolensk, 2004) page 63

But in another hand, Tokugawa took emergency measures to control all citizens. He tried to build some an Ideal Feudal State and he thought about profit only for Feudal Elites. And forgot, on the whole, about simple citizens. So that is because in period of Tokugawa were a lot different uprisings of peasants. He used a strict politic which were too cruel for commoners.

If we refer to journal named “Modern Japan” he see that:

“To stop the influence of "bad ideas" foreign neighbors, Tokugawa Iemitsu expelled all merchants out of the country. The reason for this was the charge of supplying firearms Japanese Christians. In 1635 he published segunsky decree forbidding under pain of death to leave the country. At the same time those of his subjects, who had previously gone on business or to study abroad, the Shogun forbade to return home. The gates to the country with a bang shut.” ; information used from journal “Modern Japan” (6 October,2011)

What about politics of closed doors? Tokugawa had a great result in building “closed doors” policy. But, any way, later or earlier, it must gave such results. He tried to control not only politics, but also a religion and point of view of all commoner. And also he thought that foreigners founders of dissent and this was the reason why he create a real cruel rules for foreigners.

Also, how was mentioned before, he changed social structure generally. And interesting and especial place took place of Samurais.

Meiji Isin wrote that:

“The samurai, of course, as a support Tokugawa's regime stood at the top of the social ladder, they were considered as the best people of the country, the honor of the Japanese nation. Hence the saying: "Among the colors - cherry, among people - the samurai." Meiji Isin - revolution or reform? S.L Agaev; The people of Asia and Africa, (part 2, 1978) Page 67

But there are still some controversial issues. Because Tokugawa wanted to have a peaceful state. And it's strange that he gave such important place to samurais, but they didn't take a great participation in building new strong state. And we can find this information from another source - Meg vanSteenburg

“The most of the samurai had no land, and received from the lord for the performance of services (hoko) payment in rice - rock. This ration samurai meet their own needs and family, from clothing and food, and ending with the luxuries (such as gold rim weapons which were given by inheritance, etc.).” Meg vanSteenburgh; Legal Systems Very Different From Our Own; (6 October,2011)

So a lot of them became useless. And some of them just couldn't use rice as a money and get profit from this product. Numbers of samurais became a thieves and were ready to do anything to got some money, because life only with rice was unbelievable.

“After hundreds of years of civil wars, the fifteen Tokugawa shoguns made their foremost goals political stability and complete isolationism. The rice-based economy of Tokugawa period Japan was a complex form of feudalism.” Meg vanSteenburgh; Legal Systems Very Different From Our Own; (6 October,2011)

According this passage the period of Tokugawa has a good influence for the development of Japan. But in other sources are another information. That this period on the contrary inhibited all state, as said Meiji Isin:

“The severe political, military and administrative control of the shogunate, bloody ruthless massacre of any opponents of the regime and the dissidents led to the civil strife that lasted for centuries, have succeeded” Meiji Isin - revolution or reform? S.L Agaev; The people of Asia and Africa, (part 2, 1978) Page 71

After reading of three different scholars, we I understood that every scientist has his or her own vision of period of ruling Dynasty of Tokugawa. According to Rodriguez, there were as positive and negative consequences. But from another hand,opinion of Meiji Isin there were more positive than negative. And tha last one - Meg vanSteenburgh, to contradict, thought that there were more negative. As for me, I agreed with Rodriguez. Because it's obvious and we can't argufied that information about this Dyansty.

From the late 12th century through the 17th century, Japan was ruled by samurais (military leaders) but politics remained unstable. Internal wars and power shifts were very frequent, especially during the late 15th century to the end of the 16th century (called Sengoku Jidai, or warring period).

Finally, Ieyasu Tokugawa unified the country after the decisive Battle of Sekigahara (located between Nagoya and Kyoto, visible from Shinkansen) in 1600 and the attacks on Osaka Castle in 1615 where the rival Toyotomi family perished. Ieyasu established a new government in Edo and became the first shogun of the Edo Bakufu in 1603. Edo, a sleepy little town until then, was transformed into a huge political city by aggressive public works including land reclamation, new canals and clean water supply systems. The Tokugawa family ruled the country in the next 264 years (15 shoguns in all). Ieyasu Tokugawa was deified and worshiped in Nikko Toshogu Shrine (even today).

We start the story of Japan's economic development from the Edo period because pre-conditions for later industrialization and modernization were created internally during this period (moreover, quantitative data for earlier periods are very limited). The following are the pre-conditions that were generated:

(1) Political unity and stability

(2) Agricultural development...