By G. C. Allen
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Extra info for A Short Economic History of Modern Japan
The formerly despised merchants, as we have seen, acquired wealth and influence. The daimyo were engaging in trade and industry, and their samurai were beginning to follow commercial occupations. I t became the practice for the samurai to adopt the sons of rich commoners into their families; while others even sold their samurai status to commoners. 23 Thus the whole system of personal relationships upon which the old scheme of society res ted was falling to pieces. It is ironical to reflect that the very success of Tokugawa in imposing rigid control over the feudal classes contributed ultimately to the destruction of the social and political system.
Japan's experience ofworld markets and sources of supply as weil as of the technique of foreign commerce was at this time narrowly limited. 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.
By June 1876 the total unredeemed liabilities of the Government in the form of bonds amounted to 55 million yen. In the meantime an attempt had been made to reform and systematize taxation. In the days ofthe Shogunate the chiefrevenues ofthe local and central governments, as we have seen, had come from the land tax, arbitrary in amount and payable in rice. In the years immediately following 1872 a new assessment was made with the object ofproducing a revenue which, though broadly the same as before, was less liable to fluctuate in money terms.