Luke S. Roberts
This book explores the historical roots of economic nationalism within Japan. By examining how mercantilist thought developed in the eighteenth-century domain of Tosa, the author shows how economic ideas were generated within the domains. During the Edo period (1600-1867), Japan was divided into over 230 realms, many of which developed into competitive states that struggled to reduce the dominance of the shogun's economy. The seventeenth-century Japanese economy was based on samurai notions of service and a rhetoric of political economy which centred on the lord and the samurai class. This 'economy of service', however, led to crises of deforestation and land degradation, government fiscal insolvency and increasingly corrupt tax levies, and finally a loss of faith in government. Commoners led the response with a mercantilist strategy of protection and development of the commercial economy. They resisted the economy of service by creating a new economic rhetoric which decentred the lord, imagined the domain as an economic country, and gave merchants a public worth and identity unknown in Confucian economic thought.