By G. C. Allen
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Extra resources for A Short Economic History of Modern Japan
At first sight it may seem surprising that the great expansion in the note issue du ring the first eight years of the new regime had failed to bring about a larger depreciation. But Japan at the time was passing quickly from a natural to a money economy. Industry and population were increasing; local barriers to trade had been destroyed; and money payments had been substituted for rice payments in the case of the land tax. Thus, along with the rise in the quantity of money, there had occurred simultaneously a considerable expansion in the demand for it, and so its value had been largely maintained.
18 The Govemment obtained goyokin from Mitsui and other merchants who were among its chief supporters, and it borrowed on short term from several Japanese and foreign merchant houses. Total receipts from these sources were only 5·4 million yen and consequently there was a deficit ofnearly 16 million yen in that year. In 1869 expenditure amounted to 20·8 million yen, while revenue from taxes, short loans, fines and goyokin came to only 10·5 million yen. 19 In these circumstances the Govemment was obliged to resort to the printing press, and in those two years notes to the value of 48 million yen were issued.
Lt is evident that from the early years of the nineteenth century, and indeed before this, the Tokugawa regime was being shaken by serious financial difficulties and by changes in the social and economic structure of the country which were the source of widespread discontent. Let us first examine the financial position of the central Government. The first of the Tokugawa Shoguns, Iyeyasu (1603-16), had accumulated a large reserve of treasure, chiefly through seizing the property of daimyo who had been hostile to hirn; but this was dissipated during the second half of the seventeenth century, partly through rising administrative expenses and partly through 'numerous earthquakes and fires which devastated Yedo.