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Japan In The Eighteenth Century: Demography And Economy

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Chapter Summary

After a 'great transformation' in the seventeenth century, and before the busy 'transition' of nineteenth century, eighteenth-century Japanese society has been seen as relatively quiet, static and sleepy in every component. There were almost no international and domestic events that shook Japan nationwide and although the isolationist policy of Japan was enforced in the 1630s, this did not mean closing the door entirely to other countries. This chapter examines this 'quiet' eighteenth century in Japan. Like almost all other pre-modern societies in this period, Japan has not left us with nationwide statistics, either quantitative or qualitative; except in the area of population figures. In that respect Tokugawa Japan is really one of the most well-documented pre-modern societies in the world. At any rate, the remarkable stability in the total number has caused people to misinterpret Tokugawa Japanese society as a stagnated one, both in terms of demographic and economic growth.

Keywords: demographic growth; economic growth; isolationist policy; nationwide statistics; population figures; Tokugawa Japanese society; transformation



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