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Japan In Transition From Tokugawa To Meiji: Population Changes

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Chapter Summary

This chapter seeks to show that by re-examining the data of the 1820-1850 and 1870-1910 periods, together with other evidence on the transition decades themselves, it is possible to clear up many uncertainties about population change in Japan. It is seen that Japan's national population began increasing from the start of the nineteenth century and that, after the 1820s, this trend of stable growth held true for virtually all localities. The mortality crises of 1837-1838 and 1861 cannot be overlooked; yet, despite these temporary setbacks, the population grew at an annual rate of 0.3 to 0.4 percent. During the Tokugawa period, there was moderate population growth in the nation's most economically advanced region, the west, particularly in areas surrounding the Inland Sea. In the late Tokugawa and early Meiji, modernization had yet to be pursued in earnest; accordingly, population changes that accompanied it were still of minimal importance.

Keywords: Japan; Meiji; mortality; population changes; Tokugawa period; transition



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