Government and Local Power in Japan 500-1700: A Study Based on Bizen Province

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9781597402545: Government and Local Power in Japan 500-1700: A Study Based on Bizen Province

The following study of Japan in premodern times, embracing a span of nearly thirteen centuries, is directed toward the illumination of some important elements of continuity in Japanese history. It is an effort to explain through the detailed analysis of a microcosm - the small province of Bizen - the fundamental institutions of political organization and social and economic structure upon which Japanese government has rested. It seeks historical depth both by limiting the study in terms of its geographical scope and by restricting the number of variables to which it gives attention. The geographical base is the province of Bizen, one of sixty-six divisions of old Japan. In area it covered perhaps five hundred square miles, and by the eighteenth century it had acquired a population of something over 400,000 people.Within the confines of Bizen our attention is concentrated upon the unfolding of two sets of relationships: first, the combination of traditions and techniques by which the Japanese organized power and exercised authority, and, second, the connections between the holders of power and the sources of wealth, mainly the land. Our study, therefore, deals chiefly with such subjects as theories of legitimacy and practices of administration, concepts of social stratification and social rights, and practices of land tenure and taxation.

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