Clarifying the modernization process of Japan by highlighting the underlying rural communities.
My specialism, The Japanese Economic History, is a research field which clarifies the process of the modernization of Japan’s economic society through the lens of history. This study from a historical perspective involves intellectual exposure to the reality of the past by historians living in contemporary society. It is not something which is immediately helpful with a view to the future of Japan and the world. Analysis is just that – analysis. The pragmatic discussion based on actual problem awareness with the facts made clear through such analysis is the next step. Our work as historical researchers involves finding the prerequisites for such discussions.
Specifically, I work in the following five areas:
- Research related to the regional economy when the market economy was established
- Historical and theoretical research related to the village society and the community
- International comparative research of the shift to a market-oriented economy
- Distribution history research related to the market
- Historical research related to disaster prevention and regional society
The “market” is a world and society in itself. It is discussed from the standpoint of a trading world. The move to a market-oriented society is not just considered as theoretical market economy development. The research numbered 1 – 4 above is that which studies it from the perspective of the form and modernization of each society and the world. Number 5, which began after the Great East Japan Earthquake, aims to clarify the beginnings of disaster prevention organizations in rural and local communities, examining the way in which they are formed and operated from a historical perspective.
What has become clear through such research is that the characteristics of Japanese society are strongly influenced by the features of the lifeworld often found in rural communities. The concept of family groups, of the “house” and the “village”, which is found in the field of sociology and forms rural societies, and its mechanisms, actually connect the whole of Japan’s economic society at a fundamental level. They can be seen in various ways which transcend eras and places. It appears to me that the features of Japanese society are here. In the field of economics, there is the term “historical path dependency”. It attempts to explain the differences in the characteristics of economic phenomena through the differences in historical development routes. It is often used in recent economic history research. The way Japan’s rural societies break up is combined with the formation of a new market economic society, and it is thought that the way the historical route is created builds the Japanese character. Clarifying the modernization process of Japan’s economic society is the work of economic historical research. However, particularly, I have consistently found themes by clarifying the structure of the underlying society which forms the basis of such research.