By G. C. Allen
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The publication of 24 A SHORT ECONOMIC HISTORY OF MODERN JAPAN the Prince of Mito's History of Great Japan informed the literary classes of a time when the Emperor, not the Shogun, held sway over the country, and towards the end of the eighteenth century scholars and propagandists, among whom was the celebrated Nobunaga Motoori, proclaimed the necessity for casting off Chinese and Buddhist influence and for returning to the ancient beliefs associated with Shinto. 2 These movements in the world of thought had important political repercussions, for they were all antagonistic to the Shogunate as weil as to the forms of scholarship which those rulers had fostered.
The Shogun hoped to follow this example in his own domains, and by generalizing this THE DISINTEGRATION OF THE OLD REGIME 29 practice, to prop Up the decaying structure of feudalism. A blow was given to the merchants' privileges by the decrees of 1831 and 1843 which abolished all forms of guild. The immediate result ofthis step, however, was to disorganize economic life still further; for the abolition of the guilds involved the destruction of the credit system that rested on the kabu, or membership privilege.
THE DISINTEGRATION OF THE OLD REGIME 21 communities, the volume of trade between different parts of the country was far from negligible. It was indeed stimulated by the political system ofthe time. Just as the establishment of castle-towns led to the growth of handicrafts to cater for the needs of the privileged groups of consumers who lived in them, so the institution of the sankin kotai necessitated a system of communications, a large movement of goods from the provinces to Yedo, and highly developed forms of financial and commercial organization.
A Short Economic History of Modern Japan by G. C. Allen