On November 25, my wife and I returned from a postdoctoral research stay at the University of Hokkaidō (I have blogged earlier about this). Thanks extend to professor Nishibe Makoto -he made the stay a pleasure, and a real success from the professional point of view.
I was fortunate to build some great contacts here, and realize or plan quite a few promising projects:
In short, Histor¥ is committed to a definedly sociological and (unpretentiously) new approach to history. By allowing a careful distinction between historical fact (alternatively called structure) and the socially articulated interpretation and observation of historical fact (alternatively called semantics), it pronounces
For comparable studies, I refer to Niklas Luhmann's aforementioned tetralogy on the sociology of knowledge of modern society, Andreas Seeger's remarks, Wlliam Rash's analysis, Rodrigo Jokisch' study of the notion of 'meaning' in sociology, and Elena Esposito's outstanding inquiry into power. To the Japanese reader, I recommend Kimura's 木村 裕之 essay Ｎ・ルーマンの歴史的意味論と二階の観察.
The Bank of Japan prepared pages on the introduction of the new yen bills (¥10,000 - ¥5,000 - ¥1,000). Compare as well the 日本のお金 (nihon no okane) -page for a report of decisions, prepared pamphlets etc. leading to the introduction of the new bills on Nov. 1 2004.
Sydney Crawcour, "Kogyo Iken: Maeda Masana and His View of Meiji Economic Development", Journal of Japanese Studies 23:1 (1997), pp. 69-104.
"Kogyo Iken:..." is Sydney Crawcour's story of the eccentric bureaucrat Maeda Masano and the latter's voluminous report Kōgyō Iken 工業意見. Crawcour's (sometimes overtly detailed) article especially focuses on the existence of the official and unofficial (original) versions of the Kōgyō, against the background of Maeda's struggle against Matsukata Masayoshi's ideas on the future of Japan's industrialization. Maeda is described as strongly influenced by the dirigiste French agricultural economist Eugène Tisserand, who conducted surveys of regional agriculture and village economies in rural France and other parts of Europe. Politically, Maeda was closely connected to Ōkuma Shigenobu 大隈重信, which partly explains his struggle with Matsukata Masayoshi 松方正義.
Luhmann tackles the topic of ideas -or, in his vocabulary: semantics- in his tetralogy on the sociology of knowledge (Wissenssoziologie) of modern society, more especially in Chapter 1 of Volume 1 (pp. 9-71). The title contains some clues that are indispensible to a correct understanding of a still underdeveloped part of his systems theory.
I have again added pictures to the Histor¥-folder, this time pictures I took of the former Otaru branch of the Bank of Japan. Nowadays, it serves as the Bank of Japan Otaru Museum, and currently displays an exhibition of the new yen-bills (10,000¥, 5,000¥, 1,000¥), which will go into circulation on November 1 2004 (I will cover this in a later blogpost).
I recently added a new album to the Histor¥-album.
Due to a lot of editorial work, and the obligatory visits to friends and/or colleagues in Tokyo, I was not able to keep up with my regular pace of blogging. Fortunately, there have been no spectacular recent publications -although I still want to write a reading memo of this paper on the financing of the rebuilding of the 石山寺 in the IMES Discussion Paper Series (Japanese version only; the full paper is available in .pdf-format).
Muroyama Yoshimasa of Kyūshū University recently published a compelling evaluation of Matsukata Masayoshi's deflationary policies. Drawing on a large amount of macro-economic data, Muroyama argues that his policies translated into a wide variety of intentional (意図された) and unintentional (意図せざる) effects. Muroyama's conclusions are quite innovative as they are the result of gathering previously unavailable or plainly neglected information (esp. with respect to the effects of Matsukata's policies on the trade balance with the United States). I particularly appreciated Muroyama's remarks on the similaties and dissimilarities between Matsuka's deflationary policies and those of Inoue Junnosuke 井上準之助。 As is widely known, the latter's failed (eventually, Inoue was killed by militarist hawks); Matsukata's policies, however, are regarded as successful and the basis of modern Japanese finance.
My friend and colleague Andreas (of the chosaq-blog on Japanese copright issues) let me know that there was this discussion on the exact date of the New Currency Act (shin ka jōrei 新貨条例), which made the yen Japan's legal tender. One of the respondents to the question mentions the Histor¥-project as a possible reference (thanks!); another refers to the Japanese Wikipedia-entry on 'money' (kahei 貨幣) -a reference that I forgot, but that is indeed a useful (if concise) introduction, also on Japanese monetary history.