I wanted to blog this item some while ago: History News Network is organizing an awards competition for history blogging:
Several months ago, our colleague, Sharon Howard, suggested that history blogging had grown so that we ought to have an awards competition for it at the end of the year season for such things in the blogosphere. After some discussion, we found that we didn't have the software for a voting procedure that would preclude stuffing the ballot box, so it would be a judged competition, but that everyone could make nominations in six categories: Best Group Blog, Best Individual Blog, Best New Blog, Best Post, Best Series of Posts, and Best Writing. Winners in each category will be able to display this Awards logo on their blog.
According to Bank of Japan, the number of coins in Japan decreased first time in the history (the 0.05% decrease was observed at the end of July 2005.) Nikkei Shimbun discusses that this would be because of the increased use of digital cash and credit cards (i.e., coinless payment) at supermarkets and convenience stores.
(Thanks to Andreas Bovens)
Apparently, Histor¥ has been added to the Currency Act Resource Page. Thanks to Avonside Publishing.
Received through the sociocybernetics-mailinglist. Dirk Baecker on the memory-debate (edited by me):
"...memory has been an issue of continuing fascination for Luhmann, witness some papers that are, unfortunately, only published in German. The perspective chosen is a von Foersterian (or, even, Nietzschean): Why do people, and social systems, sometimes remember something? Why don't they just forget and continue their living and communication? The answer to that riddle is, that memory helps to remember how a possible future might by shaped - and that, in turn, gives the present some of its order."
Received from Andreas of the Chosaq-blog: the growing use of weblogs in research. The Warwick project is to be followed... I am especially interested in seeing how many of these weblogs survive, or transform into fulltime research blogs.
Earlier, I referred to the importance of social darwinist and mercantilist semantics coinciding with the early reform movement (around 1868). I also mentioned the attention of the reformers for foreign learning in what they projected as the future pathways of the Japanese state.
Foreign experience most certainly helped the career of Matsukata Masayoshi 松方正義, who was to set the course of Japan’s finance for almost two decades (1881-1897). Of Satsuma stock and trained as an accountant throughout his samurai career, Matsukata had been the governor of a prefecture in Northern Kyūshū; he went to Tōkyō in 1871 to work at the Finance Ministry as deputy head of the tax department. In 1875 he was appointed as secretary and head of his department. At the time, he was in charge of land tax reform, transforming the system based on rice tax into a system based on money tax. In this capacity, he acquired extensive knowledge of financial affairs, and became Japan’s most enlightened financial planner of the nineteenth century.
Matsukata looked to Belgium when founding a Japanese central bank. Traditionally, banking historians refer to his stay in Paris (March and December 1878), during which the French Minister of Finance, Léon Say discouraged Matsukata from studying the Banque de France (Matsukata’s original intention), but instead praised the recently established Nationale Bank van België or Banque Nationale de Belgique (BNB). The latter 'is of very recent date,' he is quoted as having said, 'and is unrivalled when it comes to orderly arrangement and perfect organization' (source: Nihon Ginkô 日本銀行, 日本銀行百年史 Nihon Ginkō hyakunenshi (Tokyo, 1982), p. 119; herafter: Nihon Ginkō hyakunenshi). Impressed by Say's statement, Matsukata left Katō Wataru 加藤済, his aide, behind in Brussels, and charged him with the task of studying the history of the BNB, as well as its organization. After a three year stay in Belgium, Katô returned to Japan, and played a role of formidable importance in the discussions on the establishment of a central bank. Later, he was appointed head of the banking department of the newly founded BOJ.
Unfortunately, existing scholarship on the history of the BOJ has not been able to explain Matsukata’s decision to model his central bank upon the BNB. Typically, several authors have simply stated that one should be careful with the allegedly 'very recent date' of the latter’s establishment. After Yoshino Toshihiko 吉野俊彦, it has become commonplace to explain Matsukata's choice for the BNB by the relatively high degree of stately supervision in the Belgian example (source: Yoshino Toshihiko, 吉野俊彦, 日本銀行史 Nihon ginkōshi (5 vols.) (Tôkyô, 1975-1979), pp. 128). Worse, quite a few authors have reduced the question of a central bank to the question of an institution. That is, they have neglected the relationship between the conception of the early BOJ's functioning and organization and the conception of other financial institutions at the time (remark: an important exception being the work of Ishii Kanji 石井寛治, 日本銀行政策史 Nihon ginkō seisakushi (A Policy History of the Bank of Japan) (Tôkyô, 2001)). This is not so much the approach taken here. In tune with my findings about Matsukata's writings, I contend that Matsukata’s interests did not lie so much with one national bank per se; his real concern was rather with a national financial infrastructure, i.e. he comprehended finance as a nation-encompassing organic whole, in which financial institutions must be defined in their relationship to one another.
Coinciding with Japan's opening up (kaikoku 開国) to nineteenth century world society, a historical constant emerged that contributed significantly to the whole of Japan’s modern financial evolution. I refer to Japan’s trauma with respect to foreign dependence; and the consequent scepticism of internationalist rhetoric and liberalist ideas. After all, it was its opening up to the West and the frustrating negotiations about foreign trade that had led directly to the financial and political impasse. Furthermore, the bakufu and Meiji government regarded with suspicion the Western banks which opened their businesses in the port of Yokohama, and which threatened to erode the government’s firm grip on financial matters (source:Tamaki, Japanese Banking, pp. 17-18; Tatewaki Kazuo 立脇和夫, 在日外国銀行史─幕末開港から条約改正まで (zainichi gaikoku ginkōshi –bakumatsu kaikō kara jōyaku kaisei made (A History of Foreign Banks in Japan –from the Opening of the Ports to the Revision of the Treaties) (Tôkyô, 1987)). Finally, experiences of some treacherous Western intermediaries had installed a deep distrust of internationalism. Especially the famous Lay Affair (1870), a case in which the Meiji government had been deceived by a former member of the British consulate (Horatio Nelson Lay) on the interest rate of a government loan on the London capital market (source: Suzuki Toshio, Japanese Government Loan Issues on the London Capital Market 1870-1913 (London and Atlantic Highlands, NJ, 1994)), reminded policy makers of the danger of foreign loans and foreign dependence.
In the aftermath of its sudden internationalization (from approx. 1600-1850, the country had been virtually closed to foreign political, economic and cultural influences), Japan experienced the gravest financial crisis of its modern history. Isolationist policies (鎖国 sakoku) had estranged Japan’s economy from the international market at the time. Especially its isolation from the world bullion market proved to be disquieting. In the latter, shifts in gold and silver bullion over the previous hundred years had created a monetary reality from which the Japanese situation was far removed. Most visible was the discrepancy in the parity of gold to silver: whereas Western nations kept to the ratio of 1:15, the Japanese military government or bakufu 幕府 had fixed it at 1:5. Silver thus had an extraordinarily high buying power relative to gold (and copper, another material that served as bullion in Japan at the time). This was itself a sufficient condition for severe instability. Yet in the end, differences in bullion ratios, in bullion content of coins, or even in the relative supply and demand for gold, silver, and copper did not constitute the main cause for the subsequent financial crisis.
Interestingly, John Wilbanks shows himself very sensitive to the frictions between the legal and purely scientific aspects of publishing and copyright. He does, for instance, not reject the validity of all barriers to the flow of scientific data or scientific discoveries. In his view 'patents can be used to provide the incentives necessary to fund future research'. Yet, there are several areas 'in which Science Commons can help to create mechanisms (licenses, contracts and technology) that promote the free flow of scientific knowledge and discovery'. Fortunately, he remains committed to a scientific goal: 'In fact, any place where you have scientific data and peer-review and you have the potential for unintentional intellectual property conflict we believe that there might be a role for Science Commons," notes Wilbanks. "What we are trying to do is to create opportunities for innovation. One of the key elements of science is putting things together in a unique way to create a new perspective. I think we can just make that easier by simply taking away unnecessary barriers to sharing knowledge."'