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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

And 6000 ryo yielded by a tax on sake




It has been shown above that the fifth shogun bequeathed to his successor a much embarrassed treasury. In this realm, also, the advice of Arai Hakuseki proved invaluable. In his volume of reminiscences there is an interesting statement connected with finance. It quotes Hagiwara Shigehide, commissioner of the Treasury, as saying that the shogun's estate at that time yielded four million koku annually, in addition to which there accrued from 760,000 ryo to 770,000 ryo in money, representing the proceeds of dues and taxes. In this latter sum was included 40,000 ryo, customs duties collected at Nagasaki, and 6000 ryo yielded by a tax on sake. The same report mentions that a sum of 160,000 ryo had been expended in clearing away the volcanic ashes which fell in the three provinces of Musashi, Sagami, and Suruga after the great eruption of Fujisan. Arai Hakuseki was able to prove the erroneous character of this report, but his demonstration did not impugn any of the above figures. Incidentally it is mentioned in Arai's comments that 700,000 ryo were allotted for building an addition to Yedo Castle, and 200,000 ryo for the construction of the deceased shogun's mausoleum, out of which total Hakuseki explicitly charges the officials, high and low alike, with diverting large sums to their own pockets in collusion with the contractors and tradesmen employed on the works. Another

interesting investigation made by Arai Hakuseki is in connexion with the country's foreign trade. He showed that the amount of coins exported from Nagasaki alone, during one year, totalled 6,192,800 ryo of gold; 1,122,687 kwamme of silver and 228,000,000 kin of copper.* He alleged that the greater part of this large outflow of specie produced nothing except luxuries with which the nation could very well dispense, and he therefore advised that the foreign trade of Nagasaki should be limited to thirteen Chinese junks and two Dutch vessels annually, while stringent measures should be adopted to prevent smuggling.

*One kin equals 1.25 lbs.

The ordinance based upon this advice consisted of two hundred articles, and is known in history as the "New Nagasaki Trade Rules of the Shotoku Era" (1711-1715). One portion of the document ran as follows: "During the Jokyo era (1684-1687), the trade with Chinese merchants was limited to 6000 kwamme of silver, and that with Dutch traders to 50,000 ryo of gold, while the number of Chinese vessels was not allowed to exceed seventy per annum. After a few years, however, copper coins came into use as media of exchange in addition to silver, and moreover there was much smuggling of foreign goods. Thus, it resulted that gold, silver, and copper flowed out of the country in great quantities. Comparing the aggregate thus exported during the 107 years since the Keicho era with the amount coined in Japan during the same interval, it is found that one-quarter of the gold coins and three-quarters of the silver left the country. If that state of affairs continue, it is obvious that after a hundred years from the present time one-half of the empire's gold will be carried away and there will be no silver at all left. As for copper, the sum remaining in the country is insufficient, not only for purposes of trade but also for the needs of everyday life. It is most regrettable that the nation's treasure should thus be squandered upon foreign luxuries. The amount of currency needed at home and the amount produced by the mines should be investigated so as to obtain a basis for limiting the foreign trade at the open ports of Nagasaki, Tsushima, and Satsuma, and for fixing the maximum number of foreign vessels visiting those places."

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