Urbanization of Japan

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In 1868, the fifteen-year old Emperor Meiji, as he was posthumously known, moved from Kyoto to Edo. The move marked the beginning of Japan’s efforts to modernize its political and social institutions, to develop and expand its industrial base, and to achieve parity with the Western industrialized nations.
In 1882, the Ministry of Finance established the Bank of Japan. It introduced a modern currency system and put the government on a sound budgetary foundation.
The Meiji government financed the construction of an industrial infrastructure. It began building the national railway network. It also financed major heavy industries that were turned over to the private sector later, such as mining, iron and steel, shipbuilding and machine tools.
Until 1900, light industries such as the textile industry accounted for nearly 85% of Japan’s total industrial output. The textile industry became one of Japan’s mainstays in industrial output. In 1870, textile output was less than 10%. By the 1890s it jumped to over 25%. The textile industry remained an important source of industrial output in Japan until World War II.
From 1900, heavy industries such as the iron and steel industry began expanding.
During World War I (1914-1918), Japan experienced an economic boom. With the European Allies engaged in war with Germany, European manufacturers were unable to provide the goods to sustain their trade in Asia. Japanese firms filled the void by manufacturing and selling the goods to former customers of European firms.
During the boom years, the value of Japanese industries rose threefold, and there was a rapid accumulation of capital. Industrial output surpassed agricultural output for thefirst time.
During the 1920s, the productivity of Japanese industries increased as a result of technological improvements, greater efficiency in production, and the…


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