The business role of Japanese wealth holders in the early 20th century : an analysis of networks and activities during the process of industrialisation
This thesis sets out specifically to investigate business wealth holders in modern Japan. It includes the study of businessmen, landlords or even peers who were engaged in business and commerce as founders, owners or investors. It attempts to locate their social, historical and business characteristics in the context of the early 20th century, when Japan emerged as one of the economic powers of Asia, having passed through the transitional period of the late 19th century. The research focuses primarily on characteristics related to the development of Japanese business, and incorporates some comparisons with contemporary members of the European bourgeoisie, especially in Britain and Germany. The second major concern is to analyse Japanese business through an investigation of those wealth holders who succeeded in the modern business world by managing to survive the transition from the pre-modern to the modern economic system. The third and final focus is on the relationship between the state and wealth holders. Chapter 1 of the thesis explains the methodology adopted for the research, along with a detailed explanation of the data and sources utilised. Chapter 2 seeks to establish a profile of Japanese wealth holders in the prewar period. Data on estimated wealth, class and social structure is presented, with some comparisons with Britain and Germany. Chapter 3 deals with the role of wealth holders in the development of modern Japanese business, in relation to the role of the business family and business organisation. Chapter 4 focuses on the relationship between wealth holders and the state. This chapter consists mainly of an analysis of the formation of informal networks through marriage, and the operation of various state honours. A major finding of the research is that the Japanese household (ie) system strongly influenced wealth holders' attitudes towards business, and their business activities.