The Effects of the Unequal Treaties on Normative, Economic and Institutional Changes in 19th Century Japan
The University of Nottingham Research Paper No. 2011/19
21 Pages Posted: 29 Nov 2011
Date Written: November 29, 2011
Japan's mid 19th century transition from 200 years of self-imposed autarky to open trade is the main success story of East Asian integration into the world economy during the first wave of globalization (1850-1914). This article reviews the economic, institutional and normative changes within Japan that were triggered by the unequal treaties following Admiral Perry's arrival in 1853. These changes were instrumental for Japan's industrial success and catching up with the western powers on economic and military terms by the eve of World War I. We argue that Japan provides an interesting case study of a nation which was able to overcome, what economist Paul Romer has called 'idea gaps' (lack of ideas to produce economic value) and 'object gaps' (lack of factories, physical infrastructure) in the economic development process.
Keywords: economic and institutional changes in 19th century Japan, unequal treaties
JEL Classification: F02, F55, 010, N10, N95
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