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Rise of the Japanese fiscal state


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  • Masaki Nakabayashi

    (Graduate School of Economics, Osaka University)


A sustainable fiscal state needs to have two critical factors: A stable tax base and access to an efficient bond market. The Tokugawa Shogunate had a stable land tax revenue, which was inherited to modern Japan after the Meiji restoration. Taxation, however, was restricted by the constitution after the Meiji restoration. The parliament opposed to expansionary policy in the early 1890s, and then it turned to support that at the exchange of governmental commitment to investment in social infrastructure. The government committed to investment to increase productivity, and was allowed to raise tax rate. About the bond market, at the other hand, the government had issued bonds only in the domestic market until the mid 1890s. In the late 1890s, after Japan joined the international gold standard, the government began to issue considerable amount of bonds, and the balance surged during the Russo-Japanese war in 1904-1905. Now the London market efficiently financed Japanese government. In the early 20th century, the government was one and only one player that had established its own reputation in the international financial market. Hence balance of Japanese government bonds was the only route to import capital. This route also provided Japanese economy with macroeconomic stability, offsetting short-term current account deficit by import of capital. Japan had finally been equipped with necessary instruments as a stable and sustainable fiscal state.

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Paper provided by Osaka University, Graduate School of Economics and Osaka School of International Public Policy (OSIPP) in its series Discussion Papers in Economics and Business with number 08-12.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:osk:wpaper:0812

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Keywords: Fiscal state; government bonds; macroeconomic stability;

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  1. Takeo Hoshi & Anil Kashyap, 2004. "Corporate Financing and Governance in Japan: The Road to the Future," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262582481, December.
  2. Patrick, Hugh T., 1965. "External Equilibrium and Internal Convertibility: Financial Policy in Meiji Japan," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge University Press, vol. 25(02), pages 187-213, June.
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Cited by:
  1. Sng, Tuan-Hwee & Moriguchi, Chiaki, 2013. "Taxation and Public Goods Provision in China and Japan before 1850," PRIMCED Discussion Paper Series, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University 35, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  2. Osamu Saito, 2011. "The Economic History of the Restoration Period, 1853-1885," Global COE Hi-Stat Discussion Paper Series, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University gd10-163, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  3. K. Kivanç Karaman & Sevket Pamuk, 2011. "Different Paths to the Modern State in Europe: The interaction between domestic political economy and interstate competition," LEQS – LSE 'Europe in Question' Discussion Paper Series, European Institute, LSE 37, European Institute, LSE.


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