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Japan's Civil Registration Systems Before and After the Meiji Restoration


  • Saito, Osamu
  • Sato, Masahiro


This essay traces the evolution of Japan's systems of household and land registration from Tokugawa times to the period of early Meiji reforms in the 1870s and 80s. The paper pays due attention to the distinction between an early modern system designed by state authority and local forms of registration practice. Thus, in the section on the Tokugawa period, one such local practice of having people 'disowned' and its consequence, registerlessness, will be examined. The section on the Meiji reforms turns to the issue of continuity and discontinuity, while the next section discusses if any progress in terms of civil identity registration was made by these Meiji reforms. In order to illustrate the actual changes that took place at the local level, the essay begins with an eighteenth-century story about a peasant woman and her disputes with the village officialdom and ends with a case of family dispute that another village woman brought before court some 120 years later.

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  • Saito, Osamu & Sato, Masahiro, 2011. "Japan's Civil Registration Systems Before and After the Meiji Restoration," Discussion Paper Series a546, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  • Handle: RePEc:hit:hituec:a546

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