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The effects of the unequal treaties on normative, economic and institutional changes in 19th century Japan

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  • Toshihiro Atsumi
  • Daniel M. Bernhofen

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Toshihiro Atsumi & Daniel M. Bernhofen, "undated". "The effects of the unequal treaties on normative, economic and institutional changes in 19th century Japan," Discussion Papers 11/19, University of Nottingham, GEP.
  • Handle: RePEc:not:notgep:11/19
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    File URL: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/gep/documents/papers/2011/11-19.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Romer, Paul, 1993. "Idea gaps and object gaps in economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 543-573, December.
    2. Atsumi, Toshihiro, 2010. "Silk, regional rivalry, and the impact of the port openings in nineteenth century Japan," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 519-539, December.
    3. Daniel M. Bernhofen & John C. Brown, 2005. "An Empirical Assessment of the Comparative Advantage Gains from Trade: Evidence from Japan," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 208-225, March.
    4. Sascha O. Becker & Ludger Woessmann, 2008. "Luther and the Girls: Religious Denomination and the Female Education Gap in Nineteenth-century Prussia," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 110(4), pages 777-805, December.
    5. Fumio Hayashi & Edward C. Prescott, 2008. "The Depressing Effect of Agricultural Institutions on the Prewar Japanese Economy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(4), pages 573-632, August.
    6. Daniel M. Bernhofen & John C. Brown, 2004. "A Direct Test of the Theory of Comparative Advantage: The Case of Japan," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(1), pages 48-67, February.
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