The Development of Civil Engineering Projects and Village Communities in Seventeenth- to Nineteenth-Century Japan
Chapter from the book: Tanimoto M. & Wong R. 2019. Public Goods Provision in the Early Modern Economy: Comparative Perspectives from Japan, China, and Europe.
This chapter, by Junichi Kanzaka, discusses how paddy acreage was expanded and maintained from the seventeenth century to the nineteenth century in Japan, mainly focusing on the building of water-control facilities. Although rulers such as the Tokugawa shogunate and other domain lords (daimyos) carried out large-scale civil engineering works in the seventeenth century, the initiative for investing in land improvement and maintenance of water-control facilities shifted to non-rulers—such as entrepreneurial individuals and village communities—from the eighteenth century onward. These findings reveal that the providers not focused on making a profit—including rulers and non-rulers—were not uniform in terms of motivation and ability, and their composition changed according to the time periods.