harder on the "military class" than on other members of society (p. 206). Certainly it is true that the surge in confiscations of daimyo (particularly fudai) land under Tsunayoshi must have caused considerable resentment and unease among the ranks of the warriors, but here again there is good reason to doubt the samurai were alone in their concerns. After all, among the key financial innovations of Tsunayoshi's reign were both the introduction of new taxes on commerce and transportation (unjokin), which allowed ¯ the bakufu systematically to extract income from the merchant class for the first time, and a new stricter land survey that was designed to ensure that increases in agricultural production resulting from improved farming methods and newly developed fields (i.e., the labor and ingenuity of peasants) did not escape the tax collector's net. For those whose pockets were drained by it, efficiency of this kind must hardly have seemed "benevolent." To suggest that Tsunayoshi was ultimately less concerned with the welfare of "the people" than he was with strengthening the economic foundations of his government or pursuing policies he believed (for whatever reason) were morally important is not to argue that we should simply re-embrace
The Journal of Japanese Studies – Society for Japanese Studies
Published: Jan 15, 2009
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