was an important component of the pre-war Japanese economy
. Although Japan had only 16% of its land area under cultivation before the Pacific War
, over 45% of households made a living from farming. Japanese cultivated land was mostly dedicated to rice
, which accounted for 15% of world rice production in 1937.
After the end of the Tokugawa bakufu
with the Meiji Restoration
of 1868, Japanese agriculture was dominated by a tenant farming
system. The Meiji government
based its industrialization program on tax revenues from private land ownership, and the Land Tax Reform of 1873
increased the process of landlordism, with many farmers having their land confiscated due to inability to pay the new taxes.This situation was worsened by the deflationary Matsukata Fiscal Policy
of 1881-1885, which severely depressed rice prices, leading to further bankruptcies, and even to large scale rural uprisings against the government. By the end of the Meiji period, over 67% of all peasant families were driven into tenancy, and farm productivity stagnated. As tenants were forced to pay over half their crop as rent, they were often forced to send wives and daughters to textile mills
or to sell daughters into prostitution
to pay for taxes.
In the early Meiji period
, landowners collected a high rate of rent in kind, rather than cash and consequently played a major role in the development of agriculture, since the tenant farmers found it difficult to obtain... Read More