By G. C. Allen
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Thus, institutions which the Shogun had recognized for the purpose of enabling hirn to control the economic life of the country, and which provided hirn with a useful adjunct to his revenue in the form of licence fees, had crumbled even before the political revolt had begun. When foreign trade began to increase after 1858, the social distress that had attended these economic troubles was intensified. The distribution of economic resources that had been stereotyped by a policy of seclusion and rigid trade regulation could not be preserved once Japan was exposed to the world market.
Most of the remaining restrictions on freedom of movement and enterprise that had been a legacy of the old regime were abolished. In 1869 the equality of the various social c\asses before the law was declared; local barriers to communications and restrictions on internal trade were swept away; freedom of cropping was allowed; entry into professions and trades was thrown open; and individuals were allowed to acquire property rights in land. The Government's attempts to introduce a new regime were not confined to permissive measures; for it was realized that in the absence of an industrial and commercial c\ass familiar with Western trading methods and technique the State was obliged to take positive action to bring about the modernization of the country's economic life.
The disorganization was so serious as to compel the Government in 1851 to make some attempt to revive the guilds in a modified form. But since the number of shokunin had by then greatly increased, it was not possible to restore the monopolistic privileges which the guilds had enjoyed, and they were finally swept away during the next few years. Thus, institutions which the Shogun had recognized for the purpose of enabling hirn to control the economic life of the country, and which provided hirn with a useful adjunct to his revenue in the form of licence fees, had crumbled even before the political revolt had begun.
A Short Economic History of Modern Japan by G. C. Allen