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Punishment and Power in the Making of Modern Japan
Daniel V. Botsman

Paperback | 2007 | $39.95 | £32.95 | ISBN: 9780691130309
312 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4 | 17 halftones. 1 line illus. 2 maps.
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The kinds of punishment used in a society have long been considered an important criterion in judging whether a society is civilized or barbaric, advanced or backward, modern or premodern. Focusing on Japan, and the dramatic revolution in punishments that occurred after the Meiji Restoration, Daniel Botsman asks how such distinctions have affected our understanding of the past and contributed, in turn, to the proliferation of new kinds of barbarity in the modern world.

While there is no denying the ferocity of many of the penal practices in use during the Tokugawa period (1600-1868), this book begins by showing that these formed part of a sophisticated system of order that did have its limits. Botsman then demonstrates that although significant innovations occurred later in the period, they did not fit smoothly into the "modernization" process. Instead, he argues, the Western powers forced a break with the past by using the specter of Oriental barbarism to justify their own aggressive expansion into East Asia. The ensuing changes were not simply imposed from outside, however. The Meiji regime soon realized that the modern prison could serve not only as a symbol of Japan's international progress but also as a powerful domestic tool. The first English-language study of the history of punishment in Japan, the book concludes by examining how modern ideas about progress and civilization shaped penal practices in Japan's own colonial empire.


"This is a tour-de-force study. . . . Lucid, delightful to read, yet theoretically sophisticated, this is one of the best books on the Tokugawa-Meiji transition in many years."--Mark Ravina, Journal of Asian Studies

"[A] lasting contribution to understanding a subject that many historians of Japan have talked about but few have explored. . . . This is an outstanding social history, richly detailed and insightful, that deserves a wide readership."--Michael Lewis, American Historical Review

"In this fine book Daniel Botsman uses an examination of punishment to argue that imperialism helped to constitute state power in modern Japan. The book also does much more. It explains the relationship between state power and punishment in Japan from the early Tokugawa period to the end of the nineteenth century, and is accessible and based on an impressive mastery of primary and secondary source material."--Robert Eskildsen, Pacific Affairs

"Botsman sets a high standard of research and analysis. . . . [T]his book is outstanding."--Geoffrey C. Gunn, Journal of Contemporary Asia

"In this impressive volume, Daniel V. Botsman details the history of Japanese punishment and penal reform in the early modern and modern periods. . . . In his view, Japanese penal reform should be interpreted as an example of how external forces--in this case, Western imperialism and the desire for treaty revision--were integral to the formation of modern Japan, rather than such vague notions as 'civilization' and 'progress.'"--Choice

"Botsman's book tries to move past the tendency to see punishment in Tokugawa Japan as harsh and barbaric, or 'uncivilized'. Without denying the ferocity of Tokugawa penal practices, he argues that these were part of a sophisticated system of order that had internal limits and was not simply arbitrary."--F.G. Notehelfer, International History Review

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Table of Contents:

List of Illustrations ix
Acknowledgments xi
Abbreviations xv
CHAPTER 1: Signs of Order: Punishment and Power in the Shogun's Capital 14
CHAPTER 2: Bloody Benevolence: Punishment, Ideology, and Outcasts 41
CHAPTER 3: The Power of Status: Kodenmacho Jailhouse and the Structures of Tokugawa Society 59
CHAPTER 4: Discourse, Dynamism, and Disorder: The Historical Significance of the Edo Stockade for Laborers 85
CHAPTER 5: Punishment and the Politics of Civilization in Bakumatsu Japan 115
CHAPTER 6: Restoration and Reform: The Birth of the Prison in Japan 141
CHAPTER 7: Punishment and Prisons in the Era of Enlightenment 165
CONCLUSION: Punishment, Empire, and History in the Making of Modern Japan 201
Notes 231
Bibliography 281
Index 303

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File created: 7/11/2017

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