chapter  1
THE DEVELOPMENT OF CAPITALISM IN JAPAN AND THE FORMING OF A WORKING CLASS
Pages 26

Not only were the leaders of the new government2 of samurai rather than of bourgeois origin themselves, but they had no coherent policy to establish a capitalist society in Japan either. As they saw it, their first responsibility was to protect Japan’s independent existence in the face of the threat posed by the imperialist powers. Hence the relevance of the ‘Military Strength’ half of the Fukoku Kyōhei formula. But in the late nineteenth century effective military strength was everywhere becoming more and more dependent on a powerful industrial base. In other words, what the ‘National Wealth’ half of Fukoku Kyōhei signified for Japan’s political leaders in the Meiji era was the country embarking on the process of industrialisation. ‘Industrialisation’, however, entailed much more than mere technical operations (daunting though even these were) such as building factories, installing machinery, modernising shipyards and extending mines. It also involved creating the social relations which accompany industrialisation-of supervising a process of polarisation in society whereby a minority would come to control the means of capitalist production, while increasing numbers of people would find themselves reduced to a situation where they had no alternative but to go and work for whatever wages they could find in the newly established industrial and commercial enterprises.