4 Pages

ryōgae system. bummei kaika. But if we deal with entrepreneurs, these

In 1873 the government abruptly terminated the privileges of the three official purveyors and called in its deposits. Only Mitsui, which was forewarned and could pay up the money, survived; Ono and Shimada went into bankruptcy. And thus ended the 'romance' between the government and the commission merchants which

This group of self-made men whose instinct for money-making had driven them from small quick kills to large business enter­ prises, knew their own worth and tended to rely on no one else, not even the government. They displayed a tendency towards the one-man boss business and, for a while, could disregard public opinion. But then, invariably, came the celebrated 'conversion from selfish profit making to responsible entrepreneurship'. Such biographical celebrations of man's noble motives, apart from the usual post-mortem eulogical element, have a hard core of truth which needs explanation. The full explanation can only be given in the context of the section on ethics, but at this stage we must say that the higher a man rose in Meiji Japan, the stronger was the pressure of public opinion and expectation with which each had to comply, at least outwardly. And this is really all that matters here, since we are not concerned with the psychological analysis of a man's character but with the results of entrepre­ neurial activity. And this came, in a kind of convergence, in the later stages when these men came to resemble the more idealistically inclined compeers. Thus these early upstarts are found, after the mid-1880s, in the front line of banking, railway building, heavy industry and electricity. Their earlier small-scale pioneering made them especially prone to seek out new ways which would both benefit themselves and fulfil perfectly the general needs of the modernising economy.