Online ISSN : 2424-2616
Print ISSN : 0018-2478
ISSN-L : 0018-2478
Village / Town Consolidation and Local Administrative Organization under the Large / Small Districting System of the Early Meiji Period
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1999 Volume 108 Issue 8 Pages 1430-1454,1548-


The conventional research on the large / small administrative districting system of the Meiji period known as the daiku-shoku-sei 大区小区制 explains that the passage of the "Three New Acts" (sanshimpo 三新法 ; a new four-district system, rule for prefectural assemblies, and taxation guidelines) in 1878 was in direct response to various forms of nationwide resistance to the system's "bizarre" character. On the other hand, in the midst of increasing administrative problems after the abolition of the Tokugawa era fiefs and the establishment of prefectures, in addition to expanding administrative districts in the hope of governmental rationalization, a method allowing either "consolidation" or "alliance" of local villages and towns was being sought. While consolidation was being aggressively pursued in some prefectures, almost nothing was being done in others, thus causing much regional diversity. Therefore, the early Meiji era's local administration system has been characterized as "different depending on both time and place," resulting in an institutional history portrayed within both temporal and spatial discontinuity. In recent years, scholars have focused on villages and towns under this large / small districting system in terms of its continuity with the "Three New Acts" of 1878 ; however, the conventional methodology is incapable of explaining changes implemented in the Three New Acts regime after 1878. In the present article, the author searches for away of understanding the large / small districting system by building a systematic structure of its temporal and spatial differences, a methodology to examine the continuity of the two systems in question by focusing particularly on the administrative districts headed by kocho 戸長 under the large / small districting system and their counterparts under the Three New Acts regime. The main findings are as follows ; 1) the large / small districting system involved the "alliance" of towns and villages ; 2) "alliance" was convenient for implementing the new land tax system ; 3) however, under the system, " consolidation" was pursued to expand administrative jurisdiction ; 4) regional discrepancies in consolidation efforts led to regional diversity in terms of both scale and character ; 5) in order to eliminate such discrepancies, the Three New Acts established an administrative district headed by kocho to continue the "alliance" process ; 6) here lies the continuity before and after 1878 ; and 7) all of these events amounted to preparation for the establishment of "Allied Kocho Administered Districts" in 1884 and the large scale consolidation of towns and villages after the establishment of City, Town and Village Districts Law (shisei-chosonsei 市制町村制) in 1888.

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© 1999 The Historical Society of Japan
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