The purpose of this article is to analyze the influence of “Hansai-shobun” (藩債処分, the adoption and rejection of feudal debts) upon the Osadas (長田家, a big merchant in Osaka), and to take a general view of the reasons why many big merchants in Osaka declined after the Meiji Restoration and why the Finance Ministry decreed “Kawasegata” (為替方, the semi official organ having charge of revenue and expenditure of the Government) to place mortgage equal to the Government money on deposit in the 7th year of Meiji. The author begins this analysis by considering the influence upon them of “Ginme-haishi” (銀目廃止, the abolition of the silver standard in Osaka), for it was the first policy overtaking the Osaka merchants.
In spite of being many studies about the merchants who tided over the upheaval of the Meiji Restoration and afterward became “Zaibatsu” (財閥, the big financial combine), there have been so far few studies about the merchants who couldn't do so.
The conclusions of this article are following.
First. Some causes that made the Osadas decline are (1) “Ginme-haishi”, (2) “Haihan-chiken” (廃藩置県, the abolition of feudal clans and the establishment of prefectures), (3) the decree to repay the Government the money of pre- “Hans, ” (4) the decree to repay the Government its money on deposit, and (5) “Hansai-shobun” ((イ) freezing of credits, (ロ) rejection of feudal debts, and (ハ) the current price of “Shin-Kyu Kosai” [新旧公債, new and old national bonds] being below face value). It is sure that the Osadas succeeded in tiding over (1), (2), (3), and (イ) of (5), but the Osadas couldn't obtain the new base of profit by managing jointly “Horaisha” (蓬莱社, a kind of bank), not only because, of the way of tiding over them but because of (4) and (ロ), (ハ) of (5). As a result the Osadas were compelled to decline.
Among them the greatest causes are (ロ), (ハ) of (5), for the Osadas, who had a great amount of “Hansai” and nearly the half of whose “Hansai” were rejected, had overcome the monetary stringency, looking forward to the delivery of all “Hansai”.
From this analysis, the author would like to take the general view as to the big merchants in Osaka that they were at first divided into the declining group and enduring group because of (1), but the latter were divided again into such two groups according to the influence of (4) and (ロ), (ハ) of (5) upon them in proportion to the degree of holding and embezzling the Government money, the degree of borrowed money in “Hansai”, and the degree of the other borrowed money.
Secondly. The policy of the Finance Ministry to do with the Osadas after (4) was remarkably generous notwithstanding the embezzlement of the Government money. The Finance Ministry gave the Osadas convenience to maintain the family name.
This is not only owing to the sympathy for the old illustrious family, but also owing to the inevitable circumstance for the Government to require big merchants such as the Osadas as “Kawasegata”. The Government was also to blame for that embezzlement. And the great amount of the loss of the Government money embezzled by Yamashiroya (山城屋), the Mitanis (三谷家), and the Takagis (高木家) as well as the Osadas made the Finance Ministry decide the reformation of the loose connection between the Government finance and “Kawasegata”. Thus the Finance Ministry decreed to place mortgage equal to the Government money on deposit in the 7th year of Meiji.