The Meiji government started constructing a new country by hiring engineers from European countries. But soon trained Japanese engineers replaced them. This paper analyzes the characteristics and roles of these Japanese engineers in Meiji era, by looking at their social and educational backgrounds. At the beginning of Meiji era, a major group of the engineers were artisans and the people who received short term and practical training. They built railways and harbors and conducted waterworks by themselves. They gained a status equal to those of new graduates of college or university. But the workers and contractors of projects usually did not get a good public recogniton, though some of them had good civil engineering skills. After the middle of Meiji era,, graduates of colleges and universities took the managerial positions and became the supervisors of almost all civil engineering projects. This did not mean that the projects needed more higher level of technologies. The engineers who actually supported civil engineering projects were artisans and gishu or middle class engineering officers, who were mostly the graduates of short term training schools. Some graduates of foreign countries and constructors actually contributed to construction engineering, but did not receive fair recognition especially after a bureaucratic system was established. This was a major factor why Japan stayed far behind in the advancement of construction engineering.
The historical development of steam boilers has been a popular issue among historians and engineers in Japan. The most prominent example is Seikan Ishigai. Drawing on his extensive study of the steam boiler, Ishigai defines the contradiction between power and control as an intrinsic law of the development of technology. In other words, he is a technological determinist. Trevor Pinch, Wiebe Bijker's approach (Social Construction of Technology : SCOT) and also Thomas Hughes's technological systems approach, on the other hand, give more weight to external factors, and do not give proper attention to technology's own dynamics. Critical of both the approaches, the author sees the relationship between engines and boilers as the locus of the development of the steam boiler. The author too argues that the quest for efficiency is a crucial factor in the development of marine steam engines. The author tries to show that the new engine entailed a different type of boiler, it was not opposite. That is the engine played a more crucial role than the boiler in the development of the marine propulsion system. It was the engine that moved a propeller or a paddle of a ship, not the boiler. He concludes that the history of the marine boiler is a history of relationship among the engine, the boiler and the propulsion system. An internalist or externalist approach alone may not be able to account for this complex relationship.