The axis of the work is the study of the depreciation of silver in the second half of the XIXth century and its consequences in developed countries. We will study more specifically the differences between developed countries and Japan.
Japan after a period characterized by political and monetary fragmentation, adopted during the Meiji Restoration a mode of governance and a monetary system inspired by Western models that officials had been studying during trips.
The emperor decided at the same time to create a new currency and to centralize the issues, and to reform not only the monetary system, but also fiscal and financial systems. With the new unit of account, the yen, struck in silver, Japan adopted a quasi silver monometallism when overproduction devalued the value of silver. This depreciation was useful in Japan that imported abundant quantities of metal to create a monetary stock of coins to match its needs. The minting of these million of coins was made through the purchase of the mint of Hong Kong whose direction was left to the former English mint master.
After a period of inflation linked to disorders of the early years of the Meiji Masayoshi Matsukata came to government and worked to a monetary stabilization, the creation of the Bank of Japan (1882, inspired by banks in France and Belgium), then after the war against China by the adoption of the gold standard (1897).
So the history of Japan is a condensed history of European history: monetary unification, adoption of a silver coin, a change to the gold standard.
For this period, we have the books written by M. Matsukata regularly describing (in English) with details, the phases of currency reforms. We have also prepared documents for governments and economic actors in Europe and Japan. Finally, we have the Japanese official texts or local documents published in Japanese and English by or for the foreign traders.
These various books, justifications and comments, give us the possibility to compare with the situations in Europe, make this subject an excellent field of comparative study. The comparative study will also include the study of monetary phenomena in the various countries of Europe, the United States, India, Korea and the international monetary conferences, national reports.
A site will be set up soon and researchers, students, or anyone interested, can contact Georges Depeyrot. We intend to collect documentation, to ensure the study and publication (in hard copy or internet). See the first published volumes of the series « Documents and Studies on 19th c. Monetary History » in the « Collection Moneta » (www.moneta.be).
The main participants are:
- in France: UMR 8546 Archéologies d’Orient et d’Occident et textes anciens (AOROC), École Normale Supérieure
- in Japan: Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia at the University of Tokyo Keio University
- in: Russia: Far Eastern Federal University Vladivosto, Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation