Skip to main content

Currency Blocs: The Yen

  • 187 Accesses

Abstract

Historically, unilateral political attempts at boosting the liquidity and prestige of a currency have rarely been successful. In the context of catastrophic events as, for instance, a World War, several countries have nevertheless experimented with schemes to develop currency blocs. This chapter describes the Japanese experiment with establishing an economic zone in which the yen was either the main or the sole currency of reference. We proceed chronologically. Taiwan and Korea are explained as consolidating currency policy in the nascent Japanese empire. World War I temporarily reversed Japan’s balance of payments problem. It heralded bold attempts at incorporating China within the Japanese yen-bloc, by means of aggressive lending schemes. Although the latter failed, the yen-bloc became an important political objective throughout the 1930s. The chapter explores the financial technology that governed the monetary set-up of the wartime empire; and it attempts to explain why it contained the seeds of its destruction.

Keywords

  • Imperialism
  • Gold-exchange standard
  • Blocism
  • Japan

破綻しますよ、いつかは破綻しますよ、それは (hatan shimasuyo; itsuka hatan shimasuyo, sore wa)

“Of course [such scheme] is bound to implode; of course it will implode at some time.”

Ohara Masahiroshi 小原正弘, former Yokohama Specie Bank banker and once appointee to the Federal Reserve Bank of China (中國聯合準備銀行)

in: S.a. En no sensō “The War of the [Continental] Yen”『圓の戦争』

“Japan and the yen ha[d] an overpowering dominance, and arrangements [were] made with an eye to the needs of Japan and the yen, rather than in consideration of the other areas and their currencies.”

Hunsberger, “The Yen Bloc in Japan’s Expansion Program,” p. 251.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  • S.a. En no sensō (the war of the continental yen) “圓の戦争.” (2011) NHKスペシャル. Tokyo. http://www6.nhk.or.jp/special/detail/index.html?aid=20110814

  • Bytheway SJ (2005) Nihon keizai to gaikoku shihon - 1858–1939 (the Japanese economy and foreign capital - 1858–1939). 日本経済と外国資本―1858–1939. 東京: 刀水書房

    Google Scholar 

  • Bytheway SJ, Metzler M (2016) Central banks and gold: how Tokyo, London, and New York shaped the modern world. Cornell studies in money. Cornell University Press, Ithaca

    Google Scholar 

  • Chosŏn Ŭnhaeng (1920) Economic history of Chosen, Comp. in commemoration of the Decennial of the Bank of Chosen. Chosen, Seoul

    Google Scholar 

  • Drake PW (1993) Money doctors, foreign debts, and economic reforms in Latin America from the 1890s to the Present. SR Books, Wilmington. http://www.amazon.com/dp/0842024344

    Google Scholar 

  • Friedman M (1992) Franklin D. Roosevelt, silver, and China. J Polit Econ 100(1):62–83. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2138806

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Fukai Eigo 深井英五 (1941) Kaiko nanajunen (Looking back at 70 years of my life). 『囘顧七十年』. 岩波書店. http://ci.nii.ac.jp/ncid/BN02993778

  • Hoshino Naoki 星野直樹 (1963) Mihatenu yume: Manshūkoku gaishi (Dreaming an impossible dream: an unofficial history of Manchukuo). 『見果てぬ夢 : 満州国外史』. ダイヤモンド社. http://ci.nii.ac.jp/ncid/BN0663518X

  • Hunsberger WS (1938) The yen bloc in Japan’s expansion program. Far Eastern Survey 7(22): 251–258. https://doi.org/10.2307/3021427

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Inoue J, De Bunsen EH (1931) Problems of the Japanese exchange, 1914–1926. Macmillan, London

    Google Scholar 

  • Itō Masanao 伊藤正直 (1989) Nihon no taigai kin’yū to kin’yū seisaku, 1914–1936 (Japan’s international finance and financial policies, 1914–1936). 『日本の対外金融と金融政策 : 1914〜1936』. 名古屋大学出版会. http://ci.nii.ac.jp/ncid/BN04118008

  • Japan. Ōkurashō (1900) Report on the post-bellum Financial Administration in Japan, 1896–1900. Printed at the Government Press, Tokyo

    Google Scholar 

  • Kemmerer EW (1905) The establishment of the gold exchange standard in the Philippines. Q J Econ 19(4):585–609. https://doi.org/10.2307/1885290

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Kemmerer EW (1912) The recent rise in the price of silver and some of its monetary consequences. Q J Econ 26(2):215–274. https://doi.org/10.2307/1884764

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Keynes JM (1913) Indian currency and finance. Macmillan, London

    Google Scholar 

  • Kojima Hitoshi 小島仁 (1981) Nihon no kinhon’isei jidai (1897–1917) (Japan’s gold-standard era (1897–1917)). 『日本の金本位制時代 : 1897〜1917 : 円の対外関係を中心とする考察』. 日本経済評論社

    Google Scholar 

  • Matsukata M (ed) (1899) Report of the adoption of the gold standard in Japan. Printed at the Government Press, Tokyo

    Google Scholar 

  • Matsuoka Kōji 松岡孝児 (1936) Kin kawase hon’isei no kenkyū (An inquiry into the gold exchange standard). 『金爲替本位制の研究』. 日本評論社

    Google Scholar 

  • Matsuoka K (1938) L’Etalon de change or en Extrême-Orient, par Kôji Matsuoka,…. P. Geuthner/Mitsukoshi, Paris/Tôkyo

    Google Scholar 

  • Metzler M (2006) Lever of empire: the international gold standard and the crisis of liberalism in Prewar Japan. Twentieth-Century Japan 17. University of California Press, Berkeley

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Miller ES (2007) Bankrupting the enemy: The U.S. Financial Siege of Japan before Pearl Harbor. Naval Institute Press, Annapolis

    Google Scholar 

  • Namikata Shōichi 波形昭一 (1985) Nihon shokuminchi kin’yū seisakushi no kenkyū (A study of the history of financial policies towards Japan’s colonies). 『日本植民地金融政策史の研究』. 早稲田大学出版部. http://ci.nii.ac.jp/ncid/BN00205982

  • Rosenberg ES (2003) Financial missionaries to the world: The politics and culture of dollar diplomacy, 1900–1930. American Encounters/Global Interactions. Duke University Press, Durham

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Schiltz M (2012a) The money doctors from Japan: finance, imperialism, and the building of the Yen Bloc, 1895–1937. Harvard University Asia Center, Cambridge

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Schiltz M (2012b) Money on the road to empire: Japan’s adoption of gold Monometallism, 1873–971. Econ Hist Rev 65(3):1147–1168. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0289.2011.00619.x

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Schiltz M (forthcoming) On an Even Keel. Silver Risk

    Google Scholar 

  • Shimazaki Kyūya 島崎久弥 (1987) “‘Dai toa kin’yūken’ no keisei katei” (The process of the formation of the “Greater East-Asian Financial Sphere”) 1. 「大東亜金融圏」の形成過程-1-. 『経済系』 153 (October):p1–40. https://ci.nii.ac.jp/naid/40000862587

  • Shimazaki Kyūya 島崎久弥 (1988a) “‘Dai toa kin’yūken’ no keisei katei” (The process of the formation of the “Greater East-Asian Financial Sphere”) 2. 「大東亜金融圏」の形成過程-2-. 『経済系』 154 (January):p19–49. https://ci.nii.ac.jp/naid/40000862591

  • Shimazaki Kyūya 島崎久弥 (1988b) “‘Dai toa kin’yūken’ no keisei katei” (The process of the formation of the “Greater East-Asian Financial Sphere”) 3. 「大東亜金融圏」の形成過程-3-. 『経済系』 155 (April):p74–108. https://ci.nii.ac.jp/naid/40000862619

  • Shimazaki Kyūya 島崎久弥 (1988c) “‘Dai toa kin’yūken’ no keisei katei” (The process of the formation of the “Greater East-Asian Financial Sphere”) 4. 「大東亜金融圏」の形成過程-4-. 『経済系』 156 (July):p30–75. https://ci.nii.ac.jp/naid/40000862631

  • Shimazaki Kyūya 島崎久弥 (1988d) “‘Dai toa kin’yūken’ no keisei katei” (The process of the formation of the “Greater East-Asian Financial Sphere”) 5. 「大東亜金融圏」の形成過程-5-. 『経済系』 157 (October):p1–50. https://ci.nii.ac.jp/naid/40000862637

  • Snow E (1933) Far eastern front. H. Smith & R. Haas, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Soyeda J (1899) Letter from Japan. Econ J 9(35):469–477. https://doi.org/10.2307/2957078

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Tatai Yoshio 多田井喜生 (2014) Shōwa no meisō: ‘dai-ni Manshūkoku ni tsukarete (An aberration of the Shōwa period: haunted by a ‘second Manchuria’). 『昭和の迷走: 「第二満州国」に憑かれて』. 筑摩書房, Tōkyō

    Google Scholar 

  • Thomson SC (1971) Filibustering to Formosa: general Charles LeGendre and the Japanese. Pac Hist Rev 40(4):442–456. https://doi.org/10.2307/3637704

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • United States (1903) Stability of international exchange. Report on the introduction of the gold-exchange standard into China and other silver-using countries. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC

    Google Scholar 

  • Wolfe M (1955) The development of Nazi monetary policy. J Econ Hist 15(4):392–402. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0022050700056552

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Yamamoto Yūzō 山本有造 (1997) ‘Dai Tōa kin’yūken’ ron (A theory of the Greater East-Asian Financial Sphere). 「大東亜金融圏」論 (1940年代日本植民地帝国の諸相). 『人文學報』 79:1–26. https://doi.org/10.14989/48494

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Michael Schiltz .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2018 Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd.

About this entry

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this entry

Schiltz, M. (2018). Currency Blocs: The Yen. In: Battilossi, S., Cassis, Y., Yago, K. (eds) Handbook of the History of Money and Currency. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-10-0622-7_30-1

Download citation

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-10-0622-7_30-1

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Singapore

  • Print ISBN: 978-981-10-0622-7

  • Online ISBN: 978-981-10-0622-7

  • eBook Packages: Springer Reference Economics and FinanceReference Module Humanities and Social Sciences