64, No. 4
The judicial documents show that in the majority of cases, criminal proceedings did not reach the final judgment stage, suggesting that most conflicts were resolved outside the official system. There were two methods of unofficial resolution: reconciliation of the two parties through mediation by priests, notaries or notables, and private acts of revenge by the aggrieved party. These practices had deep roots in the traditional norms of the peasant community. Conflicts were seen to belong to a private realm, beyond the reach of outside authority, and therefore to be solved by the local inhabitants themselves. Even seigneurial justice could not exercise a great influence on the local community.
In fact, seigneurial justice did not function efficiently in conjunction with royal justice either. It is true that the long dispute over jurisdiction between the seigneurs and the monarch came to an end with the beginning of the eighteenth century, when seigneurial justice was incorporated into the royal justice system as the court of the first instance. This meant that officers of the royal courts also functioned as offices of the seigneurial courts, and that the seigneurial courts could make use of facilities of the royal courts such as prisons and law courts. Back up from the royal justice system was particularly valuable when it came to the prosecution of serious crimes. But problems remained. There is evidence of criminal proceedings being abandoned half-way through in order to save costs. Seigneurs of the eighteenth century were no longer willing to insist on their right to administer justice to the extent of shouldering the costs of expensive lawsuits.
In other words, it would be wrong to overestimate the power of the seigneurial justice system, limited as it was both by the traditional norms of peasant communities and by the desire to reduce judicial costs.
Population growth in this area proceeded only very slowly from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries. However, the natural increase in population was so great that it generated a large amount of emigration. Emigrants may have come mainly from the lower echelons. It seems that they always felt under pressure to emigrate because they had few opportunities to improve their standard of living within their own communities. Their economy was based on agriculture, specifically corn and sheep, mainly cultivated in open fields under the control of the manorial system. It was therefore difficult for poorer inhabitants to obtain enough land to ensure subsistence. On the other hand, the rural industries which might have generated some employment opportunities did not exist.
The consequence was that many inhabitants, particularly young people looking for employment, left in search of a better land, which in some cases might well have been an American colony.
The example of the domain of Tokushima in the period from the eighteenth to mid-nineteenth century is used to support my contention. Its daimyo retainers constituted a hierarchical society, which is divided into four classes for the purposes of this paper, although the bottom class had to be omitted because of a lack of data. First there was an examination of which classes supplied or 'demanded' brides and adopted sons, to what extent and in conjunction with which other classes. Then the results were considered with reference to the number of children born to the three upper classes.
The highest class had a comparatively large number of children and supplied more brides and adopted sons than it 'demanded'. On the other hand, the second class had few children and therefore 'demanded' rather than supplied. Its 'demand' for brides and adopted sons was satisfied by the highest class. In spite of this, it exchanged a similar number of brides and adopted sons with the third class. The reason for this was that when a retainer family in the second class required a bride or an adopted son but could not find one within the same class quickly enough, it was easier for them to find candidates from the third class. The same reasoning would seem to be applicable to the third class.
During the Meiji and Taisho eras, the three industries shared similar patterns of rapid growth; however, there were differences in their fuel consumption patterns. In sericulture, the change from cool to heated methods of breeding caused a dramatic shift from very low to high charcoal consumption. In the silk industry, fuel use changed from an indigenous- only to a dual-use pattern. In the tea sector, along with innovations in machinery, firewood and coal came into use at certain stages in the production process.
Although the technology of the three industries developed in different ways, their overall consumption of the indigenous fuel, charcoal, grew. This was due to the growth of each industry per se, but also to the way the respective production technology propagated in each sector. The increase in charcoal consumption had an enormous impact on local supply and demand. In 1876, before growth in the indigenous industries really took off, half the villages in Iruma district were self-sufficient in charcoal; by 1912, the end of the Meiji era, the district was dependent on imports from other parts of Saitama prefecture.
Industrial growth led to an increase in charcoal consumption and put increased pressure on forest resource. There were two responses: one was an increase in imports from other areas and the other was technological improvements in charcoal production. Without such solutions, forest resources in Iruma would have been exhausted. From the viewpoint of the economic history of the environment, this paper therefore proves that economic development does not necessarily lead to environmental destruction, and suggests an underlying model for sustainable development.