Proposal preview

Societal response to climate variation; Institution, market and social change in early modern and modern Japan

Recent progress in paleoclimate reconstruction has enabled us to understand past changes in air temperature and precipitation in annual or finer time resolutions for the last several thousand years. It has not only made it possible for us to study more closely the relationships between climate variation and Malthusian checks, such as famines and wars, but created excellent opportunities for linking the data to the more general understanding of socio-economic structure and change. In Japan, we can utilize various kinds of socio-economic data across the country in the early modern and modern periods, so the combined analysis of climate and socio-economic data could offer regional variations and their relationships with other regions.
In this session, we offer five papers mainly dealing with Japan, and discuss them in comparative perspective by inviting experts on comparative institutional analysis, England, China and India. The first paper briefly introduces recent progress in paleoclimatology, and the following four papers elucidate how socioeconomic structure in Japan reacted to short- and long-term variations in climate. Case studies include 1) adjustments by market function, 2) implementation of land tax payment system, 3) disaster-induced changes in social order, and 4) comparison between macro-economic and climatic impacts on welfare. By investigating institutional, market and social responses to climate change, we will demonstrate that since the early modern period, societies in and around Japan responded to climate variation in diverse ways and in some respects quite successfully, but with important limits and leading to social change, especially in the periphery, by the nineteenth century.


  • Yasuo Takatsuki, Kobe University,, Japan
  • Jean-Pascal Bassino, The University of Lyon,, France
  • Kaoru Sugihara, The Research Institute for Humanity and Nature,, Japan
  • Takeshi Nakatsuka, The Research Institute for Humanity and Nature,, Japan

Session members

  • Kaoru Kamatani, The Research Institute for Humanity and Nature,
  • Kousei Yamada, Okinawa International University,
  • Masahiko Shibamoto, Kobe University,

Proposed discussant(s)

  • Bruce M Campbell, The Queen's University of Belfast,
  • Tirthankar Roy, The London School of Economics and Political Science,
  • Kenneth Pomeranz, The University of Chicago,
  • Tetsuji Okazaki, The University of Tokyo,