Ohkawa and Rosovsky allege that the jump in Meiji land productivity was the result of exploitation of a large technological backlog which the Bakuhan system created in the advanced region of Tokugawa Japan, such as kinki, by blocking technological diffusion. This allegation is without factual substance—land productivity was probably the highest in the kinki region (prefectures of Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, Wakayama, Mie, Hyogo, and Shiga), but this region was the last place where farming technology could have been bottled up. The han governments could not set up effective artificial barriers there because their landholdings were so fragmented and so intermingled with others in kinki and also because technology-diffusion forces such as traffic, population density, and commercialization were so great. Therefore, it is the specialization of land and labor in order to produce certain crops for the market that was largely responsible for the high land productivity in kinki. Likewise, it is highly likely that the alleged rise in Meiji land productivity can be attributed chiefly to accelerated commercialization and specialization, brought about by the coming of railroads, the commutation of taxes, the great inflation (1877–1881), and general changes in demand. Autonomous and competitive han, driven by the necessity of meeting their increasing expenditures, expanded interregional trade and diffused, rather than obstructed, technology thus overcoming artificial and natural barriers.

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