Privilege and Competition: Tashiroya in the East Asian Treaty Ports, 1860–1895

  • Takahiro Yamamoto (Author)

Abstract

This paper attempts to illustrate the connectivities of the late-nineteenth-century treaty ports in East Asia, experienced by a Japanese business called Tashiroya. In the 1860s it had a monopoly over foreign trade in porcelain in Nagasaki, under the protection of the Saga domain. After the emergence of treaty port network that enabled freer movement of goods and people, Tashiroya lost its privilege and found itself in a competition in Chinese ports, not so much against the Western merchants, but with its domestic peers. In an effort to deal with the new commercial environment around the East China Sea, Tashiroya’s family members and employees set up branch stores in  the treaty ports and travelled around to carry goods and to seek business opportunities. They aimed at diversifying the merchandise and markets, which saw partial success. In doing so they also attempted to get around the taxation by the Chinese Maritime Customs, rather than calling for the revision of Japan’s unequal treaties. After a series of botched effort to maintain the price of porcelain products by forming a cartel with other Japanese exporters, Tashiroya ventured into an uncharted territory of exporting roof tiles to Korea, which it failed to implement. The paper overall provides a microhistory of the East Asian treaty ports, decoupled from the state-level analysis and the narratives driven by national history.

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Published
2018-04-19
Section
Articles
Language
en
Academic discipline and sub-disciplines
History; Japanese History;
Keywords
Nagasaki; China; Korea; merchants; porcelain