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Performing the Great PeacePolitical Space and Open Secrets in Tokugawa Japan$
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Luke S. Roberts

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780824835132

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824835132.001.0001

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Performing the Tokugawa Right to Know

Performing the Tokugawa Right to Know

(p.53) 2 Performing the Tokugawa Right to Know
Performing the Great Peace

Luke S. Roberts

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter explores the information regime of the Tokugawa government, a highly bureaucratic system that collected and managed vast amounts of data from all of the parts of Japan under Tokugawa direct and indirect rule. The chapter evaluates the nature of this information collection in terms of accuracy and its role in guaranteeing submissiveness of daimyo and maintenance of the peace. The daimyo often supplied inaccurate information with the full complicity of Tokugawa officials, and this was done from very early on in the period. The disjuncture between the local truth and the submitted information has been interpreted by most historians as a sign of systemic decline and the waning power of Tokugawa authority. Yet through analysis of seventeenth-century examples of information collection, it is argued that the disjuncture was an important part of the desired order from the beginning and that the main purpose of touring inspections by Tokugawa officials and other data collection was the performance of rituals of subservience and obedience, and the creation of arrangements for service rather than the quality of the information itself. This suggests that the data this regime produced need to be understood by historians in terms of omote and uchi interactions.

Keywords:   Tokugawa government, information regime, daimyo, subservience, obedience, data collection, omote, uchi

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