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Down and Out in Late Meiji Japan$
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James L. Huffman

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780824872915

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824872915.001.0001

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(p.259) Conclusion
Down and Out in Late Meiji Japan

James L. Huffman

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter contains summary themes. First, it shows that the material side of hinmin life was excruciating, marked by inadequate income and terrible living conditions. Second, it argues that at the mental and spiritual level, hinmin felt like outsiders, a fact reinforced by the slums where many of them lived and their exclusion from institutions such as the schools. At the same time, it shows that they identified with modern society and sought to be part of it: they built it, they took part in city life, and they were political activists. The third section looks at how contemporary poverty differs from late-Meiji poverty, noting the absence today of slums and the presence of universal schooling, a welfare system, and a widespread belief in equality. A concluding section argues that hinmin were essentially “ordinary” human beings placed in extraordinary circumstances.

Keywords:   Hinmin, Outsiders, Slums, Universal schooling, Welfare system, Equality

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