The Bank of Japan

The Bank of Japan

The Bank of Japan was founded in 1882 and was designed as a way for Japan to consolidate currency management under a single entity. It represents a clear shift away from passive monetary policy. In fact by 1912, Japan had over 3000 bank buildings.[1] Modeled after a Belgian system, the Bank of Japan gave the Meiji government a way to manage its currency and avoid drastic measures such as Matsukata Deflation. 

Tatsuno Kingo designed the original branch of the Bank in Tokyo in a baroque style that included a prominent dome and an interior modeled after Victorian banks.[2] It’s columns and large dome exude a sense of scale and reflect a complete transition away from classic Japanese architecture utilized in the Tokugawa Era. Its heavy emphasis on Western design elements further showcases Japan’s desire to modernize and become competitive on the global playing field. Japan’s willingness to adopt not only Western industry and culture but also architecture reflects a rapid desire to develop and be better than its surroundings, development that would culminate in the eventual invasion of Korea.

The Bank also provided access to capital for textile entrepreneurs. The growth in national banks that managed the money supply is directly related to the number of textile manufacturers that emerged in the Meiji Era; former farmers were able to take out relatively cheap loans and fuel a growing industrial economy.[3] Furthermore, access to bank capital allowed investors to funnel yen into these new textile ventures. More manufacturers combined with more investors spurred a textile revolution of sorts and allowed Meiji Japan to quickly compete in the global economy.


[1] Dallas Finn, Meiji Revisited: the Sites of Victorian Japan” (New York: 1995) 191.

[2] Ibid., 194.

[3] Ishii Kanji, “The Mercantile Response in the Meiji Period: Capital Accumulation by Merchants and the Government’s Response” Social Science Japan Journal, 12:2 (2009), 222.

 

The Bank of Japan