1942 Ninomiya Kinjiro – JAPAN WWII Propaganda – RICE TAX for PROFIT – Kamishibai

Kamishibai Propaganda Play
Japanese WWII Nationalist Education
Benefits of Taxation on Rice
For Economic Stability

“Ninomiya Kinjiro”
Story Illustration Cards
In Original Portfolio

“Ninomiya Kinjiro”Japan, Showa 17 [1942]. Kamishibai propaganda plays / Japanese picture show (kamishibai) illustrating the importance of taxation, specifically relating to the all-important commodity: rice. Folio. The complete work, comprising 20 offset full-colour printed illustrative cards which together form a story to educate or indoctrinate the viewer with nationalist concepts during the Second World War, each with printed story text to verso, one of the cards being the title and publishing information. Text is in Japanese. Contained in publisher’s original paper portfolio covers, with title label to front. Story cards measure approximately 38 x 26 cm. Portfolio covers measure approximately 39 x 27 x 1 cm. Some age-toning and wear to portfolio, otherwise in very good and original condition, cards retaining vivid impression, a fascinating Second World War propaganda presentation.
Japanese wartime propaganda was distributed through films, magazines and newspapers, radio, books, cartoons and the education system. Publications such as the present illustrative stories, promoted the ideal citizen’s nationalistic point of view, indoctrinating civilians to work collectively and in support of their government’s actions, even when creating some form of imposition on the citizen himself.Kamishibai are Japanese paper plays that gained popularity among children in the 1930s and were subsequently used as a medium for propaganda during World War II. Also referred to as a “Picture Card Show,” they were made for influencing youth with their engaging storylines and vivid imagery. In 1940, elementary schools were renamed “Citizen’s Schools.” Textbooks became vivid, engaging, and contained militaristic picture-books. During the course of World War II, the Japanese government attempted to indoctrinate Japanese children through education and propaganda. Both methods nationalized youth and encouraged them to support the war effort. Science curriculum, for example education taught children about agriculture so they could better assist in food production for the nation. Youth were expected to volunteer in factories and farms to replace the conscripted labor force.Additionally, “kokutai,” meaning the uniqueness of the Japanese people in having a leader with spiritual origins, was officially promulgated by the government, including a text book distributed by the Ministry of Education. The purpose of this instruction was to ensure that every child regarded himself first of all as a Japanese and was grateful for the “family polity” structure of government, with its apex in the emperor. Indeed, little effort was made during the course of the war to explain to the Japanese people what it was fought for; instead, it was presented as a chance to rally about the emperor.

By using the example of the esteemed agrarian reformer and economic savant Ninomiya Kinjiro who was born into peasantry, lost his family and home in a disaster, and overcame all odds to become a notable leader and economic reformer, this story promotes the importance of government taxation, even on basic needs such as rice.Ninomiya Kinjiro (1787-1856) was an important agrarian reformer and economic thinker of the late Edo period. His legendary diligence and studiousness as a child made him a natural exemplar for Japanese schoolchildren. At one time, most every elementary school in Japan displayed a statue depicting Ninomiya as a youth with a bundle of firewood on his back and an open book in his hand.He was born into a family of peasant farmers in Kayama, Sagami Province, Kanagawa Prefecture, in 1787 during the Edo Era. They lived in a small town near Odawara (Tokaido Post Town #9). They prospered until 1791, when catastrophic flooding destroyed most of their fields. Ninomiya’s father spent five years rebuilding the farm, but the struggle took its toll. He passed away in 1800, when Ninomiya was just 14, and the family was plunged into poverty. Two years later, Ninomiya lost his mother as well. At the age of 16, Ninomiya went to live with his uncle. During the day he toiled in his uncle’s fields; at night he studied by lamplight. Unfortunately, his uncle (like many in those days) considered learning a useless affectation for a farmer and scolded Ninomiya for the waste of lamp oil. Ninomiya remained determined and showed his initiative and ingenuity. Making use of some abandoned land, he began planting oilseed rape and trading his crop for lamp oil so that he could continue studying at his own expense.He further educated himself and overcame entrenched class divisions to become a distinguished agricultural administrator, financial innovator, and economic philosopher. On adulthood, his name became Ninomiya Sontoku, and he espoused the virtues of four principles: diligence, sincerity, modesty, charity.Despite these incessant obstacles, Ninomiya studied and worked hard, keeping his goal in mind. By the time he was 24, he had amassed 1.4 hectares of farmland and restored the family’s fortunes through a combination of good farming practices and savvy financial management. At the age of 25, Ninomiya went into service in the household of Hattori Jurobei, chief retainer to the daimyo of Odawara. Ninomiya’s main job was to assist the family’s three sons in their studies, and in this capacity he joined them for their lessons at the home of their tutor, a Confucian scholar. This allowed him to advance his own education. It was during his years serving the Hattori household that Ninomiya developed the concept of the gojoko, an early form of financial cooperative. At Ninomiya’s initiative, the servants of the Hattori household voluntarily paid into a fund, from which any of them could borrow, with interest, in times of need. All members were required to abide by Confucian ethics and repay loans reliably and promptly. The scheme was popular because the risk of default was very low, and the interest from the loans profited all the lenders. In 1820, the Odawara domain invested in a scaled-up version of Ninomiya’s concept, establishing a gojoko for all the samurai in the domain. It is widely regarded as the world’s first credit union.Next, Ninomiya was called on to rehabilitate the Hattori household’s troubled finances. He rose to the challenge intrepidly, imposing stringent austerity measures. His talents quickly came to the attention of the daimyo of Odawara, Okubo Tadazane, and in 1821 he was tapped to revitalize the failing economy of the Sakuramachi district (in present-day Tochigi Prefecture), ruled by a branch of the Okubo clan. At a time of rigid class divisions, when the warrior class monopolized the administration of the country’s feudal domains, it was virtually unheard of for a peasant to be assigned such a responsibility. Declining a substantial grant, he used his own assets, along with the money the domain was paying him, to provide low-interest financing for the purchase of farming implements and other inputs, on the understanding that profits from the sale of the crops would be applied to repayment. In this way he sought to foster personal responsibility and initiative among the villagers. Ninomiya also recognized that cooperation and solidarity were essential to the well-being of a farm community.In 1823, Ninomiya moved to Sakuramachi with his wife and son and set about revitalizing the district. Ninomiya encouraged resettlement from surrounding areas. He also promoted trading on the rice market. (When the great Tenpo Famine hit in the 1830s, Sakuramachi had a substantial stockpile of rice and consequently suffered less than much of the surrounding region.) By 1831, the final year of Ninomiya’s appointment, the potential rice yield of the district’s taxable rice fields had nearly doubled compared with 1823. Word of Ninomiya’s achievement spread, and he was subsequently drafted to lead similar programs in other districts and farming communities. By some estimates, as many as 600 villages around the country ultimately benefited from his direct guidance.
Ninomiya’s financial strategies emphasized the importance of compound interest, which was an unfamiliar concept among samurai and peasants of the day. He calculated the maturity of each interest rate for 100 years to show its significance by using the Japanese abacus (soroban). He viewed agricultural village life as communal, where surpluses from one year were invested to develop further land or saved for worse years, and shared by members of the community. He was aware that developed land had a lower tax base than established agricultural land, and he was adept at financial management which he applied to his estate. He encouraged migrants from other estates and rewarded them if they successfully established an agricultural household.He started his own financial institutions called gojoukou, which could be considered to be forerunners of modern-day credit unions. Each member of the village union could borrow interest-free funds for 100 days, while the entire membership shared the cost in case of default. The combination of land development, immigration, and communal finance all managed under the diligent use of abacuses was a success and became the standard methodology of economic development in feudal Japan.Ninomiya became a great democrat who dedicated his life to improving conditions for the common peasant folk. Sontoku’s descendants established the Hotoku movement, based in Kakegawa, to cultivate the concept of cooperative associations for both industry and agriculture.

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