AHC: Industrial Revolution in Japan

Just regarding the population part, wouldn't the fact that Japan is dwarfed by China be a plus for them?
Let's say the Divine Wind is a tad less powerful, leading to a few ships landing in Japan. They are quickly beaten as most of the fleet is still destroyed but a spirit of revenge and fear starts in the local coastal lords who fear for their lives and kingdom. This leads them to try to arm the peasants, necessitating a larger production of weapon leading to mass production, etc...

Alternatively, a few decades of peace and good weather lead to a boom in population in Japan. Constrained by the geography of the island with its limited arable land, the need arises to push productivity of the fields, including in less fertile areas like the mountains (not sure how that would conflict with the Shinto principle, I seem to remember the Hinterland is sacred? Please correct me if wrong).

Am I talking out of my ass here or is there a hint of potential truth?
 

Rosenheim

Donor
My help:
I found probably why Japan took til the 19th Century: nerchants were at the bottom of the feudal hierarchy, followed by artisans also after peasants, also a problem. Either it'd have to be before feudalism or you need to fix that.

In truth, that's rather complex. On the face of it, the pre-dominant conceptualization of society embraced by elites after the establishment of the Tokugawa Shogunate was Neo-Confucianism, which basically followed the structure you mentioned above.

However, that doesn't necessarily mean that this order was reflective of society. Post the Genroku Period (1688-1704), the merchantry established itself as a power in Japan. This was due to a number of factors that merchants were directly involved in - advancing agricultural production vastly increased the rice supply, which in turn inflated the wages of samurai; this in turn led to merchants being increasingly turned to for loans and alternative means of making wealth. This allowed the merchantry to form the core of Japan's literati along with the more intellectual samurai and wealthy villagers.

As such, there was a vast number of other ideologies floating around in Japan between 1603 and 1868, attempting to change the place of the merchantry within society. Examples of these include Shingaku, the various ideologies of the Kaitokudo Merchant Academy, some elements of Kokugaku thought, and many others.

In regards to the topic at hand, I don't think it's plausible to have a industrial revolution in Japan before 1700 at the earliest. At that point (due to the rising merchantry) I would regard Japan as a proto-industrial state. Village manufacturing and cottage industry was common in the Kinai/Kansai area (around Osaka and Kyoto) and cash cropping was becoming popular.

This was all pre-industrialization though, so having that become actual industrialization would take a larger push.

For current scholarship and more information on merchantry, industrialization, and ideology in Early Modern Japan, I would look to the works of Tetsuo Najita, Mayasuki Tanimoto, Susan Burns, and Peter Nosco.
 
Last edited:

Faeelin

Banned
In truth, that's rather complex. On the face of it, the pre-dominant conceptualization of society embraced by elites after the establishment of the Tokugawa Shogunate was Neo-Confucianism, which basically followed the structure you mentioned above.

However, that doesn't necessarily mean that this order was reflective of society. Post the Genroku Period (1688-1704), the merchantry established itself as a power in Japan. This was due to a number of factors that merchants were directly involved in - advancing agricultural production vastly increased the rice supply, which in turn inflated the wages of samurai; this in turn led to merchants being increasingly turned to for loans and alternative means of making wealth. This allowed the merchantry to form the core of Japan's literati along with the more intellectual samurai and wealthy villagers.

As such, there was a vast number of other ideologies floating around in Japan between 1603 and 1868, attempting to change the place of the merchantry within society. Examples of these include Shingaku, the various ideologies of the Kaitokudo Merchant Academy, some elements of Kokugaku thought, and many others.

In regards to the topic at hand, I don't think it's plausible to have a industrial revolution in Japan before 1700 at the earliest. At that point (due to the rising merchantry) I would regard Japan as a proto-industrial state. Village manufacturing and cottage industry was common in the Kinai/Kansai area (around Osaka and Kyoto) and cash cropping was becoming popular.

This was all pre-industrialization though, so having that become actual industrialization would take a larger push.

Here's a thought. Suppose Japan gets "opened" by Britain around 1810, during the Napoleonic Wars. Would we call that industrializing, or catching up? It seems like this is early enough that Japan would be no further behind than parts of Europe, relatively.
 

Rosenheim

Donor
Regardless of the logistics of such an "opening" occurring, what is important to us is the internal reaction of Japan to this event. Let us just assume then, that Britain is able to force a trade treaty onto Japan:

While the Neo-Confucian thought used in administration could be widely discredited by the failure of the Tokugawa Shogunate to defeat the British, what really matters is the type of ideology that replaces it. I mentioned in my earlier post that the merchantry as a rising power in Japan - this must be tempered by the understanding that this class was no where near dominant.

In this world, Japan is defeated before the Opium War and the humiliation of China, as well as before much of the Industrial Revolution had taken off in Europe. As such, the same drive to "modernize" and "Westernize" would not have as many backers as it did after the Meiji Restoration. In order for Japan to begin a process of "full industrialization" by 1850 at the earliest, it would need a dominant ideology that embraced a powerful merchant class.

I find it more likely that many scholars in Japan would declare the failures of the Shogunate's policies as being due to their heavy Chinese influences, especially if China soon meets a similar fate in regards to unequal treaties. Kokugaku discourse (national learning) was becoming very popular at the time, and nativist thought largely sought a return to an "essential Japaneseness" that had been "lost" through reliance of foreign texts. Much of what would be later developed into State Shintoism comes from this line of scholarly discourse.

The problem as it stands, as with all counterfactual suppositions on this website, is how to get from point A to point B in a realistic manner. If wealthier villagers and the merchantry can influence elite patterns of discourse in their (economic) favor, then industrialization might be possible in this context. It's hard to say, really. If it did happen, it would certainly be considered simply industrializing, though it would like be claimed by Western powers as a direct result of their intervention.
 
Last edited:
With regards to bringing about industrial revolution in the first place, I think it would be helpful to consider precisely what caused Industrial Revolution in Europe in the first place. There are a number of precise historical circumstances which would generally be agreed to be beneficial towards the development of industry.

Before I go any further, I should mention that receding size and prosperity is largely irrelevant; if anything, the primary "early industrializers" in Europe, England and Belgium, were relative economic backwaters. In addition, while there is some variation between the standard of living in pre-industrial economies, by and large, they tend to be similar in that agriculture is for subsistence, labor-intensive, not very productive, and most people are poor as shit. Landed interests in this sort of economy have very little incentive to industrialize, since very early industry tends to be less profitable than agriculture, but does compete with agriculture for labor. Similarly, artisanal interests, ie, medieval European guilds, but basically traditional labor-intensive secondary good producers, also tend to be hostile towards industrial endeavors because they compete against these interests, and typically operate outside of the traditional established structures of production. The pre-existing economic structure, in other words, is built to be fairly hostile towards the development of industry without some kind of radical change, as follows.

Firstly, you need to "marketize" society, that is to say, to establish sizable markets (or in other words, capitalism) to encourage people to find ways to produce goods industrially for profit in the first place, typically through expansion of trade. As I will continue to describe more later in this post, industrial development where it existed largely came into being because someone saw a profit in industrial development. Thus, without having developed market economies to a point where there is considerable "extra profit," industrial development will likely not come into being. This is, essentially, a pre-requisite to the development of merchant classes and large-scale trade networks.

Secondly, you need to create conditions which will support the accumulation of industrial capital as a substitute for production relative to traditional labor-intensive methods. In most pre-industrial societies, there have often been significant stigmas against both; Confucian culture for example stigmatized merchant classes as being social parasites. However, it is probable that given time, extremely wealthy merchant classes will develop anyhow, as did happen in East Asia by the 1700s and 1800s, which were greatly looked down upon by polite society, but nevertheless thrived and by this time had developed very large and extensive trade networks. In both East Asia and most of Europe, merchants' statuses tended to be fairly precarious, and merchants could easily go from great wealth to poverty on the whims of local rulers. Yet, it's been noted, however, that in early industrializing countries, that merchant classes tended to have somewhat greater protections, often when the operation of these merchants was seen as being in the national interest (ie, English and Dutch East Indies merchants). The development of legal protections and support for these aforementioned merchants, in contrast to suspicion, probably had a great hand in the merchant classes' role in contributing to industrialization in those countries. Basically, what I'm saying here is that it's not enough to develop large trade-based market economies, but a degree of state protection and support for these merchants, and especially for their property, is also a pre-requisite for the development of industry.

The second factor I mentioned, the start of a trend of capital accumulation, is different enough that I broke the paragraph here, but is closely related to the above paragraph. Obviously, a country cannot start accumulating industrial capital until it has acquired the relevant technology, which in the English example, is the famous steam engine (and spinning jenny), which are cited as having reduced costs enough so that profits could be turned on nascent industry. While both contributed greatly towards industrial development, these two specific inventions are certainly not the be-all and end-all of industrial development. After all, the invention of labor-saving technology is not really so much a "miracle once very twenty years process" which occurs periodically and immediately cuts production times in half so much as a continual process of gradual improvement punctuated by these occasional miracle inventions. Of course, you do need to reach a minimal level of technological development before you can really start considering this (basically whenever you start developing really mechanized forms of production like blast furnaces or whatever), but the point is more that you need to develop a technology which allows you to save labor to a point where things start becoming profitable and then have a would-be industrialist run with it. This is where the factors in the two preceding paragraphs come into play more, the state sanction and protection of industrialists and the existence of major markets and trade networks for these industrialists to sell goods on (and also for industrialists to consider that there exists a need to be fulfilled in the first place that traditional modes of production won't fill).

In addition, it's also obvious that none of this can happen unless you already have at least some amount of surplus labor who will be willing to work in the new industrial manufactories manufacturing goods. You also, however, need to pull these workers off their traditional industries, usually rural agriculture, move them into cities, and put them to work in the factories. As described in the above, we've thus outlined certain requirements that are thus necessary, most of which are associated with rapid urbanization and the development of competitive urban wages. This is a process which tends to occur naturally, as a result of gradual increases in agricultural productivity, on top of changing social factors. Europe probably did receive a considerable boost in this regard, as the massive social upheaval caused by the Black Death caused a very significant long-term upward boost to base wages in most of Europe (but especially in urban centers). While initially leading to population decline (obviously), following population recovery, these higher wages nevertheless stuck, with the result that urbanization now continues apace, but with increased draws to urban centers, a draw which can be taken advantage with by industry.

Finally, in order to get all this going, you really need to have a system in place which allows people to be able to get this all started in the first place; by which I mean, access to funding with which to create or purchase capital and develop industry. In the historical case, this funding was accumulated through the development of nascent financial sectors which allowed people to accumulate large amounts of funds quickly for major economic projects (ie, trading expeditions, loans, banking, etc.). This typically goes hand in hand with the development of the major trade networks and wealthy merchant classes, but again, for this to really stay in place long enough for industry begins to develop (in the cases of the early industrializers, these financial systems had already typically existed for hundreds of years before industrialization really took off). This was, for the record, something which did already exist to varying points in most partially economically developed countries by the 1600s-1700s, but early industrializers were most notable for having developed systems which encouraged the state protection and sanction of these sectors (ie, out of perceived national interest, or out of the development of ideology which supports these practices). Ensuring access to financial backing thus was necessary in order to industrialize.

And there's one more thing which I think I should mention, which is that while I describe landed and artisanal interests as standing in the way of industrial development, you can't really have industrial unless those have already developed. The reason for this is that landed interests only develop when agriculture has developed to a point where to some degree, it is operating not merely for subsistence but also for profit, which means agricultural production has reached a minimum efficiency such that urbanization can start coming into force. This leads towards the creation of artisanal classes, who actually produce goods which later will be produced by industry, and who will generate the technology and markets necessary for industrial markets to develop in the first place. Then, merchant classes, as they develop large-scale trade networks, create the very large markets necessary for industrial levels of production to be sustained in the first place, while also taking advantage of the creation of surplus amounts of labor who will actually do the labor in this new industrial production. Basically, none of these classes (except maybe merchants; whom I probably have mentioned the most so far, probably because, I think, they are the most likely to be the ones who 'get the ball rolling' wrt industry) alone would see the benefit of industrialization, but you cannot have it unless they all already exist.

In essence, you need production to reach a stage where it becomes profitable to industrialize this mechanism while would-be industrialists have the freedom to operate outside of guild-type restrictions (be they guilds or state monopolies or whatever), which also amounts to giving them state sanction and support (and protection) against current entrenched interests (both artisanal and landed), while still getting the benefits from the system which creates those interests, at a time when there also is technology lying around which can be put to use in industry in the first place, while there also are extensive trade networks for industrialists to sell the goods they produce in the first place, and (this is where the merchants come in) also ensure that the industrialists have access to both the funding they require to start accumulating capital in the first place and the surplus labor necessary to work in the new factories created by this accumulated capital at wages which can compete with traditional agricultural wages. It's very easy to get all these factors in one place, but hard to get the ball rolling, so to speak, because while most moderately powerful countries have had a majority of these factors in place in their countries by the 1600s and 1700s, actually taking advantage of them required in much greater part a "perfect storm" that put all these factors together in one place at the same time, in time for industrial manufactories to develop and become major factors.

Now, specifically with regards to East Asia:

In East Asia (in the cases I'm most familiar with, China and Japan), there were highly developed trade networks, large merchant classes, technology that could be industrialized, nascent financial sectors, the development of large urban centers (in fact, in the 18th century, Tokyo was actually the largest city in the world), but nevertheless, China and Japan did not industrialize until very late. This is where the 'perfect storm' factor which I described earlier comes into play; most countries, in both Europe and Asia, had periods where they were relatively behind technologically, or relatively ahead, some dominated in certain areas such as urbanization rate for a time, but lagged in others, all had merchant classes and advanced trade networks; owing to political factors, the necessity of having wealthy merchants around (I suppose I needn't tell you why cash-starved rulers would want wealthy social parasites around...) inevitably overcame social stigmas against merchants (which was the case even in China and Japan, Confucian social norms notwithstanding), though there were certain countries which managed to enact protections for the new propertied classes permanently, and ultimately did best in industrialization speed, but without having all these factors at certain minimum levels for a minimum requisite period of time, industry will not have the 'basic optimal conditions' necessary to come into being. However, once the ball does get rolling for industry, then, so long as the profits remain, the system becomes self-sustaining long enough for industrialization to really take off.

All of this only really applies, mind, towards "getting the ball rolling" in the first place. The factors which lead to the development of the "first" Industrial Revolution are very different from those which take place in other countries in the more distant future. The "first" Industrial Revolution is, as I described above, a product of multiple inter-related social and historical factors coming together long enough for a system to develop and sustain itself (industrial capitalism). Once its been created, replicating it in other countries is a very different process.
 
Before I go any further, I should mention that receding size and prosperity is largely irrelevant; if anything, the primary "early industrializers" in Europe, England and Belgium, were relative economic backwaters.

No.

Belgium especially had been a center of textile production since the Middle Ages and, demographically, Northernwestern Europe concentrated on the Rhine delta and lower course. By the early 18th century, England was very wealthy and had been becoming so for quite some time (There's a reason piddly little England was able to out-spend behemoth France over the course of the second Hundred Years War). Talking about these two places as relative economic backwaters is total nonsense. England had probably been on the course towards industrial revolution since the middle of the 17th century, at least.

Some of the things you highlight are important (The ability to operate outside of existing guild structures or the extent of the market that can be sold into), but your analysis misses quite a lot. The factors listed by nomisma on the previous page are, I think, a better foundation to build off of, although the ones that seem more obviously as technological advances come as much from the economic take-off that occurs in the right conditions as are the causes of it.

If I had to pick, I would say 2, 3, 5, and 7 are the most important ones to concentrate on. Add in a real focus on model-based scientific method, on relative freedom for property owners to dispose of their assets as they wish, and a legal system that is able to cope with more and more complex financial and asset arrangements and you've got all the pieces. From there all you need is the space and the time and it'll happen on its own.
 
No.

Belgium especially had been a center of textile production since the Middle Ages and, demographically, Northernwestern Europe concentrated on the Rhine delta and lower course. By the early 18th century, England was very wealthy and had been becoming so for quite some time (There's a reason piddly little England was able to out-spend behemoth France over the course of the second Hundred Years War). Talking about these two places as relative economic backwaters is total nonsense. England had probably been on the course towards industrial revolution since the middle of the 17th century, at least.

Right, my mistake, but the point of my quote was that wealthy or not, for some reason, countries which were at this point in time far poorer than, say, China were able to industrialize where China was not. I am aware of the regional advantages attributed to Northwestern Europe which led to their over the long run being relatively wealthier than their nearby neighbors (and arguably helped lay the ground for their eventual industrialization), but it was not until the industrial revolution was already well in full swing that Britain actually became the wealthiest power on the globe, and until the industrial revolution, it is fact that in virtually all countries that had reached at least a moderate level of development (basically, most settled societies with basic state structures), standard of living was more or less the same, and thus, I considered it to be somewhat outside the scope of my original post, which was to be as general as possible.

Some of the things you highlight are important (The ability to operate outside of existing guild structures or the extent of the market that can be sold into), but your analysis misses quite a lot. The factors listed by nomisma on the previous page are, I think, a better foundation to build off of, although the ones that seem more obviously as technological advances come as much from the economic take-off that occurs in the right conditions as are the causes of it.

If I had to pick, I would say 2, 3, 5, and 7 are the most important ones to concentrate on. Add in a real focus on model-based scientific method, on relative freedom for property owners to dispose of their assets as they wish, and a legal system that is able to cope with more and more complex financial and asset arrangements and you've got all the pieces. From there all you need is the space and the time and it'll happen on its own.
In my original post, when I spoke of state support and protection for merchants and industrialists, the legal system geared towards property owners that you describe was actually what I was hinting at (the somewhat notable "property rights and rule of law" institutions argument). Property rights here is used as a catchall term for a legal system which is built to protect property owners and their right to own, utilize, and dispose of property as they see fit, and rule of law is the rigorous and equal(ish) application and enforcement of the aforementioned. However, I do admit that I could have made that particular point more clear.

On the other hand, I still would think that by and large, despite a considerable lead acquired by Europe as early as the 1600s in science and technology, that the level of attribution of the IR to a better developed scientific method, and in particular, to certain 'key inventions' such as the steam engine is highly overrated, for the reasons which I outlined: that overall, it's not those specific inventions which resulted in efficiency gains to such a degree as to cause industrialization, but the fact that they arrived at such a key time as when the environment was most suitable for theirs being exploited for industrialization (for example, following the entrenchment of property rights and the rule of law as central legal principles, among other things, while the state was especially interested in developing and maintaining large and extensive foreign trade routes).
 

takerma

Banned
Just regarding the population part, wouldn't the fact that Japan is dwarfed by China be a plus for them?
Let's say the Divine Wind is a tad less powerful, leading to a few ships landing in Japan. They are quickly beaten as most of the fleet is still destroyed but a spirit of revenge and fear starts in the local coastal lords who fear for their lives and kingdom. This leads them to try to arm the peasants, necessitating a larger production of weapon leading to mass production, etc...

Alternatively, a few decades of peace and good weather lead to a boom in population in Japan. Constrained by the geography of the island with its limited arable land, the need arises to push productivity of the fields, including in less fertile areas like the mountains (not sure how that would conflict with the Shinto principle, I seem to remember the Hinterland is sacred? Please correct me if wrong).

Am I talking out of my ass here or is there a hint of potential truth?

Well first starting with the Kamikaze and the invasions. This is not at all what happened. The whole wind mysticism is a later invention. They beat them fare and square. Invading Japan in general is hard, terrain, dense population. Unified most of the time. Huge warrior class. They also knew about Mongol threat and were preparing for a long time.

Peasant thing you have to go all the way to Sengoku. This is where you have masses of ashigaru armed with spears and muskets by the end of it they had more firearms then anyone else in the world and invented front sight and matchlock protecting box.

I think departure has to be around Sengoku. Maybe Koreans do not have their magical ASB admiral? Perhaps it evolves into some sort of 100 years war. It would help with keeping military innovation going. Idea of closing the country would never come up. But I don't know if this can lead anywhere. Japan would definitely be a different place.
 
On the other hand, I still would think that by and large, despite a considerable lead acquired by Europe as early as the 1600s in science and technology, that the level of attribution of the IR to a better developed scientific method, and in particular, to certain 'key inventions' such as the steam engine is highly overrated, for the reasons which I outlined: that overall, it's not those specific inventions which resulted in efficiency gains to such a degree as to cause industrialization, but the fact that they arrived at such a key time as when the environment was most suitable for theirs being exploited for industrialization (for example, following the entrenchment of property rights and the rule of law as central legal principles, among other things, while the state was especially interested in developing and maintaining large and extensive foreign trade routes).

'Key inventions' don't just arrive. Necessity is the mother of invention, remember? Inventions don't happen because some isolated genius locks himself away in a lab and emerges months later with The Next Big Thing, they occur because someone spends a lot of time doing something and eventually just starts staring at his tools and says, "There's got to be a better way."

In a lot of ways this is true of the other things mentioned: Better trade routes to wealthier trading partners get opened up by merchants who start looking for opportunities to do better than they are currently doing. Even the legal background comes out from powerful landlords getting tired with monarchs lording it over them and looking for better ways to be able to do what they want on their estates and with their wealth without the monarch interfering.

You need a society that has access to the right physical resources and the right size trading networks which has the right social factors to generate the right set of laws, and the inventions and other stuff will follow on their own.

To get Japan to do something like that...well, I don't know enough about pre-industrial Japan to be able to say, but it's definitely not impossible.
 
'Key inventions' don't just arrive. Necessity is the mother of invention, remember? Inventions don't happen because some isolated genius locks himself away in a lab and emerges months later with The Next Big Thing, they occur because someone spends a lot of time doing something and eventually just starts staring at his tools and says, "There's got to be a better way."

In a lot of ways this is true of the other things mentioned: Better trade routes to wealthier trading partners get opened up by merchants who start looking for opportunities to do better than they are currently doing. Even the legal background comes out from powerful landlords getting tired with monarchs lording it over them and looking for better ways to be able to do what they want on their estates and with their wealth without the monarch interfering.

You need a society that has access to the right physical resources and the right size trading networks which has the right social factors to generate the right set of laws, and the inventions and other stuff will follow on their own.

To get Japan to do something like that...well, I don't know enough about pre-industrial Japan to be able to say, but it's definitely not impossible.

Again, if you read my posts, you'll notice this is precisely the opposite of what I've been saying. The point I'm making is that the "great miracle invention," as a general rule is a myth and that these inventions' purported influences on industrial development are similarly overstated. Rather, because technological process is more a continual process over time (which gradually develops so long as people continue to find ways to improve certain processes or find better methods to accomplish tasks as they are being accomplished) rather than several separate 'eureka inventions.' This is actually precisely a case where it's more accurate to describe the situation as "new inventions arriving on the scene," since unlike a situation where a person, group, or country will dedicate a specific amount of resources and talent towards solving a specific problem, the new invention is the result of accumulated experience discovering a better way to accomplish a specific task.

This is, incidentally, probably the best way to describe how James Watt developed the Watt steam engine, by conceiving of improvements to be made to existing steam engines through experience and observation, and then applying those innovations to the construction of new engines.

As to Japan, I think that in this case, going back to my original points, that while despite efforts through state control to bolster traditional feudal economic structures and limit outside influence, Japan was able to develop a burgeoning overseas trade network (albeit one sharply limited following sakoku restrictions) and a not unimpressive network of family-based manufacturing associations (which were coming to have quite significant influence in the Japanese economy by the early 19th century, albeit in terms of economic development, still behind the West) until their untimely interruption by Commodore Perry.

So why didn't Japan develop industrially as fast as the West did? Partly, I would attribute this to intentional social and technological regression on the part of the Shogunate following the end of the Sengoku era; there was a very major effort on the Shogunate's part to attempt to roll back technological, and especially, foreign influences on Japan following unification in order to preserve social stability, and part and parcel of this was implementing a very strict feudal system which was (very) successful in stifling innovation for a long time, was very hostile towards merchants and commercial development (not that the shogunate was particularly successful in this regard). The social stability the Shogunate gained I think came at great cost to development, and this was a major factor in Japan's failure to develop at the same rate the West did.
 
I think departure has to be around Sengoku. Maybe Koreans do not have their magical ASB admiral? Perhaps it evolves into some sort of 100 years war. It would help with keeping military innovation going. Idea of closing the country would never come up. But I don't know if this can lead anywhere. Japan would definitely be a different place.

This would have been virtually impossible because Yi Sun-shin was far from the only capable admiral, although he was certainly the most talented one. In fact, when he was temporarily imprisoned, the court had actually blocked many of the supplies from reaching Won Gyun, along with severely criticizing his plans that were meant to bid time without directly engaging the enemy. As a result, the latter was forced to make the most of his situation by conducting limited delaying actions to prevent the enemy reaching the capital before his sacrifice at Chicheollyang as a result of limited resources and flawed planning, in addition to the Japanese outnumbering the defenders by 10:1. While Admiral Yi was arguably the only individual who possessed both the skills and the courage to carry out his plans, the 5-10 other relatively talented admirals could have collectively worked together in his absence either before or after 1597, as the court suddenly realized that it was best to let the navy operate on its own after Joseon's only naval loss without Yi.

Additionally, Hideoshi had originally planned to invade China, then carry on further invasions, so he had erroneously assumed that Korea (which Hideyoshi had ordered to make way for China) would have been a walkover. However, the vast majority of the daimyō (including Tokugawa Ieyasu) firmly opposed the campaign because it would have severely drained resources. In both invasions, while the Japanese were initially successful, they were then bogged down due to stiff resistance from both land and sea, as well as logistical issues, forcing them to eventually retreat after significant losses. While the Koreans had an ample supply of weapons (such as cannons and hwacha) at their disposal, they also managed to reverse engineer and deploy matchlocks/arquebuses against the Japanese in less than a year, further slowing down the invaders. Japan retaining the southernmost parts of Korea wouldn't have been feasible during negotiations from 1594-6 because the Chinese had threatened to mobilize up to 400,000 soldiers (mobilizing 50,000-75,000 IOTL) if hostilities had continued, while Hideyoshi even demanded a Ming princess for a concubine. Meanwhile, after the second invasion, the Japanese troops were exhausted after defending the southern peninsular coastline, after which Hideyoshi's death became the last straw, so a significantly extended war would have further destroyed morale.

- - -

Anyway, regarding an independent "Japanese industrialization" mostly through social and economic means, countries that industrialized IOTL had a handful of factors in common:

  • Resources (natural, human, etc.)
  • Political structures
  • Financial structures
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Strong management
All of these then lead to other developments (technology, legal structures, human rights, etc).

In Japan's case, its relatively low amount of natural resources forced it to rely more on human labor, while the other four factors remained relatively nascent, although they were relatively developed for a pre-industrial society (banks, futures market, etc). As others have pointed out, merchants became more active in Japanese society over time, although there were limits due to the nature of Confucian social classes. In addition, production generally remained on a subsistence level due to specific local industries each focusing on one major city (food in Edo and handicrafts in Osaka and Kyoto, for example), which meant that each market remained localized. This meant that capital was generally limited to a specific location, as opposed to flowing freely among multiple regions in order to feed growth across the entire country. Similarly, while the court provided land grants to some clans, increasing their status, neither the government nor banks continued to provide them with significant amounts of capital for decades, forcing them to pursue limited local developments with relatively limited growth. As a result, markets and trading were unable to significantly diversify over time, as there were no large surpluses of capital or resources increasing productivity over several centuries, although consolidated social and economic structures greatly facilitated the transition during the Meiji Restoration.

Only after the above is gradually accomplished over centuries can wage increases then begin to be considered, after which technological developments can be pursued within factories in order to counter the gradual rise in costs for developing businesses, causing legal issues to come into play in order to restrict monopolies and protect workers' rights, as well as social changes, leading to the rise of a middle class. These developments did not occur within Japan before the late 19th century IOTL because limited market developments had allowed agriculture, which remained integral due to a relatively limited amount of arable land (mostly mountainous terrain), to remain as a significant part of the economy for centuries, preventing small businesses from growing by effectively utilizing an increasing amount of workers. Funding also continued to remain limited because the central government left scattered regions autonomous without significant financial backing, despite rapid increases in population, causing production to stagnate over time.

The Sakoku policy also meant that while trade volumes with Asian countries continued to increase, gradually strengthening trade networks, direct contacts with the West remained limited due to fears of undue foreign influence, minimizing the level of diffusion allowing the spread of ideas and competition among trading entities within Europe.

(I realize that my analysis significantly resembles that of Zmflavius', but I just wanted to approach the gradual industrialization process from different angles.)
 
Which society had a feudal scientific revolution, ever? Because Europe had the same problem - the merchants were Christianly low.

But, why wouldn't research need patronage and colleges money to support professor salaries and research gadgets? But Newton was a superhuman, whom needed no rent or food mere money.

And if they wait 'til the Dutch show to start, won't they be behind? Didn't I just tell you that it takes a long time to do?

So, it might to happen early, before the feudal system, like Europe. Maybe you could have a Song Renaissance with the same printing help or something else.
 
Top