Japanese local history is used as an ingredient in historiographical theories designed to prove that the rapid pace of change in Japan led either to phenomenal success or to dismal failure. Against the backdrop of a comprehensive overview of Japanese historiography, Neil Waters examines in detail the local politics of the Kawasaki region during the late nineteenth century. Historians have hitherto focused primarily upon those regions that experienced violent peasant uprisings, class conflict, or extreme government repression. He points out that localities which survived the transition between governments without violence far outnumber those marked by open struggle.
This study is one of the few to cover the political and economic history of a region in which “nothing happened.” From an examination of the implementation and impact of Restoration programs on the day-to-day level of local government in the Kawasaki region, a fascinating picture emerges of the adaptation and modifications local leaders were able to chart between open rebellion and outright capitulation.