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Poverty in Japan: The structure of modern Japanese capitalism and its future

Justin Aukema 11 April 2024 In this essay I discuss the origins of modern Japanese poverty and the structure of Japanese capitalism in three historical stages. Poverty is not an anomaly of capitalism but rather one of its inherent and necessary features. The basis of capitalist wealth is the exploited and underpaid labor of the working classes. In the case of Japan this is abundantly clear from the country’s modern founding during the Meiji period and although it has undergone changes in ‘form’ has continued unchanged in ‘structure’ to the present day. (I) 1868 to 1945 Poverty of course did not begin with capitalism. The wealth of the ruling classes has always been based on the surplus labor of the exploited underclasses. Yet what changed with capitalism was the unprecedented amount of surplus that could be extracted and accordingly the degree of capital accumulation that it enabled. The basis of wealth for the feudal Tokugawa regime was rice farmers’ annual tributes paid through their

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