This self-sufficiency could be only achieved through the domestic production of substitutes for imports from China. National seclusion was above all an economic process.
Social Revolution and Domestic Production
A similar social revolution and radical transformation of the _product complex_ (the aggregate of the materials utilized by human beings in order to live in society) thus took place in Japan as occurred in Europe, and at roughly the same time. During what Western historians call the _age of discovery,_ the Japanese were also trading with maritime Asia, which they referred to as tenjiku (_far-away land_) or nanban (_the barbarian south_). Today this is the region extending from the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean. Through trade with this region, Asian goods including cotton, sugar and chinaware (as well as goods from the New World such as sweet potatoes and tobacco) flowed into Japan, and the creation of mass demand for these imported goods led to a social revolution in Japan just as it did in Europe. The period of transition in Japan from the medieval to the early modern period was thus a major turning point in the product complex of society. This is reflected in the comment of the historian Naito Konan that Japanese history before Onin War in Japan (1467_77) _seems to me like the history of a foreign country._ (Research on the History of Japanese Culture)
This is not the only similarity between the historical developments of Japan and Europe. In order to import goods, Japan exported the materials used for minting money (including copper) to Asia on as large a scale as Europe. From the end of the eighteenth century to the nineteenth century, this outflow of precious metals and copper from Japan was effectively brought to a halt. During this period, Japan succeeded in producing domestically the new goods it had been importing from Asia and developed the techniques for processing them, thereby achieving complete economic self-sufficiency in the latter part of the early modern period.
The Industrial Revolution and the _Industrious Revolution_
Hayami Akira has put forward the interesting thesis that Japan underwent an_industrious revolution_ rather than an industrial revolution in the Edo period. He uses the word_industrious_not in an ethical sense but to refer to the nature of the combination of the three elements of production: capital (plant and machinery), labor (human labor), and land (including raw materials). The main point of Hayami_s thesis is that the combination of capital, labor, and land differs between an industrial revolution and an _industrious revolution,_ determining the method of production. Since labor was in short supply in the West in relation to the vast area of land that had been acquired through colonization, the most rational way of combining the elements of production was to raise the productivity of labor, resulting in a new capital-intensive combination. In Japan, on the other hand, because land was scarce compared to labor, the most rational response was to raise the productivity of land through the use of a large amount of labor, resulting in a new labor-intensive combination.
The Escape from Asia by Early Modern Japan and Europe
It is important to emphasize that neither of these new combinations of the elements of production was necessarily better or constituted the essential criteria for revolution. Both were rational choices based on the existing production conditions and both achieved the same result: emancipation from dependence on imports from Asia. Both Japan and Europe succeeded in breaking free from the pressure brought to bear on them by the markets of maritime Asia and achieving economic independence. The period of transition from medieval to early modern in Japanese civilization are thus related to the development of civilization in Western history. Just as the establishment of modern Western civilization occurred through Europe_s escape from economic dependence on one oceanic region of Asia (the Indian Ocean region), Japan_s national seclusion was an escape from dependence on another oceanic region of Asia (the China Sea region).