Japan: The Role of Insurance in The Rapid Modernization of Japan

Takau Yoneyama

in World Insurance

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199657964
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191744709 | DOI:
Japan: The Role of Insurance in The Rapid Modernization of Japan

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This chapter traces the history of the Japanese insurance industry. Japan adopted an isolationist policy in 1639, which established national seclusion, disrupted trade, and reduced the opportunities for the marine insurance industry. Prior to isolation, a primitive form of marine insurance called nagegane had existed, brought by the Portuguese at the beginning of the seventeenth century. Historians have discovered that traders from Hakata and Sakai provided financing that included marine accident coverage for ship owners, merchants, and tradesmen. As shipping businesses developed along the coasts, methods for handling marine accidents were systematized and so-called marine contracts (kaijou ukeoi) began to be conducted by shipping agents in these areas. Marine contracts worked by attaching a risk fee onto shipping charges, while damages during transport on entrusted cargo saw the principal on the cargo paid to the consigning merchant. Upon entering a marine contract, a marine contract note (kaijou ukeoi tegata) fulfilling the roles of a receiving note and a marine insurance policy was issued. This domestic risk hedging method co-existed alongside modern marine insurance for international trade until the beginning of the Meiji period in 1868.

Keywords: Japanese insurance industry; insurance history; isolation policy; marine insurance; risk hedging; nagegane

Chapter.  12683 words. 

Subjects: International Business

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