SOAS University of London

Japan Research Centre

‘Bad Practices’ and ‘Fraudulent Means’: Japan and International Debates on Commercial Morality in the Late 19th – Early 20th Centuries

Janet Hunter lecture 2014
Professor Janet Hunter (LSE)

Date: 8 December 2014Time: 7:15 PM

Finishes: 8 December 2014Time: 9:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: Khalili Lecture Theatre

Type of Event: Lecture


Discussions on the morality of business conduct have a long tradition in Western Europe, and the rapid growth of the British economy in the 19th century generated growing debates on what was referred to as ‘commercial morality’. Though starting mainly in England, consideration of these issues developed into a global discourse on commercial morality in the late-19th – early 20th centuries, a period  during which Japan became increasingly integrated into international commercial transactions. This discourse included a perceived global hierarchy of standards of business morality, a hierarchy in which Japan was regarded as being situated right at the bottom. This lecture will explore the evolution of this transnational discourse,  Japan’s part in it, and the response of Japan’s business and political leaders to the criticisms levied at their country.


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2014 WG Beasley Memorial Lecture Teaser - Professor Janet Hunter

Speaker Biography

Janet Hunter has written widely on the economics and social development of modern Japan, focussing in particular on the development of the female labour market, the textile industry, and the development of communications. Her current research is focussed on two projects: the economic effects of the Great Kantō Earthquake of 1923 and on the international discourse on commercial morality (in conjunction with the Shibusawa Eiichi Memorial Foundation), the subject of this lecture. Recent publications include The Historical Consumer: Consumption and Everyday Life in Japan, 1850-2000 (edited, with P.Francks, 2012); ‘Reviving the Kansai Cotton Industry: Engineering Expertise and Knowledge Sharing in the Early Meiji Period’ (Japan Forum Spring 2014);’”Extreme Confusion and Disorder”? The Japanese Economy in the Greant Kantō Earthquake of 1923’, forthcoming, Journal of Asian Studies Autumn 2014.

Organiser: Japan Research Centre / Centres & Programmes Office

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