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In the eighteenth century, Japan's feudal overlords, from

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In the eighteenth century, Japan's feudal overlords, from [#permalink] New post 08 Jul 2009, 07:15
In the eighteenth century, Japan’s feudal overlords, from the shogun to the humblest samurai, found themselves under financial stress. In part, this stress can be attributed to the overlords’ failure to adjust to a rapidly expanding economy, but the stress was also due to factors beyond the overlords’ control. Concentration of the samurai in castle-towns had acted as a stimulus to trade. Commercial efficiency, in turn, had put temptations in the way of buyers. Since most samurai had been reduced to idleness by years of peace, encouraged to engage in scholarship and martial exercises or to perform administrative tasks that took little time, it is not surprising that their tastes and habits grew expensive. Overlords’ income, despite the increase in rice production among their tenant farmers, failed to keep pace with their expenses. Although shortfalls in overlords’ income resulted almost as much from laxity among their tax collectors (the nearly inevitable outcome of hereditary office-holding) as from their higher standards of living, a misfortune like a fire or flood, bringing an increase in expenses or a drop in revenue, could put a domain in debt to the city rice-brokers who handled its finances. Once in debt, neither the individual samurai nor the shogun himself found it easy to recover.
It was difficult for individual samurai overlords to increase their income because the amount of rice that farmers could be made to pay in taxes was not unlimited, and since the income of Japan’s central government consisted in part of taxes collected by the shogun from his huge domain, the government too was constrained. Therefore, the Tokugawa shoguns began to look to other sources for revenue. Cash profits from government-owned mines were already on the decline because the most easily worked deposits of silver and gold had been exhausted, although debasement of the coinage had compensated for the loss. Opening up new farmland was a possibility, but most of what was suitable had already been exploited and further reclamation was technically unfeasible. Direct taxation of the samurai themselves would be politically dangerous. This left the shoguns only commerce as a potential source of government income.
Most of the country’s wealth, or so it seemed, was finding its way into the hands of city merchants. It appeared reasonable that they should contribute part of that revenue to ease the shogun’s burden of financing the state. A means of obtaining such revenue was soon found by levying forced loans, known as goyo-kin; although these were not taxes in the strict sense, since they were irregular in timing and arbitrary in amount, they were high in yield. Unfortunately, they pushed up prices. Thus, regrettably, the Tokugawa shoguns’ search for solvency for the government made it increasingly difficult for individual Japanese who lived on fixed stipends to make ends meet.


1. Which of the following best describes the attitude of the author toward the samurai discussed in lines 11-16?

Warmly approving
Bitterly disappointed
Mildly sympathetic
Harshly disdainful
Profoundly shocked ( Answer is Mildly sympathetic )




4. According to the passage, the major reason for the financial problems experienced by Japan’s feudal overlords in the eighteenth century was that

trade had fallen off
profits from mining had declined
the coinage had been sharply debased
the samurai had concentrated in castle-towns
spending had outdistanced income ( answer is Spending had outdistanced income )


7. Which of the following could best be substituted for the word "This" in line 47 without changing the meaning of the passage?

The search of Japan’s Tokugawa shoguns for solvency
The importance of commerce in feudal Japan
The unfairness of the tax structure in eighteenth century Japan
The difficulty of increasing government income by other means
The difficulty experienced by both individual samurai and the shogun himself in extricating themselves from debt

The difficulty of increasing government income by other means
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Re: Can anyone make me understand the answers for this RC [#permalink] New post 08 Jul 2009, 08:12
adiraju wrote:
In the eighteenth century, Japan’s feudal overlords, from the shogun to the humblest samurai, found themselves under financial stress. In part, this stress can be attributed to the overlords’ failure to adjust to a rapidly expanding economy, but the stress was also due to factors beyond the overlords’ control. Concentration of the samurai in castle-towns had acted as a stimulus to trade. Commercial efficiency, in turn, had put temptations in the way of buyers. Since most samurai had been reduced to idleness by years of peace, encouraged to engage in scholarship and martial exercises or to perform administrative tasks that took little time, it is not surprising that their tastes and habits grew expensive. Overlords’ income, despite the increase in rice production among their tenant farmers, failed to keep pace with their expenses. Although shortfalls in overlords’ income resulted almost as much from laxity among their tax collectors (the nearly inevitable outcome of hereditary office-holding) as from their higher standards of living, a misfortune like a fire or flood, bringing an increase in expenses or a drop in revenue, could put a domain in debt to the city rice-brokers who handled its finances. Once in debt, neither the individual samurai nor the shogun himself found it easy to recover.
It was difficult for individual samurai overlords to increase their income because the amount of rice that farmers could be made to pay in taxes was not unlimited, and since the income of Japan’s central government consisted in part of taxes collected by the shogun from his huge domain, the government too was constrained. Therefore, the Tokugawa shoguns began to look to other sources for revenue. Cash profits from government-owned mines were already on the decline because the most easily worked deposits of silver and gold had been exhausted, although debasement of the coinage had compensated for the loss. Opening up new farmland was a possibility, but most of what was suitable had already been exploited and further reclamation was technically unfeasible. Direct taxation of the samurai themselves would be politically dangerous. This left the shoguns only commerce as a potential source of government income.
Most of the country’s wealth, or so it seemed, was finding its way into the hands of city merchants. It appeared reasonable that they should contribute part of that revenue to ease the shogun’s burden of financing the state. A means of obtaining such revenue was soon found by levying forced loans, known as goyo-kin; although these were not taxes in the strict sense, since they were irregular in timing and arbitrary in amount, they were high in yield. Unfortunately, they pushed up prices. Thus, regrettably, the Tokugawa shoguns’ search for solvency for the government made it increasingly difficult for individual Japanese who lived on fixed stipends to make ends meet.


1. Which of the following best describes the attitude of the author toward the samurai discussed in lines 11-16?

Warmly approving
Bitterly disappointed
Mildly sympathetic
Harshly disdainful
Profoundly shocked ( Answer is Mildly sympathetic )




4. According to the passage, the major reason for the financial problems experienced by Japan’s feudal overlords in the eighteenth century was that

trade had fallen off
profits from mining had declined
the coinage had been sharply debased
the samurai had concentrated in castle-towns
spending had outdistanced income ( answer is Spending had outdistanced income )


7. Which of the following could best be substituted for the word "This" in line 47 without changing the meaning of the passage?

The search of Japan’s Tokugawa shoguns for solvency
The importance of commerce in feudal Japan
The unfairness of the tax structure in eighteenth century Japan
The difficulty of increasing government income by other means
The difficulty experienced by both individual samurai and the shogun himself in extricating themselves from debt

The difficulty of increasing government income by other means


Adiraju, Please don't post the answers with the questions.

For Q1, following choices are too extreme, so rule them out as author's language is not harsh by any means in the above passage.
Bitterly disappointed
Harshly disdainful
Profoundly shocked

We are left with two choices: Warmly approving and Mildly sympathetic

First paragraph shows how feudal overlords got into financial mess and found it difficult to recover.
Second paragraph lists the reasons why it was difficult for the overlords to increase their incomes.

Author doesn't seem to approve anything but shows mild sympathy.

For Q4, answer lies in following sentence:
Although shortfalls in overlords’ income resulted almost as much from laxity among their tax collectors (the nearly inevitable outcome of hereditary office-holding) as from their higher standards of living,

It clearly states that their higher standard of living was one of the factor for shortfalls in overlords' income. So, "spending had outdistanced income" is the correct choice.

For Q7, I believe line 47 is: This left the shoguns only commerce as a potential source of government income.
Above this line author lists different means of increasing revenue but all the means were unable to increase revenue due to different reasons.

So "This" refers to The difficulty of increasing government income by other means
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Re: Can anyone make me understand the answers for this RC [#permalink] New post 08 Jul 2009, 08:53
Is there any simple technique to read and understand simultaneously in short time.

I am just the conventional reader.
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Re: Can anyone make me understand the answers for this RC [#permalink] New post 19 Jul 2009, 10:10
Agree with C,E,D

Please do not post answer along with the question. Make it a spoiler in the last of the post.
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Re: Can anyone make me understand the answers for this RC [#permalink] New post 12 Sep 2010, 06:49
I have a doubt as regards the 7th question.
Choice (A) seems to indicate that shoguns are going for commerce to meet its financial obligations ( solvency). Passage indicates that overlord income fails to keep with their expenses ,so they need to go for commerce to meet their expenses i.e to meet their financial obligation .
It is only given samurai increase their income ( 1st sentence 2nd para) , and no where mentioned about increase in government income.
Also last sentence of paragraph says " Tokugawa shoguns search for slovency"
So is not the option (A) correct choice and not (D)
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Re: Can anyone make me understand the answers for this RC [#permalink] New post 26 Sep 2010, 13:58
Dude don't post the answers with the questions. In addition to explaining the answers to you, some of us also would like to attempt the questions on our own first.
Re: Can anyone make me understand the answers for this RC   [#permalink] 26 Sep 2010, 13:58
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