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passage 6 in the eighteenth century, japan's feudal [#permalink]
17 Feb 2004, 04:46
passage 6 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
<b>(5)</b> the overlords' failure to adjust to a rapidly ex-
panding economy, but the stress was also due to
factors beyond the overlords' control. concen-
tration of the samurai in castle-towns had acted
as a stimulus to trade. commercial efficiency, in
<b>(10)</b> 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
<b>(15)</b> not surprising that their tastes and habits grew
expensive. overlords' income, despite the in-
crease in rice production among their tenant
farmers, failed to keep pace with their expenses.
although shortfalls in overlords' income re-
<b>(20)</b> sulted almost as much from laxity among their
tax collectors (the nearly inevitable outcome of
hereditary officeholding) as from their higher
standards of living, a misfortune like a fire or
flood, bringing an increase in expenses or a drop
<b>(25)</b> 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 over-
<b>(30)</b> lords to increase their income because the
amount of rice that farmers could be made to
pay in taxes was not unlimited, and since the in-
come of japan's central government consisted in
part of taxes collected by the shogun from his
<b>(35)</b> huge domain, the government too was con-
strained. 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
<b>(40)</b> 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
<b>(45)</b> and further reclamation was technically unfeasi-
ble. direct taxation of the samurai themselves
would be politically dangerous. this left the
shoguns only commerce as a potential source of
<b>(50)</b> most of the country's wealth, or so it seemed,
was finding its way into the hands of city mer-
chants. it appeared reasonable that they should
contribute part of that revenue to ease the
shogun's burden of financing the state. a means
<b>(55)</b> of obtaining such revenue was soon found by
levying forced ioans, 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,
<b>(60)</b> 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. the passage is most probably an excerpt from
(a) an economic history of japan
(b) the memoirs of a samurai warrior
(c) a modern novel about eighteenth-century japan
(d) an essay contrasting japanese feudalism with its western counterpart
(e) an introduction to a collection of japanese folktales
2. which of the following financial situations is most analogous to the financial situation in which japan's tokugawa shoguns found themselves in the eighteenth century?
(a) a small business borrows heavily to invest in new equipment, but is able to pay off its debt early when it is awarded a lucrative government contract.
(b) fire destroys a small business, but insurance covers the cost of rebuilding.
(c) a small business is turned down for a loan at a local bank because the owners have no credit history?
(d) a small business has to struggle to meet operating expenses when its profits decrease.
(e) a small business is able to cut back sharply on spending through greater commercial efficiency and thereby compensate for a loss of revenue.
3. which of the following best describes the attitude of the author toward the samurai discussed in lines 11-16?
(a) warmly approving
(b) mildly sympathetic
(c) bitterly disappointed
(d) harshly disdainful
(e) profoundly shocked
4. according to the passage, the major reason for the financial problems experienced by japan's feudal overlords in the eighteenth century was that
(a) spending had outdistanced income
(b) trade had fallen off
(c) profits from mining had declined
(d) the coinage had been sharply debased
(e) the samurai had concentrated in castle-towns
5.the passage implies that individual samurai did not find it easy to recover from debt for which of the following reasons?
(a) agricultural production had increased.
(b) taxes were irregular in timing and arbitrary in amount.
(c) the japanese government had failed to adjust to the needs of a changing economy.
(d) the domains of samurai overlords were becoming smaller and poorer as government revenues increased.
(e) there was a limit to the amount in taxes that farmers could be made to pay.
6. the passage suggests that, in eighteenth-century japan, the office of tax collector
(a) was a source of personal profit to the officeholder
(b) was regarded with derision by many japanese
(c) remained within families
(d) existed only in castle-towns
(e) took up most of the officeholder's time
7. which of the following could best be substituted for the word "this " in line 47 without changing the meaning of the passage?
(a) the search of japan's tokugawa shoguns for solvency
(b) the importance of commerce in feudal japan
(c) the unfairness of the tax structure in eighteenth-century japan
(d) the difficulty of increasing government income by other means
(e) the difficulty experienced by both individual samurai and the shogun himself in extricating themselves from debt
8. the passage implies that which of the following was the primary reason why the tokugawa shoguns turned to city merchants for help in financing the state?
(a) a series of costly wars had depleted the national treasury.
(b) most of the country's wealth appeared to be in city merchants' hands.
(c) japan had suffered a series of economic reversals due to natural disasters such as floods.
(d) the merchants were already heavily indebted to the shoguns.
(e) further reclamation of land would not have been economically advantageous.
9. according to the passage, the actions of the tokugawa shoguns in their search for solvency for the government were regrettable because those actions
(a) raised the cost of living by pushing up prices
(b) resulted in the exhaustion of the most easily worked deposits of silver and gold
(c) were far lower in yield than had originally been anticipated
(d) did not succeed in reducing government spending
(e) acted as a deterrent to trade
6. the passage suggests that, in eighteenth-century japan, the office of tax collector (a) was a source of personal profit to the officeholder (b) was regarded with derision by many japanese (c) remained within families (d) existed only in castle-towns (e) took up most of the officeholder's time
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