- In Search of Statistical Tables edited by Philipp Franz von Siebold: An Episode in the Early History of Statistical Survey in Japan
- No.27, p.1-14
I made an investigation on the history of statistical surveys in the early period of the Meij era as a part of the research project ``Estimates of Long-Term Economic Statistics of Japan since 1868” which was carried out by Professor Kazushi Ohkawa and others during my tenure of office at the Information and Documentation Centre for Japanese Economic Statistics, the Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
From this study, I found two historical episodes. The one was that Koji Sugi, the first chief officer of in the Central Statistical Office of the Japanese Government, used European techniques of statistical survey to take the census of Yamanashi Prefecture in 1879. This was the first undertaking to apply the European statistical survey techniques in Japan.
The other was that Philipp Franz von Siebold introduced European techniques of statistical survey into Japan in the last days of the Tokugawa shogunate, which was before Sugi's undertaking. He who stayed at Deshima in Nagasaki educated Japanese students at his private school and had a great influence upon the Japanese society at the dawn of a new era. It is said that he taught his students how to interpret European style statistical and tables how to use statistical survey techniques.
He also made the statistical tables of the Japanese-Dutch trade and the rice production, prices, and populations in Japan by using documents in the Dutch merchant office at Deshima. Although he had a plan to include these statistical tables in his masterpiece “Nippon”, which was published after he was expeled from Japan and returned to the Netherlands, he couldn't succeed in accomplishing it.
A massive amount of the materials collected by him in Japan were scattered in the Netherlands, Germany and England. Parts of his materials including his manuscripts for “Nippon”，however, were fortunately preserved under the name of Die Sieboldiana-Sammlung at the Ostasien-Instituts der Ruhr-Univasitat in Bochum, West Germany. With the assistance of Dr. Vera Schmidt who had completed the drafts of the precise descriptive catalogue of the collection, I made a visit to the Insituts in September 1988 and found almost all the statistical tables edited by Siebold which I had been searching for a long time.
It is my desire that these statistical tables would make some contribution to the Siebold study from a social science viewpoint in Japan.