Seminar Series

Property Regimes, Religious Power, and State Formation: Modern Transformation of the East Asian Region

Thursday, 25 November 2021 | 9:00 - 10:00 (JST)
Zoom Webinar
  • Kentaro Matsubara Professor, Graduate School of Law and Politics, the University of Tokyo
  • Kenneth Mori MCELWAIN Professor, Institute of Social Science, The University of Tokyo

This presentation focuses on the relationships between the protection of property and the formation of the state in Tokugawa Japan and Qing China, highlighting the differences in the roles of what we might call religious beliefs. The protection of the private property is seen as a basic function of the modern sovereign state. However, before the state systems of China and Japan were reformulated into modern sovereign states, the relationships between state bureaucracy and property regimes functioning at the level of local communities greatly differed in the two societies. This was partly due to different relationships between state bureaucracy and local communities. The difference in the formation of local communities was tightly connected to a difference in the roles of religious beliefs. Moreover, such differences in traditional social formation would influence the different ways in which China and Japan would integrate themselves into the Westphalian system of sovereign states in the 19th century.


Kentaro Matsubara (LL.B. Tokyo, D.Phil. Oxford) is a Professor of Legal History at the University of Tokyo. He works in the intersecting area of legal history and comparative law, focusing on property regimes and state structures in East Asia. His most recent works include: ‘East, East and West: Comparative Law and the Historical Processes of Legal Interaction in China and Japan’ (2019) 66(4) American Journal of Comparative Law. He is currently working on a manuscript on Law of the Ancestors: Lineage Property-Holding and Social Structures in 19th Century South China. He has held visiting appointments at Columbia Law School, the University of Hong Kong, the National University of Singapore, and Yale University.