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Origin[]

Ninomiya Sontoku, born Ninomiya Kinjirō, was a prominent 19th-century Japanese agricultural leader, philosopher, moralist and economist. Though he did not leave written philosophical work, his idea were later transcribed by his disciples, namely Tomita Takayoshi, Fukuzumi Masae and Saitō Takayuki. Ninomiya combined three strands of traditional teachings Buddhism, Shintōism and Confucianism and transformed them into practical ethical principles which matured out of his experiences. He saw agriculture as the highest form of humanity because it was the cultivation of resources given by the Kami. Ninomiya Sontoku emphasized the importance of compound interest which was not well understood among samurai and peasants.[citation needed] He calculated the maturity of each interest rate for 100 years to show its significance by using the Japanese abacus or soroban. In terms of agriculture, he viewed agricultural village life as communal, where surpluses from one year were invested to develop further land or saved for worse years, and shared by members of the community. He was aware that developed land had a lower tax base than established agricultural land and he was adept at financial management which he applied to his estate. He also encouraged immigrants from other estates and rewarded them if they successfully established an agricultural household. He also started his own financial institutions called gojoukou (五常講 ごじょうこう), which appear to be a forerunner of credit union. Each member of the village union could borrow funds interest free for 100 days, while the entire membership shared the cost in case of default. Combination of land development, immigration and communal finance all managed under diligent utilisation of abacus was a success and became the standard methodology of economic development in feudal Japan.

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