Economic history has been an important subject for modern Japanese thought, because it discusses the nature of the rapid social change that the country has experienced since the mid-nineteenth century and its significance in relation to the rest of the world. The discipline was established in the 1930s and from then on to the 1960s economic (and social) history acted as a key discipline in the field of humanities and social sciences by providing a methodology for assessing the distance between the West and Japan in economic and social development and by offering an interpretation of indigenous sources of development. It made a vital contribution to the birth of social science in modern Japan.