English: Reading Comprehension Set 3

Reading Comprehension Exercise for SBI PO, IBPS PO, Bank, Insurance and Competitive exams

This set contains Reading Comprehension Exercise Practice Passage for upcoming exams like SBI PO, IBPS PO, Clerk and insurance exams.

Read the following passage and answer the questions that follows.

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 the overlords’ failure to adjust to a rapidly expanding economy, but the stress was also due to factors beyond the overlords’ control. Concentration of the samurai in castle-towns had acted as a stimulus to trade. Commercial efficiency, in 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 not surprising that their tastes and habits grew expensive. Overlords’ income, despite the increase in rice production among their tenant farmers, failed to keep pace with their expenses. Although shortfalls in overlords’ income resulted almost as much from laxity among their tax collectors (the nearly inevitable outcome of hereditary office-holding) as from their higher standards of living, a misfortune like a fire or flood, bringing an increase in expenses or a drop 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 overlords to increase their income because the amount of rice that farmers could be made to pay in taxes was not unlimited, and since the income of Japan’s central government consisted in part of taxes collected by the shogun from his huge domain, the government too was constrained. 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 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 and further reclamation was technically unfeasible. Direct taxation of the samurai themselves would be politically dangerous. This left the shoguns only commerce as a potential source of government income.

Most of the country’s wealth, or so it seemed, was finding its way into the hands of city merchants. It appeared reasonable that they should contribute part of that revenue to ease the shogun’s burden of financing the state. A means of obtaining such revenue was soon found by levying forced loans, 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, 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
    View Answer
    Option A
    Explanation
    : The passage is a discussion of the economic situation of Japan’s feudal overlords in the 18th century
  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.
    View Answer
    Option D
    Explanation
    : The overlords’ income failed to keep pace with their expenses. Thus their  ’profits decreased’. They ’struggled ’ to find means to meet operating expenses.
  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
    View Answer
    Option B
    Explanation
    : The samurai are described as idle and given to expensive pursuits. The author sympathizes that their idleness was not totally a matter of choice; they were ’reduced to idleness’. The author feels their response ’not surprising’
  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
    View Answer
    Option A
    Explanation
    : (C), (D) and (E) are factors but not the major reasons
  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.
    View Answer
    Option E
    Explanation
    : They could have recovered from the debt if their income increased. But this became virtually impossible because.. Read the first statement of second paragraph which says… It was difficult for individual samurai overlords to increase their income because the amount of rice that farmers could be made to pay in taxes was not unlimited
  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
    View Answer
    Option C
    Explanation
    : This I what the author means by “hereditary office-holding”
  7. Which of the following could best be substituted for the word “This” as highlighted in the passage 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
    View Answer
    Option D
    Explanation
    : Option D) is the summary of the sentences preceding This.
  8. The passage implies that which of the following was the primary reason whty the Tokugawa shotguns turned to city merchants for help in financing the state?
    A) A series of costly wars had depleted the nations 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 shotguns
    E) Further reclamation of land would not have been economically advatageous
    View Answer
    Option B
    Explanation
    : Mentioned in third paragraph start.
  9. According to the passage, the actions of the Tokugawa shotguns 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.
    View Answer
    Option A
    Explanation
    : Note the use of word regrettable in the question and regrettably in the passage (last line). The regret was that it became difficult for the average Japanese “to make ends meet” because prices were “pushed up”
  10. Which of the following word means MOST SMILIAR to the word LAXITY as mentioned in the passage.
    A) facility
    B) domain
    C) attitude
    D) leniency
    E) prominence
    View Answer
    Option D
    Explanation
    : laxity – lack of strictness

 

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