Japan Industries Part I

By | January 7, 2022

History recalls some industry cultivated in ancient times by the Japanese, a family industry that only served to meet the most immediate needs of life. Over the centuries, the frequent relations with China introduced, together with many other cultural elements, also the arts and empirical knowledge that were the fruit of that millenary civilization.

During feudalism, industry had a local character; each region had its own industry, mostly hereditary in the families who cultivated it, largely subsidized and encouraged by the daimy ō, head of the region, of which they were subjects and for whom they worked. The products belonged to him and he was in charge of exchanging them. The products, with the exception of mining and some other products, rarely crossed the sea and reached the continent. Their exchange took place in the interior of the country and production was therefore limited to internal needs.

It was with the Restoration that the new ones arose and the old industries were organized on the models and according to Western concepts, behind the powerful impulse of the new regime.

If Japan has a sufficient supply of coal for its present and future needs (about 8 billion tons), and if some metals, such as copper and manganese, abound, iron is in short supply, as has been said, which Japan is obliged to supply from neighboring countries that are rich in it, especially China. The same is true of cotton, which powers the country’s most important industry and for which it is tributary to the United States and India.

The purchase costs are compensated above all by the low wages, on which the industry is based and finds its prosperity. The worker earns on average 2-2.5 yen per day, the worker 1 yen; you work from 9 to 11 hours a day; in the textile industries 11½-12 hours. The feminine element prevails over the masculine: in 1926 there were 981 thousand workers against 894 thousand workers; the former mostly in the textile industries, and, if we consider the minimum wages and the higher performance, it is easy to understand the reasons for the development taken by these industries. The workforce abounds and this favors the industrialist, keeping wages low. They are mostly peasants driven into the city by hunger or women, usually girls, recruited by deceit in the countryside by skilled emissaries from factories who, with the mirage of great earnings, they throw them for the contractual period (3-5 years) to languish with hardship and fatigue in the factories. Since 1926, however, with provisions concerning working hours, the treatment of working mothers, accidents, etc., the government has begun to take an interest in the working masses and their treatment, the ephemeral basis on which the greatness and prosperity of the country rests. industry of the Empire. On the other hand, these masses are already beginning to be aware of their rights and the increasingly frequent strikes of recent years (246 in 1921, 250 in 1922, 263 in 1923, 333 in 1924) have had, if nothing else, the effect of an increase in wages. with provisions concerning working hours, the treatment of working mothers, accidents, etc., the government has begun to take an interest in the working masses and their treatment, an ephemeral basis on which the greatness and prosperity of the Empire’s industry rests.. On the other hand, these masses are already beginning to be aware of their rights and the increasingly frequent strikes of recent years (246 in 1921, 250 in 1922, 263 in 1923, 333 in 1924) have had, if nothing else, the effect of an increase in wages. with provisions concerning working hours, the treatment of working mothers, accidents, etc., the government has begun to take an interest in the working masses and their treatment, an ephemeral basis on which the greatness and prosperity of the Empire’s industry rests.. On the other hand, these masses are already beginning to be aware of their rights and the increasingly frequent strikes of recent years (246 in 1921, 250 in 1922, 263 in 1923, 333 in 1924) have had, if nothing else, the effect of an increase in wages.

According to Healthvv, the war gave enormous impetus to the industries of the country, which, at a time when its competitors in the neighboring markets were occupied on the European battlefields, could replace them by increasing production, expanding the plants and, above all, portraying colossal profits. After the war, however, the general crisis and the resumption of European commercial activities in Asia threw the Japanese industry into serious embarrassment. The earthquake of 1923 still brought such a strong blow to the national economy that it had profound repercussions on industrial activity and made it enter a period of depression from which it is just now beginning to recover. At the end of 1924, in Japan alone, there were 48,934 factories with more than 5 workers, about 75% of which were equipped with motive power.

Among the industries, the first place belongs to the textile industry (17,283 factories), to be placed among the traditional activities of the country, whose origins are very ancient, when the fibers of the paper mulberry and the ribs of the wistaria and hemp were used as raw material . The silkworm, according to tradition, was introduced in 214 d. C., cotton in the 19th century; the use of wool, on the other hand, is recent. The Japanese textile production is more than enough for the internal demand, the superfluous is therefore sent to foreign markets. The main centers are the provinces of Ōsaka, Kyōto, Nagoya, Fukui, Tōkyō and Gumma. In terms of production quantities, cotton fabrics and yarns come first, which alone account for 25-30% of the global value of Japanese exports. Then come those of silk, with numerous and precious varieties (habutaechirimentsumugi, etc.), and, finally, those of wool and blends made especially in the provinces of Aichi, Mie and Ōsaka.

Japan Industries 01