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Transformation and development of technology in the Japanese cotton industry

Author: Izumi, Takeo
Series: Japanese Experience of the UNU Human and Social Development Programme series ; 25
Published Year: 1980
Main Text (PDF version)

Preface An Analytical Viewpoint 1
Ⅰ. Coping with Technological Transformation 3

(ⅰ) Technological Transformation in the Spinning Process 3

(ⅱ) Technological Transformation in the Weaving Process 14

Ⅱ. The Recruitment of Operatives and their Training 29

(ⅰ) The System of Operative Recruitment 29

(ⅱ) On-the-Job Training of Operatives 39

Ⅲ. Japanese Ways of Rationalization and International Competitiveness 63

(ⅰ) Characteristics of Rationalization in Japan 63

(ⅱ) International Competitiveness of Japanese Cotton Industry 79

Conclusion The Position of the Cotton Industry in the Japanese Economy 85


The objective of this paper is to examine the latter half of the rationale of the UN University project, "Transformation and Development of Technology," in relation to the Japanese cotton industry. The period discussed in this paper is thus limited to the years since 1910.

The following is an analytical viewpoint underlying this paper. The modern cotton-spinning and cotton-weaving industries in Japan did not develop from the traditional. production pattern which had existed from the Tokugawa period. They were created as a result of large-scale mechanized plant transfer which in itself is a uniquely capitalistic form of production. Moreover, spinning and weaving were, in many cases, operated at the same time by one management, and this evolved into the spinning and weaving industry. The modern cotton-spinning industry in Japan can be defined as the "transfer type" as against the cotton textile industry of the "endogenous type" which existed from the Tokugawa period. The first element in a discussion of the Japanese cotton industry must, therefore, be to take these two separate types as a. basis.

Spinning, which was another category of the endogenous type, disappeared as it was overrun by the technology of the transfer type. Cotton textiles, however, maintained a strong foothold in the domestic market and developed independently in spite of the fact that the supply of cotton yarn was dependent upon the cotton-spinning industry of the transfer type. Furthermore,.the "endogenous" cotton textile industry relied upon domestic power looms which were developed due to the technological stimulation caused by the cotton textile industry of the transfer type. This brought about the modernization and self-sufficiency of the weaving sheds even on a small-scale basis. There emerged some endogenous weaving-shed managers who later aimed at production for the export market. Consequently, the technological interaction or mutual influence between the "endogenous" and the "transfer" types of the cotton textile industry must be the second element in our discussion.

The third is a problem pertaining to the quality of engineers and workers. The quality of engineers who were able to digest and transform the system of transferred technology, and their ability to develop new technology, must be discussed. Moreover, the quality of operatives who were able to keep up with the innovated system of technology, and the fact that they made the technical change and development possible by smooth operation of machines, should be taken into account.

The fourth element is the attitude of managers. Managers contributed greatly because they were eager to absorb and develop new technology and they pursued rationalization and stabilization of management. Their attitude was based upon the philosophy of "enrich the nation and strengthen the military" which led to another slogan exhorting people to "promote industry and enhance productivity" so that excessive imports could be prevented and a self-sufficient economy could be achieved. On the other hand, their attitude was also nurtured by the competition to secure as great a share as possible of both domestic and foreign markets.

The fifth topic to be discussed is that of the characteristics which accompany such technological change and development, and their limitations.


Technological Transformation in the Spinning Process


The transfer from steam to electric power must be pointed out as a premise for dealing with the theme of technological transformation in the Japanese cotton-spinning industry. From the standpoint of world history, steam power became widespread after the steam engine was patented in 1769. The shift from steam to electric. power began when an electric generator was operated for profit for the first time in 1880 in the midst of the great depression period.1 In Japan, electric power prevailed from 1906 when hydroelectric power generation surpassed thermoelectric power generation. Its prevalence became especially marked after 1914 when the Inawashiro Hydroelectric Power Plant was completed, as this was the starting point for the era of the transmission of long-distance high-voltage current.2

In direct relation to this process, the electrification of the Japanese cotton-spinning industry progressed rapidly. In 1922, the average actual rate of hydro, gas and electric power consumed per day was 69,000 horsepower (52.4 per cent of the total actual horsepower), thus exceeding thermoelectric power which accounted for 63,000 horsepower. By the 1930s the former category predominated.3 A breakdown according to engines (Table 1) reveals that although the number of electric motors completely surpassed that of the others in 1920, the actual horsepower supplied by them was about the same as that supplied by steam engines and steam turbines. Moreover, a breakdown according to the amount of electricity usage based upon industries (Table 2) reveals that electricity consumed by the dyeing and weaving industry compares remarkably with that of the chemical, machine, and mining and refining industries, which by their very nature would consume a high ratio of electricity.
TABLE 1. The Number of Motors and the Actual Horsepower in the Cotton-Spinning Industry
TABLE 2. Electricity Consumption According to Industries
This demonstrates that the power source of the cotton-spinning industry was transferred from steam power, the basic productive power during the period when industrial capitalism was established, to electric power, which yielded the higher productivity necessary for the stage of capitalistic monopoly.4 The rapidity and high ratio of electrification in the Japanese spinning industry deserves special attention in view of the fact that the ratios of electrification in the spinning industry in Britain, the USA and Germany in 1924 were 19 per cent, 59 per cent and 59 per cent respectively.5

The advantages of electrification for the spinning industry are considered to be as follows: 1) unit driving, 2) economy of power, 3) simple distribution of power, 4) liberation of the mill plan from the engine room, 5) easy handling of power motors, 6) lighting, and 7) substitution of, gas burners.6 The greatest merit, however, is said to be unit driving. In comparison to group driving run by steam power which was transmitted through a long shaft installed along the centre of the ceiling to belts attached to individual spinning frames, unit driving, made possible by the use of motors attached to individual spinning frames, offered the following merits: 1) increased productivity per spinning machine, 2) economy of installation, 3) reduction in number of female operatives, 4) improved quality of yarns, 5) decreased possibility of impediments and danger, 6) reduction of dust and 7) easy ventilation in winter.7

With regard to the productivity of spinning machines, the spindle frequency around 1910 was about 7,000 to 8,000 revolutions per minute. However, this was increased through the use of unit driving, and while foreign ring-spinners were designed to take a maximum frequency of 9,000 revolutions, an epoch-making Japanese spindle called N.S. ring-spinner which was developed in 1928 allowed for a frequency of more than 10,000 revolutions. In addition, the spindle frequency was maximized at 14,000 revolutions which was the limit of rotational frequency without imposing danger to human bodies.8

As far as the quality of yarns was concerned, a method which regulated the motor speed by degrees was adopted in order to stabilize the cop-winding speed, because the faster the cop-winding speed, the more easily the yarn snapped.9 Because there was a tendency for yarns to snap during the dry winter season and during summer when temperature and humidity are high, the carrier system which regulated the temperature and humidity within mills at a steady level was introduced at the end of the 1920s so that seasonal fluctuation in yarn quality and efficiency could be eliminated.10 An additional significance of unit driving was the fact that the Japanese cotton-spinning industry freed itself from uneconomical operations such as only a few spinning frames being used at the very end of a long shaft.11 Furthermore, unit driving became the technical foundation for labour reinforcement based upon the completion of efficiency among units, which was closely related to the contractural labour system (the wage system according to output rating). This factor pertaining to unit driving is said to be the "greatest merit for capitalists."12

With regard to unit driving, although the case of the Nisshin Boseki Co. Ltd.'s Kameido Plant is considered to be the beginning, its actual introduction should be considered to be from 1915 onwards, in view of the examples provided by Fuji Gas Boseki's Kawasaki Plant, Kurashiki Boseki's Manju Plant and Osaka Godo Boseki's Kamizaki Plant.13 Furthermore, it was installed at newly constructed or added plants as well as at those with conventional spinning machines, since these old models were remodelled to run on unit driving.14 The prevalency rate of unit driving cannot be shown quantitatively. In the case of Toyo Boseki Co. Ltd., the power supply depended entirely upon steam engines for the purpose of group driving until about 1910. From the 1920s, however, steam engines were replaced by electric motors. By the end of that decade, it was stated that the conventional long shaft had disappeared from the plant because not only spinning machines, but also roving machines, drawing machines, carding machines, winders and looms were all transferred to unit driving.15 It appears, therefore, that the Japanese cotton-spinning industry plunged into the installation of unit driving very rapidly in the 1920s.

Lastly, it must be pointed out that the prevalency of unit driving enlarged the scale of the plants because space no longer had to be given up for the shafts. As Table 3 reveals, there was already a definite tendency for the plants to be on a large scale as of 1914. However, plants with 10,000 to 30,000 spindles were predominant. In 1937, the predominant scale rose to more than 30,000 spindles, and 35 plants out of 209 plants (17 per cent) had more than 100,000 spindles. In comparison to the beginnings of modern Japanese cotton spinning, at Osaka Boseki Co. Ltd., which in 1882 had 10,500 spindles, such large-scale plants reveal the rapid growth of the industry. As a result of this enlarged scale, the reduced cost of building plants and transporting goods within them led to a reduction in production costs.

TABLE 3. The Scale of Spinning Plants


The process of spinning was itself shortened on the basis of unit driving. The process of spinning consists of , successively : opening, blending, scutching, carding, drawing, slubbing (initial slubbing), slubbing, intermediate stubbing, roving, fine roving and spinning. Diagram 1 illustrates the process and the names of machinery used at each level.16. The most time-consuming is the opening, blending and scutching process, and the process which can most easily be eliminated is roving as it is a matter of procedure.


The shortening of the blending and scutching process took place in the 1920s when the blending and scutching machines were directly connected, thus eliminating the intermediate scutching machine. This system combining the blending and scutching process became prevalent at the end of the 1920s.17 The simplification of the roving process was achieved by the introduction of high-draft ring spindles which increased the draft rate of cotton. The simplification process depended upon each individual case. While some eliminated an intermediate roving frame or a roving frame, others slightly shortened the hours spent on three frames. The most common way of simplification was to eliminate a roving frame. According to a description of a mill with 74,000 spindles owned by Platt Brothers (Table 4), 56 units of roving frames became totally unnecessary. It was estimated that 15 per cent of machinery cost, 10 per cent of plant floor space and 10 per cent of labour would be saved by this simplification.18

TABLE 4. A Comparison of the Number of Machines Needed According to Draft

Although in the West the device of high-draft ring spindles materialized prior to World War Ⅰ, it was not until the postwar period that the device was transferred to Japan.19 In spite of the fact that the yarn count was increased to medium and high, high-draft spindles developed in the West were not directly applicable20 to Japanese cotton spinning. This was because the main portion of Japanese production was made up of low count yarns, and a unique blending method21 using short-fibre Indian cotton was prevalent. Thus each spinning company became intent on developing a high-draft spindle suitable for Japanese cotton spinning through the remodelling of aproned spindles. As a result of this, Kusuo Imamura of Dai Nipponbo devised an ECO-type high-draft spindle, Takuya Nakamura of Toyobo an F.N. aproned spindle, and Masuro Kobayashi of Kurabo an independent device in the early 1930s. There were additional models. such as an OM type, and a Nitto type.22 Consequently, high-draft spindles became prevalent during the 1930s, and in particular the ECO-type is said to have become "extremely prevalent in view of the fact that it is well suited for the spinning technology existent in Japan, and it can easily be attached to a remodelled Platt spinning frame whrich is most commonly used in the Orient."23

TABLE 5. Consumption According to the Classification of Cotton

Kusuo Imamura, a graduate of Kyoto Imperial University with a Bachelor of Engineering degree, studied at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA, and subsequently entered Settsubo.24 He was, therefore, an engineer with the best technological knowledge possible in Japan at the time. Furthermore, Imamura remodelled an English intermediate roving frame with six-line rollers which did not become prevalent due to its inconvenience. He devised a four-pair roller to enhance the draft rate, and completed a simplex frame which resulted in the shortening of the roving process.25 This was the simplex high-draft spinning frame. In consequence, as shown in Table 6, it became possible to reduce the number of machines and operatives. In comparison to a conventional spinning machine, the ratio of operatives reduced was as much as 44.6 per cent. Although Toyobo purchased a super-draft spinning frame made by Hartmann of Germany, together with a sliver condensing machine, and installed them at the Tomita Plant on a test basis, they were cancelled because of the difficulty of handling and the high costs.26 It appears that super-high draft spinning frames were not put to practical use in the prewar period.

TABLE 6. A Comparison of Plants with 30,000 Spindles According to their Equipment and Operatives


1. Moritaro Yamada, Nippon Shihon-shugi Bunseki, Iwanami Bunko (1977), p. 203.

2. The supply of electricity grew from 716,000 kw in 1914 to 1,133,000. kw in 1919 (58.2 per cent increase), to 2,063,000 kw in 1923 (82.1 per cent increase), to 3,822,000 kw in 1928 (85.3 per cent increase), and to 4,657,000 kw in 1931 (21.8 per cent increase). Ki-ichi Mori, Nippon Kogyo Koseishi, Ito Shobo.(1943), p. 371.

3. Takeo Izumi, "Taishoki Menbo no Rodo Jijo to Gorika-Nippon no Genseiteki Rodo Kankei tono Kanrende," Senshu Keizaigaku Ronshu, vol. 10, no.2 (Feb. 1976), p. 8.

4. The significance of electricity as an energy source lies in the fact that it has incomparable concentration, divisibility, efficiency and inexpensiveness.

5. Hiromi Arisawa, Isaku Abe, "Sangyo Gorika", Keizaigaku Zenshu, vol. 43, Kaizosha (1930), p. 555.

6. Ibid., PP. 556-557.

7. Ibid.

8. Noriro Moriya, Boseki Seisanhi Bunseki, rev. ed., Ochanomizu Shobo (1973), pp. 74-75.

9. Hataji Iijima, Nippon Boseki-shi, Sogensha (1949), p. 235.

10. Moriya, op. cit., p. 91.

11. It is stated that, when. a mill operates only one spinning frame due to reduced operations, even though the mill is equipped with a shaft to run 25 spinning frames, it still requires 10 horsepower for the frame and 50 horsepower for the shaft.
Iijima, op. cit., p. 202.

12. Moriya, op cit., p. 76.

13. Izumi, "Taishoki Menbo no...," pp. 9-10.

14. Ibid., p. 10, Table 3.

15. Toyo Boseki Kabushiki Kaisha, Soritsu Nijunen Kinen Toyo Boseki Kabushiki Kaisha Yoran (1934), pp. 60-61.

16. The following is a brief explanation of each process. During the process of opening, blending and scutching, all admixtures such as residual leaves, seed and cauline fragments, waste fibre and sand are eliminated so that raw cotton is made into clean laps. Raw cotton must be put through the same machine and other machines several times. During the process of carding, short fibre and fibre lumps are eliminated by a card cloth (as twisted fibre and alien fibre are still mixed in the laps) in order to make stringed slivers by arranging the fibre in parallels. The drawing process is a process to make drawing slivers with even thickness by combining several slivers with uneven thickness. In view of the fact that drawing slivers are top thick and difficult to be immediately spun, the slivers are drafted during the process of roving in order to produce rough yarns which can then be sent to the spinning process.
Nippon Boseki Kyokai Tokei Bunsekikai ed., op, cit., pp. 87-102.

17. Moriya, op. cit., p. 80.
Dai Nippon Bo's ogaki Plant succeeded in combining these into one process in 1921 (ibid., p. 80). Moreover, Kanegafuchi Boseki was able to combine the blending and scutching frames into one in 1926 and thus an intermediate scutching frame was eliminated.
Holdings of Kanegafuchi Boseki Kabushiki Kaisha, Gijutsu Kaisho, no. 9.

18. Abe, Arisawa, op. cit., p. 560.

19. Those that were introduced into Japan were Casablanca's apron type with an aproned leather, Richter's three-line roller type, Platt's four-line roller type with soft rollers and Dobson's three-line roller type.
Holdings of Toyo Boseki Kabushiki Kaisha, Toyobo Nanajunen Shiryo. Kurashiki Boseki imported 25 units of Richter's high-draft spindle and began production at the Hayashima Plant in 1926.
Kurashiki Boseki Kabushiki Kaisha, Kaiko Rokujugonen (1953), pp. 408-409, 430.

20. It is said that although Kurabo attempted to produce low-count yarns on an experimental basis by the use of high-draft frames, they failed. They succeeded in production only after adding a great quantity of American cotton. Kurabo, op. cit., p. 430.

21. With regard to the ratio of blending, refer to Izumi, "Taishoki Menbo:..," p. 16, and Izumi, Shakai Kagaku Nenpo, vol. 13, "Dokusentaiteki Kyodai Menbo Shihon no Seisan Kozo to Sakushu Kiban," Senshu Daigaku Shakai Kagaku Kenkyujo (1979), p. 315.

22. Izumi, "Taishoki Menbo...," p. 14.

23 Toyota, Jidoshokki Seisakusho, Yonjunen-shi (1967), P. 157.
Kusuo Imamura.not only devised the roller part and cradle, but also specially designed the position of the rollers and the spindle beams to improve the frame itself.

24. I bid., P-159.

25. Nichibo Kabushiki Kaisha, Nichibo Nanajugonen-shi (1966), p. 198.
This was first adopted on a test basis by Dai Nipponbo's Ichinomiya Plant in 1931. In 1932, Kurehabo's Inami Plant and Tenman Orimono's Sasazu Plant changed their entire units to this model. However, it became prevalent in the latter half of the 1930s.
Moriya, op. cit., P. 79.

26. Toyo Boseki Kabushiki Kaisha, Toyobo Nanajunen-shi (1953), P. 191.

Technological Transformation in the Weaving Process


With regard to technological transformation in the weaving process, the transfer type, comprising the modern cotton-spinning and -weaving and textile industries, must be grasped separately from the endogenous type of cotton weaving. In view of the fact that, from the beginning, the former depended upon imported power looms and automatic looms1, which constituted the basis for the mechanization of the endogenous cotton textile industry, the steps leading to the usage of power looms will be dealt with here. The prevalence of electric motors was a prior condition for the mechanization of the endogenous cotton textile industry, using looms. (Table 1). In this case, however, the capacity of the motors was no more than about 10 horsepower.

TABLE 1. Engines and Horsepower in the Cotton-Weaving Industry

In the Enshu region of Shizuoka prefecture, which had been one of the major centres of endogenous cotton weaving, a "tall" hand loom (Takabata) with a built-in seating board and a treadle was popular around the time of the Meiji Restoration, and a "slam" loom (Battanbata) was introduced at the end of the 1870s The. cotton textile industry in the Enshu region was operated on a small-scale basis, and appears to have been at the initial stage of capitalistic management. After the introduction of Matsuda Model treadle looms in the 1890s, weaving became a specialized occupation rather than part-time work for farmers, and it moved toward the wholesale cottage industry or manufacture stage.2 Although the endogenous cotton textile industry totally relied upon the modern cotton-spinning industry of the transfer type for the supply of raw material, it managed to make distinct progress due to its strong share in the domestic cotton fabric market. The cotton textile industry in the Enshu region, which developed into a manufacturing-type industry and established an extensive network of weaver and waged piece-work relationships on the basis of such hand looms, came to adopt power looms. By 1915, the number of power looms greatly exceeded that of hand looms and treadle looms in this region. (There were 3513 power looms as against 5680 hand and treadle looms in 1910, 6939 as against 4597 in 1912, and 8119 as against 2627 in 1914.)3

The introduction of power looms in the Enshu region tended to be more on a test basis prior to the Russo-Japanese War, with full-scale introduction coming afterwards. The types. of loom existent in the Enshu region at this time were Toyota Model(676 looms), Suyama Model(160), Nakamura. Model (142), Iida Model (122), Nakayama Model (107), modified treadle looms(657), and others such as Iketani Model and Suzumasa (Masataro Suzuki) Model.4 The above reveals how many types of power looms were devised. It is probably accurate to state that there was definitely a phase similar to the Industrial Revolution within the endogenous cotton textile industry. As an extension of the successful transfer from hand looms to power looms, the Enshu cotton textile industry not only gained its position in the domestic market, but was also on its way to making inroads into the export market.

Table 2 illustrates the nationwide trend of a transfer to power looms. Note the rapid progress of facilitating power looms from the latter half of the 1920s, which at the same time denotes the progress of transfer from the narrow-cloth power loom to the broadcloth power loom. The average per capita annual cotton consumption grew from 1 yen 19 sen for the period 1895 to 1899 and 1 yen 32 sen for 1900 to 1904 to 2 yen 3 sen for the period 1905 to 1909 and 2 yen 51 sen for 1910 to 1914.5 Such increased cotton demand must be taken into consideration as one of the underlying factors which led to the adoption of power looms by the endogenous cotton textile industry.

TABLE 2. The Transition of Loom Facilities


Those who devised these power looms were house or loom carpenters who were, at the time, small producers and engineers in Japan. Sakichi Toyota, who in 1906 founded Toyota-shiki Shokki Kaisha as well as Toyota Jido Shokki Seisakusho, was a house carpenter. Ishimatsu Kubota, who produced the first iron power loom in Japan (1903), was also a carpenter. Masajiro Suzuki, who founded Suzumasa-shiki Shokki Kaisha and later established Enshu Shokki Seisaku Kaisha, switched from house carpentry to loom carpentry in 1904 and completed an iron narrow-cloth power loom in 1908. Moreover, Michio Suzuki, who founded Suzuki-shiki Shokki Kaisha, the predecessor of Suzuki Jidosha Kogyo, was formerly a carpenter and made his model power loom in 1913.6

Sakichi had come to invent the power loom and the automatic loom after going through many hardships, as is often the case with inventors. He was born the son of a carpenter in 1867 in Hamana County, the centre of the Enshu cotton textile industry. Although he himself became a carpenter, he was intent on developing a power loom. He was motivated in this direction after seeing the textile industry operated by farmers as part-time work. In addition to his environment, such factors as the establishment of the Monopoly Patent Act in 1885 (revised as the Patent Act in 1888), and the holding of the Third Domestic Industrial Promotion Exhibition as part of the campaign to "promote industry and enhance productivity," appeared to have greatly influenced Sakichi's invention.7 In 1890, he invented the Toyota Model Manual Loom (a wooden manual loom) which was classified together with the hand loom.8 He then made an improved treadle loom with a thread feeder. It was in 1897 that he invented the first narrow-cloth power loom, called the Toyota Model Wooden Power Loom, operated by an oil engine. In the autumn of the same year, he and Tohachi Ishikawa, who was a cotton fabric broker (weaver), founded Otogawa Menshi Goshi Kaisha, which was equipped with 60 power looms. The first domestic power looms began production in the following year in the cotton-producing area of Chita.

Furthermore, Sakichi established a general partnership with Mitsui Bussan and founded Igeta Shokai in 1900. Here, he invented a thread feeder and a device to supply the woof threads while the loom was running. After the partnership with Mitsui was cancelled, he went into the cotton textile industry by establishing Toyota Shokai with 138 looms. Using the profit gained from this textile company, he manufactured such models as '38 Model, '39 Model and the Handy Model. In 1907 he founded Toyota-shiki Shokki Kabushiki Kaisha (capital: one million yen), with capital accumulated from financial leaders in Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya, so that power looms would come into general use. Table 3 illustrates the number of plants equipped with Toyota looms and other looms as of March 1909, after the company had operated for a full two years. The fact that Toyota looms were particularly widespread in the category of narrow-cloth looms used by the endogenous cotton textile industry can be clearly seen.9

After leaving the company in 191010, Sakichi went to the USA and Europe to do research on automatic looms, and became confident that he would be able to materialize his long-cherished desire.11 He founded Toyota Boshoku Kaisha in 1911, and started a full-scale project to develop an automatic loom using the profit gained from this company. Although this was not completely automatic, Sakichi, who had invented the automatic shuttle switch, devised the automatic shuttle receiver, the warp release and the tension mechanism in 1914, and the safety mechanism in 1916. Thus the new automatic loom, which bore no comparison to the old incomplete one, was put on a test operation in 1923, and in 1926 Sakichi completed the Toyota automatic loom which was far superior to those found in the rest of the world. He subsequently established Toyota Jido Shokki Seisakusho in order to produce and propagate his automatic looms.12

TABLE 3. The Number of Plants with Toyota Looms and Other Looms as of March, 1909


Table 4 shows the number and types of looms manufactured by Toyota-shiki Shokki Kaisha up to October 1935. There is a marked increase in the number of looms produced between 1910 and 1920s. In particular, the prevalence of broadcloth looms can be recognized. In such a relatively progressive endogenous cotton textile area as Enshu, textile manufacturers of this period not only operated narrow-cloth looms but also began to install broadcloth looms (Table 5). Thus, not only Toyota Model broadcloth looms but also many other models were produced, as can be seen in Table 6.

TABLE 4. The Number of Looms Manufactured by Toyota

TABLE 5. The Increased Broadcloth Looms in the Enshu Region

TABLE 6. Classification of Power Looms used by the the Members of the Enshu Export Cotton Textile Industry Trade (as of March, 1937)

Domestic power looms thus contributed to the mechanization of the endogenous cotton textile, industry. Moreover they were adopted by the transfer type of spinning and weaving mills or by the sections of the textile industry, which used to depend upon imported looms. Consequently, imported looms began to be replaced by domestic ones. As is shown in Table 7, which illustrates the mills which bought more than 500 looms from Toyota between 1923 and 1929, most Japanese spinning companies and textile companies. purchased a large quantity. Furthermore, the Toyota automatic loom rapidly prevailed after its completion (Table 8).13 Thus, starting with the improvement of hand looms, Sakichi Toyota invented the power loom and contributed to the factory weaving of the endogenous cotton textile industry. He also promoted automated production in the transfer-type sections of the spinning and weaving and Cotton textile industries with the use of domestic automatic looms.

TABLE 7. The Purchasers of Toyota Regular Looms

TABLE 8. The Sales Quantity of Toyota Automatic Looms

The Toyota Automatic Loom Factory not only manufactured looms but was also involved in the production of the ECO-type high-draft spinner devised by Kusuo Imamura, and thus ventured into the full-scale production of spinners. They made a narrow-cloth spinner in 1934, developed a JL-type of improved high-draft mechanism in 1936 and completed the four-line super high-draft spinner which increased the draft ratio by one hundred times in 1937.14 Table 9 shows the sales quantity of the Toyota spinners. Toyota's automatic looms and spinners became widespread domestically as well as abroad, as they began exporting mainly to China and India (Table 10),15 which contributed to the promotion of a self-sufficient industry by preventing the excessive importation of spinning frames and looms. Table 11 illustrates the trend of excessive importation. Toyota Jito Shokki Seisakusho, moreover, had sold the patent right for E100,000 in 1929 to Platt Brothers Co., Ltd., which had been the world's largest cotton-machinery maker, so that Platt Brothers could produce and sell the Toyota automatic looms in countries excluding Japan, China and the USA.16 This is significant in the sense that Japan was able to export technology to an advanced capitalist nation.17

TABLE 9. The Sales Quantity of Toyota Spinners

TABLE 10. The Export Quantity of Toyota Looms and Spinners

TABLE. 11 The Import/Export Transition of Spinning and Weaving Machines

TABLE 12. The Number of Spinners and Looms According to the Country and Company of Production

TABLE 13. The Sales Details of Spinning Machinery According to Classification Produced by Toyota Automatic Loom Factory

In concluding this chapter, the names of the producers and their countries together with the number of spinning frames installed at spinning mills and the number of looms installed at spinning and weaving mills as of November 1920 are shown in Table 12. The production of spinning frames in Japan was so negligible that it can be said to have been nothing more than experimental. On the other hand, domestic looms occupied 36.4 per cent of the total number of 49,244, and it can thus be seen that they had achieved fairly positive results.


1. It was about,1904 and 1905 that automatic looms were imported, and there were types made by Northrop, Stafford and Draper. Later, looms made by Schlieken, Hartmann, Luchie and Henry Bayer were imported. Nevertheless, they could not be used as automatic looms from the beginning. The automatic device was detached and they were used as power looms. It was in the latter half of the 1920s that they could be used as automatic looms. Moreover, it was during this period that power looms began to be remodelled into automatic looms. Toyobo Nanajuninen-shi Shiryo.

2. Takeo Izumi, "Tenkanki ni Okeru Nippon no Mengyo-Meiji Makki ni Okeru Sono Kozo Henka Bunseki...," Senshu Keizaigaku Ronshu, no.8 (June 1969), pp. 161-162.

3. Ibid., p. 173.

4. Ibid., p. 172.

5. Ibid., pp. 152-153.

6. Toshiaki Chokki, "Meiji Taishoki no Sangyo Kikai", Keizai Shigaku, vol. 7, no.1, Todai Shuppankai (1972), pp. 49-52.

7. Mitsuhaya Kajinishi, Toyota Shokki, Yoshikawa Kobunkan (1963), pp. 14-16 and 31-32.

8. Although productivity was increased by about 40 to 50 per cent in comparison to the conventional hand loom, this model did not at all become prevalent due to the depression of 1890.

9. The greatest factor which contributed to the sudden prevalence of domestic power looms was the inexpensiveness of the Toyota power loom which cost 93 yen as against 872 yen for the four-shuttle power loom made by Hartmann, Germany.

10. It is said that Sakichi left this company because his enthusiasm for inventions conflicted with company policy which was aimed at profit-making only.
Toyota Sakichi-o Seiden Hensanjo, Toyota Sak i ch i Den (1933), pp. 112-113.

11. Although Sakichi was amazed to see in America that one operative could handle 18 to 24 looms, he discovered the following regarding the American looms: 1) slow rotational speed, 2) easily broken, 3) much vibration, 4) the warp threads snapped frequently, and 5) the textile quality was inferior. Thus he came to the conclusion that "American looms are nothing to be feared."
Ibid., pp. 115-116.

12. Ibid., pp. 112-131.

13. The major purchasers are as follows:
Toyota Boshoku (20,846 looms), Kikui Boshoku (1,662), Osaka Godo (1,378), Kanegafuchi (1,160), Kishiwada (1,045), Aichi Orimono (1,028), Kureha (712), Izumo Seishoku (681), Toyota Shokufu (600), Fukushima (508), Kawachi Boshoku (500), Utsumi Boshoku (400), Kurashiki (250), Toyo (240), Fuji (156) and Dai Nippon (72). Thus most of the major companies in Japan had adopted the Toyota model. Toyota Jido Shokki Seisakusho Shashi Henshu Iinkai, op. cit., p. 117.

14. Ibid., p. 158.
Moreover the first spinning frame in Japan was produced by Toyota Power Loom Company. Toyota had produced an entire line of spinning machinery. This ranged from the opener to the spinner, which came to over ten kinds of frames in. 1921. These were used by the China plant, Toyota Kobo, which was then under construction, having a capacity of 30,000 spindles. Thus the plant was totally equipped with domestic machinery without using a single imported machine. Toyota-shiki Shokki Kabushiki Kaisha, op. cit., p. 32.

15. The details of the sales quantity of the spinning machinery produced by Toyota are as shown in the attached Table.

16. Toyota Jido Shokki Seisakusho Shashi Honshu Iinkai, op. cit., pp. 138-141.

17. Platt Brothers purchased the patent on the Toyota automatic loom, however, with the aim of buying up the patent fees. When Toyota began exporting automatic looms from 1937, Toyota had to pay the following patent-handling fees to Platt Brothers. In the case of exports to India the fee was £3.10 per loom, £1.15 per loom when it was exported to countries with the registered patent on the automatic loom other than India, and £1.00 on the export to countries without the patent.
Ibid., pp. 150-151.


The System of Operative Recruitment


In the latter half of the 1920s, the modern Japanese cotton-spinning industry of the transfer type employed approximately 200,000 workers, the majority of whom were females. About 70 per cent of these were boarding female operatives. The age distribution of female labour reveals that, as of 1927, 24.3 per cent of the 181,000 women were aged 16 and 17, the largest age group. 20.6 per cent were aged 18 and 19 and 16.6 per cent were aged 14 and 15. Consequently, the highest concentration, 63.5 per cent, was made up of females aged between 14 and 19. If the age group included those up to 24 years of age, the proportion would be 85.8 per cent,. revealing the characteristic reliance of the Japanese cottonspinning industry upon unmarried young female labour. The majority of them were employed, for less than three years, and even if the years of re-employment were included, the years of employment were no more than five years. It was rather exceptional to work for more than five years. The wage system was set up to suit short-term.employment. While the wage-increase rate up to three years was high, the rate stagnated for those who worked any longer. The rate of wage increases according to age distribution reveals that there was a steady increase up to age 19. However, the increase rate stagnated for those who were older than 19. In fact the wage decreased for those who were over 24. It can, thus, be said that the wage system was again geared to young labour.1

Due to the structure of the Japanese cotton-spinning industry, which consumed young female labour en masse on a short-term basis, girls left the mills after three years (or five years in the case of re-employment).

In other words, because over 30 per cent of the female operatives left the mills annually, the same ratio had to be supplemented, revealing the high mobility rate of workers in the Japanese cotton-spinning industry.2 Table 1 (the spinning mill) and Table 2 (the weaving shed) show the labour mobility rates at Kanegafuchi Boseki Kaisha (Kanegafuchi Spinning Co.), which had been recognized for its progressive welfare policy. As the workers were employed for three years, there would be a steady mobility rate of at least 60 per cent, and the tables reveal that it was exceptional for the mobility rate to be lower. In some cases the rates exceeded 100 per cent. Consequently, as mentioned above, at least one third of the workers had to be supplemented every year.


The recruitment of operatives becomes, in consequence, an important issue. The operative recruitment extended as far out as 1,000 km from the mills. It was already stated in the establishment period of the cotton-spinning industry in Japan that "the majority of operatives working at each mill are recruited out in the country and an extremely small number are recruited directly at the mills."3 The system of operative recruitment thus becomes increasingly important. According to a survey on the recruitment routes of 21,852 female operatives in 1927, those who were recruited by company-designated recruitment agents accounted for 62.8 per cent; 8.3 per cent were recruited directly by the company; 5.6 per cent were recruited through family members; 5.1 per cent by acquaintances and 0.2 per cent through the employment offices. The percentage recruited by the recruitment agents was thus incomparably high. Although the Employment Exchanges Act was promulgated in 1921, and public employment exchange offices were functioning, female operatives did not use their services at all.

The recruitment agents can be classified into the following categories depending upon their contract.5
(1) Recruitment agents hired on a salary basis by a mill. One or several agents were allocated to an area and they recruited operatives whenever they were needed. They were paid well and acted as functionaries to the mill managers.

TABLE 1. The Number of Recruited, Retired and Presently Employed Workers at Kanebo (the Spinning Mill)

TABLE 2. The Number of Recruited, Retired and Presently Employed Workers at Kanebo (the Cotton Textile Mill)

(2) Private placement agencies which entered into a special contract with a mill. These were paid on a commission basis whenever they could supply the mills with new operatives. Although reputable local placement agencies entered into these contracts with the mills, the private agencies were after profit. Consequently, they were an evil influence, for in order to receive as large a commission as possible, they enticed not only sickly people but also those who had no desire the work in the mills.
(3) Recruitment agents who were hired on a salary basis and were, in addition, paid a commission whenever operatives were recruited.
(4) Mill employees who were sent out for recruitment whenever there was a shortage of labour. Although this system eliminated the abuses of the recruitment agents and placement offices, it had its demerits because it was very expensive and it failed to gather the necessary number of workers.
(5) While allocating recruitment agents as well as relying on placement offices, the mills sent out their employees whenever needed in order to supervise these people and recruit directly. This method, however, was hampered by all the disadvantages of the above-mentioned methods and was generally used whenever there was a short-age of labour.

Those involved in recruitment ran about trying to secure as many girls as possible and they often relied upon honeyed. words and lies. There were even cases of virtual kidnapping simply to secure another recruit. The situation became so bad that various prefecturallocal authorities had to establish regulations in order to curb some of the abuses. This culminated in a 1924 ordinance issued by the Ministry of Internal Affairs as the "Control of Labour Recruitment Ordinance," which provided the legal basis for nationwide control.6 The "period of free competition" with regard to the recruitment of female operatives thus came to an end.7 Consequently, each mill established its own labour affairs branch office in the country and relied upon the previously-stated fifth method for recruitment (Table 3).

TABLE 3. The Number of Branch Offices of Labour Affairs

The recruitment cost around 1897 when a female operative's daily wage was 8-9 sen was described as follows: "it costs a maximum of 6 yen 60 sen and a minimum of 30 sen to recruit one person. It costs a maximum of 8 yen 45 sen and a minimum of 40 sen to bring one operative to the mill."8 The amount representing the recruitment cost in proportion to the production cost per bale was not at all negligible (Table 4). Moreover, according to the aforementioned survey of 1927, the majority of these female operatives, 67.1 per cent, came from a "farming and fishing background." 6.7 per cent of them had a "merchant" background and those with a "labouring" background accounted for only 6.3 per cent. As for reasons for seeking employment, as many as 17.2 per cent stated that they "wished to become self-supportive or to save money for their trousseaus," which implies that there would be one less mouth to feed at home. However, the first and foremost reason, given by 69.3 per cent, was that they wanted to "help the family finances."9. Due to the semi-feudal and parasitic large landownership system which existed in Japan prior to World War Ⅱ, farmers sought to relieve their financially deprived status by sending girls out of the rural village to a city mill to work for a short period, in order to supplement the family finances by borrowing money in advance. Thus it became the pattern to "make payment of the exorbitant tenant rents possible by supplementing wages, while by virtue of the supplement the wage itself is made low."10

TABLE 4. Average Expenses per Bale of Cotton Yarn at Kanegafuchi Boseki Co., Ltd.

The significance of the system of operative recruitment can be summarized as follows. The tenant farmers and petty farmers who sent out female labour were, in fact, no different from wage-earners themselves. However even though they tilled the leased land, they could not spontaneously become wage earners so long as they were connected to the land, and thus they were only latent wage earners. It can be said that the system of operative recruitment acted as a medium to transfer such latent wage earners into real wage earners. Female operatives were accomodated at the dormitories of the mills far away from their native homes.11 The majority of male operatives, along with a handful of female operatives, were recruited at the mill. In such cases the women were usually married and they became commuting operatives.


1. Izumi, "Taisho- Menbo no ...," pp. 30-41.

2. The labour mobility rate here denotes mobility between mill and home, namely to become wage earners or to stop being wage earners, rather than mobility between one mill and another.

3. Dainippon Boseki Rengokai Geppo, No.123, Dainippon Boseki Rengokai (25 Dec. 1902), p. 14.

4. Chuo Shokugyo Shokai Jimukyokai, Boseki Rodo Fujin Chosa (1929) p. 29.

5. Dainippon Boseki Rengokai Geppo, op. cit., pp. 14-15.

6. Takejiro Shindo, Nippon Mengyo Rodoron, Tokyo Daigaku Shuppankai (1958), pp. 68-70.

7. Wakizo Hosoi, Joko Aishi, Iwanami Bunko (1954), p. 55.
Riuemon Uno, a believer in labour/capital conciliation (Hiroshi Awai, Nippon ni Okeru Roshi Kyocho no Teiryu, Waseda Daigaku Shuppanbu ([1978], "Jo", p. ⅲ) states as follows:

The employees in charge of personnel at mills are preoccupied with keeping up with the whims of these recruitment agents.
It'is a fact that they try their utmost to please the recruitment agents. It is not rare that the agents demand unjust payment to the employees, and the extent to which the abuses are in effect is quite great... In view of the difficulties faced by the mill managers in the Osaka area in controlling the recruitment agents, many mill managers desire to recruit operatives without relying upon agents. Some mill managers have sent out
employees to recruit directly and others have relied upon the introductions given by the parents of operatives. They have tried all_possible ways. (Uno, Shokko Mondai Shiryo, Dai-ichi-shu, Kogyo Kyoikukai Shuppanbu ([1912] , p. 256.)

8. Dainippon Menshi Boseki Dogyo Rengokai, Boseki Shokko Jijo Chosa Gaiyosho (1898., cited i n Rodo Undo Shiryo Iinkai. ed., Nippon Rodo Undo Shiryo, vol. 1, Chuo Koron Jigyo Shuppan (1962), p. 260.

9. Izumi, "Taisho Menbo no...," pp. 44-45.

10. Yamada, op. cit., p. 21.

11. The dormitory was different from the kind that one usually associates with a welfare facility. It was provided for the female operatives as a means to prevent them running away, to secure the necessary labour for the day and night two-shift work hours, and to maintain the low wage standard by cutting down on their living expenses in the city.

On-the-Job Training of Operatives


The educational level of the workers recruited by the spinning mills is as shown in Table 1. Between 1910 and 1920, more than half the femalee operatives were either uneducated or elementary school drop-outs. Many of the male operatives were either elementary school graduates or drop-outs, although there were quite a number of male operatives who either finished higher elementary school or dropped out. In the 1920s, however, elementary school graduates became predominant due to the influence of compulsory education. The proportion of the male operatives who, finished higher elementary school, became greater in the 1930s, and uneducated or elementary school drop-outs became an exception. Table 1 Annex gives a comparison of educational levels in the entire textile industry. Since the survey took place in the 1920s, it reveals the existence of a sizable number of female operatives who finished higher elementary school even though the proportion of regular elementary school graduates was the highest. Consequently, it is probable that the educational level of the spinning-mill workers was the standard existent among the operatives of the entire textile industry. Thus, a certain educational standard had been achieved by the workers of the Japanese cotton-spinning industry. Should the educational level coincide with the quality of labour, it is permissible to state that the labour quality for spinning was relatively high.

TABLE 1. An Educational Survey of Operatives in the Spinning Industry

TABLE 1 - ANNEX An Educational Survey of Operatives in the Textile Industry

These workers received a varied education according to the independent system of education provided by each mill. Based upon the general pattern, boarding female operatives could benefit from the following: elementary school education, girls' high school education, courses on. domestic affairs, courses on labour, itinerant school, lectures, religious discourses, a bulletin, a library, a circulating library, a girls' association, a women's association, travelling, farming, sports competitions, choirs and games. Commuting female operatives could benefit from a wives' association, courses on handicraft, lectures and a children's association. As for the male operatives, there were: technical school education, adult lectures, a military branch association, a youth training centre, apprentice school, lectures, library, courses on labour, travel and a heads of household association.1 Elementary school education was available for those who were either uneducated or elementary school drop-outs. Most of this was established in the form of private elementary schools within a mill or dormitory. These schools mainly provided regular elementary education, but some also provided higher elementary education. They had two consecutive hours of classes per day after work.2 There were cases such as that of Fuji Gas Spinning, where the boarding female operatives were taught how to read and write and compose essays at night in the dormitory corridors under a so-called corridor itinerant school system.3 In addition, although this does not appear to have been prevalent, there were cases where girls' high schools were established for the female operatives who had finished elementary school. In spite of the fact that they benefitted from this only for a short while, they were able to achieve a higher educational level (Table 2).

TABLE 2. Cases of Establishing Girls' High Schools at Spinning Mills


Apart from such general education, technical training necessary for new male and female operatives was provided. There was a method of "apprenticeship" whereby a newly recruited operative was put as an apprentice under the care of an experienced operative, from whom he received practical training. There was also a method of training conducted in a special training room to teach necessary skills systematically.4 Although the former method prevailed at the beginning, once scientific plant management and research on standard motions came to the fore after 1910, major plants began to rely upon the latter.

According to Joko Aishi [A tragic history of female operatives], the training process of the newly recruited operatives at Toyobo Textile Division, which appears to have had the most systematic programme, was as follows. The Training Department was established to train newly hired female operatives and the following staff members were allocated: the chief of the Training Department; a full-time assistant; trainee inspectors who supervised the new female operatives at the mill and the dormitory; teacher operatives who taught skills; and acting supervisors who took care of the newly recruited female operatives on both public and private matters. The term of training was limited to three months which was then divided into three periods. The first period was more than one but less than two weeks. General explanations and readiness with regard to the entire work process were taught in the first period. Courses of action regarding standard motions were taught in the second period. Lastly, necessary skills required by contract labour were taught, and these were concerned with the application of basic and standard motions. When training in the third period was completed, the new operatives were given on-the-job training as juniors so that they could learn the swift operation achieved by experienced operatives. The standard motions were completely mastered during this period.5 After completing these training periods, the newly hired operatives were classified according to their skill rating (generally the lowest) and were put to work as contract labour.

On the other hand, the training of newly recruited male operatives according to the example of Kanebo, which started a systematic programme in 1916, was as follows. They were given a total of 66 hours of lecture; first on a general description of spinning6 for 24 hours, second, 24 hours of lecture on regular technical work and, lastly, 18 hours on special technical work.

Training Programme of the Newly Recruited Male Operatives

(1) A training centre is established at each mill in order to train skilled and dignified male operatives and also to enable them to adjust to factory labour.
(2) All newly recruited male operatives must be trained at the centre as trainee operatives.
(3) The term of training is defined as follows:
An initial period of four weeks and a second of three weeks.
(4) The trainee operatives are divided into the following three groups for practical purposes:
a. those who will be engaged in skilled work,
b. those who will be mainly engaged in labouring work, and
c. those who may later be transferred to group a, although initially put into group b.
(5) Prior to joining the work as regular male operatives, those who belong to group a and group c are trained for a period of seven weeks (the first and second periods), and those who belong to group b are trained for an initial period of four weeks.
(6) The training schedule
First period, first week:
No apprentice work. Practical instructions from 6 o'clock to 12 o'clock. Tour of the mill from noon to 2 o'clock. One-hour lectures on regular technical work and general topics from 2 o'clock to 4 o'clock.
Second week:
Apprentice work until 12 o'clock. Practical instructions from 1 o'clock to 2 o'clock. One-hour lectures on regular technical work and general topics from 2 o'clock to.4 o'clock.
Third.and fourth weeks:
As above.
The second period, fifth week:
Apprentice work for eight hours until 3 o'clock. Practical instruction from 3 o'clock to 5 o'clock. Lecture on special technical work from 5 o'clock to 6 o'clock.
Sixth and seventh weeks:
As above.
(7) The daily wage during the training period is the same as before and the increment is two sen per month.
(8) While receiving lectures and on cleaning days, they are to do six to eight hours of apprentice work.

The following reveals the programme for the newly recruited male operatives at their newly established textile plant in 1916.7 Regulations (1) to (8) are omitted as they are identical to those for spinning operatives. However, each lecture was one and half hours long every day, and altogether there were 36 hours of general lectures, 36 hours of lectures and regular technical work, 27 hours of special technical work and 72 hours of practical instruction.

Training Programme of Male Operatives at a Textile Plant

(1)-(8) omitted.
(9) Staff members specialized in training are in charge of all aspects related to training education and apprenticeship.
(10) The following staff members are in charge of each section:

General lecturers
Chief of technical work
Personnel in charge of operatives
Lecturers on regular technical work
Personnel in charge of apprenticeship
Lecturers on special technical work

(11) Male operatives who need not have skills are those engaged in the transport or distribution of raw cotton, or the transport of beams, cloth or woof yarns and sewing.

As can be noted above, the training of newly hired male and female operatives at major companies from about 1915 became more systematic, which directly corresponds to the two significant factors of that decade, namelyy the inclination of mill managers to move toward full-scale rationalization, and the monopolistic stage.


Besides such training of the newly-hired, there was on-the-job training of female operatives in the daily work process. Thus there was also a programme to nurture those who would become personnel directly in charge of training or chief of operatives. They functioned as foremen at the work place. Those who were carefully chosen from the operatives were given quite an advanced level of education on specialized knowledge and technology for a relatively long period of one to one and a half years. The most representative of this system were Kanebo Operatives' School and Toyobo's Operative Education Centre.

Let us take the case of Kanebo Operatives' School first. The origin of this school was the Junior Operatives' Training School which was established at their Hyogo Plant.8 The effect of this school is unknown. However, faced with a shortage of chief operatives and senior operatives Kanebo opened Kanebo Operatives' School in 1905 under the direct control of the business department.9 The following is from the content of the school's schedule:

Kanebo Operatives' School Regulations

Article 1. The objective of this school is to train senior male operatives.
Article 2. Those older than age 15 and 16 with a higher elementary school diploma or with equivalent academic ability, having passed a written examination and a physical examination, can be admitted.
Article 3. Each plant manager can admit those operatives and junior operatives working at his plant who desire to be enrolled. New applicants can be admitted, should they fulfil the requirements stated in Article 2.
Article 4. Those who wish to enter this school with previous experience in spinning shall be admitted with slightly less academic ability, as long as they can pass the physical examination.
Article 5. This school does not charge entrance examination fees nor tuition.
Article 6. Those who wish to seek entrance into this school must submit a resume with the signature of parents or a guardian.
Article 7. Those who have been admitted must submit a letter of reference, with the signatures of two guarantors and a copy
of the family register, within a week.
Article 8. Only those who are adults and the heads of households and who can be solely responsible for the students' behaviour can become guarantors.
Article 9. The guarantors who put their signatures to the letter of reference must either report to the school or reply immediately should they be requested to come to the school or should enquiries be made.
Article 10. The duration of education is one year.
Article 11. The duration of education is divided into the first and the second semesters.
Article 12. Academic work is mainly taught in the first semester and practical training is mainly given in the second semester.
Article 13. Academic work is divided into the following seven subjects:
Article 14. Examinations are given at the end of each semester.
Article 15. Textbooks, equipment and clothing are provided while attending this school.
Article 16. While attending this school, room and board are provided by the company. Moreover, a monthly allowance of two yen is provided. However, should a student commute from either his parents' or his relative's house, the equivalent amount is paid to the student.
Article 17. Those who complete the school shall, in accordance with their ability, be recruited and given appropriate positions as senior operatives.
Article 18. Those whose grades are poor and cannot be expected to better their technique and skills shall be ordered to leave the school, and shall be recruited as regular operatives. Nevertheless, the clothing and boarding expenses paid by the company need not be compensated.
Article 19. Those who are lazy and dissolute or absent often from the school without valid reason shall be ordered to leave the school. In this case, the clothing and boarding expenses paid by the company must be compensated.
Article 20. Those who are to leave this school due to family reasons must submit a letter explaining the reasons with the signatures of the guarantors. The above clause is.applicable in this case.
Article 21. Those who enter this school must pledge that they will not be recruited by another company in the same industry for five years after graduation.
Article 22. Those who enter this school must pledge that they will work for the plant of this company for three years after graduation.

The academic programme of this school consisted of five hours of daily work which included spinning, arithmetic, physics, and drawing in the first semester, and spinning, arithmetic and applied mechanics in the second. Moreover, after World War Ⅰ, the company no longer accepted general applicants and only those who had worked at their plant for more than six months could qualify for admission.11 The school sent out graduates twice a year in March and September and from its opening until the early 1920s there were as many as 1038 graduates. Of those, 443 operatives either died or left the company while 595 remained. Of those who remained at the plant, 44 were operatives-in-charge, 124 were given the same treatment as those who were operatives-in-charge, and 179 were either chief operatives or assistant chief operatives.12 Table 3 shows the years of graduation and the respective plants with regard to those who remained with the company as of the first half of the 1920s.

TABLE 3. The Distribution of Kanebo Operatives' School Graduates per Plant During the Early 1920s

However, as the spinning industry developed further, the skills taught by operatives' schools were insufficient for students to "become operatives-in-charge, who are the most important middle-ranking plant workers," and thus a training centre for operatives-in-charge was established in July 1915. Trainees were given a three-month education to become operatives-in-charge,13 who, as stated, were the personnel in charge of operatives primarily involved in the training of the newly-hired. The training of operatives-in-charge can be classified as supplementary education.

In 1922, Kanebo established a "Training School for Cotton Textile Plant Operatives" which was one rank lower than operatives' school. This school gave five hours of specialized practical training, five hours of specialized lectures, one to two hours of lecture on general plant knowledge, and one hour per week of lecture on plant ethics, for those who had a higher academic qualification than elementary school graduation and had been working for the plant for more than one year. This was done for a period of one to two months as reinforcement education.14

The school which can be regarded as identical to Kanebo Operatives Training School is Toyobo's "Operative Education Centre". This school first opened at Shiokijima Plant in Osaka in 1922, then moved to Yamada Plant in 1926. Of the school's establishment in 1933, 520 graduated from the regular course, 174 finished training on cotton textiles and 1280 completed a short-term training course.15 The content of the school's programme was as follows:

Regulations Regarding the Operative Training Centre, Toyo Boseki Kabushiki Kaisha16

Chapter 1. Objective and Duration of Training
Article 1. The object of this centre is to provide the necessary academic knowledge and skills for weaving.
Article 2. The duration of training is one year.

Chapter 2. Curriculum
Article 3. The following departments are established at this centre, and a student is to major in one of them.
1) Spinning Department, 2) Weaving Department.
Article 4. Each department is subdivided into the following sections and practical training in depth in four of the following sections must be pursued.

Spinning Department

Weaving Department

1) Spinning Department
ⅰ. Scutching Section, ⅱ. Carding Section,
ⅲ. Roving Section, ⅳ. Spinning Section,
ⅴ. Yarn-Twisting and Reeling Section
2) Weaving Department
ⅰ. Preparation Section,
ⅱ. Starching and Warp Arrangement Section,
ⅲ. Weaving Section, ⅳ. Finishing Section.
Article 5. The following shows the subjects and programme for each department.
The number of hours per course is extended or shortened as necessary. If necessary, lectures are given or exercises are assigned to be done after school or during a recess.
Article 6. Academic courses are taught from eight o'clock in the morning to four in the afternoon. Practical work is done during the day, following the schedule of the maintenance staffers. Military drills are entrusted to the Youth Training Centre at Yamada Plant.

Capter 3. Semesters and Holidays
Article 7. The semester begins in April and September and the programme is completed in one and half years. The programme is divided into three six-month semesters.
Article 8. The following are the holidays of this centre:
Sundays, national holidays, grand festival days, and a winter vacation from 30 December to 5 January. However, the above is subject to change depending upon the plant holidays.

Chapter 4 Admission, the Period of Attendance and Expulsion
Article 9. Those who are to be admitted to this centre must have good conduct and strong aspirations, and must fulfil the following prerequisites. A written and physical examination must be passed.
1) They should have completed two years of higher elementary school or have equivalent academic ability.
2) There are restrictions according to age. 3) They will be selected from candidates who have worked for this company for more than one year.
Articles 10. Candidates must prepare the following documents to be submitted to the manager of the plant.
1) Application form, 2) Resume and 3) Copy of the family register.
Articles 11. The entrance examination consists of both a physical examination and a written examination, based upon the academic level of those who finished higher elementary school in:
1) Spelling and 2) Arithmetic.
Articles 12-16 - Omitted (pertaining to guarantors).
Articles 17. While attending this centre, those who misbehave, are tardy or who are in poor academic standing shall be expelled.
Articles 18. A diploma shall be given to those who have completed the training successfully.

Chapter 5 Remuneration, Duties and Assistance
Articles 19. The students of this centre are treated as operatives hired by this company and rules of employment are thus applied.
Articles 20. The students of this centre receive during their period of attendance the following remuneration:
1) Textbooks and necessary equipment for practical training are rented to the students. 2) No tuition is required. 3) The students are accommodated at the dormitory free of charge. 4) Based upon the daily wage received by an operative prior to entering this centre, a fixed monthly salary shall be given. However, they shall be charged for their board. 5) 1 yen is given so as to assist in the uniform cost. 6) A dependency allowance and bonus at the end of a semester shall be paid.
Articles 21. Those students who are expelled or drop out must, depending upon the reason, pay compensation, either the full amount or a part of the expenses entailed in the training at this centre.
The Content of Each Subject

*Ethics and Civics: 1) Necessary points on worldly wisdom
2) Civic understanding

*Physical Education: General P. E.

*Japanese, Geography and History: Regular sentences, reading and composition, geography and history

*English: 1) Elementary
2) English used at the plant
*Mathematics: 1) Arithmetic
2) Elementary Algebra
3) Factorization needed at the plant

*Mechanics: 1) Material
2) Structure
3) Mechanical Operation

*Spinning: 1) Raw Material
2) Spinning Machinery
3) Additional Machinery
4) Calculation

*Weaving: 1) Raw Material
2) Mechanism of Machinery
3) Additional Machinery
4) Calculation

*Standard Motions: 1) Safety Standard
2) Operation Standard

*Plant Facility: 1) Engine
2) Mechanical Equipment
3) Electricity
4) Lighting
5) Power Transmission
6) Fire Prevention Facility
7) Ventilation
8) Temperature and Humidity
*Mechanical Drawing: 1) Instrumental Drawing
2) Simple Mechanical Drawing
3) Sketches of Mechanical Parts

*Practical: The students study the inspection of all the machinery in general, and receive practical training on the machinery of their specialization. (The rules pertaining to lectures.on spinning. and special courses are omitted.)

As shown above, the Japanese cotton-spinning industry, having major companies as its nucleus, carried out extensive systematic training of operatives in the company. Moreover, in the case of Kanebo, they established, under the title of the "Training Programme for the First Grade Technical Trainee", a one-year programme for graduates of higher technical high schools and university engineering departments. The out-line of the structure and operation of machinery was taught in the first two months and the first half of the remaining ten months was spent on the study of structure, handling, and safety of machinery, from blending and scutching to drawing. The latter half of this ten-month period was spent on the same kind of study covering the areas from initial spinning to bundling.17

Furthermore Kanebo began in 1915 to recruit female workers for engagement in office work and it is pertinent to mention that they established a girls' clerical training centre to train female office workers for three months.18


1. Minoru Yadaka, "Kyoiku Nanka Dekiru Monoka", Shakai Seisaku Jiho (May 1929), pp. 48-49. A full list is shown, although some of them appear to be more recreational associations than educational circles.

2. Hosoi, op. cit., pp. .233-234.

3. Tarokichi Soda, "Saikin Rodosha no Kyoka ni Kansuru Nisan no Keiko", Shakai Seisaku Jiho (May 1929), pp. 18-19.

4. Hosoi, op. cit., p. 252.

5. Ibid., pp. 252-267.

6. Muto Sanji Zenshu Kankokai, Muto Sanji Zenshu, rev. ed., Shinjusha (1966), pp. 396-398. Revised the passage referring to the training programme of the newly recruited male operatives (weaving plant), as will be discussed later.

7. Property of Kanegafuchi Boseki Kabushiki Kaisha, Gijutsu Kaisho, no.24; "Teaching Plans" were as follows:

Teachinq Plan for Regular Operatives (36 hours)

1. An outline on spinning (three hours): a) a brief explanation on the types, grades and usages of cotton, b.) the process of spinning and the names of machinery.

2. Outline on weaving (three hours): a) yarn counts, b) differentiation between warp and woof yarns, c) handling of spool yarns and the regulations on finding defective spool yarns, d) types of cotton fabrics, e) the origin of looms, f) a brief explanation on the inspection and the grading of goods, g) wage and the rating system, h) an outline on the weaving process, i) finished cotton fabrics and the competition from foreign goods, j) the value of Kowloon chits.

3. The names of machines and the attachments and phrases in constant use (nine hours): a) engines,.b) transmission, c) spinning-plant equipment and attached parts, d) weaving-plant equipment and attached parts, e) lighting equipment, f) kinds of machine oil, g) cleaning equipment, h) safety equipment, i) units of weights and measures, j) idioms in constant use.

4. Knowledge of injury prevention (three hours): a) general knowledge, b) knowledge of each section, c) first aid.

5. Knowledge on fire prevention (three hours).

6. General caution at work and reviewing (nine hours).

Teaching Plan for Special Operatives (27 hours)

1. An outline of the names and parts of machines used in the department concerned, and their handling (twelve hours).

2. An outline of the names and usage of the materials used in the department concerned (six hours).

3. Knowledge of danger prevention while on operation in the department concerned (three hours).

4. General knowledge and review of the given task (six hours).

8. This is said to have used the method of operative training prevalent in Europe.
Dainippon Boseki Rengokai Geppo, no.111 (25 April 1902), p. 36, regulations are as follows:

Rules Reaardina the Training of Junior Operatives at Kanegafuchi Spinning Co.

Article 1; This company seeks young male applicants throughout Japan to be trained as good spinning operatives who can set a model example.

Article 2: The applicants must fulfil the following;
1) Young males older than 11 and younger than 16 years old who have completed elementary school. 2) Those who pass a physical examination given by the company doctor. 3) Those who desire to make spinning operations their profession.

Article 3: Those applicants who have been chosen on the basis of the above-mentioned article shall be called junior operatives, who shall receive three years of training.

Article 4: During the period of junior operative training, junior operatives are first of all assigned to work on both spinning and finishing sections together with female operatives. After developing technical skills together with their physical growth, they are taught how to handle various machines and are given training on operational procedures. In addition to these, they are given regular school lessons in a simple form of school, using their leisure time after their daily work.

Article 5: All necessary daily goods such as food, clothing, shoes, etc., are provided by this company during the period of junior operative training. In addition, a fixed salary in accordance with the rating of their ability is paid during the period of junior operative training:
First rate: 80 sen, second rate: 70 sen,
third rate: 60 sen, fourth rate: 50 sen,
sixth rate: 40 sen.

Article 6: During the period of junior operative training, all junior operatives are accommodated at the company
dormitory established for junior operatives, and no commuter is permitted.

Article 7: There are supervisors at the junior operatives' dormitory, to supervise their conduct. The supervisors are kind and thorough in taking care of clothing, washing and provision of sundry goods so that the junior operatives shall not be short of anything.

Article 8: During the period of training, those junior operatives who have diligently completed two years of training shall be given a vacation for at most two weeks. Moreover, if desired, travel expenses shall be given in order to allow them to recuperate, at home.

Article 9: Should the junior operative be absent from work on days other than company holidays due to unavoidable accidents or illness for less than 14 days per year, they shall be regarded as work absences.

Article 10: Should one fall ill during the junior operative training period, he shall be treated at the company hospital at company expense. However, should he desire to return home for medical treatment, an appropriate allowance in accordance with his skill and length of service and his travel expenses shall be given to make this possible. However, the above is not applicable when the nature of illness requires medical treatment at home.

Article 11: During the period of junior operative training one shall be requested to leave the company should he fall into any one of the following categories:
1) Those who. are not diligent at work. 2) Those who commit any wrong. 3) Those who have no possibility of mastering skills. 4) Those who have fallen ill of an incurable disease. However, travel expenses to return home shall be provided by the company when they leave as result of this type of illness.

Article 12: Those who have completed the period of junior operative training shall be granted a certificate of operative competence.

Article 13: Those who have completed the period of junior operative training are obliged to work as regular operatives at this company for a full three years.

Article 14: When a contract to become a regular operative in accordance with the above article is concluded, a single sum of 100 yen shall be paid to either the operative himself, a designated member of his family
or his guarantor.
Furthermore, his salary shall be based upon the following preferential treatment in order to differentiate him from those who have completed the training of average operatives (omitted).

Article 15: This company shall advance travel expenses to those who cannot afford to come to the company to apply for the position of junior operative. The expenses must be returned upon the completion of training.

Article 16: Those who have been permitted to become junior operatives must submit to this company a contract written in accordance with the attached form and a copy of the family register.

Article 17: Items not specified by these regulations shall be treated in accordance with the rules of employment stipulated in the civil law.

Additional Rules

1. Upon the conclusion of a contract to become a regular operative after completing the period of unior operative training, a sum of 30 yen must be paid to the company simultaneously as guarantee, money. This guarantee money, however, can be deducted from the sum of 100 yen which is stipulated by Article 14.

2. The guarantee money stipulated in the above article shall be returned upon completion of three years' service to the company plus an annual interest rate of 10. per cent.

3. Those who have completed the obligation of serving the company for a full three years shall receive the benefit of moving to company housing with inexpensive rental (ibid., pp. 36-37)

9. Muto Sanji Zenshu Kankokai, op. cit., p. 390. This school was modelled after various practical schools in Germany, particularly after spinning schools (ibid., vol. 2, pp. 140-141).

10. Ibid., Revised ed., pp. 390-392.

11. Mikio Sumiya, author and editor, Nippon Shokugyo Kunren Hatten-shi, part 2, Nippon Rodo Kyokai (1971), pp. 110 and 118.

12. Data owned by Kanebo, 1920 Kamiki Eigyo Seiseki Hokokusho.

13. Muto Sanji Zensho Kankakai, op. cit., vol. 2, pp. 130-131.
14. Data owned by Kanebo, Gijutsu Kaisho No.8.

15. Toyo Boseki Kabushiki Kaisha, Soritsu Nijunen Kinen Toyo Boseki Kabushiki Kaisha Yoran (1934) PP. 77-80.

16. Shakai-kyoku, Rodo-bu, Dai Junana-kai Kojo Kantoku Nenkan (1932), pp. 46-51.
Moreover, regulations on spinning and weaving courses and special courses are as follows:

Rules Concerning Spinning and Weaving Courses

Short courses are offered at this company as needed to teach necessary knowledge on spinning and weaving.

1. The duration of a course i s four weeks.

2. Those workers who have been working for this company for longer than three years and who are chosen by the plant manager can take these courses.

3. An outline of the subjects and the number of hours:

(1) Ethics: two and Civic virtues:. two. (2) Mathematics: five (the four fundamental rules of arithmetic and fractions, ratio, percentages, square and cube roots). (3) Mechanics: five (dynamics and mechanics). (4) Plant equipment: four (general plant equipment). (5) Specialized subject: seven (spinning or weaving). (6) Computation related to the specialized subject: seven (spinning or weaving). (7) Drawing: six (sketches of mechanical parts). (8) Special Lectures: three (latest inventions). (9) Observation of the plant: three.

The total number of hours of the above is 43.

4. The treatment of students:

(1) While enrolled for a course the student is to receive his regular salary.
(2) Round-trip travel expenses provided.
(3) School supplies provided.
(4) Free accommodation at a dormitory.
(5) Free board.


Rules on Special Courses

1. There, are special courses offered by, the Operative Education Centre whenever needed. All the rules pertaining to the Operative Training Centre are applicable to the students of special courses.

2. The duration of training of the students is determined case by case and, depending upon a student, he can be transferred to the Operative Education Centre.

17. Data owned by Kanebo, a report sent to those concerned on 4 January and 27 June, 1908.

18. Muto Sanji Zenshu Kankokai, op, cit., vol. 2, pp. 132-133.



Characteristics of Rationalization in Japan


The rationalization of the Japanese cotton spinning industry is insepatable from the Factory Act which was promulgated in 1911. The execution of the Act had a deferment period of five years until 1 September 1916, and the abolition of night work for young operatives who were under the age of 15 was deferred for 15 years after its execution. Despite the fact that the total deferment period was set at 20 years, the Act signified that the Japanese spinning industry which used night work as its greatest weapon to maximize the operation hours of equipment was put in a position where it was forced to set forth some realistic measures against the restriction laid upon night operations. Rationalization was thus taken up as a solution to this predicament. The aforementioned installation of high-draft spinners and automatic looms as well as the training of operatives all comprised a part of this rationalization process. In addition, due to domestic and foreign criticism of night work at international conferences, the Revised Factory Act was realized in 1923, and finally night work for women was prohibited.

Scientific plant management and standard motions based upon the motion study formulated by an American, F. Tiller, after studying cases at iron factories, were therefore systematically pursued by Japanese spinningmill managers.1 Prior to this, however, various measures were taken by the Japanese cotton-spinning industry in order to enhance the management ability of the corporation. For example, after 1905 the system of fixed capital refundment was introduced and, additionally, various reserving was made to make capital more abundant. The cumulative amount of fixed capital refundment in proportion to paid-up capital was 71 per cent in 1919, and the proportion of reserve funds was increased to 110 per cent. in the same year. On the other hand, the ratio of corporation bonds as against paid-up capital was decreased from less than 40 per cent in the early 1910s to 11 per cent in 1920.2 It is probable that the Japanese cotton-spinning industry had made a remarkable accumulation of internal reserves in the 1910s.3 This was possible because Japanese cotton spinning had amalgamated the weaving industry in order to specialize in the entire cotton industry; the scale of plants was enormous; and a special cotton-blending method was applied in order to minimize the cost of raw cotton, which was 100 per cent imported. Moreover, the three-item Osaka regular exchange designated cotton brands into standard types, passable types, higher types and lower types. This cost differentiation according to types was enforced from 1909 as the system of standard transaction rates, so as to encourage and maximize the yarn qualities produced by each mill.4

Furthermore, the Japanese cotton-spinning industry adopted spinning and weaving calculations in order to compare the production costs at each individual mill. A comparative inventory per bale of cotton yarn including the following items was formulated: employees' salaries, electric supplies, power costs, miscellaneous costs, lighting costs, various raw cotton costs, packing costs of finished cotton yarns, transportation costs of finished cotton yarns, transportation costs of waste cotton yarns, costs of dropped cotton, packing costs of waste yarns, repair costs of machinery, various repair. costs, fire insurance, various expenses on operatives, labourers' wages, travel expenses, postage expenses, transportation costs, office expenses, sanitation expenses, depreciation costs of electric goods and gas charges. A comparative inventory per 100 tan of cotton textiles or per million shuttling including the following items was also formulated: employees' salaries, operatives' wages, plant expendable supplies, starching, electric supplies, power, miscellaneous expenses, lighting costs, packing costs of cotton textiles, transportation costs of cotton textiles, packing costs of waste textiles, transportation costs of waste textiles, repair costs of machinery, various other costs, fire insurance, various expenses on operatives, labourers' wages, travel expenses, postage expenses, office expenses, sanitation expenses and depreciation costs of necessary goods. Moreover, there were standard calculations to examine the production efficiency of each mill in the spinning industry. These calculations were made on the basis of per bale costs, the number of operatives required per 10,000 spindles, and the average number of workers present per day according to each process of spinning, namely the motor section, the electricity section, the blending section, the scotching section, the carding section, the drawing section, the roving section, the spinning section, the yarn-twisting section (twining, twisting, cop-winding) the gas fuel section, the gassed yarn section, the finishing section, the winder section, the bundling section, the grading section and the engineering section. Similar calculations were made with regard to cotton weaving on the basis of costs per 100 tan of cotton textiles or per million shuttling, wages for a worker per day, the number of operatives per 100 looms and the average number of workers present per day according to each process of weaving, namely, the motor section, the electric motor section, the. electric lighting section, the yarn section, the repeating room, the warp arrangement room, the fermentation room, the starching room, the threading room, the loom chamber, the finishing room and the engineering section.5 At Kanebo, the company started to send out inspectors to their spinning and weaving plants to conduct systematic investigations from about 1907, so that the machine efficiency and the ratio of labour efficiency could be increased.


Scientific management and motion study were objectivized through the establishment of standard motions. Standard motions were set out on the basis of the efficient movements of experienced operatives in each process.6 For example, the work process in the drawing section at Kanebo used to be mapped out per half a frame independently. In view of the fact that there was no consistency among the operatives at work in the same section, some female operatives had to pay constant attention to the entire process. Consequently, it was said that there was considerable loss because it was very difficult to foretell which half a frame would be full or which back case would be empty. After conducting "scientific studies," motions for all operatives. involved in a section were systematically unified in 1920. By utilizing the time gap among frames, it became possible to increase the number of frames per operative without increasing the amount of work for female operatives7 (Table 1).

TABLE 1. Comparative Ratio of the Number of Drawing Frames to the Number of Operatives

Once the standard motions for each process were established, the standard of equipment, the number of operatives and efficiency were also determined and, in consequence, comparisons of production costs and productivity among mills and among different yarn counts became easier. At about the same time, Kanebo revised the format of inventory expenditure reports used in its cotton-spinning plants. In view of the fact that the conventional inventory expenditure reports were compiled on the basis of itemized expenditures disregarding the types of finished yarns, the comparative tables indicating per bale production costs which were formulated using the inventory could not show per bale production costs according to types of finished yarns. This was not only inconvenient for making comparisons among mills but it was also nearly impossible to grasp accurate production costs. Kanebo thus revised the format of its inventory expenditure reports in 1921 to reveal expenditures on the following four items in the case of a plant which produced regular yarns, gassed yarns, thick yarns for textiles, spools and cheese winding: 1) from scutching to spinning, 2) from yarn-twisting to winding, 3) from yarn-twisting to gassing and 4) from finishing to bundling.8 It can be stated that this method made the spinning calculations far more exacting.

At the same time, Toyobo aimed at establishing more exact conversion rates than the existing conventional rates, as it became necessary to obtain accurate comparisons of productivity among its mills in view of the depression after World War Ⅰ. In 1921, Toyobo began to use a method similar to the uniform price list which was generally used in Lancashire, UK. Under this method, goods produced in greatest volume were given the standard index of 1. The cost-accounting of goods by each individual mill was converted into standard types by multiplication with a fixed coefficient, and a monthly profit-and-loss account was thus compiled.

It therefore became possible for Toyobo to compare the results of each mill by using such standards as one bale of "Rod-32" in the case of cotton yarn and 10,000 yards of "Indian-2", which later changed to "Sheeting Dragon C", in the case of fabric. Consequently, it became easier to improve upon mills with a record of poor performance. The conversion-rate method was applied to the cost-accounting of different counts of yarn, which resulted in the decrease of costs of one bale of No.20 cotton yarn, then 50 to 60 yen, to about 14 yen less within five to six years. These methods are said to have greatly contributed to the promotion of business rationalization of all the mills.9

Due to labour reinforcement on the basis of .standard motions, the number of operatives was reduced drastically. As shown in Table 2, there were overall cutbacks of operatives from the latter half of 1914 to the end of 1926 in Kanebo, with two or three exceptions. Therefore it can easily be seen that the aforementioned company education was closely linked with the training of operatives who could withstand such exacting labour for many hours. Kurashikibo established the "Standard Regulations for the Operative Physical Examination" in 1920, and in 1923 the company established the "Standard Regulations for the Operative Aptitude Test," so that the recruitment of operatives was made more selective.10 As can be seen by these regulations, the Japanese cotton-spinning industry began to aim at securing operatives with certain qualifications, again related to the changes pertaining to the methods of operative recruitment.

As is shown in Table 2, rationalization pursued by the cotton industry in Japan was synonymous with increased labour productivity in proportion to the number of frames worked by the operatives. The same holds true for the weaving process. The manufacturer of the Toyota automatic looms aptly recognized the value of automatic looms as follows: "The major objective of automatic looms is drastically to reduce the number of operatives required per loom through the use of automated shuttles."11 Table 3 reveals that, on the basis of conventional looms, one female operative was in charge of 3.3 looms, while her responsibility soared to 25 looms after the installation of automatic looms, resulting in a drastic reduction of operatives and wages. However, the mechanical efficiency of automatic looms was only slightly higher than that of regular looms (Table 4). It can thus be understood that the process of rationalizing the cotton industry in Japan, which started in the 1910s, was primarily aimed at improving labour productivity based upon the reduction of operatives rather than enhancing mechanical efficiency, except for the transformation from hand looms to power looms.

TABLE 2. A Comparison of the Number of Operatives per 10,000 Spindles

TABLE 3. Comparative Number of Workers and Labour Costs per 1,000 Looms (1 October 1926)

TABLE4. A Comparison of Loom Efficiency

While the reinforcement of labour was being undertaken, a policy to involve not only the labour quality but also the spiritual quality of female operatives was adopted. Since 1919, Toyobo's Himeji Plant had introduced a policy of "Practise Our Motto" which meant that a monthly motto determined by the executive committee, consisting of employees and operatives, was to be posted in the plants, exhorted and put into practice. For example, the following monthly mottoes were used in 1928: "Harmonious Cooperation" in January, "Curtailment of Expenditure" in February, "Improvement of Efficiency" in March, "Thorough Education" in April, and "Serve for Public Morality" in May. The content of the March campaign of "Improvement of Efficiency" was as follows:
(1) Putting up placards showing the motto at each individual office. (2) Putting up big posters with "Improvement of Efficiency and quality." (3) Selecting and posting a "Weekly Motto on Efficiency." (4) Comparing the quantity of extracted inferior yarn per section. (5) A prize competition for workers who sent in items to be improved pertaining to their section. (6) Putting up posters relating the motto, "Improvement of Efficiency," to the commemoration of the Oshu earthquake. (7) Setting aside a special week for quality improvement [e.g. (a) a week concentrating on the decrease of inferior goods and (b) a week on the cleaning of mechanical equipment] (8) Displaying the attendance record per section for the month of March in accordance with the ranking list of sumo wrestlers. (9) Putting up posters stating "Happiness Grows Out of Diligence and Economy," issued by the Diligence and Economy Committee of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. (10) Summing up the improvement plans which were actuated by each section. (11) Conducting a survey on fatigue among workers-"When do they become most fatigued on a given day?" and "When do they work best on a given day?" (12) Distributing pamphlets entitled "A Summary of Rationalized Cooking" formulated by Mr. Kunitake. (13) Holding demonstration lectures on rationalized cooking. Finally, (14) Putting up smal l posters on each bulletin board calling for "Improvement of Efficiency," which were donated by Minakami Town Office.12 It can thus be seen that the Japanese cotton-spinning industry had pursued rationalization since the 1910s with an extreme emphasis upon spirituality.13

While on the one hand spirituality of female operatives was fully incorporated into productive efficiency, on the other hand there were cases whereby boarding female operatives were restricted for the entire day. Toyobo started to conduct surveys on boarding female operatives, taking in their entire working day (from the time they arose until they finished work), rest periods and sleeping hours. The results of the surveys revealed that their sleeping hours were restricted to seven (eight hours after 1928) and all other time was spent on washing the face; getting dressed; working; hairdressing; defecation; taking a bath; practice; and lessons; while leisure was restricted.14


Due to the enactment of the Revised Factory Act on 1 July 1929, night work, which had benefited the Japanese spinning industry, was prohibited. Moreover, the gold standard was actualized as of 11 January 1930 due to the 21 November 1929 ordinance to remove the prohibition of gold export which had been in effect since 1917.15 At the beginning of 1930, the Japanese economy also plunged into the world depression which started when the US stockmarket fell heavily on 24 October 1929. The spinning industry in Japan, directly affected by these trends, attempted to rationalize itself systematically during the period from 1929 to 1931. Results of a test operation from 1928 to 1929 for rationalization at Kanebo showed that they were able to reduce the number of workers per 10,000 spindles by 25.8 per cent (Table 5) and the number of workers per day for the production of No.40 yarn by 29.5 per cent (Table 6). As mentioned earlier, it was during this period that high-draft spinners, simplex high-draft spinners and automatic looms were adopted, which made further reduction of the number of workers possible.

The reduced number of workers shown in Table 7 and Table 8 reveal that the number of female operatives involved in the spinning process had been reduced by 30.9 per cent from 142,000 persons in 1926 to 98,000 persons in 1931. The reduction ratio with regard to the weaving process was 52.2 per cent from 48,000 persons in 1926 to 23,000 persons in 1931.16

Finally Tables 7 and 8 reveal the characteristics of the Japanese cotton-spinning industry. In the case of spinning, the increased output of cotton yarn was supported by the increased spindleage and by the increased output per female operative who was, therefore, made responsible for a greater number of spindles in view of the fact that output per ring-spindle was stagnant.17 The same was true with weaving and the output per female operative was increased as each operative became responsible for an increased number of looms. What supported the increased output of cotton textiles was more the increased number of looms in operation than the increased productivity of each loom. Labour productivity and reinforcement were ultimately the cardinal factors in materializing increased productivity in cotton spinning. Consequently, it must be stated that the nucleus of higher productivity consisted entirely of young female operatives. However, despite the incessant effortt to reinforce labour productivity, the net wage index compiled by the Bank of Japan (taking-.1926 as 100) showed that their wages were on a constant decline. The decline was as follows:
96.4 in 1927; 86.8 in 1930; 74.5 in 1931; 65.3 in 1932.

TABLE 5. Corresponding Number of Workers per 10,000 Spindles

TABLE 6. Corresponding Number of Workers for the Production of Yarn Count 40

TABLE 7. The Transition of Productivity in Cotton Spinning

TABLE 8. The Transition of Productivity in Weaving


1. The first company to adopt scientific plant management and standard motion study in the Japanese spinning industry was probably Kanegafuchi Spinning Co. Ltd.
Sanji Muto of the same company had ordered a survey to be conducted in 1912 on the basis of scientific management and standard motions (Muto Sanji Zenshu Kankokai, op. cit., pp. 365-366).
It is assumed that these were applied when the wage problem developed in Tobu Railways in 1910-1911 (Toyo Boseki Kabushiki Kaisha, Toyo Boseki Nanajunen-shi (1953), p. 182).
Moreover, it was in 1917 that Toyobo began studies on standard motions. By the end of that year Toyobo had established standard motions pertaining to operation and safety according to each work process in both the spinning and weaving departments (ibid., pp. 182-183).

2. Takeo Izumi, "1910 Nendai ni Okeru Nippon Menshi Bosekigyo no Tenkai-Tokuni sono Dokusen Tenka ni Kanshite"', Senshu Keizaigaku Ronshu, vol. 6 (June 1971), PP. 54-55.

3. It is well known that this abundant capital acted as background for the advancement of Japanese cotton spinning into the Chinese market. The capital was systematically exported to so-called "Zaikabo" or China spinning.
Refer to Takeo Izumi, "Nippon Boseki Shihon no Chugoku Shijo Shinshutsu ni Kansuru Ichi Kosatsu-1920 Nen Zengo no Iwayuru "Zaikabo ni Tsuite" ,Senshu Keizaigaku Ronshu (Feb. 1972) for further information on the formation of "Zaikabo".

4. The inspection standard to rank 20s yarn in 1921 was as follows (Kanebo, Gijutsu Kaisho, No.8):
(1) A ball of yarn must be dried sufficiently to rid it of moisture and left in a certain place for more than two days. When the weight of a ball of yarn exceeds I kan 200 monme after the above treatment, it fulfils the inspection standard. (2) The coefficient of one reelful of yarn is based upon 80 fibres on average and, in the case of a round reel, the length of one reelful of yarn should be 840 yards. (3) The diameter of one reel is 54 inches and thus the reel frame with a diameter of 54 inches becomes the standard. (4) With regard to the stroke dregs and lustre, those which are rated higher than 85 points pass inspection, while the maximum is 100 points. (5) There should not be more than 35 monme of moisture other than the natural moisture, the maximum of which is 5 per cent. (6) The degree of yarn-twisting which passes the standard is more than 15 twistings to the right per inch in the case of 16-count yarn, and less than 19 twistings to the left in the case of 20-count yarn with more than 9 oz. in power. (7) The stretchability should be more than one-tenth of an inch. (8) Any inappropriate yarn counts do not pass inspection. (9) All of the fibre should be cotton.

5. Refer to the following for further information:
Izumi, "Dokusentai-teki Kyodai Menbo Shihon no Seisan Kozo to Sakushu Kiban-Dai-ichiji Taisenki no Kanebo o Jirei to shite...", Senshu Daigaku Shakai Kagaku Kenkyujo, Shakai Kagaku Nenpo, vol. 13,. Jicho-sha (1979), pp. 322-326 and pp. 337-344.

6. Izumi, "Taisho-ki Menbo no...", p. 18.

7. Kanebo, Gijutsu Kaisho, no. 8.

8. Ibid.

9. Toyobo, Toyo Boseki Nanajunen-shi, pp. 181-182.

10. Izumi, "Taisho-ki Menbo no...", pp. 19-21.

11. Toyota Jido Shokki Shashi Henshu Iinkai, op. cit., p. 118.

12. Tarokichi Soda, op. cit., Shakai Seisaku Jiho (May-1929), pp. 20-22.

13. Sanji Muto of Kanebo changed the wording of the method of scientific plant management to the "method of spiritual plant management." He described this to mean "a method to bring about good businesss results by making all those who are working for this company concentrate on their work spiritually."
Muto Sanji Zenshu Kankokai, op. cit., p. 367 and pp. 366-376.

14. Toyo Boseki Kabushiki Kaisha, "Toyo Boseki Nanajunen-shi," pp. 243-246. The survey items are as follows:
Entire Work Hours
(1) Time spent on face washing, dressing, eating, hairdressing, defecation, etc. after getting up in the morning(day workers) or at night(night workers), and time spent before starting work at the plant.
(2) Hours of actual work at present.
(3) Time spent on getting to the dormitory or to the cafeteria after finishing work.

Leisure Time
(4) Time spent on school (in the plant, practice, sewing, washing clothes, exercises, training and playing games.
(5) Rest periods during work hours.
(6) Time spent on a meal at the dormitory after work.
(7) Bath time.
(8) Completely free time (what was done during this time?).

Sleeping Hours
(9) Time of going to bed.
(10) Time of getting up.
(11) The conditions of falling asleep.
(12) Have dreams or not.
(13) What sort of dreams?
(14) Wake up during sleeping hours or not.
(15) On which day after starting day work or night work do you find it hardest to fall asleep?
(16) Itemize three reasons which disturb a deep sleep.
Ibid., p. 244.

15. Fusajiro Abe states as follows:
Due to the fact that the real influence of the lifting of the gold embargo will naturally become more serious, .... it must be presumed that the depression will become more grave. As far as the export trend is concerned, Japan will face more difficulty in competing in.the foreign market unless labour costs and commodity prices fall and become inversely proportional to the exchange rate. We industrialists must rationalize the industry as much as possible in order to lower production costs, promote exports and improve international loans.
Dainippon Boseki Rengokai Geppo, no.447 (November 1929), 26 December 1929, p. 27.

16. After the prohibition of night work, Dainippon Spinning discharged about half of its workers. Toyobo also reduced the number of workers drastically. It was said that male operatives with responsibilities were filling the jobs done by male operatives at both mills. Kanebo decided to defer the recruitment of male operatives for the same reason.
Muto Sanji Zenshu Kankokai, op. cit., pp. 527-528.

17. The number of frames per female operative and the output in Table 7 and Table 8 are calculated on the basis of the converted female operatives. Thus the figures do not give the true picture. The number of bolsters held responsible per yarn operative in the spinning process, in reality, was 101 in July 1928, increased. to 139 bolsters by July 1929. Kanebo, Gijutsu Kaisho, no.10.

18. Tokijiro Minoguchi, Hidezo Inaba, "Saikin ni okeru Wagakuni Sangyo Rodoono Hensen to Shakai Seisaku no Koka," 2, Shakai Seisaku Jiho (June 1937), P. 101.

International Competitiveness of the Japanese Cotton Industry

The Japanese cotton industry achieved a self-sufficient domesti-c cotton market by preventing excessive imports of cotton goods from India and Britain. It in fact began to promote the export of cotton yarns and cotton fabrics. However, the export of cotton yarn hit a peak in the middle of the 1910s and, because there was a drastic decline after that time, it no longer remained an item to be pursued. Instead, the export of cotton fabrics became important.

China was the greatest overseas market for the Japanese cotton-spinning industry as it absorbed 70 to 80 per cent of the exported cotton yarns from Japan. Although cotton yarns from Japan exceeded those from India in the early 1910s, sales quickly came to a dead end due to the growth of the Chinese spinning industry as well as the anti-Japanese movement. Thus the Japanese spinning managers decided to build plants and promote production in China, the so-called zaikabo.17 However, because there was a gap of 20 yen in production costs between the domestically produced yarn and China products (Table 1), Japan totally lost its basis of international competitiveness. Although the production costs of Japanese yarns could compete against those from India, they were incomparably more expensive than American and British products (Table 2). Consequently, Japanese spinning in China resorted to the supply of raw material for domestic weaving plants.

TABLE 1. A Comparison of Production Costs per Bale of 20 Count in Japan and China (as of August 1929)

TABLE 2. A Comparison of Production Costs per Pound of Cotton Yarn (up to the Spinning Process)

Subsequently, the Japanese cotton industry came to compete against Britain, which had the largest market share of cotton fabric exports in the world. Thus it can be restated that the aforementioned rationalization of the spinning process and lower wages were not aimed at gaining advantages in the export market, but at providing the weaving mills with inexpensive raw materials for cotton fabrics. As seen in Table 3, the wages of the workers were so low that they could not even be compared to those of the USA and Britain. The wages in Japan were, in fact, lower than those in India under British rule. In addition, cotton consumption per week was greater than that of Britain and the USA, due to productivity calculated on the basis of work hours (Table 4). However, as far as the transaction of raw cotton was concerned, productivity in Japan was lower than that of Britain and the USA because the Japanese cotton-spinning industry, as a latecomer, had been relying upon Indian cotton as its primary supply of raw cotton. This was suitable for the production of coarse yarn. This factor correlates to the fact that the rationalization of the spinning process does not enhance inherent mechanical productivity. Nevertheless, due to low wages as well as rationalized management, it became possible for Japan by the end of the 1920s to supply more inexpensive raw yarns than Britain (Table 5).

TABLE 3. A Comparison of Wages in Spinning (per 1,000 Spindles) (as of February 1932)

TABLE 4 A Comparison of Spinning Productivity (per 1,000 Spindles) (surveyed in February 1933)

TABLE 5. A Comparison of Production Cost per Pound of Cotton Yarn between Japan and Britain

The situation was totally different in the case of the weaving process. Due to the supply of the above-mentioned cheap cotton yarn, automation of looms (Table 6), and wages being less than half those in Britain, it was possible for the cotton industry in Japan to produce cotton fabrics at less than one third of the cost i n Britain (Table 7). Furthermore, productivity in Japan was higher, which in itself shows the export competitiveness of Japanese goods. There was an additional factor, other than the conditions of production, which made Japan's position more advantageous in the world market. This factor was the foreign exchange rate. Japan returned to the gold standard by lifting the gold embargo in 1930 and 1931. However, it was more of an exception for Japan to lift the gold embargo since Japan (excepting a two-year period) had maintained a policy of prohibiting gold exports since 1917. Thus the Yen was cheap not only against the Pound and Dollar but also against the Tael and Rupee (Table 8). This affected Britain particularly, as she was a direct competitor. Due to the multiplied effect of all factors concerned, such as the pursuit of rationalization, low wages and the exchange rate, the Japanese cotton industry was able to outstrip Britain in the world cotton market.

TABLE 6. The Ratio of Automation through the Use of Automatic Looms (as of December 1936)

TABLE 7 A Comparison of Productivity and Production Costs Between Japan and Britain (Shirting)

TABLE 8. The Transitional Indexes of Average Foreign Exchange Rates against Yen


1. Izumi, "Nippon Boseki Shihon no...".

2. Freda Alley, translated by Tadao Nakano and Seiji Ishida, Kyokuto ni Okeru Mengyo, Lancashire and Far East 1931, Sobunkaku (1936) ,p. 291.


Prior to concluding this paper, I will briefly discuss the position of the cotton industry in the Japanese economy in lieu of a summary. Table 1 illustrates the Japanese industrial composition, excluding mining, with the number of workers and the number of private plants with more than five workers. It can be noticed that the textile industry is exceptionally big, and in particular the number of workers involved in the textile industry exceeds the majority of the total number of workers. This number became less than the majority for the first time in the 1930s, which explains why the prewar national economy in Japan was referred to as being at the textile-industry stage.

The breakdown of the textile industry for 1909 is as follows: there were 3720 spinning plants (23.9 per cent) out of a total number of 15574 plants, Those involved in weaving were 8436 (54.2 per cent), including both cotton and silk weaving, and there were 111 (0.7 per cent) cotton-spinning mills. Of a total of 516,000 workers, 198,600 (38.5 per cent) were involved in spinning, 158,900 (30.8 per cent) in weaving and 91,000 workers (17.7 per cent) in cotton spinning.1 The textile industry was thus dominated by the spinning and weaving industries.

The cotton-spinning industry, on the basis of the number of plants and the number of workers, was not at all big in proportion to the total or to the textile industry as a whole. However, the characteristic of the cotton-spinning industry can be illustrated by the fact that less than 1 per cent of the total number of plants had gathered about 10 per cent of the total number of workers. This epitomizes the fact that, of all the private industries in Japan, it was the cotton-spinning industry which contained a form of large-scale modern mechanized plant system.

TABLE 1. Japanese Industrial Composition (Plants and Workers)

In order for a nation's national economy to be established selfsufficiently and to be modernized, there is a premise that a balanced development should exist between the consumer-goods production sector and the productive-means production sector. In this case, the former, the quantitative development in the production of clothing, supersedes the latter. In the case of prewar Japan, there existed an abnormal imbalance between the two sectors. Due to the extreme backwardness of the productive-means production sector, it had to rely totally upon the leadership of state capital. Under these circumstances, it can be stated that the Japanese cotton industry contributed greatly to the promotion of a self-sufficient economy and capitalistic system, which was guided by the Japanese cotton-spinning industry.


1. Takeo Izumi, "1910-20 Nendai ni Okeru Nippon Shihonshugi no Jukagaku Kogyoka ni Kansuru Hitotsu no Sobyo...Tokuni Nippon Tekkogyo no Suiten o Chushin toshite...", Senshu Daigaku Shakai Kagaku Kenkyujo Geppo, no.134 (November 1974), pp. 5-10.