II . Outcome of the Study Groups - Summary

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3B. TRANSPORTATION

1. The traditional transportation system
2. Transportation in the period of transition (1868-1891)
3. The golden age of the railway (1892-1909)
4. Self-reliance in transportation technology (1910-1921)
5. The integration of the transportation systems (1922-1937)
6. Transportation during the war years (1938-1945)
7. Transportation in the postwar recovery period (1946-1954)
8. Recent development in transportation

(Note: Each paper is written jointly by several members of the group with responsibility for content being divided as follows: roads, Hirofumi Yamamoto; transportation policy and railroads, Katsumasa Harada and Eiichi Aoki; river and coastal shipping, Hiromi Masuda.)

The first paper explains that inland transportation in Japan before the Meiji period was mainly by road. At the post towns located along the major routes the shogunate and feudal lords assigned officials who were responsible for overseeing arrangements for the provision of horses and labour, accommodations, and other facilities for members of the samurai class at much cheaper official rates than the going prices. This was a feudal system of transportation in which horses and labour were requisitioned from local peasants on a temporary basis whenever the demand made it necessary to do so. Rivers were used as significant transportation routes for the conveyance of cargo including land tax rice, and there were river-port agents who organized river transportation, arranging for boats, crews, and stevedores. As for sea transportation, because of the shogunate's policy of national isolation, there was only coastal traffic by traditional Japanese-type sail boats, such as single-masted flat-bottomed boats.

The second paper deals with transportation in the period of transition. During the period of internal fighting, peasants became very disgruntled because both the old and the new government used the system of supplemental local requisitioning to the limit. In the fact of such opposition, the new government was forced to restrict the use of that system and to raise the official rates, and the system was finally abolished (1871-1872).

After commissioning the railroad between Tokyo and Yokohama (1872), Masaru Inoue, chief of the Railway Bureau of the Ministry of Industry, established a technical training school in Osaka for the training of railway engineers. Consequently it became possible for Japanese engineers to handle tunnel boring and embankment, suspension bridge building, and other works on their own. Japanese train drivers were also employed, and Japanese self-reliance in terms of operating techniques was achieved by the end of the 1870s.

The first authorized horse-drawn omnibus ran between Tokyo and Yokohama (1869). After that, stage coaches that carried cargo and passengers as well as the mail of the national postal service ran along the main overland routes, stopping at relay stations along the way.

The new government authorized ownership of ocean-going vessels of the Western type for the first time in 1869, and in 1875 it furnished the Mitsubishi Company with thirteen government-owned ships and subsidies for the training of merchant marine crews and to cover operating expenses, with a view to promoting the development of Japan's own sea transportation industry. Japan was soon able to force the Pacific Mail Steamship Company (US) and the Peninsular and Orient Navigation Steamship Company (British) out of business in Japanese coastal waters and on the Shanghai route, and it even succeeded in participating in ocean-going traffic.

The third paper describes the golden age of the railway and points out the fact that the military value of railways came to be recognized in the Satsuma Rebellion and the switching from water transportation to railway transportation for raw silk and other export products with the opening of the railway between Tokyo and Maebashi, bespoke the advent of the railway age. Before long the entire government-run Tokaido line between Tokyo and Kobe was completed (1889), followed by the privately operated Tohoku line between Tokyo and Aomori (1891). In those days the operational mileage of private railways exceeded that of government railways. When the Russo-Japanese War broke out, however, demands for nationalization were strongly voiced, and the lines of seventeen major private railway companies were soon nationalized. By 1906 a uniform operational system of the Imperial Government Railways was established.

Railways also resulted in a sharp increase in supplemental new short-distance means of transportation, such as horse-drawn passenger carriages, horse-drawn carts, and ox carts.

River boat transportation lost its position to railways and came to consist mainly of lighter transportation, in cities. The hooking up of such lighter transportation with railways gave rise to the Akihabara and Sumidagawa cargo stations at the Tokyo metropolis.

The attainment of self-reliance in transportation technology is dealt with in the fourth paper. In those days national demand for the construction of trunk and branch railway lines grew, resulting in the establishment of the Ministry of Railways in 1920 and the adoption of a policy for the promotion of light railways. The Ministry of Railways began to design a tender steam locomotive in 1909, and before long standard locomotives were being turned out by Japanese industry on a mass-production basis.

In the 1910s and 1920s there was mixed use of old and new means of transportation, with a continuing increase in the number of human- and horse-drawn conventional vehicles as well as the rapid popularization of such new means as bicycles and motor vehicles.

In the 1910s river high-water works for flood prevention were carried out throughout the country, and river low-water works for the purpose of using rivers as arteries of transportation were phased out entirely, leading to the further decline of river transportation.

The fifth paper deals with the period of the integration of the transportation systems. That period was one of great improvement in railway trunk lines and of boosting transportation capacity by: (1) steep grade track improvement which was achieved mainly by long tunnels, (2) national production of both passenger and freight steam and electric locomotives, and (3) the commencement of freight train ferry service between the mainland and Hokkaido.

After the Great Kanto Earthquake (1923), not only passenger cars but also trucks came to be imported in increasing numbers, and except in the provinces there was a sharp decline in the use of older human- and horse-drawn vehicles. Furthermore, the Ministry of Railways promoted the consolidation of railway freight agencies and compelled the railways to be responsible for the collection and distribution of small freight, which they entrusted to the new consolidated companies.

In addition, new seaports were opened at Onahama, Hakata and Kashima, where industry to supply the military had developed at a fast pace after the Japanese occupation of Manchuria in 1931.

As the sixth paper describes, after war broke out between Japan and China in 1937, military-related transportation increased in Japan to such an extent that finally it became necessary to restrict the use of railway transportation by the general public. Later, because of the bombing of the Japanese mainland that started in 1944, the railway network was torn to shreds, with only about 35 per cent remaining intact when the war ended.
By about 1940 arrangements for full domestic production of motor vehicles and particularly military trucks were completed, but as material shortages got to be increasingly series after 1943, production dropped off sharply. During the war there was further consolidation of road transportation with the establishment of the semi-governmental Nippon Express Co., which stepped up nationwide control of small road-transportation agencies.

During this period river boat transportation and other forms of inland water transportation died out, leaving only sight-seeing boats here and there, but even these disappeared as the war effort escalated to total mobilization.

The last two papers deal with transportation conditions after the war. Completion of electrification of the Tokaido line in 1956 and subsequent active efforts to extend electrification are seen as being symbolic of the new Japan which renounced the right to wage war because an electric railroad network cannot be safely operated unless peace is uninterruptedly maintained. The transportation capacity of the Japanese National Railways (JNR) is said to have dramatically increased with the improvement of operational efficiency through the development in 1957 of the power-car-dispersed 10-car train used for short-distance runs. In the same year JNR carried out the reduction of ground equipment by using alternating-current electrification with a single-phase alternating-current. The New Tokaido Trunk Line (Shinkansen) was commissioned in 1964 on the basis of the use of such new technology as the Automatic Train Control (ATC) system, the Automatic Train Stop (ATS) system, and the Concentrated Train Control (CTC) system.

Immediately after the war, the only supply of motor vehicles available were used vehicles sold by the occupation forces to Japanese nationals, but before long Japanese automobile manufacturing recovered, and the number of motor vehicles on the road increased by leaps and bounds (only 165,000 in 1946, but 7,248,000 by 1965 and 37,972,000 by 1980). The share of domestic freight transportation represented by motor vehicles passed that represented by railways in 1966 (31.0 per cent versus 26.7 per cent), and since then the percentage accounted for by railways has continued to decline sharply. In passenger transportation as well, motor vehicles passed railways in 1971 (50.6 per cent versus 46.9 per cent), and the gap has been widening since then. As motorization (symbolized by the opening of the Meishin [Nagoya-Kobe] Expressway in 1965 and the Tomei [Tokyo-Nagoya] Expressway in 1969) progressed, there was a rapid increase in transportation capacity.

In view of the fact that the Japanese National Railways have maintained a self-supporting accounting system since they were first organized, such an increase in railway transportation capacity has been very burdensome to them. On the other hand, road improvements have been financed by the government, and this has increased the imbalance in the relative shares of total transportation capacity of these two modes of transportation. Such transportation policy is criticized as having given rise to the ill-advised hiking of railway fares and rates, the deterioration of JNRs quality of service and environmental disruption along roads caused by automobiles.