Socio-Economic History

Vol. 63, No. 6

Shigeru ITO
The decline in infant mortality in pre-war Japan

The decline in infant mortality in pre-war Japan is significant for two reasons. First is the gap of over 20 years between the time when infant mortality in Europe started to decline and the time when this trend began in Japan. Second is the fact that this decline occurred at a time when the income gap between rural and urban communities was growing.

On the eve of the decline in infant mortality, the neonatal mortality rate had already gone down, but the infant-neonatal mortality ratio, which indicates the relative proportion of post neonatal mortality, had been increasing remarkably in the cities. This rise was due to a decrease in breast feeding caused by the participation of urban mothers in the labor force, the lack of necessary support, and insufficient knowledge of infant care. Possibly the most significant factor was the decline in breast feeding among the lower classes in the cities.

Starting in 1920, the government carried out substantial measures to reduce infant mortality. First was a campaign to disseminate appropriate infant care information; second was the creation of child-health guidance centers and facilities for midwife services. Financial support was provided by local governments and by private social-work organizations. In cities, the guidance centers played an important role in spreading knowledge of infant care. As a result, the infant-neonatal mortality ratio went steadily down. The effects were less evident in rural areas because there were fewer centers. Midwife service facilities were established in both urban and rural areas, and the number of midwives increased remarkably after 1922. Owing to these improvements, the neonatal mortality rate decreased at a higher pace than in previous periods, in both rural and urban areas. Consequently, the infant mortality rate in Japan began a consistent decline from 1923.

Toshiaki TAMAKI
English trade with the Baltic, 1731-1780

Modern British history is now considered to be the history of an empire, an empire which developed in close association with shipping and the shipbuilding industry. In order to expand or maintain this empire, Britain had to import naval stores from the Baltic.

In the 1730s, English Baltic trade centered on Riga, St Petersburg and Sweden (Stockholm). From the 1760s, however, St Petersburg overwhelmed the other Baltic ports. English exports to the Baltic of cloth - Britain's principal export commodity - stagnated, and imports from Russia through St Petersburg increased dramatically. Further, such commodities as iron, flax, and hemp from St Petersburg were essential raw materials for the early stages of the British industrial revolution. Russia became an area of vital importance for Britain in providing the empire with naval stores and raw materials for the Industrial Revolution.

A reinterpretation of the passage of the Smoot-Hawley Act, with special reference to the provision of flexible tariffs

The Smoot-Hawley Act became part of U.S. law in June 1930. It is notorious for the high tariff rates on many items, which are said to have caused tariff retaliation and expanded the division of the world into economic blocs. Why was such an act passed, even though the President, Herbert Hoover, had recommended only limited tariff revision? Several possible factors, such as log rolling, interest groups and partisan politics, have been analyzed.

The object of this article is to shed light on another important factor. Hoover emphasized the idea of flexible tariffs in order to establish a tariff system which would both encourage exports and protect industry effectively, but not excessively. Flexible tariff provision had been legalized in 1922, when the authority to adjust tariffs was delegated by Congress to the Tariff Commission and the President. However, Hoover thought that strengthening direct contact between interested parties and the Commission under the presidential authority was important in order to allow the swift and effective adjustment of tariffs in line with changing economic conditions. Interest groups such as the National Association of Manufactures backed the provision. In Congress, however, there was disagreement over the final tariff-adjusting authority. Hoover signed the Smoot-Hawley Act because it contained a flexible tariff provision close to what he desired, not because of his support for a wide range of high rates, or because he was unable to control Congress.

Although the deepening of the Depression eclipsed the provision, it represented the administration's dream of setting up an effective tariff system. The provision was not only retained after Smoot-Hawley, but the core principle of moving from interested parties, through the Tariff Commission, to the President often appeared in post-war commercial legislation. If seen from the point of view of flexible tariff provision, it is clear that the Act does not deserve its bad reputation.

Masashi CHIBA
The nationalization of the Chinese telegraph industry in the late Qing period

The Chinese telegraph industry, which was established in the late nineteenth century, underwent a period of reorganization in the first decade of the twentieth century. Originally, the industry consisted of the Imperial Chinese Telegraph Administration (I.C.T.A.) and official telegraph administrations in the provinces, with the central government supervising the commercial activities of the I.C.T.A. However, by 1911, the entire Chinese telegraph industry had been unified under the management of the central government. The purpose of this paper is to analyse the process by which this occurred.

The early telegraph policy of the Qing government was for the I.C.T.A. to take charge of construction and management in central areas, while the various provincial official telegraph administrations took charge in the periphery. But the formation of a nation-wide telegraph network at the end of the nineteenth century brought about a change in this policy. In 1902 the Qing government began to nationalize the I.C.T.A. in order to gain control of its profits. The reorganization of the whole Chinese telegraph industry was not yet being contemplated, but on the other hand, drastic reforms were needed. For the industry to develop throughout China, it was necessary for the profits made by the central areas to be invested in the periphery.

The Youchuanbu (Ministry of Posts and Communication), which was established in 1906, reorganized the telegraph industry for this reason. Its first step was the complete nationalization of the I.C.T.A. in 1908. Just before the 1911 revolution, it took over responsibility for the telegraph industry in the periphery from the official provincial telegraph administrations. The Chinese telegraph industry was unified at last, under the management of central government.

The nationalization process which occurred in the last days of the Qing dynasty is the foundation of the Chinese telegraph industry system that exists to this day.