Socio-Economic History

Vol. 64, No. 2

The rayon textile market in prewar Japan

The purpose of this study is to investigate the market structure of the rayon textile industry, with special reference to Fukui Prefecture, the process by which controls were imposed on the industry in the 1930s, and the way in which the controls functioned.

The conclusions of this study can be summarised in the following three points: first, the prices of rayon yarn and textiles entered a decline in the second half of 1934, due to import restrictions imposed by foreign countries. This led the Japanese rayon yarn and textiles exporters' association to impose controls on rayon exports. They abandoned the control of rayon prices, but began to control the quantity of rayon goods exported to those countries that were introducing import restrictions and barter systems.

Second, these export controls accelerated the overall control of rayon textiles production by the association of rayon textile manufacturers. Since the control of rayon textile production began late, it had to be planned on a nationwide scale and carried out by bureaucratic leaders. However, the plan was not successful.

Third, although the textile manufacturers in Fukui Prefecture had asked for production to be controlled when rayon prices fell, they demanded reform of controls which were in fact introduced. This was because they were opposed to the fact that separate controls had been imposed on different descriptions of goods, and to the fact that they were based on past production levels. Consequently, after the start of Sino-Japanese War of 1937, production became controlled in a different way.

Local taxes in Henan in the Qing period (1644-1911): chaiyao and dangguan

In Henan in the Qing period there were two local and unofficial taxes in addition to national taxes. One was chaiyao, imposed on peasants, and the other was dangguan, imposed on merchants and manufacturers.

Chaiyao was levied on each village in order to make preparations in order to supply horses and stagecoaches at local stages. The amounts levied were increased suddenly after the rebellion of the Taiping-tianguo. As a consequence, local governments organized Chaiyao-ju (offices to apportion and collect chaiyao). The local gentry were put in charge and the method of taxation changed from a rotation system to being calculated as a ratio of national tax.

Dangguan took the form of a duty imposed on merchants (mainly brokers) to supply goods and services needed by local governments at a low price or at no charge at all. In Jiangnan, dangguan was abolished in the eighteenth century. In Henan, however, it was not only increased during the Qianlong and Jiaqing periods (1736-1820), but even imposed on peasants as well. The reason why both chaiyao and dangguan continued to be important in Henan was that the immaturity of the commodity markets there prevented local governments from converting them into commercial taxes, as happened in Jiangnan.

A study of the Wado-Kaichin silver coins

It seems clear that the Wado-Kaichin coins were minted in 708. This can be proved by the process of the revision of the law prohibiting forgery at that time.

The Wado-Kaichin coins can be divided by quality into two groups, silver and copper. They can also be classified according to their stamps: fureikai (open style) and reikai (closed style).

In the eighth month of 709, silver coins were abolished. The Chinese characters of some silver reikai coins were deliberately changed into the fureikai style. This fact suggests that the government forged silver coins for its own use after this time. The ancient Japanese state probably did not have enough power to control currency, and this was the reason why Wado-Kaichin copper coins were not accepted by the people of the Wado era.

The current theory is that the Wado-Kaichin copper coins were used as a one-way means of payment from government to people. In fact, however, the coins were meant to act as a medium of exchange. The people of this period were able to understand this, and they needed a form of currency. But despite the government's aims and the need for a circulating currency, the Wado-Kaichin coins did not circulate effectively during this period.