Socio-Economic History

Vol. 64, No. 3

The monopoly system of the Ottoman Empire and the 1838 Convention of Commerce: a case study of the monopoly of Turkish opium, 1828-1839

The year of 1838, in which the Anglo-Ottoman convention was signed, has been regarded as a watershed in Ottoman economic history. The convention itself has been termed a free trade treaty which opened the Ottoman market by abolishing the internal trade obstacles of the empire. However, one of the problems of this general view is that this assessment is not based on an examination of the actual state of commerce in the period before 1838. The aim of this paper is to re-examine the significance of the convention for the Ottoman Empire by focusing on Yed-i Vahid, the Ottoman monopoly system, which was one of the convention's main targets.

In examining the Ottoman monopoly, this paper traces the case of Turkish opium, one of the main exports of the empire in the nineteenth century. Following the rise in opium exports triggered by growing demand in China, in 1828 the Ottoman government imposed a monopoly to control the trade, and to raise customs revenue. The aim of the monopoly system was not to protect the market, but to maximize state customs revenues. In other words, it was the outcome of a rise in trade. Monopolies were later applied to several other export commodities, but in most cases were not successful. By the time Britain sought the abolition of the system, it was in practice only with regard to opium.

From this analysis of the nature of the Ottoman monopoly and the reasons for its introduction and abolition, it can be concluded that the convention of 1838 did not signify the abandonment of protectionism and therefore the opening of the Ottoman market. In fact, the convention was the product of a previous rise in trade which further promoted this trend rather than being its initial impetus.

Hisashi HISAKI
The relations between central government and the periphery in labour disputes: the Board of Trade and the first Penrhyn dispute, 1896-1897

The first Penrhyn dispute was the first major strike that took place after the passing of the Conciliation Act of 1896. The North Wales Quarrymen's Union (NWQU) invoked the provisions of the new act in order to obtain the intervention of the Board of Trade in their dispute with Lord Penrhyn, one of the main landowners and quarry owners in Wales. The conflict in the Penrhyn quarry dated back to the 1860s and exhibited many features peculiar to the slate quarrying industry in North Wales.

After receiving the union demand, the Board of Trade began a series of meetings with Lord Penrhyn and his employees. The Board considered that a major dispute such as this one, which affected many thousands of people, should be settled by the non-confrontational means laid down in the Conciliation Act. Lord Penhryn, however, strongly rejected any intervention by what he called a "third party". One of the reasons he took such a rigid course was his dislike of the collectivist measures inspired by the New Liberalism in Britain at the turn of the century.

In view of the above situation, the Board of Trade gave up its attempt to settle the Penrhyn dispute. As a result, the Penrhyn quarrymen were forced to continue their efforts to establish a procedure for collective bargaining in vain for almost eleven months, until a temporary settlement was concluded.

Many scholars have paid attention to this famous dispute because Lord Penrhyn showed his opposition to trade union principles in a way which was very characteristic of Britain in the 1890s, and because his refusal to participate exposed the limits on the power of the Board of Trade to carry out the provisions of the Conciliation Act. In this paper, I would like to reconsider the significance of these limits for the role of government in industrial relations.

Takamasa HIGUCHI
The process of introducing unemployment insurance legislation under the indirect rule of the Allied Occupation

This paper shows the process of the institution of the Japanese unemployment insurance system during the period of occupation. Two issues are dealt with:

First of all, both the Japanese government and GHQ attached importance to the way in which social policy had developed in prewar and wartime Japan. The unemployment insurance system which they instituted was based on their evaluation of the state of social policy during World War II. Secondly, recent studies have highlighted the influence of the actions taken by ordinary Japanese people on the process of introducing the unemployment insurance system. These actions were regulated by occupation policy.

In the first stage of the occupation, GHQ emphasised social policy, and paid attention to the system of social insurance, labor protection legislation, public engineering works and the state of mutual aid unemployment societies in the 1920s and 1930s. For GHQ policy one should consult the 'Civil Affairs Handbook', and the reports of the Foreign Economic Administration and the Labor Advisory Committee.

Discussions involving the Social Security Consultative Committee and GHQ began in June 1946. GHQ rejected a plan for a comprehensive national insurance system made by the Committee. After that, talks concentrated on two different unemployment insurance proposals, one based on insurance associations, the other based on a national insurance system. The latter was enacted by the Katayama cabinet in December 1947. GHQ realized the need for an unemployment insurance system, when it adopted an industrial policy stressing steel and coal production in December 1946. The system of national unemployment insurance was approved after discussions between the Economic and Scientific Section Finance and Labor Divisions in October 1947.