Socio-Economic History

Vol. 65, No. 4
Special Issue: British capitalism and Asia –– conference report ––

Takeshi YUZAWA and Shigeru AKITA
British capitalism and Asia: a review of the role of 'gentlemanly capitalism'

This is a report of the symposium held at the annual meeting of the Socio-Economic History Society on 6 July 1998, at Gakushuin University. The topic of British capitalism and Asia was selected because the history of intra-Asian trade has been the subject of considerable debate among Japanese scholars for over ten years, with Professor K.SUGIHARA's 'The development and structure of intra-Asian trade' (1996) attracting particular interest. Cain and Hopkins' concept of 'gentlemanly capitalism' has also attracted attention, particularly with regard to the economic influence which Britain exerted on Asia. The symposium focussed on the relationship between traditional intra-Asian trade and gentlemanly capitalism in the period from the end of the nineteenth century up until the 1930s, when British economic power was on the decline.

Of the five papers read at the symposium, those by Professors Toshio SUZUKI and Shoichi WATANABE are included in this issue of Shakai Keizai Shigaku. The other three papers were 'British perceptions of Japanese and Chinese industrialization, 1890 to the 1930s' by Professor Shigeru AKITA, 'Britain and the Chinese economy in the inter-war period by Professor Toru KUBO, and 'The Japanese experience of gentlemanly capitalism' by Professor Naoto KAGOTANI.

Toshio Suzuki
British overseas investment and the financial institutions of the City before World War I

This article is an analysis of British overseas investment in the period before World War I, with particular reference to loans to foreign governments on the London capital market. What role was played by the City financial institutions which were involved in investment abroad? Attention will also be paid to Cain and Hopkins' theory of 'gentlemanly capitalism' in relation to the history of Japanese government loan issues on the London capital market during the Russo-Japanese War. This study is based primarily on research in the archives of several merchant banks which did not permit access to scholars until the 1980s.

The article gives a historical overview of the City, which became the world's largest financial centre after the 'financial revolution' of the eighteenth century. Also scrutinized are the development of loan issue methods, the role of the various types of financial institutions involved, and the risk-averse attitude of investors. The activities of merchant banks were of particular importance, but it must be noted that their interests were always fluid and divided. At the same time, they frequently had to pay close attention to the diplomatic policies of the British government.

Changes in British policy towards Indian railways and Indian nationalism after World War I

Significant changes occurred in British policy towards Indian railways after World War I. Of first importance is the special nature of British investment in the railways. As the capital of the railways was invested in India through the accounts of the Secretary of State for India, the railway companies came under the Secretary's control. But this system attracted the criticism of Indian Nationalists during World War I.

Second to be mentioned is the role of the Acworth Committee on policy towards the railways. In 1920 this recommended the abolition of the railway companies with their head offices in Britain and the separation of railway finance from general finance.

Finally in 1921 the British and Indian governments clashed with the Indian Legislative Assembly over the control of railway construction and management and the contribution of the railways to general government finance. Eventually the former gave way to the demands of the latter. In the eyes of the two governments, the home charges which were the financial basis of Indian rule had been secured; on the other hand, the Nationalists had been able to establish a truly Indian railway system.