Socio-Economic History

Vol. 65, No. 5

A revaluation of the economic policy of the British Liberal Party: the formation and the collapse of the 'Producer's Alliance'

Economic historians have considered that the economic policies of the Liberal government in the early twentieth century were under the influence of the City of London. By contrast, this paper makes it clear that the Liberals aimed to build a 'Producer's Alliance', an alliance between the industrial capitalists and the industrial labourers, which would actively compete with the rentiers, who were associated with City finance. Continuity of purpose in this respect can be found to link Liberal policy before World War I with that of the 1920s.

As a result, this study shows that the pre-war Liberal Party represented the interest of export industries. However, when these industries were shattered by World War I, it was necessary for the Liberals to work out a new strategy. Thus, in the 1920s they adopted a plan proposed by Keynes, and tried to revive industry through concentrating on the domestic market. Both before and after World War I, the Liberal Party consistently supported the interests of 'Producers'.

The South Manchurian Railway foreign loan negotiations and Japan's external financial policy, 1927-1928

The purpose of this article is to reconsider the foreign loan negotiations for the South Manchurian Railway (SMR) and their failure in the context of Japan's external financial policy, and to examine the negotiation process both in America and Britain.

From the mid-1920s, the SMR loan was regarded as an important source of specie in the event of a return to the gold standard. But the financial panic of 1927 and the subsequent drain on gold made it necessary to float the loan immediately. Negotiations were opened with T.W. Lamont of J.P. Morgan & Co. who regarded the loan as financial support for the stabilization of the Japanese economy and made every effort for a successful flotation. However, there were objections from the State Department, which was afraid of antagonizing the Chinese. In August 1928, therefore, negotiations began in London. But there was opposition from the Foreign Office, because of fears that a tariff treaty with China would be adversely affected. This failure indicates the collapse of the Japanese government's attempt to combine an independent policy towards China with financial cooperation with Britain and America.

Technology and the problem of quality in the textile industry of the Meiji period (1868-1912)

Low product quality is frequently a problem during the development of manufacturing industries. The tendency to ascribe this to moral-hazard behavior by producers is often substantially correct. However, technological factors could also be involved, as in the case of the textile industry of the early Meiji era. In other words, low quality was at least partly caused by the attempts of enterprising producers to introduce new technology in the form of chemical dyeing materials from Europe. The result was poor-quality products which cost Japanese textile manufacturers their good market reputation.

In this paper, the report of a competitive exhibition of 1885 is used to provide an objective evaluation of textile products. Efforts were made to establish quantifiable standards for the exhibits in respect to elements such as weaving, yarn quality, dyeing, length and weight, design, and price. One of the most important findings is that dyeing posed more serious problems of quality for silk textile products than for other kinds. For this reason trade associations, especially in silk textile industry districts, established institutions to teach producers how to apply new technology.

Hirotake YAZAWA
The labor supply behavior of non-household heads in prewar Japan

This paper analyzes the labor supply behavior of wives and children (non-household heads) in prewar families of low and middle income. The labor supply behavior of non-household heads is more complicated than that of household heads, because it depends on many factors, including the wage rate of the former and the income of the latter. Moreover, there is little reliable data for the prewar period. This paper draws on two surveys of 1921: one of saimin (low-income) households, the other of factory and salaried workers (the middle-income class).

By estimating the labor supply function according to the probit model, it was possible to apply Douglas-Arisawa's first and second laws to the non-household heads of every household. The income elasticity of the salaried household heads was greater than that of the saimin and factory workers. When the saimin households were examined alone, Douglas-Arisawa's first law was applicable to the wives, but the income elasticity of their household heads was considerably less than in the post-war period. Because children were able to enter modern industries more easily than wives, their earned incomes lowered the need for their mothers to seek employment.