Socio-Economic History

Vol. 78, No. 1

Makiko HINO
The expansion of ‘silk textile’ exports in northern Italy, 1919-1929

This article examines the reasons why the Italian silk industry, including artificial silk, was able to expand its exports during the 1920s. The focus will be on the Como district, northern Italy, which is located in ‘the northern industrial triangle’ that was the main center of Italian industrialization after national unification.

The paper considers four possible explanations for the increase in exports. The first factor was the modernization in management organization in the early 1920s, which accelerated the development of the industry. Secondly, the simultaneous development of the textile machine industry made it possible to improve the quality of textiles and helped the silk industry to acquire new markets for its goods. Thirdly, the introduction of artificial silk as a raw material drastically changed the quality and variety of finished goods. And, finally, the increasing use of artificial silk reduced the price of silk textiles and led to further expansion of silk textile exports by the big companies in the region, capturing new markets in Asia, Africa and South America in the second half of the 1920s. The shift to new markets was one of the reactions to the tariff barrier on silk textiles imposed by the British government in 1925.


Railway finance during the interwar period in colonial Korea: focusing on the issuance of bonds by the Chosen Railway

In the 1920s, during the development of Japan’s bond market, some companies established in colonial Korea, particularly railway companies, issued many bonds. Issuances of these bonds indicate changes in railway finance and the emergence of a new form of investment in colonial Korea. This paper examines the process and the impact of changes in railway finance and analyzes investors in colonial securities.

The Chosen Railway, a railway company in colonial Korea, issued bonds and repaid the money to colonial banks such as the Bank of Chosen and the Chosen Industrial Bank, which underwrote the bonds. Through the issue and the repayment, the Bank of Chosen, which faced bankruptcy, was able to clear a part of the credit, and the Chosen Industrial Bank intensified agricultural finance. In the later 1920s, securities companies such as Yamaichi Securities Co. came to underwrite the bonds of the Chosen Railway, thereby taking the place of colonial banks. Investors in bonds underwritten by Yamaichi Securities Co. mainly included the Zaibatsu’s financial institutions and small and medium Japanese financial institutions such as regional banks.


Yoichiro KAMONO
The collection of bills by a Florentine wool company in the Ottoman Empire in the late fifteenth century: from the account book of a resident agent at Bursa, Bartolomeo Guanti

Florence, a late medieval Italian city-state, began to trade with the Ottoman Empire from the middle of the fifteenth century, carrying out trade on the basis of friendly diplomatic relations. The trade allowed medium-sized Florentine wool companies a field of activity and established a pattern of exchange with the Ottoman Empire; Florentine textiles were brought into the Ottoman Empire and traded there for Oriental goods destined for sale in Florence. For these medium-sized companies to succeed, they needed to collect without delay on those products traded within the Ottoman Empire.

This paper focuses on the Guanti Company, which sold woolens in the Ottoman Empire during the 1480’s, examining the process for the collection of bills executed by Bartolomeo Guanti, the company’s agent stationed at Bursa, through an analysis of his account book. From this analysis, it becomes clear that Bartolomeo quickly collected most of the bills due through barter trade or cash payment. From this we can see that even a medium-sized company could participate in international commerce. This fact will urge us to reconsider our image of Florentine commerce that has been constructed by focusing on the activities of large companies.


A study of customary practices related to land transactions in the Setouchi region during the late Edo era: a case study of Kanemaru village, Ashida district, Bingo province

Recent scholarship has usually seen the practice of pawning land as a form of credit in rural villages. However, there has been little study of the political and economic conditions that led to such practices, nor of its structural characteristics. This paper examines such customary practices in Kanemaru village, Ashida district of Bingo province in the late Edo period.

The customary practices in Kanemaru village developed against a background of the development of commercial farming and the social norms of the murauke system, which was a village-wide, system for the collective responsibility for tax payment. My analysis of the data on land transactions shows that people of every class took part in this practice, especially the more commercialized middle and lower peasant classes. From this we can see that such practices developed within the context of an advance of commercialized agriculture, and were a form of mutual assistance. Peasants actively redeemed their pawned land, since if a person went bankrupt, his neighbors would have had to pay his taxes. Therefore, this practice not only prevented the lower class peasants from going bankrupt but also made it difficult for their land to be acquired by outsiders.

In conclusion, this practice had historical significance that saved village community from bankruptcy and constrained the parasitic landlord system.


Measures of volume and the use of de facto standards in eastern Japan during the medieval period

This paper aims to examine measures of volume and the use of de facto measuring standards in eastern Japan during the medieval period. It is a continuation of my earlier studies on the Kinai area around Kyoto and western Japan. The problem of the measurement of volume is essential in assessing agricultural yield potential, the land system, and trading conditions. In addition, studying de facto measuring standards will provide us with a better understanding of the integration process of the national economy.

In the 15th century, there was a de facto measuring standard which covered most areas of Japan. In western Japan and the northern area of eastern Japan, a measure known as sanukito was standard, while a measure known as honto, with almost the same volume as sanukito, was used as the standard measure in the Kinai area.
In the southern area of eastern Japan, the shimokata-masu was used in trade. It was the standard measure used in Omi province in the Kinai area and then in Kyoto during the 16th century and later became the official measure.


The local re-allocation function of the Ministry of Finance Savings Deposit Fund (MoF-SDF): a case study of Nagano prefecture and the 1914 nationwide bailout

The Ministry of Finance Savings Deposit Fund (MoF-SDF), which mainly derived from Postal Savings Deposits, had developed into a relatively large fund by the early 20th century. Previous studies have shown the importance of this fund’s role in the Japanese financial system, but there is a lack of concrete research based on primary sources.

One of the aims of the Postal Savings Deposit system was encouragement of self-help among ordinary people, and from this we can see that from the beginning the MoF-SDF had a social security function. However, the fund gradually gained an economic development support function also.

MoF-SDF’s basic operation rules were first determined in 1909. In addition to the large part of the fund invested in national bonds for stability, the new operating concept called for capital re-allocation to the regions. In the early days of this program, a ‘special fund’ of MoF-SDF was allocated explicitly for re-construction following natural disasters. The bailout for export industries in 1914 was the first time the MoF-SDF was used for relief in an economic crisis, rather than one from a natural disaster. After this event, MoF-SDF began to allocate funds in economic bad times.

This paper examines the 1914 bailout process as a way to understand the role played by the MoF-SDF loan program. As Nagano prefecture received the largest allocation from this relief program, I have taken Nagano’s case as an example.