Socio-Economic History

Vol. 83, No. 2

Kazunori MURAKOSHI, Influence of improvements in nutrition on the decline of the infant mortality rate: a study of infants in Japanese rural areas in the 1930s

In this paper, I discuss the cause of the decline in the infant mortality rate in rural areas of Japan in the 1930s. First, based on previous findings, I point out that the decline in the infant mortality rate at that time was due to fewer post-neonatal deaths from common infectious diseases. Then, I propose the following hypothesis to explain the decline in the post-neonatal mortality rate in the pre-war Showa era: although a heavy maternal labour load caused insufficient breastmilk intake, measures taken to improve nutrition intake led to a decline in the infant mortality rate.
With respect to the improvement in nutrition, I reveal that infant formula was used in about half of the rural areas, in addition to common supplementary foods such as mashed rice, condensed milk, and whole milk. I conducted a logistic regression analysis to test the assumptions that the increase in the post-neonatal mortality rate was due to heavy maternal labour load, and that the use of infant formula caused this rate to decline. The results of these analyses support the proposed hypothesis.


Jun SATO, Argentina under British informal control during WWII: a re-examination of the concept of structural power

Using the theory of structural power developed by S. Strange, A.G. Hopkins demonstrated that informal control of Argentina persisted long after the 1930s. In other words, Hopkins argued that to sustain the regime that met foreign debt obligations in Argentina, Britain exerted structural power based on the financial power and influence of the City of London. Although I agree with Hopkins’ main line of reasoning, I suggest that his argument would be strengthened by using a framework that combines the concept of structural power with that of relational power, namely the power of persuasion or coercion. To demonstrate the validity of this argument, I will show how Britain could procure Argentine meat, which had vital importance during WWII not only to Britain but also to the allied powers, by exercising relational power. To be specific, I will examine the negotiations surrounding the payment agreements that were concluded and renewed between the Bank of England and the Central Bank of Argentina.


Asuka IMAIZUMI, Introduction of the patent system and its socio-economic significance: revisiting the invention of rickshaws

The introduction of the patent system, which provides inventors with monopoly rights, should be understood not only in the context of technological innovation, but also of the reorganization of various institutions for economic activities. This study describes the trial-and-error stage of the introduction of the patent system in Japan and its socio-economic significance, by revisiting the case of the rickshaw, a case in which the inventors gained managerial positions in the trade.
Since institutions were generally unsettled in the initial years after the invention of the rickshaw, the inventors’ management of the rickshaw business had characteristics of both the patent system and guild regulation. However, as the patent system became stricter and trade associations replaced guilds, the inventors lost their managerial positions. This case shows that there was interaction between the new institution and existing institutions. The introduction of the new institution triggered a rise in social mobility by providing holders of patent rights with an equal and objective qualification, namely, novelty, and by limiting the range of monopoly. The introduction of patent rights was accompanied by standardization of taxation and the commencement of the integration of management of economic activities based on trade with that based on regional administration.


Tomohiro KANNO, Farm management and household division in modern north Manchuria: a case study of the Cang family in Suihua, Heilongjiang

This article analyzes the characteristics and transformation of farm management in modern north Manchuria. The case study of the Cang(蒼氏)family in Suihua(綏化), Heilongjiang Province, draws on village survey reports conducted by Japanese investigators in Manchuria during the time of Manchukuo, family genealogies, and recent fieldwork by the author. Because of historical developments and natural conditions in modern north Manchuria, large-scale agricultural management that used large amounts of labor, draft animals, and agricultural implements in extensive cultivation was advantageous. Through household division(“fenjia” 分家), however, many large farm families were dismantled, and their land, draft animals, agricultural implements and labor dispersed, which forced them to change the farm management system. In addition, non-farming income alone was inadequate to support a household, so families had to depend on agricultural income. Small-scale farms developed a diversified management system that rationally incorporated landowner management and peasant farming management, and increased the number of hired hand peasants to adjust for the shortage of labor, draft animals and agricultural implements. I suggest that this form of farm management and processes of inter-generational transformation like those in the Cang family are characteristic of modern north Manchuria.


Jun TAKAMI, The Scuola Grande di San Marco and relief activity for the needy in early fifteenth century Venice

This study shows the relief activity for the poor and needy carried out by one of the biggest confraternities, the Scuola Grande di San Marco, in early fifteenth century Venice. From 1348, the plague attacked Europe about once or twice a decade. Also in Venice, the social unrest caused by the frequent plague epidemics was one of the factors contributing to the founding of big confraternities,which were sustained by this artificial bond, and enlarged the function of mutual aid to meet the needs of the habitants who were living in poverty in the city.
In this paper, through the analysis of a document made by the confraternity in the 1430’s, I examine and evaluate the actual relief activity. As a result we can see that by the early fifteenth century the greater part of the expenditures had been spent on relief, and many members had enjoyed the benefit of the confraternity through various channels. These results not only clarify the actual situation but also let us reconstruct the story of relief by this organization, focusing primarily on the sixteenth century.