A Short Economic History of Modern Japan, 1867-1937

By G. C. Allen | Go to book overview
Save to active project

Chapter V
The Heavy Industries, Shipping, and Foreign Trade, 1881-1914

1. Metals, Mining and Engineering

Japan inherited a long tradition of skill in metal working as in textiles, and the products of her craftsmen, such as the sword makers, had enjoyed fame for centuries. But she found greater difficulty in adapting her metallurgical trades to Western technical methods than she did her textiles. This is not surprising. Countries in the early stages of modern industrialism have usually concentrated on the re-organization and development of their textile industries whatever their subsequent history may have been. The explanation is not hard to find. For economical production the metal and heavy engineering trades need more expensive capital equipment and more elaborate technical processes than the textile industries, and the scarcity of capital in "new" countries offers a handicap to development. Further, modern methods of metal manufacture differ greatly from traditional methods. They make heavy demands on scientific knowledge and trained technicians. Traditional aptitudes, therefore, provide a less satisfactory basis for these industries than for textile manufacture. Finally, unless a country offers a large market for a wide variety of metal goods and by-products, it is difficult for each of the special trades that fall within the metal groups to approximate to an optimum scale and so to work with a reasonable degree of economy. Japan suffered a further handicap in the major branch of metal production, namely the iron and steel trades, in that she was deficient both in iron ore and in good coking coal. When the industry began to appear in its modern form, it owed its rise to Government initiative, and for a long time its very existence depended on help from the State. It was in fact typical of those large-scale industries which were called into being by the Government's policy of building up manufacturing resources necessary for national power and security. Political necessity rather than economic advantage supplied the impulse.

In the early years of Meiji the home output of iron was limited to that produced from the sand-iron of the San-in district, and both this industry and the manufacture of finished iron goods suffered from the import of cheap Western products. In 1896 the home output of pig iron amounted


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
A Short Economic History of Modern Japan, 1867-1937


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 202

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?