Women, Work, and the Japanese Economic Miracle: The Case of the Cotton Textile Industry, 1945-1975

Women, Work, and the Japanese Economic Miracle: The Case of the Cotton Textile Industry, 1945-1975

Women, Work, and the Japanese Economic Miracle: The Case of the Cotton Textile Industry, 1945-1975

Women, Work, and the Japanese Economic Miracle: The Case of the Cotton Textile Industry, 1945-1975

Synopsis

Helen Macnaughtan shows how during the period of the Japanese economic miracle, a distinctive 'female employment system' was developed alongside the extant employment system, that applied to men. Her focus is on the cotton textile industry, a major employer & a crucially important industry.

Excerpt

In the 1979 Japanese film Aa Nomugi Tōge (Ah Nomugi Pass), a story is told of young women from impoverished rural families who make the long trek crossing the snow-covered Nomugi Pass in the Nagano Alps to work in a silk-reeling factory. It is a tale of melancholy and misery which depicts the exploitation of young Japanese women under early industrial advance, and is a narrative which has been woven with fact and fiction to remain both in the history books and in the minds of many Japanese today. The story of female textile operatives is one viewed as having taken place prior to the Second World War, playing an important role in Meiji and Taishō economic and social development. However, it is also a story that continued and evolved into the postwar decades, providing a crucial base for Japan's reconstruction and growth and shaping the lives and roles of a further generation of Japanese women. This book is the result of research into this postwar history and seeks to show how this story of women and textiles has important significance and much broader application than might be first imagined for Japan's postwar development, the evolution of labour and employment practices and in particular the socio-economic role of women in contemporary Japan.

Female labour and textiles in prewar Japan

There is little doubt that the Japanese textile industry was a leading sector of Meiji industrialisation. Beginning in the 1870s, the industry developed to become the world's second largest producer and exporter of cotton goods by the 1930s. A distinctive characteristic of this industry was the high proportion of women among textile workers, consistently at levels of over 80 per cent throughout the prewar period. During the Tokugawa era, cottage industry had rapidly expanded within the context of it being supplementary income to agricultural households, and female labour had been crucial.

1 Directed by Yamamoto Satsuo and based on the 1968 book of the same title by Yamamoto Shigemi.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.