Please join us for the next meeting of the Modern Japan History Workshop on Friday, March 12th at 6 pm JST. Our presenter this month will be Simon James Bytheway (Nihon University), who will present his work on "special companies" and Japanese economic history (details below).
This month’s session will be held online through ZOOM, and can be accessed using the following sign-in information:
Meeting link: https://u-tokyo-ac-jp.zoom.us/j/97948622935
The password for the meeting will be posted at the top of the MJHW website from March 8th onwards.
The workshop is open to all, and no prior registration is required.
Please direct any questions to Joelle Tapas at firstname.lastname@example.org. We hope to see you there!
The "Special Companies" and Japanese Economic History, 1880-2020
Simon James Bytheway, Nihon University
At the end of the Second World War over a thousand “wartime institutions” were ordered to cease operations by the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP) in Tokyo. Less than a century later, very little is known about these institutions deemed central to the Japanese war effort. At their very core were the parastatal “special companies” (Tokushu-gaisha): the special banks and financial institutions (including the Bank of Japan and the colonial central banks), the huge colonial development companies (exemplified by the South Manchuria Railway Company), the vast array of Manchurian industrial enterprises, and the myriad of closely-related subsidiaries and spin-off companies. Ostensibly, all of these public policy special companies were closed-down by the end of September 1945, often with US Army MPs symbolically taking control of their head-offices in Tokyo! In reality, though, many of these companies stayed in business, continued to function, and often were the only institution capable of providing goods and services to a certain sector of the economy (that is, they were “too big to fail”). Similarly, many large and once-profitable special companies were able to reform, regroup, and re-capitalise their operations, particularly in the years after the Allied Occupation. Remarkably, a surprisingly large number of key former special companies are among Japan’s largest companies and are now globally active in their respective fields, especially in banking and finance. Against this background, my presentation also aims to examine how the former special companies fared in the post-war period, and continue to shape Japan’s economic development in the twenty-first century.