During the time period from 1880s to the 1930’s India and Japan experienced a great increase in the mechanization of their cotton industry. India and Japan both started to use machines to produce cotton and yarn. The workers from both countries came mostly came from the same background, but the type of workers in the factories differed between India and Japan, and their working conditions.
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Japan and India started to increase machine use in created cloth and yarn. The data collected by the British colonial authorities (Doc 1) displays that India greatly increased their machine spun yarn amount while their hand-spun yarn amount decreased. It is clear that using machines has become more predominant as it has surpassed hand-spun yarn from 1894-194, and machine-made cloth is catching up to hand-woven cloth. The data from this table displays that machines are starting to be used a lot more for yarn and cloth. Similarly, the Japanese Imperial Cabinet Bureau of Statistics table (Doc 2) shows the large increase in cotton production from 1884 to 1914. This conveys that Japan is becoming more involved in the textile industry and is using machines to achieve more production. An Indian economist (Doc 6) talks about India’s cloth industry and how India is becoming more machine based. He says how machine manufactures have caused the rapid decline of the hand-woven cloth industry, even to the point where handloom weavers have left their job. Since the writer is an economist he most likely favors machines because they can increase India’s profits, as they can create more cloth. This bias in the document may lead to an over-exaggeration of the decline of the hand-woven cloth industry.
A big difference in the textile industry in Japan and India were the type of workers in the factories. The table from the “Industrialization and the Status of Women in Japan” (Doc 7) shows statistics of female cotton textile laborers in Japan and India from 1909-1934. Through that time period Japan managed to have around 60 percent more female workers in their cotton textile factories than India, and while India’s percentage went down, Japan’s remained around 80 percent. This table shows that Japan’s cotton textile factories were dominated by women and that few men worked in these factories. On the other hand, India’s cotton textile factories were dominated by men. In a written document from a Buddhist priest (Doc 4) he talks about the rural area in which many farm girls were sent to work in the mills. The girls were needed to go to the factories and work, as the men were needed to work on the farm and make crops for the landlords. The high amount of women workers are because of the “invaluable source of income” that they brought to their families. This Buddhist may be over-looking the consequences that come from a young girl leaving her family to provide “salvation” to her peasant family. This bias is caused by the priest believing that salvation is more important than the girl staying at home with her family. A photo from the Nichibo cotton mill in Japan (Doc 8) shows the workers in the factory. In this photo there are many women present, but only a couple of men. While in the photo from the Indian factory (Doc 10) there are only men working in the factory which proves that men dominated the textile factories in India, opposite to Japan who had mostly women.
Even though India and Japan had different types of workers these workers came from the same background. A Japanese industrialist (Doc 5) talks about were the cheap workers come from. The workers come from poor agricultural farming communities and are now not needed to be worried about economically by their family. The next is a report from the British Royal Commission of Labor in India, Calcutta (Doc 9). The Indian mills had workers from farming villages and small peasants. The wagers were low and most workers came from agricultural backgrounds, similar to the Japanese mills.
Another significant difference between the Japanese and Indian mills was the working conditions. Two women describe their experience working in Japanese textile factories (Doc 3). The conditions in these factories are very harsh, there were many sick people in the factory at the time and to keep warm they had to sleep next to each other, not sanitary in the least. Also the work hours are very demanding, they would work from very early to the late night. In the Indian mills (Doc 7) the conditions were much better. Workers had their own huts to work in and remained in the same factory for less than two years, while the Japanese workers did not receive pay until their second year.
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Through the 1880s and the 1930s mechanization of the cotton industry in Japan and India made great strides. While they both used peasant workers from agricultural backgrounds, India’s factories were dominated by males, and Japan’s were dominated by females. Also, India had much better conditions than the Japanese mills. An additional document that would be helpful in discerning the machine use in Japan from India would be a table separating hand-spun versus machine-made, like in (Doc 1).
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