The Industrial City – Overview
After the drop of the atomic bomb, the centre of Hiroshima City was heavily damaged. Yet, the manufacturing of Hiroshima Prefecture recovered to the prewar level in a few years after the war. This article will elaborate on the reasons and forces that reconstructed industrial development and brought industrial modernization to Hiroshima. In short, the industrial reconstruction depended largely on the existing local factors and foreign force provided by SCAP.
Existing local factors
During the wartime, major plants located around Hiroshima City was not heavily damaged and thus the hardware of the industry was not affected. The corporate history reported that “Thirty percent of buildings suffered damage, but equipment and instruments did nearly nothing”. Taking example of the Hiroshima Machinery Plant and Hiroshima Shipyard of Mitsubishi Heavy Industry, they were located about 4 cm far from the epicentre. Also, there is a relatively large amount of general workers in the country especially the female general worker. According to Arisawa, the percentage of general works in the employees in Japan was roughly 80% mark in the war period and the number of it in Hiroshima Prefecture was ranked as 6th in 1945. These give reason for the fast reconstruction of the Hiroshima Industry in the discussion of hardware (plant) and software (manpower).
Priority production system (PPS) was adopted by Japan to concentrate scarce resources in a small number of strategically important industries to fasten the recovery. Since raw materials were in shortage for industrial recovery, Japan had to import raw materials. However, General MacArthur only allowed 5 items to be imported: steel, coal (anthracite), heavy oil, rubber and buses since the wish list suggested by Japan Prime Minister Yoshida was too long. Japan industrial index increased from 10 to 84 in the period of 1945-1950, while the pre-war index once reached 100 (Ito, 2015).
SCAP also established a list of restricted companies which include the big zaibatsu company. Thus, every transactions of the company have to be reported to SCAP. It also froze Zaibatsu family assets. SCAP possess full control of the industrial structure of Japan economy by these measures.
As mentioned before, Meiji Restoration’s objectives could be summed up by the slogans “enrich the country, strengthen the army” Hence, city was industrialised for the development of the military power. The rapid industrialisation enabled and required large increase in production and infrastructure. Industries like shipyards, iron smelters and spinning mills was built. Industrial zones grew enormously and people migrated to the industrialising centre from the countryside. Besides, industrialisation also went with the development of national railway systems and modern communication.
Arisawa, Hiromi, Sengo Keizai o Kataru: Showashi eno Shogen (A Commentary on the Postwar Economy: A Testimony to the History of Showa), Tokyo University Press, 1989.
Ito, T. (2015). Reconstruction of Hiroshima Industry 1945-1960. 地域経済研究: 広島大学大学院社会科学研究科附属地域経済システム研究センター紀要, (26), 3-15.