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necessary, and by lessening the rate of increase from 15 per cent. to 8 per cent., as well as placing a limit of only five years, the bill passed the House. The Lords had long been in favour of the bill, and the bill received the royal assent by the end of the year.
The question remains how to fill up the gap produced by the lessening of the rate by 7 per cent., which causes a deficiency of about 7,480,000.1 But much room is left in the taxable capacity of the nation; the question will be solved somehow. Thus the long unsettled land tax question was brought to solution at least for some years, and the good management of public affairs is attended with the prosperity. Nothing exists, so far which invalidates this conclusion, as shown by the following calculation, according to which the future finance of the empire presents a surplus if things go on as designed.
Note. -The deficits for 1897 and 1898 were inevitable on account of the dissolution of the Parliament, and they were made good by the aid of the Chinese indemnity. After 1899, if expenditures which include public works in Formosa, transfer of local prisons to the State, calamities relief fund, were denied, the surplus would be between twenty and forty millions.
With the brief account of the national debt and the tobacco monopoly, the questions relating to finance will be concluded.
The only foreign debt of Japan which was issued in London at the beginning of the Meiji era was totally redeemed in 1897, and the total national debt already incurred, which is less than four hundred million, is mostly held by her subjects. The war loan issued during the Chinese war was eagerly subscribed by the patriotic Japanese far beyond the amount required by the Government. These facts show how Japan kept well her promise with the foreign creditors, and how much can be relied on the people in case of need. The difficulty at present in raising loans at home, is due to the excessive increase of demand for
1 Much doubt is entertained about the filling up of the gap. It is rumoured that it will be made good by the new imposition of house tax and license of tobacco dealers, the increase of postal rate, and tax on income, &c.
capital for industrial use as already referred to. About 170,000,000 yen of national debt still remains to 'be issued, in order to complete the construction of railways, the improvement of telegraphic services, the extension of the Army and Navy, &c., the former two occupying by far the principal portion. With the increase of the supply of capital, at least some portion of this debt could be issued in the home market. Too much importance ought not to be attached to the extension of the military and naval forces. By the time when wisdom and prudence prevail, as urged by many influential public men, the mania for strengthening the fighting power will have much abated, and as more attention is paid to the productive works, the due increase of debt need not be feared, because the fund to pay off the debt will surely be stored up by the financiers, as it has been their way to decrease the amount of debt as fast as they could, with an adequate sinking fund, which enables to redeem yearly 7,000,000 yen.
Previous to 1897, the tax on tobacco was:levied on manufacturers, who had to pack tobacco and stick stamps on the package at the rate of 20 per cent. of the selling price. Although smuggling was prevalent the Treasury obtained about 3,000,000 yen from this source. the war compelled the Finance Minister to increase the revenue, monopoly of leaf tobacco was selected as one of the means, which included the increase of tax on sake, the new imposition of tax on profession and registration, &c. According to the new system, cultivators of leaf tobacco are obliged to sell their produce to the Government at a fixed price, they selling again to manufacturers at a price nearly double of the purchase, profiting thereby about 7,800,000 yen.
Many store houses have been built in the chief centres of tobacco cultivation, but inconveniences are felt by cultivators, who have to convey their produce at their own cost, while before they had merely to wait purchasers at home. Consequently there are many cases of secretly selling to buyers, who take advantage of inconvenience felt by them and
ignorance of law. In order to prevent such an illicit process, the pen. alty on offenders was made heavier. There is another drawback to the scheme., viz., the increase of importation of tobacco, both raw and manufactured, which may be somewhat corrected by the modification of customs duties. Moreover, the system is only a half-measure, and until the State takes up the monopoly of manufacturing tobacco, it will have to face many difficulties if it intends to draw a large income from this source as was originally planned.
IV. LABOUR AND LAND QUESTION,
The labour question is inevitably undeveloped in Japan, where the ouse industry still exists to a great extent, and where steam and electric motive power is quite a new introduction. It is true that recently many factories have sprung up, especially in cotton mills.
9,103, 237 13,308,030 22,800, 709 Spindles
403,314 476,123 692,384 Production (in quan) 1,593, 103 5,132,588 9,997, 208 14,620,008 20,585,485 Cotton consumed (in quan)
1,807,066 5,962, 464 12,240,788 17,179,274 24,803,618 Male labour daily employed 1,204 4,089 6,354
8,229 11,394 Female labour daily employed.
2,199 10,330 18,878 26,923 36,087 Number of days worked in a year.....
294 Number of hours of work ....
22 Wage per day of males in cent....
27,263,666 74,492,132 (151,853,662 220,586,390 430,948,500 Price of yarn per
Yen. picul (48 quan) 107.63 82.68 75.58
1 Quan is equal to about 3,750 grams.
It is clear that the female hands far outnumber the male, and as official statistics are wanting as regards the age, a table compiled by Osaka Sanitary Association in 1896 for that district is made use of.
From the above table it is evident that many young people, especially women, are employed. It may be unintelligible that so many under ten years are employed; but they come to factories in company with their parents, brothers and sisters, who cannot leave them alone at home, as there do not exist establishments to take charge of them. But physical damage inflicted upon them cannot be overlooked ; and in case of young women, hard work for long hours cannot fail to injure their health and development. There are many who work every night for a week, changing hands with those who work during the day. According to the report of the Bureau of Industry gross neglect in many respects is noticeable. For instance, bad ventilation and too narrow space are common. Doors and staircases are not made with due consideration for accident. Obnoxious gas and injurious effluvia are not well guarded against. Engines are not properly managed and looked after. Fly-wheels are not protected, and combustible light is employed in night work. As for the hours of work, not only are they usually over ten, but in addition three to five hours more are worked as overtime. Time for rest and meals is not regularly fixed, and if fixed does not exceed fifteen minutes. In case of paying by the piece the matter is still worse ; within five minutes meals are finished, in order to get as much pay as possible. As for the age, though ostensibly the limit is fixed at twelve or thirteen, sometimes boys and girls of seven or eight are employed, and among those who come to assist parents or brethren, still younger ones are employed only for three cents a day. Youths work for more than fifteen hours, and consequently there is left no time or energy for schooling. Althongh there are many and strict terms of contract binding the employed, there are almost none to bind the employer, who can dismiss the employee at wild without any compensation whatsoever. Instead of wages, payment in kind is prevalent in rural districts. No relief is given for accident or other calamities incurred during the employment. No clear division of labour is made between male and female, women often being used in such hard work as brick-making, iron works, &c. Apprenticeship is not much made use of, so that skilled labour is wanting. Labourers themselves in turn are not free from misconduct, and give ground for complaint to employers by wilfully injuring machines, &c.
Of course no enactments defining liabilities of employers are in force, and though the system of savings exists not much is saved actually, for not much is left after deducting expenses for existence.
In some districts by police regulations points of safety are looked after, but they are by no means satisfactory. Such being the case, those who work in factories pass a life by no means enviable.
There are many among them who are glad to get out of the factory, except those who are homeless or prefer an irregular life to an orderly one. Thus the standard of factory workers are gradually lowered, and deficiency of hands, especially of those who are skilled and can be trusted, are keenly felt. During the period of late industrial expansion, more hands were wanted both by the already existing and newly established factories. Hence there arose “mutual plunder ” of labourers, each promising them good pay and treatment. There being no end to such a state of things, mills in Osaka formed an association to abstain from plundering under a penalty of paying a certain sum for each offence, and of giving up the labourer to the former employer. But this being difficult to be enforced, each factory resorted to detaining labourers from going out even on holidays. Poor souls had only to follow the will of their employers, for there exists no factory inspection or other means to redress their grievances. Such being the case, factory work is gradually becoming disliked by respectable people. Above all, the physique of the people in manufacturing centres is undergoing remarkable degradation, as proved by the recruiting officials, who lament the decrease of healthy youths, especially in the countries around Osaka. Such a fact requires a serious inquiry, not only from a military but also from economic and social points of view. Of late, labourers themselves seem to be awakened to the iniquity and conscious of their position. Though nothing like trade unionism has a regular and far-going control over them, except something like a powerless remnant of guilds, strikes are to be heard of nowadays, aiming at higher wages, better treatment, change of overseers, &c.
If fairly considered, it is clear that things cannot be left alone any longer. Hence in 1897 the author advised the authorities, and they brought forward a motion in the Highest Council of Agriculture,