This research discusses how regional societies used and managed newly discovered hot springs in the post-Meiji period, as well as the significance and limits of hot spring management by corporations, through an examination of the establishment process and management trends of Nagaoka-Kosen Co., which was set up for hot spring operation and maintenance. Nagaoka-Kosen was established as a body to replace the functions of the ward which regulated conflicts over hot spring use by private individuals. This was because a body with legal characteristics was necessary in Nagaoka ward, which lacked a property ward. Nagaoka-Kosen, which was set up by regional residents, led development and functioned as the body for the unified operation and management of newly discovered hot springs. Meanwhile, inn owners who used hot springs as well as new residents in hot spring areas were excluded from the shareholding structure. By prohibiting the operation of inns by shareholders, they succeeded in restraining private interests. However, as Nagaoka-Kosen undertook unified hot spring ownership and management, the need to develop new hot springs arose in response to the increase in users. In addition, there was a change in hot spring use, with hot springs formerly used for public baths (sotoyu) being utilized as bathing areas of inns. The change in hot spring use transformed Nagaoka-Kosen into a body to supply hot springs to inns. As a result of the need for a hot spring development company arising from the increase in users, the financial burden of shareholders also increased. Until the pre-war period, Nagaoka-Kosen supplemented the fund increase necessary for development with contributions from shareholders. However, as a result of the increase in users and change in hot spring use, they reached a limit in securing funds, and following World War II, they were prompted to reorganize the company structure.
In 1944-1949, the “Gunjugaisha Hou (Law of Corporations for War Supplies)” and the “Kaishatourinjisochi Hou (Law on Extraordinary Measures for Corporations, etc.)”, old Japanese laws, provided exceptions to the Japanese Commercial Law revised in 1938: both laws restricted stockholders' rights in rules of procedure for meetings of stockholders. However, it remains unclear whether these rules were enforced in those days. The purpose of this paper is to clarify that question. During the war, the Gunjugaisha Hou gave priority to national interests over stockholders' interests (the principle of product first). In contrast, the Kaishatourinjisochi Hou gave priority to cost savings of opening stockholders' meeting over all other matters. Using the same reasoning, the latter law was continued during the Postwar Reconstruction Period. Were these laws actually effective? According to the minutes of the proceedings in a stockholders' meeting of the Zaibatsu companies such as Mitsubishi Jukougyou and Mitsubishi Denki, in 1944-1946, the calling of stockholders' meetings depended on a public announcement, not a notice, and important decisions, such as the amending the statutes of the company, depended on simple, not prudent processes. The stockholders' meetings of Nihon Chisso Hiryou and Nihon Sekiyu (non-Zaibatsu companies) were carried out similarly. In conclusion, the Gunjugaisha Hou and the Kaishatourinjisochi Hou were effective in those days.