Under the Edo period's hokonin system, the goal of a merchant house hokonin, a business employee having completed the minimum apprentice-type training period, was becoming an independent merchant — running a business under the master's name with some capital and goodwill — and being raised to bekke (non-kin branch family). During the Meiji period, this system transformed into an employment system based on employer–employee relations.
Recently, there have been several studies concerning the hokonin system of individual merchant families and its transformation process, but they do not offer generalized discussions. Despite numerous published research outcomes about the House of Mitsui, a largescale merchant family, no research has generalized it as a hokonin system.
Shigeaki Yasuoka compared the bekke-system of the Houses of Konoike and Mitsui, discussing their foresight into the modern era, especially the uniqueness of the House of Mitsui because of their innovative and modernized management. Today, Yasuoka's theory is an important, commonly accepted theory, making it challenging to discuss the commonalities between the hokonin systems of large-scale merchant families.
This study attempts to verify Yasuoka's hypothesis using historical records of Konoike's hokonin published after Yasuoka's hypothesis was presented. We produced data on 256 individuals who joined the House of Konoike as hokonin between the end of the 17th century and latter half of the 19th century and clarified the trend of the ages at which they joined the family, began living outside the main family's premises, started their own business, and passed away. Moreover, we verified three of Yasuoka's hypotheses: (1) the House of Konoike had no family-run business aside from inheriting the existing bekke; (2) bekke was non-autonomous from the House of Konoike; and (3) management of hokonin at Konoike was “drifting management.” As a result, we revealed that the House of Konoike also implemented pragmatic management much like the House of Mitsui.
This paper seeks to shed new light on the process by which the modern cane sugar industry in Taiwan came into being and how it became established under Japanese colonial rule. While doing so, the study focusses on the issues involved in shipping raw sugarcane.
Taiwan Sugar Manufacturing Company (TSMC), which had developed as a colonial enterprise, planned to become self-sufficient in sugarcane through the use of an extensive company-held plantation. However, in actuality, it continued to rely on purchases from local farmers. Sugarcane is bulky and requires great effort to transport, and the ability to rapidly transport large volumes of sugarcane is critical because the sugar content drops over time after it has been harvested. Hauling sugarcane from farmers in carts pulled by water buffalo to the factory posed a bottleneck for large-scale, continuous production—a characteristic feature of the modern sugar industry.
The use of a private steam-powered railway that began operating at the end of 1907 was a goal of TSMC, which, since its founding, had made efforts to gradually improve its sugarcane logistics. These proprietary rail lines integrated the sugarcane production process from harvesting to milling and also contributed to greater profits by improving sugar yields.
After the Russo-Japanese War, TSMC continued building its own proprietary rail lines so that it would be able to continue dealing with the problem of rapidly transporting sugarcane from the fields to the factories. The company also successfully undertook the building of an inter-linking transport network among its factories, thus becoming able to adjust sugarcane supply and demand beyond the limitations of the raw-material acquisition zones. TSMC's construction and enhancement of its ground-breaking raw material transport system became a business model for the modern cane sugar industry in Taiwan under Japanese colonial rule, thus stimulating growth in the industry overall as other sugar manufacturers copied them.