In the Interwar period, especially the 1920s-30s, the Japanese economy faced a long recession. As heavy industry began to develop again in the late 1930s, urban areas headed to recovery. On the other hand, rural society was strongly tied with light industry (especially silk spinning), and faced continued recession.
Worsening the situation, many natural disaster occurred in this period (Great Kanto Earthquake, huge frost damage in Central Japan area, Showa Sanriku Tsunami and so on). The Japanese economy and society were severely challenged. The Japanese central government even planned for emigration to Manchuria to reduce these domestic problems, a policy that would have disastrous consequences after the war.
However, not all villages relied on the Manchuria emigration policy for their community's survival. Many rural villages maintained social order without a decrease in population. A major factor in the survival of these communities appears to have been the existence of a local cooperative. This paper shows how local cooperatives mitigated the economic crisis using a case study: Kano Credit Union, in Nagano prefecture.
The economy of Kano village was severely damaged by declining silk prices, as well as natural disasters. Despite this, the cooperative maintained profitability. The Kano cooperative had been honored by the National cooperatives' central association in 1910 for its good management practices, so this cooperative provides an ideal model. I analyze the Kano cooperative's business during the interwar period, and show how local community cooperatives provide a source of stability during periods of economic crisis.
Naraya (the Sugimoto family), who were kimono fabrics dealers, purchased kimonos in Kyoto, and sold them in the Kanto region during the Edo period, while the major dealers purchased kimonos in Kyoto, and sold them in Edo city. This study examines the Naraya pricing process, using their settlement of accounts statement as well as the statements of Daikokuya (the Tomiyama family) and Echigoya (the Mitsui family).
Two important aspects are discussed in this study: the markup pricing method of kimonos, and the convention of changing the price in price tags. Kimono retailers used two markup pricing methods in the Edo period: uchi-mashi and soto-mashi.
 Uchi-mashi: Cost/(1 - Markup) = Selling price
 Soto-mashi: Cost × (1 + Markup) = Selling price
The main store of Naraya in Kyoto purchased kimonos (kudari-mono), priced them at the uchi-mashi, and then sent them to the Kanto branches. More specifically, they classified kimonos and applied a set percentage for each category. That is, using the markup pricing as a standard, Naraya priced each kimono according to aspects such as its quality and mode.
However, the price on the tag was not the selling price. The main store priced the purchased kimonos by doubling the selling price, while the branches sold them at the selling price. For example, 200 monme on the tag in Kyoto was sold at 100 monme in the Kanto branches. Thus, the double pricing on the tag in Kyoto by the Naraya was the conventional pricing style, which the Echigoya had established earlier.
This study is significant because it is the first in the literature on the economic history of Japan to discuss the above-mentioned aspects.