The present study clarifies the actual condition of overseas expansion of products and production of the pre-war Japanese miscellaneous goods industry by highlighting the relationship between the trading companies and manufacturers as a case example of the match industry developed in the Hanshin area (Kobe and Osaka). Two leading match makers of different development types were selected for the purpose of this study. The study period spans from around the 1900s, when match export from Japan advanced, to the early 1920s, when it entered a stagnant phase.
In 1900, majority of the match exports from Japan were carried out by Chinese merchants residing in the Hanshin area. Therefore, trade with Chinese merchants was inevitable for match makers at the time to send products to overseas markets. At the same time, however, Mitsui Bussan, a leading trading company in Japan, entered the match export business with the aim of restoring commercial rights from Chinese merchants. Therefore, various types of match makers emerged, such as those linked to Chinese merchants and those to Mitsui. Both match makers stimulated industry development through competition and cooperation.
However, during the recession of the 1920s following the First World War, the growth of both the match makers diverged. Match manufacturers linked to Chinese merchants aggressively expanded overseas production to China, Korea, and India, which were previously product export destinations. However, similar attempts by match manufacturers linked to Mitsui were not very successful. These case examples show that the link with Chinese merchants established through the export of products until that time was strong even when match makers launched overseas production.