This study examined how local public experiment and research institutes before World War II impacted the modernization of regional industries. It also analyzed engineers who flourished through the career and activities of Toshiharu Sugawara, the leader of the Industrial Training School of Ehime Prefecture and the Dyeing and Weaving Institute of Ehime Prefecture.
To this end, this study focused on the towel industry in Imabari. The findings revealed that the establishment of a school system to cultivate engineers in the Meiji and Taisho Eras, the activities of low- and middle-ranking officials who studied at those schools, and the establishment of local public experiment and research institutes played an important role in the technological and human resource development of local light industries. As shown in the case of Toshiharu Sugawara, who became an official after studying spinning technology at Tokyo Higher Technical School, engineers engaged in technological and human resource development greatly contributed to the activities of local public experiment and research institutes before World War II.
Because of the development and improvement of towel weaving machines and the cultivation of towel manufacturers by Toshiharu Sugawara, the Imabari area, which had held a subordinate position in towel manufacturing before World War II, became Japan’s top towel-producing district.
This study examines the adoption of minimum capacity standard of 300,000-tons per year (300,000-ton standard) by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) for ethylene plants in Japan and resulting cooperative actions by members of the petrochemical industry. In order to strengthen international competitiveness and control investment, MITI enacted a 300,000-ton minimum capacity standard for new ethylene plants in June 1967. However, in 1972, one year before the first oil crisis, there was overcapacity. Many industrial historians have studied the 300,000-ton standard as a cause of this overcapacity from a macro-perspective. However, the capacity adjustment in plant building was made through consultations between MITI and individual companies, sometimes involving the local authority. Thus, this paper examines the effects of MITI’s authorization and the prefectures’ micro adjustments with individual companies from several perspectives. My analysis reveals that MITI’s authorization criteria included not only ensuring stable supplies of raw materials, like naphtha and its derivative products, but also investment profitability, and the prevention of environmental pollution. This result implies that Japan’s industrial policy in the late high-growth era was influenced by a broad range of social and economic problems, not limited to the petrochemical industry.