70th Anniversary of the End of WWII (Part 1)
The world marks the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII this year. The war had a huge impact on the Japanese bicycle industry. The long slow spiral decline of the Japanese bicycle industry started just after Japan invaded Manchuria in 1931 as Japan began a gradual shift from a free enterprise to a state controlled enterprise. War and its impact on the bicycle industry are reflected in bicycles and catologs of this period 1931-1945.
The bicycle catalog below from 1938 shows the Japanese Imperial Army, most likely in China as this period coincides with the Second Sino-Japanese War. It states on the cover "Hurray for the Japanese Imperial Army".
On the cover (bottom right) of this bicycle catalog from 1939
it states "save gasoline use bicycles". As the war lingered on
materials and goods became increasingly prescious choking consumer goods.
The cover also emphasizes that with a war on and bicycle plants increasingly being coverted to munition plants to support the war-effort, materials will grow scarcer so now is the time to buy.
As the war continued so did the decline in bicycle manufacturing as bicycle plants continued to be converted to munition plants to support the war effort. Lack of resources escalated the situation, many a bicycle was donated to scrap drives to be melted down and used for munitions. It is estimated that there were 10 million bicycles in Japan at the start of the war, by the end of the war that number was halved.
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