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2015年8月21日 (金)

70th Anniversary of the End of WWII (Part 2)


In the 70th Anniversary of the End of WWII (Part 1) it was mentioned that Japan's bicycle industry began a long decline starting in 1932 as it moved from free enterprise system to state controlled enterprise system and this lasted up until the end of WWII in 1945.

There are many reasons for Japan's industrial rise after WWII, surely one factor is that after WWII the Supreme Allied Commander prohibited Japan from pursuing aircraft research or manufacturing.  This in turn led aircraft companies like Mitsubishi Company, maker of the infamous A6M3 Zero,
Courtesy of http://www.militaryfactory.com/
and, Nakajima Aircraft Company, manufacturer of some of Japan's finest planes including the dreaded Ki-44 Shoki (Devil Queller) to diversify.

Courtesy of http://www.militaryfactory.com/

In the case of Nakajima Aircraft Company, it was broken up, resulting in the birth of Fuji Heavy Industries (present day Subaru automobiles).  In the case of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, a former attack bomber design engineer came up with the unique idea of utilizing airplane strut material (duralumin) as the material for a streamlined bicycle frame, the Jujigo. Thus, in numerous cases, highly skilled aeronautical engineers and their workforce went from designing and manufacturing aircrafts to manufacturing bicycles.

Some of the former munitions plants that were converted to bicycle plants include:
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (Tsu Machinery Works)
Kayaba Industries (Gifu Works),
Nihon Kinzoku Sangyo
Nakanishi Kinzoku
Handa Kinzoku
Fuji-koshi Kozai,
Fuji Sangyou (Ohta Works)
Takasago Tekko,
Amatsuji Kogyo
Katakura Kogyo
Nishinihon Kogyo
Nayakama Taiyodo
Daido Seiko
Daiwa Boseki.

What is important to note here is the influx of companies into the bicycle industry.  Not only were the plants themselves converted but the engineers and skilled labor force that had formerly been producing munitions were now focusing on bicycles. This placed great pressure on traditional finished bicycle manufacturers which were producing before, during and after the war such as Miyata Seisakusho, Okamoto Bicycle Company and others. 

Here is a pamphlet  produced in January 1946, less than six months after the end of the war.  The pamphlet is entitled, "An Illustrated Guide to Assembly, Repair and Bicycle Selection", with a forward by Kentaro Sasaki, President of Dai Nippon Kikai Kogyo.


"During the war we allowed ourselves to fall away from bicycles.  Now, accompanying the end of the war as we consider our change from munitions manufacturing to peacetime production, the first thing that spings to mind is bicycles as Japan used to be quite superior, and took great pride in bicycle manufacturing. Moreover, if we consider our current level of technology and tooling one cannot help but be shocked at the state of disrepair that this industry has fallen into due to various external circumstances and pressures.

However, I firmly believe that, if we were to search for a single industry that Japan can readily turn to through the use of its factories for both the sake of our citizens as well as the sake of citizens the world over, first and foremost is bicycle manufacturing.

This crude pamphlet is a reproduction based on old materials hastily assembled from whatever was closest at hand and is intended to serve as an introduction for those new to bicycles and as a reminder for old hands.

We must quickly revive the bicycle and make bicycle manufacturing a great Japanese industry, and next time around publish an improved bicycle handbook.

While admiring the amazing  "speed" of the American Occupational Forces, I request the cooperation of everyone to see how  "quickly" Japan can accomplish the jobs ahead in reviving the bicycle industry and  eagerly anticipate the day in which we can stand tall and proud and announce that Japan has achieved a great bicycle industry.

Dai Nippon Kikai Kogyou Kabushikigaisha

President, Kentaro Sasaki

Today Japan is recognized the world over for world-class high quality automobiles, motorcycles, scooters, home electronic appliances, etc.  But 70 years ago, Japan was in ruins and one of the first things it turned to manufacturing was bicycles. Bicycles which were literally art on wheels.


2015年8月 9日 (日)

戦後70周年記念 前半

I'll be back with another English post soon until then stay trued and happy wheels.






自転車カタログ 昭和13年 (日中戦争)


自転車カタログ 昭和14年








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