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2015年8月

2015年8月21日 (金)

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

次回この記事の日本語版を投稿します。

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,
Mitsubishia6m_9
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.

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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.
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"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.

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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.

今年、戦後70周年を迎えます。

戦争は日本自転車業界に大きな打撃を与えました。
昭和6年に日本が満州国を侵略し、昭和7年に商工省令によって日本自転車業界に生産統制が行わました。

第二次世界大戦が終わる昭和20年まで、統制経済により自転車業界は凋落の一途を辿りました。
戦争による自転車への影響は、バッヂやカタログなどにも反映されています。

このヘッドバッヂは昭和初期。
良く見ると国旗は2つあり、左に日本と右に満州国。

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自転車カタログ 昭和13年 (日中戦争)
表紙に「皇軍・萬歳」

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自転車カタログ 昭和14年
表紙の右下に、
「ガソリンを節約には自轉車・リアカーを御利用下さい。」 

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「材料品薄・統制強化・自轉車工場の軍需工場轉業などに依り、市場品薄す今が絶対の御買時かど思ひます。」

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「神風号」という自転車。
当時、日本の植民地は赤く塗り潰されています。

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第二次世界大戦で状況がますます厳しくなったのでした。
多くの自転車工場は軍需資材用工場に変わり、自転車は統制生産されました。

戦争が長引けば長引くほど資源がなくなり、銃後として金属の回収指示(お寺の鐘・橋の欄干・自転車・ミシン・学校の二宮金次郎像・子供の玩具まで)が回収され、軍用品に生まれ変わりました。
戦前の自転車台数は凡そ千万台でしたが、終戦後はその半分になってしまったのです。


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