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During the period from the early Meiji era to the end of the Second World War in which Imperial Japan sought to modernize the nation’s economy by investing heavily in mechanized labor industries, cotton and silk textile manufacturing was the lead sector in this industrialization process. One of the most distinctive features of this vitally important industry was that Japanese women, mostly of relatively young ages and from rural communities across the country, constituted the majority of the workers employed in textile factories. Throughout this era, the treatment of this predominantly female workforce on the part of both textile companies and the imperial government was informed by traditional beliefs regarding women’s ascribed roles within Japanese society, exhibited in recruiting process, restrictive management practices, and educational initiatives that manufacturers imposed on workers. Despite government actions reforms to this industry later on in this time period, these gendered beliefs continued to prevail in shaping this relationship between textile employers and their female employees.

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