Japan Railway & Transport Review No. 1 (p.36)
YAMAMOTO Hirofumi (ed)
From 1976-1982, the United Nations
University organised 120 Japanese researchers
for a joint research project under
the theme of Technology Transfer, Transformation, and Development: The
Japanese Experience. It identified the
Western technologies that were introduced
to various industries in Japan after
the Meiji Restoration (1868) marking the
start of Japan's modernisation and
industrialisation. Further, it analysed
the process of their transformation and
settlement in Japan up to recent times
from the standpoint of the formation of
technological foundations, development
of education and human resources,
changes in social, economic and other
conditions, etc. The part of the results relating
to transport was published in
Japanese in 1986 by the United Nations
Press under the title Kotsu-un'yu no hatten to gijutsu-kakushin. Technological
Innovation and the Development of Transportation in Japan is the English
translation of that publication. Prof.
Yamamoto (Hosei University, editor),
and the three other writers are key scholars
of the history of modern transportation
in Japan. The section on railways is
written by Prof. Katsumasa Harada
(Wako University), one of the writers for
the Centennial History of Japanese National Railways published by the former
Japanese National Railways (JNR), and
by Prof. Eiichi Aoki (Tokyo Gakugei University),
who wrote Dawn of Japanese Railways in Japan Railway & Transport
Reliable books on the modern history of transportation in Japan are scarce, even in Japanese. This book may be the only one on that topic in English. It outlines traditional means of transportation prior to modernisation, followed by transportation in the transitional period, railwayoriented national policies, the progress of Japan's original technologies, the formation of national transportation networks, the transportation during World War II, the transportation in post-war Japan, and the progress of transportation during the period of rapid economic growth in the 1960s and 1970s. It outlines transportation policies in various periods and details the progress of different modes of transport including railways, roads, and marine transportation. It does not deal with civil aviation which developed quickly after the 1960s. The book contains many maps to assist readers who are not familiar with Japanese geography. Many statistics are also given. Its appendix contains a detailed chronology and introduction to relevant publications. In short, this book provides an ideal introduction to the history of modern domestic transport in Japan.
Prof. Keiko Kurita (Otaru University of
Commerce) is one of the few researchers of
European economic history in Japan. This
book originates from her doctoral dissertation
La pensée économique des ingénieurs
des Ponts et Chausses dans la période de
l'industrialisation en France submitted to
Université Paris-I (Panthon-Sorbonne) in
1990. Unfortunately, her dissertation itself
has never been published. Those interested
in reading her works in French are referred
to the monographs in No. 4, Volume 35
(March 1985) and Nos. 3 and 4, Volume 38
(March 1988) of Shogaku-Tokyu (The Economic
Review), an academic journal published
by Otaru University of Commerce.
A large transportation infrastructure was constructed in Europe during the Industrial Revolution. Some of the civil engineers (corps des Ponts et Chausses) who played an important role in the construction of roads and railways in France at that time became pioneers of public economics. The most prominent was Jules Dupuit (1804- 1866). Their attention was directed to "market failure" in the field of public works which was neglected by classical economists who only dealt with free market competition, in an attempt to clarify the economic role of government. They received the best science education at the Polytechnical School (Ecole Polytechnique) and the National School of Civil Engineering (Ecole Nationaledes Ponts et Chausses) where they mastered mathematics and natural sciences. They tried to verify the importance of government activities in an economy using mathematical methods.
Prof. Kurita clarifies the kind and social role of the education the civil engineers received. Further, she reveals how the economic analysis by the engineer-economists recognized "market failure" and how they deepened the understanding of the benefits, particularly external effects, of public projects.
She refrains from drawing a lesson for today's problems. However, in the preface, she expresses sympathy with the pioneers in 19th-century France, writing: "If I were to pinpoint a lesson from the engineer economists..., it may be their inclination, as government-hired engineers, to verify by applying the strictest possible methods that the government's activities were useful for the people".
This book was awarded the 1993 Nikkei Prize for Excellent Books in Economic Science. Nikkei stands for Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Japan Economic Journal), a daily newspaper equivalent to the Wall Street Journal or the Financial Times.