APPENDIX II The Personal Backgrounds of the hanba Bosses and their Areas of Recruitment
The hanba system's function of guaranteeing the labor supply
We have already seen in Chapter 2 that one of the hanba system's most important functions was to provide a steady supply of labor. Because the focus of that discussion was on the changes in the hanba system around the turn of the century, emphasis was placed on the reasons for the persistence, and then the termination, of contracting in the production process in connection with those changes, and the question of the hanba system's function of guaranteeing a steady labor supply could not adequately be dealt with. This is the question which will now be taken up.
As we saw in Chapter 2, one of the hanba system's main functions - production contracting - declined comparatively quickly. In contrast, the system's function of recruiting workers, managing their daily lives, and ensuring their attendance at work, in short, guaranteeing a steady supply of labor, continued to operate for a considerable period of time.
1) Its convenience as a means of recruiting new mineworkers
The function of recruiting new workers, which in itself means 'labor provision', is quite clear. The hanba bosses looked for recruits, using their own contacts or recruiting agents in the native areas from which they themselves, or the men in their hanba, had originated. Sometimes they infiltrated themselves into other mines in order to lure skilled workers to their own mine. Advance loans played a big part in such recruitment, not only because most mineworkers did not have the wherewithal to pay their own travel expenses, but also because they were often caught up in debt. The hanba boss himself normally bore the costs incurred in recruiting, such as travel expenses for the agent and the new workers and advance loan payments, but when large numbers of mineworkers were urgently required, the costs were covered by the mineowner. 2)
The second of the four advantages concerns the 'settlement' of recruits in their new jobs. Most recruits arrived in a strange place with only the clothes on their back. Most of their daily necessities, beginning with accommodation and food, and including the tools they needed for work, were provided on loan by the hanba boss, all at prices higher than those outside the hanba 3), but which enabled the miners to get by somehow, even if they were personally penniless. For the hanba bosses, the men in their charge were the geese that lay the golden eggs, so as long as they did not try to escape or neglect their work, they were looked after in an 'exceedingly scrupulous manner'. The hanba system is often associated with brutal punishments such as lynching for those workers who tried to abscond, but what really served to keep the workers in their place were the liabilities they incurred in the way of loans, financial and material, or gambling debts. For its part, management was able to make considerable savings, because the responsibilities it would have had under a direct management system - recruiting and accommodating new miners - could be left to the hanba bosses.
As is clear from the phrase 'in accordance with the prices of articles available from company stores', it was possible at that time to obtain various items, including rice, direct from the company without going via the hanba. Nevertheless, the hanba continued to supply goods, because it was recognized that bosses to whom workers owed money had the right to accept payment of the debts 'by proxy'. Most single workers, were unable to cook for themselves and so it was more convenient for them to purchase all their goods through the hanba.
The first part of the third advantage of the hanba system mentioned earlier concerned improving attendance rates. The hanba bosses were dormitory bosses. They were therefore able to keep around-the-clock check on their men, which made it easy for them to get workers to turn up for work. The bosses went about this particular job zealously, since the pit entry commission they received from the company for each man who went down the mines meant that it was closely bound up with their own economic well- being. It has already been pointed out that the allotting of work rotas (banwari) by the bosses represented a saving for the company because company officials were not needed to do the job.
The system's fourth advantage - its ability to recruit large numbers of workers to meet a sudden need - was that recruitment was not limited to the hanba bosses who happened to be bosses at any one time; anyone could be promoted to hanba boss if he was able to guarantee the services of a certain number of men. By such a practice it was possible to increase the number of workers very quickly. This was how the workforce was expanded during Ashio's period of rapid growth in the 1880s. At that time, one only needed a minimum of 20 men to start up a new hanba. During Ashio's boom time when the bonanza Ônaori lode was being dug, one can well imagine that many hanba bosses who had been working in the mines and tunnels of the surrounding areas would have moved their hanba and their men to Ashio. Such was the case of the Honzan boss, Tonami Kumekichi, who "came to the mine from Ikuno and was immediately made a boss (tôyaku)".4) Also, when recruits were urgently needed, some of the miners who had leadership qualities were given recruiting expenses and sent back to their home towns and villages to recruit new workers from there. On their return, they would become hanba bosses.
The backgrounds of the hanba bosses
What sort of men became hanba bosses? Where and how did they recruit their workers? Those who were in the best position to become hanba bosses were the former contractors (shitakaseginin). In the previous chapter, it was conjectured that they were most likely to have been the source of the hanba bosses, although there is no firm proof of that 5). The hypothesis would seem to be supported by "The Life of Furukawa Ichibei", which, in its account of the early days of the Furukawa Company, states that "that was the time of the shitakaseginin at Ashio. The owner was in a position to do no more than provide them with rice and miso and buy the raw copper they produced. Towards the end of the period of the previous ownership, even a few direct managerial functions had been given over to the shitakaseginin, and the actual mining operation itself was entirely out of the hands of the owner. To break this conventional pattern and move towards direct control by the owner, (Furukawa) had to unify the whole mine under direct management by opening new pits under the company's management and by gradually taking into his own hands those that were worked by the contractors" 6).
However, the company's centennial publication, "100 Years of the Furukawa Company", which includes the names of all the shitakaseginin 7) has meant that this hypothesis has had to be revised, because as far as can be ascertained, the list of the names of the shitakaseginin does not include even one of the men who later became hanba bosses. We know the names of the hanba bosses at Ashio for the years 1902, 1907, and 1908 8), and since a quarter century had gone by since Furukawa took over the mine in 1877, it is not surprising that men's names had disappeared from the lists, given that the miner's average life expectancy was short owing to silicosis of the lungs and other diseases. The problem is that the position of hanba boss was often handed down from father to son or between relatives like a form of hereditary succession, and there are few cases of common surnames between the shitakaseginin and the hanba bosses. For example, 11 of the 38 shitakaseginin bore the name Kamiyama, one of whom, Kamiyama Moriya, was a powerful contractor with 41 men working under him, but among the hanba bosses, there is not one Kamiyama to be found. There are four names in common between the contractors and the hanba bosses: Saitô, Kobayashi, Fukuda, and Kaneko, but of these, only Saitô was the boss of a miners' hanba; the others were the bosses of hauliers' and laborers' hanba. The only boss of a miners' hanba who might have been the grandson of one of the shitakaseginin of the pre-1877 period was Saitô Kinzô of Tsudô No. 3 hanba. It seems likely that Furukawa must have deliberately excluded any of the former contractors from becoming hanba bosses in his new order. So, where did the hanba bosses come from? There is one very interesting survey which throws some light on this question, although it is of a much later date than the period under discussion here. The 'Tôyaku personal records list' of 1919 gives the hometowns and previous occupations of 20 hanba bosses (see chart 2).
Ôyama Shikitarô, who discovered this list, does not mention the fact, but the survey refers only to bosses of hanba belonging to the pits department at Honzan. Only Honzan hanba were designated alphabetically (I, Ro, Ha etc. = A,B,C etc.); those at Tsudô and Kodaki were numbered. The men must have belonged to the pits department, because the list includes bosses not just of miners' hanba, but also of hauliers' and ore dressers' hanba. In chart 2, those listed alphabetically are the miners' hanba; Handa to Satô are the hauliers' hanba, and the last one, obviously, is the ore dressers' hanba 10).
1) Ôyama Shikitarô "Mineworkers and the Oyakata System" pp. 251, 252. 2) The bosses of C, H, and I hanba were concurrently the bosses of the Shibamata, Senroku, and Ôno hanba.
3) y = years, m = months
All the bosses of the miners' hanba had previously been miners themselves. Although by 1919, the bosses had been stripped of their former powers of on-the-job direction and supervision, it is nevertheless notable that all had been miners before becoming hanba bosses. Recruiting and maintaining a regular supply of labor was the crucial part of the bosses' job, but the bosses of the miners' hanba were still no mere recruiting agents, a fact which points up the demand which must have been made on their abilities as on-the-job directors and supervisors of their men in the early days of the miners' hanba during the period of production contracting. By contrast, the bosses of the hauliers' hanba included bookkeepers and a machinist, who would not have had any great role in the supervsion of underground work.
The second consideration is the bosses' place of origin. Understandably, 4 of the men, 20% of the total, hailed from Ashio itself. Only the men's initials are given, so it is impossible to be sure, but most of the Ashio men were probably related, either father and son, or else a man's protege (kobun) succeeded his patron (oyabun) on the latter's death. This is a plausible supposition, because apart from the 53 year old S.M. of the Satô hanba, all of them were young men (29, 35, and 22) and cannot have had many years' experience as hanba bosses.
It is noteworthy that 4 of the 14 miners' hanba bosses were from Ônogun in Fukui Prefecture. On this point, Ôyama Shikitarô merely notes "why this should have been so is unknown, but it suggests some kind of relationship between the two areas". There was, however, a very definite reason why this relationship existed. In the redevelopment of the Ashio mine under Furukawa management, Echizen miners, that is, men from Fukui, were a key element, a fact which is clear from "The Life of Kimura Chôbei" 11):
"[Kimura Chôbei] went to see Kinoshita Junsuke of Kusakura about changing the main digging operations, and [the result was that] Junsuke took his group of Echizen miners to work at Ashio. A former samurai of the Ôno clan, he had been invited by [Furukawa] Ichibei to begin the company's mining operations at Kusakura and had had considerable success. His Echizen miners all had experience of underground work at the new Kusakura mine, and work at Ashio received a tremendous boost after they arrived".
The Ôno clan of Echizen owned the Omotani mine 12) which was on their land and they worked the mine under direct management from 1832 until 1871 when feudal clans were abolished. Thereafter, the mine was operated by local villagers, and business fell off. Kinoshita Junsuke is thought to have been one of the yamashi who worked the mine during the period of its management by the Ôno clan. If the shitakaseginin working at Ashio since before the Furukawa takeover were 'outsiders', as it were, then the group of Echizen miners were 'insiders', that is, they came in with the Furukawas, and as a result of the bond of trust between Furukawa Ichibei and Kimura Chôbei, they worked as a special group opening up new tunnels in the part of the mine that was worked directly by the company. When the company sought to tackle the power of the shitakaseginin, those of the Echizen miners who showed leadership qualities were probably swiftly made hanba bosses.
After the miners' hanba bosses from Ônogun, Fukui Prefecture and Ashiomachi, the next most numerous were those from Gifu (2) and Niigata (2). Ishikawa, Fukushima, Niigata, and Toyama Prefectures, as well as Ashibagun in Fukui Prefecture all provided one boss each. Two other bosses were local men, one of the hauliers' hanba bosses and the ore dressers' boss; the other hauliers' bosses came from Fukushima, Niigata, Toyama, and Fukui. On the whole, there was a high proportion of men from the Hokuriku region and, understandably, from mining areas in that region: the Kusakura copper mine near Nishikanosemura in Niigata Prefecture, the Tenshô gold mine near Kawaimura in Gifu Prefecture, the Hara copper mine near Nakaumimura in Ishikawa Prefecture, the Ikuno silver mine near Ikunochô in Hyôgo Prefecture, and the Handa silver mine near Handamura in Fukushima Prefecture. Only two of the bosses of miners' hanba were from areas that had no connection with mining.
The names of the hanba give another clue as to the origins of their bosses. This is unfortunately not possible to substantiate for the vital miners' hanba, which are designated alphabetically or numerically, but many of the hauliers' hanba, such as Handa hanba and Wakaguri hanba in the 1919 list, were named after a place of origin. Of the names of all the hanba that are currently known, I have to date discovered some 40 that were named after geographical locations 13), apart from those hanba which were clearly given the name of their own boss. It is not possible to be 100% certain about all of these, because it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between place names and personal names, and also because some place names occur in a number of different prefectures, but the resulting list is nevertheless of some value:(n.b. gumi = group, hanba)
Tochigi Prefecture - Tochigigumi, Nanmagumi, Nirekigumi, Hôjôgumi, Tanumagumi,
Clearly, Tochigi Prefecture heads the list, followed by the three Hokuriku prefectures, Niigata, Fukui, and Toyama. Next come Hyôgo (Ikuno silver mine), Fukushima (Handa silver mine), Saitama and Ibaraki.
Ashio workers' recruitment locales
From where did the hanba bosses recruit their workers? Fortunately, we can answer this question on the basis of data given in "The History of Tochigi prefecture" Historical Documents - Modern 9. The following chart shows 'the numbers of new residents in Ashiomachi in the Meiji period by prefecture' collated by Ashiomachi town hall. The numbers are limited to those of new residents and do not represent the annual numbers of newly employed workers.In other words, they include the members of workers' families and not just the workers themselves. Also, many worked at Ashio without registering themselves as new residents, and it would be correct to say that those who did not register were in the majority by far. The number of registered new residents per year did not exceed 300-700, whereas the actual number of new workers at Ashio was in the thousands. Those migrant workers doing temporary laboring jobs and those who lived in surrounding districts certainly did not bother to register as new residents. The ones who did register are more likely to have been mostly those who had already settled in Ashio rather than new arrivals.
[Source] "The History of Tochigi Prefecture" Historical Documents - Modern 9, pp.309-310.
The value of the chart then lies not so much in what it tells us about the numbers of residents in absolute terms, but rather in the indication it gives of the changes year to year, and of the weighting and ranking of the percentages of prefectural origins. With that premise in mind, the following observations will be based on certain features which can be deduced from the chart.
The first question to be considered is why the comparative percentages of the areas of origin remained fairly stable in relation to each other although the total annual numbers of new arrivals showed frequent fluctuations.
We have already noted the reason why so many bosses came from Fukui Prefecture. Toyama produced few probably because there were few notable mines in the prefecture. The reason why many workers came from Toyama, but few from Fukui probably stemmed from differences in the extent of the changing class configurations of the agricultural populations in the two prefectures. According to Yamaguchi Kazuo 14), in 1883 the proportion of tenant farming in Toyama was 51.1%. Toyama was the only prefecture in Japan with more than half of its land given over to arable farming, and the percentage of independent smallholders in Toyama (24.0%) was the lowest in the country. In Fukui Prefecture, on the other hand, where the percentages of tenant farmers and independent smallholders were 33.8% and 41.8% respectively, the extent of the breakdown of the agricultural class configuration was below the national average, which at the time was assessed in terms of 35.9% tenant farmers and 37.3% independent smallholders. The Echizen miners who had been promoted to hanba bosses at Kusakura and Ashio, unable to recruit all the labor they needed from their own native areas, must have turned to neighboring prefectures, and especially to Toyama, the closest to Ashio and Kusakura, as abundant sources of labor. The fact that Niigata Prefecture was in the number three position, ahead of neighboring Gunma Prefecture was not unrelated to the high level of change in the rural class configuration in the prefecture (tenant farmers: 47.7%, independent smallholders 28.2%), and at the same time reflected the historical connection between the Ashio mine and Niigata, the miners who had provided the nucleus of the labor force at the time of the redevelopment of the Ashio mine having come originally from Niigata's Kusakura copper mine.
After completing the manuscript of the present volume, the author came across an article by Takeda Haruhito, 'The Personal Backgrounds of hanba Bosses in Metal Mines' in "Studies In Economics" (Vol. 53 No. 2, July 1987, Tôkyô University Economics Association). In his article, Takeda includes some very significant information he had unearthed about the personal origins of hanba bosses at Ashio. There is not space here to reproduce it all in full, but certain key points can be summarized.
"Hasegawa Eijirô boss of Honzan Kôshûgumi. He had been employed at Ashio before, but in April 1877 when the mine was taken over by the late company president, he became a shitakaseginin. June 1883 Appointed shitakaseginin and hauliers' hanba boss.
Hasegawa, then, was one of those miners who had worked at Ashio since before the Furukawa takeover. He was not a shitakaseginin before the takeover, but was appointed one by the company. In other words, as was conjectured earlier in this book, it seems to have been the case that, on assuming control of the mine, Furukawa deliberately set his face against those men who had been shitakaseginin prior to his company's takeover at Ashio.
1) Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce Mining Department "The Treatment of Miners" p. 214.
2) "Chapter 3 of "The Treatment of Miners", which deals with 'Recruiting Methods', states that, at Ashio, "although the hanba bosses are on the whole responsible for the procurement of labor, the company will when necessary bear the costs of recruitment and pay the travel expenses of the new miner and his family". According to 'the statement of accounts for the years 1881-1884', 2,685 yen 47 sen was spent on 'procurement expenses for new workers' in the first half of 1884 only; no figures were recorded for the other years ("The History of Tochigi Prefecture" Historical Documents - Modern 9, p. 152).
3) Article 9 of the 'hanba Rules for (Ashio) Miners' issued after the riot fixed the 'boarding fees', which included 'three meals and two futon quilts', at 6 yen a month top rate and 5 yen 40 sen standard rate, while article 10 stated that 'the price of side dishes and articles of daily use will be determined separately in accordance with the prices of articles available from company stores'. Article 10 went on to list the following prices:
side dishes one plate 3 sen average
4) Takeda Haruhito "The History of the Japanese Copper Industry" (Tôkyô University Press, 1987, p.185). There is also the remark of Kimura Katsuzô whose father had started a laborers' hanba in 1886 and later became a miners' hanba boss: "after that it was still possible to start up a hanba if you had at least 20 miners" ("Chronological Tables of Japanese Labor Management" Vol. 1 (A) p. 35).
5) 'Background to the Ashio Riot' ("Hôgaku Shirin" Vol. 57 No. 1, pp. 65 - 66).
6) Itsukakai ed. "The Life of Furukawa Ichibei" p. 119 - 120.
7) The Furukawa Mining Company "100 Years of the Furukawa Company" pp. 55-59.
8) For the 1902 hanba bosses' names, see Hasunuma Soun, "The Ashio Copper Mine" (Kôdô Shoin, 1903) pp. 62-64. For 1907, see the Utsunomiya District Prosecutors' Office Archive "Confidential Documents Relating to the Ashio Disturbances". For the 1908 names, see Ô Sonshi, "A Guide to the Ashio Copper Mine" (Banshûdô, 1908) pp. 213-218.
9) 5 of the shitakaseginin bore the name Saitô: Hachirô, who owned the rights to work the famous Takanosu lode, which 'brought such prosperity to Ashio in its early period', Matsuzô, Shigekichi, Mokichi, and Matsujirô. The fact that Saitô Kinzô was the boss of the newly established Tsudô No. 3 hanba indicates that he was either an old miner or else the grandson of one.
10) As this was a survey of hanba attached to the pits department, it includes only three types of hanba: those of miners, hauliers, and ore dressers. Besides these there were also ore refiners' hanba and engineers' hanba attached to the refinery department and the engineering department respectively.
11) Shigeno Kichinosuke "The Life of Kimura Chôbei" p. 45.
12) For the Omotani mine, see Kobata Jun ed. "A History of the Village of Izumi" (1977) "The History of Mitsubishi Mining Company" Mitsubishi Mining and Cement PLC, 1976) p. 88, Kitamura Kanji 'Omotani Mine' ("The Journal of Engineering" Vols. 20, 27 "Journal of the Society of Engineering" Vols. 33, 38, 39 June 1883 - March 1885. At Ônogun Nishitanimura in Fukui Prefecture there were the Nakatenjô and Takaya mines, and at Ônogun Kamishômura, there was also the Sen-ô mine (Ôogun Education Committee ed. "The Fukui Prefecture Ônogun Journal" 1912 Meicho Shuppan, 1972)
13) Kanai Hiro-o "National Place Names Index" I, II, III (National Place Names Index Publication Society, 1976).
14) Yamaguchi Kazuo "An Analysis of the Economy of the Early Meiji Period" (Tôkyô University press, 1956) pp. 44-49.