Correspondence between F. Takano and S. Gompers
No.146 Higashi-Kata St.,
Tokio, Japan, July 22, '96.
Mr. Samuel Gompers,
President of the A.F. of L.,
Dear Sir,--I took a flying trip to Osaka the other day and went through two of the cotton mills of the city. It was really shocking to behold little girls of 9 or 10 years old each attending two mules for twelve long hours a day. I have utterly failed to note the pleasant and healthy features, so common among Japanese children in their countenance. Every one of the children and almost every woman in the mills have such serious faces that one can not help to utter words of pity. That the present arrangement of those mills of the city are dealing havoc and ruin upon the workers cannot be disputed, at the same time, we could hardly hope to see any resistance being made by the workers themselves.
Agitation and Education have to precede which necessarily need years work. Meantime, the workers have nothing to do but to throw themselves to the tender mercies of the mill owners, unless the government take it to his hands to protect them. That is only source the workers can look to. Fortunately for the workers, the government has already responded to their cries, though in small way. Ever since the committee of the Board of Health of the City has published its report concerning age condition and working hours of the workers in the city, which I have referred in my last article, the question of general sanitary conditions in the factories became a subject of serious consideration among the medical men of the country. At the same time, it has called forth an appointment of a commission by the government to investigate the actual conditions. The commission is on way to Osaka now and we may expect its report within two months. It is supposed that the commission will recommend enactment of a national factory law with view of shortening the working hours and improving the sanitary condition of factories. This recommendation, I believe, will be heeded by the government and we shall soon see a legislation to the effect on our statutes. This will be a great deal of gain to the workers and a source of rejoicing to the friend of labor.
As the condition of the cotton spinners is destined to become a public question within a few months, I would like to equip myself with as much information as I can concerning the American spinners. I shall be very much obliged for you if you will kindly secure me a copy of the Massachusetts Labor law together with a copy of the constitution and by-laws of the Cotton mule Spinners Association of Fall River. I would also like to know the history of the spinners' struggle for the shorter working hours in Mass, and their present conditions. If you can give me any information upon this subject you confer me with a great favor.
Permit me to ask you one more favor as I have lost the May number of your Federationist during the trip, will you please send me another copy of the number when you send next number.
With best wishes to you and to your organization,