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Press translations [Japan]. Economic Series 0049, 1945-12-05.
Supreme Commander for The Allied Powers. Allied Translator and Interpreter Section.

translation-number: economic-0240

call-number: DS801 .S81

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No. 240 Date: 5 Dec 1945


ITEM 1 Shortage of Labor Despite Surplus of Unemployed. Article explaining reasons by KITAOKA, former professor of TOKYO Imperial University - Nippon Sangyo Keizai - 3 December 1945. Translator: K. Shuji.
As had been predicted by many observers, there are in JAPAN today more than six million unemployed, including those discharged from munition factories, demobilized soldiers and repatriates from abroad. In spite of this large number of unemployed, there are complaints of labor shortages in many industries, What is the reason for this apparently contradictory phenomenon? Many have tried to answer this question but so far no satisfactory conclusion has been reached.
From my point of view, the majority of today's unemployed are not willing to resume working. Their unwillingness to work accounts for labor shortages in areas where there are many unemployed.
There are, of course, many reasons which make workers unwilling to work. But, the most fundamental one is the existing food rationing system based on the principle of equal distribution. Equal distribution of rationed food provides workers with enough strength to subsist but not with enough to work. No one can deny the fact that laborers are unable to work on a diet of rationed foods alone.
An additional ration is given to those who do heavy work, such as mining. However, as the increased ration is very limited, and actual distribution is very slow, no beneficial results have been accomplished. For example, not all building workers now engaged in the reconstruction of TOKYO are given additional food rations. There is no doubt however, that few, if any, are living on rationed foods alone. It is said that the most important task of foremen nowadays is to get food for their men by any means possible. Failure to accomplish this usually means the loss of their jobs. It is ironic that the city can never be rebuilt unless the Government's control of its rebuilding is broken.
A second reason for unemployment is that equal distribution of food at official prices encourages idleness. The official price of rice is as nothing compared with the current black market price. Workers will be able to live for several years on the retirement allowance which they receive when discharged from the factories. On the other hand, however diligently a laborer works, he is not permitted to take more food than the rationed amount. This circumstance deprives working people of their will to work.

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ITEM 1 (Continued)
Third, the food ration system has paralyzed the function of currency and has turned the efficient, modern, industrial, economic system to one of waste and inefficiency. As a matter of fact, the jobless people of today are not living in idleness. They are working day and night in order to get food which is not obtainable by means of money alone. Why don't they seek jobs in factories or mines? The answer is very simple. They cannot obtain ample feed if tied down to a regular job, because then there would be no time to go out in the country to buy food. Moreover, these jobless people are likely to be attracted by the enticing game of black marketing. Under these circumstances, much time end labor are wasted. A fourth reason is that the number of laborers from rural communities has become very small due to the fact that it is now more profitable for them to remain at home.
I don't think that it would be politically and economically sound to stop immediately the existing food rationing system, However, in consideration of the fact that the retarding industry, shortage of labor, and many other obstacle to rebuilding JAPAN are mainly due to this system. I firmly believe that it should be abolished as soon as possible. For the present, I think it most advisable decrease the amount of foods distributed, and to increase the volume of free marketing to the largest possible extent. Staple food rations should be diminished to the quantity absolutely necessary for bare existence (daily 1.1 go per person). This allotment should be enforced and surplus quantities sold in the free market. Thus, there would be two staple food classifications: foods distributed by the Government, and foods sold on the free market. As a result, the price of rice would be settled at a point between the present official price and the blackmarket price. Wages would be increased to enable wage earners to buy their own food and daily necessities and even save a little. These who lack the will or ability to work could maintain a bare existence on rationed foods. On the other hand, the workers who are necessary in the city would not have to make trips to the country in order to get food. In this way, all labor would be utilized in productive industries. Farming people would sell as much of their produce as possible and so much more food would appear in the markets. Finally, the ration system will completely disappear when importations of food make this possible.
Some people require a daily food ration of three go. This might provide temporary relief but later would intensify the shortage of labor. I was to warn the Government not to coddle the people with a policy which may destroy industry. I sincerely hope that the Government will make headway in establishing a free economic system as promptly as possible by overcoming temporary opposition and difficulties.
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