This study focuses on the implementation of the Munitions Company Law passed by the Imperial Diet in Japan in 1943 that not only highlighted the stateness of capital but also fostered national intervention in the management of business. Policy differences between the imperial and colonial governments regarding the implementation of this law, and their conflicts over administrative rights over munitions, are examined in this study, and the Government-General of Joseon (Chosēn)’s opposition to the Japanese imperial government’s principle of unitary control within the empire, especially regarding the implementation of the Munitions Company Law, is analyzed from the standpoint of the history of economic policy at the colonial government level. In March 1944, the Government-General of Joseon began administrative negotiations with the imperial government regarding the implementation of the Munitions Company Law in Joseon leading to the reorganization of organizations related to the administration of munitions in accordance with the wider reorganization of the government structure and the implementation of an independent munitions mobilization policy known as the munitions production responsibility system. Although contrary to the original wishes of the imperial government, in September 1944, months of negotiations resulted in split, not unitary, control based on comprehensive authority of the Governor-General in September 1944. In other words, the Government-General of Joseon sought throughout the wartime period to enhance its colonial rule and the effectiveness of munitions mobilization by strengthening its autonomy vis-à-vis the imperial government in terms of industrial administration. This line of reasoning inevitably clashes with the assertions of Yamamoto Yuzo, who refused to recognize the comprehensive administrative authority of the Governor-General of Joseon, and evaluated the policy of ‘administrative integration within the empire’ implemented by the imperial government at the end of 1942 as the epitome of the institutional perfection reached by its assimilation-based ruling ideology.
Joseon’s factory industry underwent significant transformations during the period of 1940-1945. The extent of change varied according to region (north and south) and race, and there was an unequal development which tended towards the munitions industry. The number of factories and workers did not decrease until 1943, however. The number of factories started to decrease drastically during the period of 1944-1946, while the number of workers continued to increase until 1944. These statistical figures show that the actual decrease happened after 1945. Joseon’s factory industry began to dwindle as its role as a colonial factory base was lost due to several factors such as the deterioration of Japan’s war economy from 1944, Japan’s defeat in 1945, and Joseon’s subsequent independence and division into North and South Korea. This study focuses on the quantitative side of this phenomenon, leaving out any qualitative analysis; however, areas for future study are suggested by this research, including the statistically unaccounted for factory closings, which were due to the enforcement of the war-time economic system, and the significantly decreased productivity levels in many of the operating factories.
This study analyzes the coal production expansion policy developed by the Government-General of Joseon (Chosēn) during the wartime period and the impact which this policy had on the management of coal mining companies. On two separate occasions, a coal production expansion plan was put in place to foster the development of large-scale coalfields. However, because of a lack of materials and labor, coal production failed to meet the established targets. Furthermore, as colonial Korea mainly boasted anthracite coal, authorities were forced to import bituminous (black) coal from abroad. In order to ease this imbalance between the supply and demand for coal, strict controls were implemented by the Joseon Coal Association. However, the Government-General of Joseon introduced widespread subsidy measures to help coal mining companies that found themselves faced with worsening operational conditions amidst a growing discrepancy between the price of inputs and outputs (scissor phenomenon). Nevertheless, faced with an inevitable decrease in production, the Government-General of Joseon, having reached the conclusion that it had become impossible to increase coal production based on the promotion of existing wholesalers, established the Joseon Coal Corporation as an implement through which to install a pool pricing system, and as a mechanism to supplement increases in the cost of purchasing coal. Thereafter, the Munitions Companies Law was applied to the major coal mining companies. As such, although coal trading, which had heretofore been based on market mechanisms, became based on a state-controlled planned distribution system, this course of action was implemented as a means to supplement the pursuit of profits within the coal mining field.
Using the case study of the Gyeongseong (Keijō) Electric Co., this study examines how individual enterprises responded to the changes in the management environment during the era of wartime control. In the aftermath of the onset of the Sino-Japanese War in 1937, the Government-General of Joseon established ‘urban plans for the Gyeong-In area’ that consisted of developing it into a center of the munitions industry, and emphasized the role of Joseon as a military supply and forward base for operations on the mainland. The Gyeongseong Electric Co. responded to the policy of the Government-General of Joseon by rapidly increasing facility investment. The necessary funds were secured through loans from financial institutions and the issuing of corporate bonds. As such, the principle of sound management based on a refusal to introduce loans, a principle which had been maintained since the late 1910s, was effectively abandoned. On the other hand, the Gyeongseong Electric Co. also underwent a great change in its management structure as a result of the Government-General of Joseon’s national electric power management policy. The conclusion of the purchase of Shunsen (Chuncheon) Electric Co. and of the long-delayed merger with the Kongōsan Electric Railway Co. made possible by the government’s policy of integrating power distribution companies allowed the Gyeongseong Electric Co. to become a company that was engaged in the generation, transmission, and distribution of power. The business of the Gyeongseong Electric Co. was as such further diversified to include electricity, transport, gas, and railways. In terms of the ownership structure of the Gyeongseong Electric Co., the national financial agency came to exercise strengthened influence; moreover, individuals from the Government-General of Joseon, national financial agency, and the Kongōsan Electric Railway Co. were appointed to the core management group. It was against this backdrop that the Gyeongseong Electric Co. cooperated with the Government-General of Joseon in the establishment of a mobilization system, and adopted the state-based enterprise management philosophy characterized by the prioritization of the public interest and selfless devotion to the country.