A nation's textile industry can tell us much about its economic history. Textiles usually stand at the forefront of early industrial efforts, with labour intensive production of commodity goods for the local market. Mills provide jobs, serve local demand for clothing and other textile products, and offer a productive investment outlet for local capital, bringing multiple benefits to state and society in the process of industrialisation.
The textile industry has frequently been central to industrial development both in industrialized and in developing countries. With its labour intensive character and its relatively simple production techniques this industry can easily tap into the craft skills readily available in developing countries. The textile industry is a spearhead of industrial development, both in strategies of import substitution and export oriented industrialization.
This paper reviews forces underlying the lingering comparative advantage. And then I am going to talk about the domestic adjustment process in the industry, with particular attention to the forces underling the increase in its labour productivity. In the second part I am going to emphasize on the role of Japanese textile industry it analyse the scope for specialization and the role of government policies. Moreover, I also talked about its change in the competitive environment of the industry. The resource poor, rapidly industrializing Japanese economy gradually strengthened its comparative advantage in textiles and clothing from 19th century. In addition to developments in Japan itself, the country's changing role in international market is also covered.
The role of the textile sector in world industrial revolution The textile industry was the first major modern industry in Japan; it is labour intensive as it creates many job opportunities for a nation. The special significance of Japanese textile products is that they are typically among the most labour intensive, least technology demanding manufactures for developing countries to produce. In an initial developmental phase involving large transfers of labour from the tradition based agriculture sector to modern manufacturing sectors. Increased exports of textiles accommodate increased production, which implies increased human capital accumulation and ultimately higher economic growth.
It is widely believed that as textile exports increase, a nation's GDP growth will be higher. Implicitly, the organization for economic co-operation and development, argues that in order to wider economic growth and social development., developing countries need ever expanding access to markets of major industrial countries, and growth in exports of textile is central to this process.
A characteristic of the Japan's textile market structure is the existence of a large number of inefficiently small manufacturing establishments, particularly in spinning, weaving and knitting mills. Countries generally develop through structural change in response to shifts in comparative advantage, beginning with specialization in primary products and advancing to single process, labour intensive manufactures, capital and technology intensive goods, and finally to higher technology and knowledge intensive products.
The main reasons for this rapid progress of the industry are: Appropriateness of the technology transferred The Japanese experience in successfully adopting modern foreign technology and consequently being able to adapt and diffuse it was undoubtedly enhanced by the foregoing conditions. The conditions helped Japan to increasingly acquire innovative technical capability which was needed to exploit the imported technologies to gain rapid economic growth as well as to generate appropriate technologies to take advantage of its resource endowments.
During the early period of modernization, there was wider spread basic education, broader economic participation, high social mobility and high levels of motivation too. Some of these conditions are not easy to quantify but they played very subtle riles in the attainment of very rapid technology transfer. It should be recalled that Japan's social system and value system had been transformed in the process of the restoration. The post restoration modified social and value system was favourable to technology transfer process as it aided the promotion of newly adopted methods and produced men of strong innovative temperament.
Training and education system Education of the workforce is crucial to the growth and development of an industry. Larger Japanese mills had research staffs, managers of the Japanese cotton spinning companies sent their engineers abroad to seek the latest developments, so that the company can benefit from their knowledge and experience gained from advanced countries.
Labour force Labour force is one of the most important forces behind the successes of the Japanese textile. With the growth of the ring machinery, which had a clear advantage over miles in requiring less skilled workers, mainly contained female labour force, drawn from the agricultural population mostly. Workers worked in poor conditions and for very low wages, they lived in dormitories at the factories. Furthermore, Japanese firms adopted the day and night double shift system, cheap labour force plus long working hours brought the Japanese cotton textile industry into the powerful position in the world stage. Textile industries became dominated by large scale production. In 1913 textiles was by far the most important sector of manufacturing. 60% of factory labour forces were working in textile sectors and these accounted for 45% of factory output.
The Japanese textile industry created a range of low quality cotton products, but which was well sited to East Asian market and to the demands of the lower income classes elsewhere. The Japanese were successful in profit abilities between varying grades of raw cotton and labour. They became capable of producing cotton cloth of a particular quality suing lower quality raw cotton and low quality labour then had preciously been thought possible.