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Saturday, August 17, 2013

Bicycle Industry Has Tremendous Recovery

Who knew it needed a recovery? Anyone taking a serious look around the hamlets, villages, towns and cities of Tokyo will see a plethora of bicycles being ridden by the populace - along with a full gamut of bicycle repair shops.

As well, one must assume, there must be a whole host of shops selling bicycles, and thus, manufacturers building bicycles.

But let's look back to Monday, October 17, 1955, a little over 10 years following the conclusion of World War II, when Japan's economy was decimated after being on the losing side, and being forced to suffer the humiliation of a bunch of gaijin (foreigners) rewriting its constitution and occupying its land.

In 2013, the constitution is still being utilized and can be considered a turning point in the fortunes of Japan, the current government would like nothing better that to rewrite the current constitution to provide more say on what its federal government can or can not do.

Regardless... times were much different back in 1955, as I peek back in history via the Nippon Times to offer a look at how things were.

Bicycle Industry Has Tremendous Recovery

Japan's bicycle industry registered a tremendous recovery in the postwar years with its production hitting an all-time high. the prewar record of 2,258,000 units produced in 1937 was topped in 1950 and output has since remained above the two and a half million level.  
This heartening comeback, however, has been counteracted by the fact that exports are practically at a standstill due to high costs, import restrictions and the stiff foreign competitions.
The bicycle industry of Japan has a history dating back approximately 64 years to 1891 when Miyata Manufacturing Works first went into bicycle production. During the early stages, the company imported everything and merely assembled the bicycles.

Previous Success

The industry finally came into its own as a result of World War I when it reached a point where it was able not only to fill domestic requirements but exported them as well to Southeast Asia as well.
In 1937 the industry established a prewar record in both production and exports and competed with Britain and Germany as a leading exporter. Production steadily declined after the start of World War II and by 1945--when the war ended--production was down to practically nothing. However, production gradually went up again after the end of World War II and it has reached 114 per cent (2,500,000 units in 1954) of the prewar record.

Small Enterprises

One of the features of this industry is the number of small enterprises engaged in its production. Because of this fact, there are more than 600 factories in the field, employing an estimated working force of 25,000 person. Of this, only 12 firms employ more than 300 workers, attesting to the fact that Japan's bicycle industry is made up principally of small and medium-sized enterprises.

Well... cool... do you know why the article mentioned the Miyata Manufacturing Works? It's because it first began operations in 1892 manufacturing bicycles and unicycles, and is still in operation today in 2013, with its headquarters in Tokyo.

Founded by Miyata Eisuke (surname first), he was a gunsmith and in 1892 he constructed Japan's first modern bicycle at the Miyata Gun Factory.

Even then, Miyata recognized that Japan and guns would never be a strong business, so he created a new bicycle design after a gaijin asked him for some help in fixing his then-conventional bicycle. And the rest is history. That means you can look that part up yourself. It's not that interesting, except to note that the bike frames were originally made from the same metal tubing used to manufacture guns and rifle - complete with tubing that was bored out using a round steel rod that added rifling, just as one would find inside a gun barrel.

So, riding the early Miyata bicycles was like sitting on your own arsenal.

Claims to fame: Miyata says it was the first Japanese manufacturer of flash-butt welded frame tubes in 1946, and in 1950 was the first to use electrostatic painting.

Check out the Miyata bicycle website: HERE.

I checked out the price of a standard new bicycle for an adult, and saw a price of ¥139,800, which is about Cdn/US $1,433.55. For a bicycle. If people are buying these bicycles, I would say the bicycle industry has still got a tremendous recovery in 2013. Holy crap.

Andrew Joseph

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