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Luxury is the Enemy: Mobilizing Savings and Popularizing Thrift in Wartime Japan Author(s): Sheldon Garon Source: Journal of Japanese Studies, Vol. 26, No. 1 (Winter, 2000), pp. 41-78 Published by: The Society for Japanese Studies

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The Society for Japanese Studies Luxury is the Enemy: Mobilizing Savings and Popularizing Thrift in Wartimep anese Studies , Vol. 26, No. 1 (Winter, 2000), pp. 41-78 Published b y : The Societ y for Ja p anese Studies Stable URL: . Accessed: 06/03/2011 22:47 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates y our acce p tance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at . . JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use. Please contact the p ublisher re g ardin g an y further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at . . . Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed page of such transmission. JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact The Society for Japanese Studies is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Journal of Japanese Studies. " id="pdf-obj-0-60" src="pdf-obj-0-60.jpg">

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Luxuryis the Enemy:

MobilizingSavings and PopularizingThrift in WartimeJapan

Abstract: To finance the costs of fighting World War II, the Japanesegovern- ment mountedintrusive savings campaigns.Although the campaignsdemanded drastic reductions in consumption, the populace overwhelminglycomplied

this essay argues-because

people often understood official exhortations to

save in more self-interestedterms. Many, particularlywomen, attachedpositive meanings to wartime saving that in the postwardecades helped shape Japanese housewives' penchantfor high household saving. WartimeJapan did not neces- sarily reverse the emerging middle-class consumer culture of the 1920s. The regime was compelled to negotiate with people who wished to save for their families, as well as for the nation.

Postwar Japanese officials are inveterate poll-takers. So it comes as no sur- prise that every four years the government surveys the "savings behavior and savings consciousness" of Japanese households. Respondents are asked to judge a number of statements about saving and consumption, such as "The Japanese are said to be a frugal people who love saving, and that's an admirable thing" (a majority have agreed in every poll). One of the more curious phrases is "Luxury is the Enemy" (zeitaku wa teki da). In the first survey in 1977, fully 42 per cent "somewhat agreed" or "strongly agreed" that luxury is the enemy. Subsequent surveys confirm considerable sympa- thy for this sentiment, with the level of agreement declining only gradually to 28 per cent in 1997.1 Moral qualms about extravagance are hardly unique

Research was supportedby the Ministry of Finance's Institute of Fiscal and Monetary Policy, the CommunicationsMuseum in Tokyo, and a grantfrom the Social Science Research Council and the AmericanCouncil of LearnedSocieties. The authoralso wishes to thankKozo

Yamamura,Kenneth Pyle,

ShinjuFujihira, and ChristineMarran for their helpful suggestions.

  • 1. ChochikuKbd6 to

ChochikuIshiki ni KansuruChOsa Kenkyiikai, Dai 6-kai chochiku

kod6 to chochiku ishiki ni kansuru cho-sah6kokusho (Tokyo: Chochiku Kodo to Chochiku

Ishiki ni KansuruChisa Kenkytikai,1998), p. 2.

Journalof JapaneseStudies, 26: 1 (C2000 Society for JapaneseStudies



Journal of Japanese Studies


to Japan.But to call luxury the "enemy"? And in 1977? Japanhad, after

all, been at peace for more than three decades, with no obvious adversary on the horizon.


this statementstrikes us

as a little bellicose, that is because "Luxury

is the Enemy" was one of the best-rememberedslogans of wartimeJapan. Nearly all the middle-agedand elderly Japaneserespondents of 1977 would have repeatedly encounteredthe words in their youth. In July 1940, the governmentissued "RegulationsRestricting the Manufactureand Sale of LuxuryGoods." Within days, the slogan "Luxuryis the Enemy" appeared throughoutthe nation, in magazines and newspapersor inscribed on red cloth bannersand communitysignboards.2

Many adultswould have also recalledthe exhortationsagainst luxury as

partof highly intrusivecampaigns to induce Japaneseto forgo consumption in favor of saving for the war effort. Like otherbelligerents in WorldWar II, the Japanesegovernment financed military costs to a significantdegree by increasing levels of household savings, which directly or indirectly pur- chased war bonds. However, the Japanesecase is exceptional in two re- spects. As JeromeB. Cohen observed in his classic study,whereas the Brit-

ish and Americans financed the war in large Japaneserelied much less on taxes, preferringto

part through taxation, the stimulate"voluntary" sav-

ing.3 Moreover,no other power- on either side-succeeded in extracting

as much savings from its people. By 1944, Japanesehouseholds were saving

an extraordinary39.5 per cent of

disposable income. That figure includes

neither an additional9.8 per cent in taxes nor skyrocketingcommunal ex-


Statistics do not begin to convey the human suffering wroughtby the

wartimesavings campaigns.Coaxed and coerced into saving large amounts

of their income, the Japanesepeople were left with little to spend on the

basic necessities of food, clothing, and shelter-much

less "luxuries."

Many was the child who emerged from the war undersizedand malnour-


The political consequences of the savings drives were no less tragic.

The very "success" in extracting savings, notes NakamuraTakafusa, en- abled Japanto prolong a war thatit lacked the resourcesto sustain.5Arisawa Hiromi,the influentialeconomist and consultantto the government,recalled

thatin 1936 he would be asked to specify the point at which militaryspend-

ing could

increaseno further.Answered Arisawa: "But I used to say thatan

economy has a lot of flexibility, and that, for example, a 10 per cent cut in

  • 2. NagahataMichiko, Ran no onna

(Tokyo:Bungei Shunjii, 1992), p. 123.

  • 3. JeromeB. Cohen, Japan'sEconomy in Warand Reconstruction(Minneapolis: Univer-

sity of MinnesotaPress, 1949), pp. 85 - 86.

  • 4. Noguchi Yukio, 1940-nen taisei

(Tokyo:Toy6 Keizai Shinpdsha,1995), p. 135.

  • 5. TakafusaNakamura, Economic

Growth in Prewar Japan, trans. Robert A. Feldman

(New Haven:Yale UniversityPress, 1983), p. 301.

Garon:Savings and Thrift


the nationalliving standardcould squeeze out about 1.5 billion yen for mili- taryexpenditures, so the limits could not be drawnso strictly.The real ques- tion was whetherthe people could endurethe lowered living standard."6 As their leaders predicted, the Japanese proved capable of enduring enormousdeprivations, and the regime postponedthe inevitabilityof defeat at a tremendous human cost. Popular austerity also reinforced wartime American images of the Japaneseas a demonically obedient people inured to self-sacrifice.Queried a Life Magazine advertisementfor U.S. war bonds in 1945,

Ever See a Japanese War Bond?

. . . bonds like it by the millions. One of those Japs is your counterpart-and

Japanese civilians are buying other

your fanatical enemy ....

You have more money than he does. But he can

live on a lot less than you do. He eats only a few ounces of rice a day. He wears wooden sandals and patched clothes. He's patient, patriotic, disci-

plined by years of "thoughtcontrol."

. . .


Can you match your Jap's self-

Unlike Americans, Japanese have

difficulty looking back on World

War II as "The Good War,"to say the least. Yet how do we explain a siz-

able minority'scontinued embrace of "Luxuryis the Enemy,"long afterthe wartimeregime itself had been discredited?At the very least, these postwar sentiments suggest that the Japanesepeople were not simply compelled to

save and be frugal during the war. But this essay goes furtherto question widely held understandingsof the Japanesehome-front experience. One of those understandingsis summed up by the concept of "total war" (soryokusen).To the regime, total war meant the top-down mobiliza-


of every person and institution.Leaders boasted of "one hundredmil-


hearts beating as one." When contemporaryAmericans looked across

the Pacific, no wonder all they could see was an unquestioningpopulace indoctrinatedin "self-denial." Yet, as Louise Young argues in the case of Japan's"total empire," the concept of "total war" should not be confused with totalitarianismor total control.8The Japanesepeople internalizedthe

wartime culture of thrift to

a significant degree, because they themselves

played active roles in forming that culture. The people, it is true, would have never saved so much nor consumed so little had the wartime state not mountedcampaigns that left them with few choices. On the other hand, the savings campaigns were as successful as they were, I would argue,because the populaceenergetically cooperated for various reasons that went well beyond the state's messages. Whereas the

  • 6. Quoted in Nakamura,Economic Growthin Prewar Japan, p. 301.

  • 7. Life Magazine, May 28, 1945, p. 43.

  • 8. Louise Young, Japan's Total Empire:Manchuria and the Cultureof WartimeImperi-


Journal of Japanese Studies


regime called on Japaneseto cast aside notions of "individualism"and sac- rifice for the realm, the people themselves often understoodofficial exhor- tations to save in more self-interested terms. From prominent women's leadersto local housewives, they frequentlydrew on the government'scam- paigns to empowerthemselves vis-a-vis others.Moreover, state officials fre- quently recognized the limits of popularcompliance. Accordingly,savings campaignswere commonly compelledto negotiatewith the people, drawing on state-of-the-artmethods of persuasion-from Western-styleposter art to marketsurveys. The story of savings promotionalso challenges the way most Japanese prefer to rememberwartime-that is, as a "darkvalley" between the vi- brant,urbanizing 1920s and the democraticpostwar era. Scholarshave long since complicatedthis picture. They have chartedthe evolution of various policies before, during, and after WorldWar II. Or they uncovercollabora-

tion with the wartimeregime by a host of heroes of the interwardemocratic movements. With respect to everyday life, however,the image of the dark valley persists. In March 1999, a national museum of wartime and early postwarlife opened in Tokyo. The Showa Hall's mission statementtrumpets

one theme, and one theme only. It

seeks to "communicateto futuregenera-

tions the hardshipsin the daily lives of the Japanesepeople." 9

In most scholarly accounts, as well, Japanunder militarism-with its rhetoricof austerityand sacrifice-seemingly stoppedthe burgeoningcon-

sumerculture of the 1920s in its tracks.The government'scontrol of society, writes ThomasHavens, restedon "visions of a conservativeorder predating


mass consumer economy." 10 Marilyn Ivy imputes more modernityto

the state's techniquesof social control, but she, too, associates the militari- zation of Japanwith the "decline of the consumingcitizen." II While this essay likewise recognizes the deprivationssuffered by the Japanesepeople in World War II, its focus on popularsaving also reveals the ongoing developmentof a middle-classculture during the war itself. As

YoshimiYoshiaki argues, democraticcurrents of the previousdecades con-

tinued to influencethe masses, who soughtimprovements in daily life while participatingin the war effort.12 Indeed, the wartime regime confronteda

rapidlyurbanizing and literatepeople. Many strove,as

before, to modernize

daily habits and advance their consumer lives, even as they saved for the

state. Ironically,much that we associate with postwarJapan's middle-class

  • 9. Brochureof Shiwakan, Tokyo, 1999.

    • 10. Thomas R. H. Havens, Valleyof Darkness: TheJapanese People and WorldWar Two

(New York:Norton, 1978), p. 197.

  • 11. MarilynIvy, "Formationsof Mass Culture,"in AndrewGordon, ed., Postwar Japan

as History (Berkeley:University of CaliforniaPress, 1993), pp. 243-44.

  • 12. Yoshimi Yoshiaki,Kusa no ne no fashizumu:Nihon minsha no sens5

taiken (Tokyo:

Garon:Savings and Thrift



"housewife," the "educationmama," and the wife's scrupu-

lous managementof family finances -was ing duringthe nation'sdarkest times.

shapedby developmentsunfold-

Prewar Roots

The last few yearshave seen new workfrom Japanesescholars that high- lights the continuities between Japan'swartime and postwar orders."3No- guchi Yukio has writtenthe best-knownbook of the genre,introducing what

he calls the "1940 system." Key elements of the Japanesepolitical econ- omy, as Noguchi tells it, were forged in wartime.These include "Japanese-

style enterprises,"reliance on

direct taxationof earnings,and the high rates

of household saving for

which postwarJapan is famous. Not only does he

demonstratea rapidrise in saving rates between 1938 and 1944 because of

government policies, but Noguchi also locates in wartime the origins of

postwarJapan's widespread disapproval of "consumption"as


wasteful. The enduring" 1940 system" of high saving and low consumption must be dismantled,he concludes, if Japanis to become a "society in which the consumeris sovereign." 14 Noguchi's argumentfor historicalcontinuity is compelling insofaras he discusses wartime-postwarlinks. Like others who invoke the concept of "totalwar," he is less persuasivewhen he insists thatthe 1940 system marks a sharp break with the prewar past. Noguchi points, for instance, to the single-digit saving rates of the early 1930s as evidence that the wartimeand

postwar economies were qualitativelydifferent from the prewareconomy. This essay begs to differ. Behind the extraordinarylevel of wartimesaving lay official and privateefforts to promote thrift. These programswere far from new, building on savings-promotionactivities datingback to the Meiji era and, more immediately,to the interwaryears. To overlook prewarante-

cedents is to miss some of the

more appealingfeatures of the wartimecam-

paigns that originatedin a less austereand more liberal age. One of those featureswas the savings campaignitself. The government's promotionof popularthrift predatedthe drives of World WarII by several decades. Following the Meiji Restoration of 1868, the new regime em- barkedon costly programsof industrialand militarydevelopment. Wary of dependingon foreign capital,the leadershipset aboutto mobilize the wealth of the entire nation. In additionto improvingtax collection, the government encouragedfamilies to entrusttheir savings to modernfinancial institutions. In 1875, the postal savings system was established to attractsmall savers. Savings banks and other banks followed. The first truly nationwidesavings

  • 13. YasushiYamanouchi, J. Victor Koschmann,and Ryuichi Narita, eds., Total Warand

"Modernization"(Ithaca: East Asia Program,Cornell University,1999).

  • 46 Journalof Japanese Studies

26:1 (2000)

drive occurred under the Home Ministry's pervasive Local Improvement

Campaign(1906-18). In the wake of the Russo-JapaneseWar, the authori- ties sought to discouragepopular consumption and to promotesaving in an effort to retire foreign debt and finance Japan'smilitary build-up and other projects. The 1920s and early 1930s witnessed a pronouncedurbanization and modernizationof the government'ssavings campaigns.'5Whereas the Local ImprovementCampaign had generallytargeted the ruralpopulace, the inter- war drives also aimed at inculcatinghabits of thriftamong the workingand middle classes of the cities. Thus began the campaigns' ambivalentap-


toward urban dwellers that would continue into the era of World

WarII. On one hand,officials of the early 1920s morallycondemned city people

for having

succumbed to "luxury and self-indulgence" in their frenzy to

sample the delights of the emergingconsumer economy. On the otherhand, bureaucratsrecognized that the greatestwealth lay in the cities. To raise the level of nationalsavings, they would have to appeal more effectively to the newly affluent middle classes. Accordingly, the interwar savings drives adoptedthe latest techniquesin mass persuasionto "market"thrift, just as

companies and advertisers were aggressively promoting consumption at the time. In the Campaignto EncourageDiligence and Thrift(Kinken Sh6- rei Undo, 1924-26), the governmentmade unprecedenteduse of modern media-advertisements in newspapersand magazines,motion pictures,es- say contests, and even radio (the latter inauguratedin 1925). Most eye- catching were the campaign's2.3 million colorful posters that blanketed trains,temples, post offices, and otherpublic buildings. From the mid-1920s until the end of WorldWar II, the governmentemployed some of the nation's finest graphicartists to producescores of differentsavings posters.16 The interwarCampaign to EncourageDiligence and Thriftestablished the organizationalframework of subsequent savings drives, wartime and postwar alike. Here we should note the influence of the Westernbelliger- ents' massive campaigns of World War I. Although Japanesebureaucrats studied the "ThriftCampaign" in the United States, they were directly in- spired by the model of Britain'sNational War Savings Committee (estab- lished in 1916). To encouragesmall savers to buy WarSavings Certificates and NationalWar Bonds, the nationalcommittee oversaw some 1,840 Local War Savings Committees "representativeof all classes and groups in the

  • 15. See Sheldon Garon, "Fashioninga Cultureof Diligence and Thrift:Savings and Fru-

gality Campaignsin Japan, 1900-1931," in Sharon A. Minichiello, ed., Japan's Competing Modernities:Issues in Cultureand Democracy (Honolulu:University of Hawai'i Press, 1998),

pp. 312-34.

  • 16. See Ytisei KenkytijoFuzoku Shiryokan(Teishin Sog6 Hakubutsukan),ed., Modani-

zumuno jidai to ytisei posutaa (Tokyo:Ytisei KenkytijoFuzoku Shiryokan,1997).

Garon:Savings and Thrift 47

locality." The British committees furtherenlisted the services of schools, churches,factories, and women'sgroups. At the lowest level of organization

were the more than40,000 WarSavings Associations,

which assisted in the

''co-operativepurchase by installmentsof Bonds and Certificates."These were essentially "clubs" formed in churches, schools, friendly societies, and among employees in variousestablishments. Having decided to emulate the British system, Japaneseofficials in 1924 created a CentralCouncil to Encourage Diligence and Thrift, which worked with the Home Ministry. The ministry likewise establisheda nationwidehierarchy of councils at the prefecturaland municipallevels, as well as campaigncommittees in towns and villages.'7 In addition to the increasinglyelaborate organization and technologies of persuasion,the prewarsavings campaigns bequeatheda second legacy:

the official encouragementof "group saving" (kyWd5chochiku) or "regu- lated saving" (kiyakuchochiku). Beginning in the 1880s and accelerating under the Local ImprovementCampaign, the authoritiesdirected villages and towns to create "savings associations" (chochikukumiai). Each asso- ciation was governed by regulations,which typically requiredmembers to

make small, but regular,deposits each month. Memberswho failed to do so


be forced to leave the association. Ordinarilymembers would tender

their monthly deposits to the association representative,who would then deposit the funds in the local post office or savings bank in the individual account of the member.'8

The proliferationof savings associations had a significant impact on

savings behavior.For one thing, the associations improvedaccess to finan- cial institutionsfor villagers and townspeople, most of whom did not have

a post office

or bank in their hamlet or neighborhood.The practiceof regu-

lated saving also served to "accustomhim [the farmer]to regular (weekly or monthly) saving," accordingto the Germanadvisor Paul Mayet, an early proponentof savings associations in the 1880s.'9 Above all, group saving involved the use of local hierarchyand peer pressureto induce households

to save more than they would have on their own. Those in charge of the

savings associations were

usually village headmen,local notables, or one's

  • 17. National War Savings Committee, First Annual Report, March 1, 1917, in Great

Britain, Parliament, House of Commons, House of Commons Sessional Papers, Vol. 18

(1917-18), pp. 5-7; on the Japanese decision to emulate the British system, see Okurasho Rizaikyoku, "Chochikushbrei ni oite," December 26, 1924, Kinken shorei, doc. 24, Showa zaiseishi shiryo, No. 5, Ministry of Finance.

  • 18. OkadaKazunobu, Chochiku shorei undo5no shiteki tenkai (Tokyo:Dibunkan, 1996),

pp. 9-13, 34-37, 43-44.

  • 19. P[aul] Mayet, Agricultural Insurance, in Organic

Connection with Savings-Banks,

Land-Credit,and the Commutationof Debts, trans. Arthur Lloyd (London: Swan Sonnen-

schein and Co., 1893), pp. 72-73.


Journalof Japanese Studies


landlord.By 1914, some 1,262,000 Japanesebelonged to savings associ- ations that deposited in postal savings. During the mid-1920s, savings as- sociations spreadbeyond the countrysideto urbanmiddle-class neighbor- hoods andworkplace-based associations of blue- andwhite-collar workers.20

A final element in the evolving savings campaigns was their


"democratization"and inclusion of Japan'semerging consumer culture.

Prior to the mid-1920s, state officials dominated the campaigns

and the

thinkingbehind them. Aiming to inculcatethe "spiritof sacrifice,"the bu- reaucracyharangued the people to augment national savings by working harder and drastically cutting back on consumption. By the 1920s, such messages of austerity struck many in the middle classes as anachronistic. From theirranks arose prominentleft-liberals and academicspecialists who argued that it was possible to save money while enjoying enhanced con- sumption,or "culturedliving" (bunkaseikatsu). The key to doing both, they argued,lay in prudenthousehold budgeting and "rationalizing"consump- tion; one curtailed "wastefulexpenditures," saved more, and bought items that truly "improved"daily life. These consumer-centeredideas soon penetratedthe bureaucracyitself In 1920, in alliance with home economists, educators,and othernongovern- mental specialists, the Ministry of Educationlaunched the first of several

"daily life improvementcampaigns" (seikatsu kaizen undo). These cam-


sought to teach the nation practicalmethods of improvinghygiene

or economizing on weddings and funerals. Organizerssponsored lectures on "rational, budgeted living and saving," the "rationalconsumption" of

nutritiousfoods, and "scientific diligence and thrift." Thereafterinterwar

savings campaignsendeavored to

persuadehouseholds that saving and "ra-

tional" consumptionwould bring "improvementsin daily life." Proclaimed one poster in 1925, "Diligence and Thrift:It's for My Own Good, and the Good of the Nation." 22 The new message of daily life improvementproved central to the grow- ing involvement of women in savings campaigns from the early 1920s. Many women became active in the interwardrives as both they and the state

definedwomen as "housewives"-those responsiblefor householdfinances

and consumption.Japanese women's growing self-image as managersof the household was also shaped by the advent of mass-circulationhousewives'

magazines, notably

Fujin no tomo (established 1908) and Shufu no tomo

(1917). Fujin no tomo'seditor, Hani Motoko, zealously promotedthe use of

household account books

(kakeib&)among her readers as early as 1910.

  • 20. Okada,Chochiku shjrei undo, pp.12-14,52-53,70-71;

SugiuraNariyuki, "Nichiro


no yUbinchokin no tenkai to chochiku shorei seisaku," Shakai keizai shigaku, Vol. 56,

No. 1 (November 1990), p. 53.

  • 21. Garon, "Fashioninga Cultureof Diligence and Thrift,"pp. 320, 322-25.

Garon:Savings and Thrift


Garon:Savings 1. "Reflectionsof Predating the ChinaWar, this postal savings postertargeted the middle-classmother and housewife. Note the

Figure 1. "Reflectionsof Love in Savings Bright,"circa 1935

Predating the ChinaWar, this postal savings postertargeted the emerging middle-classmother and housewife. Note the woman's modem (i.e., Western) hairstyle. Saving is linked to improving family fortunes and investing in the education of one's children. Source: Yfisei Kenkytijo Fuzoku Shiry~kan(Teishin Scig6 Hakubutsukan), ed., Modanizumuno jidai to yisei posutaa (Tokyo:Yii-sei KenkytijoFuzoku Shiry~kan,1997), p. 1.


Journal of Japanese Studies


Duringthe 1920s and early 1930s, savings-promotionofficials energetically

enlisted the help of various women'sgroups, which had burston the scene in this era of democratization.Although the state at first concentratedon

deputizingthe myriad semiofficial local

women's associations (fujinkai),it

quickly moved to include many of the autonomous,politicized women's organizationsthat advanced such progressivecauses as women's suffrage and the abolition of licensed prostitution.The independentwomen's orga- nizations, for the most part, enthusiasticallyresponded to the state's cam- paigns, eager to demonstrate"women's power" in encouragingsaving while improvingconsumer life.23 The movement for "daily life improvement" appealed primarily to middle-classwomen and men in the cities duringthe 1920s, but its influence

spreadto the countrysidein the course of the 1930s. Hit hardby the Great Depression, rural communities became the object of state policies that mixed relief with programsto reinvigoratevillage solidarityand self-help. Under the government'sEconomic RehabilitationCampaign, village "eco- nomic rehabilitationcommittees" were established to reduce household debt, boost savings, and improve hygiene. Comprised of local notables, teachers, and "middling farmers,"the committees did not simply invoke

traditionalvalues of

frugalityand self-denial,but also imposedmiddle-class

virtues of the cities. They requiredvillagers to spend less on "old customs"

like lavish weddings and funerals,while closely supervisingthe household account-keepingof families.24 Thus when Japanbecame embroiledin "total war" after 1937, it could drawupon an elaborateset of peacetime mechanismsfor promotingsaving. Not all Japanesewould eagerly respondto the wartimesavings campaigns, yet a goodly numberof activistscontinued to encouragesaving amongtheir compatriots,convinced that the drives advanced modernity and daily life improvement.

Manufacturing"Spontaneous" Cooperation:

To Compelor Not to Compel?

Having embarkedon a full-scale war with China in summer 1937, the Japanesegovernment ventured into new territory,in more ways than one. The nation faced the dauntingprospect of financingthe militaryoccupation of the world's most populous nation. To make mattersworse, Japancould

  • 23. Sheldon Garon, Molding Japanese Minds: The State in Everyday Life (Princeton:

PrincetonUniversity Press, 1997), pp. 21-22, 127-34.

  • 24. Kerry Douglas Smith, "A Time of Crisis: Japan,the Great Depression, and Relief

Policy" (Ph.D. diss., HarvardUniversity, 1994), chap. 7; also Ann Waswo, "The Transfor- mation of Rural Society 1900-1950," in Peter Duus, ed., The CambridgeHistory of Japan,

Vol. 6 (Cambridge:Cambridge University Press, 1988), pp. 590-603.

Garon:Savings and Thrift


not turnin a pinch to the financiersof Londonand New Yorkas it had during


Russo-JapaneseWar. This time, remarkeda veteranofficial of that ear-

lier era, the Anglo-Americanpowers supportedChina, and "they won'tlend Japan a penny."25At the end of 1937, the government mounted a small

campaignto reduceconsumption and boost the authoritiesvoiced disappointment.The

savings. Although savings rose, people, observed Diet member

NakajimaYadanji, had thoroughlysupported the war effort during the au- tumn. But once the ImperialArmy took the Chinese capital of Nanjing in

December,the "masses really let up in their resolve."26 By early 1938, the precariousstate of war finance preoccupiedgovern- ment planners. China's major cities had fallen, but Japanesetroops could neither control the vast countryside nor prevent the Chinese Nationalist forces from fleeing to the interior.Japan's leaders talked openly of a "pro- tractedwar" that would sorely tax the resourcesof the nation. On April 19,

1938, the cabinet approvedan ambitiousplan to raise the level of national savings by Y8 billion during that fiscal year. Increasedsaving would meet three official objectives: (1) underwritingthe expanding supply of war bonds, (2) financing war-relatedproduction, and (3) restraininginflation and soaking up the people's rising purchasingpower, which resultedas mas- sive military spending put more money in many pockets. These goals re- mained unchangedthroughout the course of the war. That same month the governmenttook the unprecedentedstep of creat- ing a powerfulagency whose sole purposewas to directthe wartimesavings

campaign. The National Savings

Promotion Bureau was established as an

external bureauattached to the Ministry of Finance. Because the Ministry

of Finance lacked many personnelat the local level, the new bureauworked closely with the Home Ministry's Local Affairs Bureau, Ministry of Edu- cation's Social Education Bureau, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry,

Ministry of Welfare (workers' saving), and Ministry of tional Savings Promotion Bureau furtherrelied on the

Colonies. The Na- newly created Na-

tional SpiritualMobilization Central League to propagatethe virtuesof sav- ing throughoutthe nation. The Central League stood atop a hierarchyof

affiliatedorganizations of religions, moral reformers,businesses, veterans, women, and youth.27

  • 25. ShimomuraKainan [Hiroshi], "Chochikushorei to menhin no hijo kanri,"Shufu no

tomo, Vol. 22, No. 8 (August 1938), p. 138.

  • 26. Kokumin Chochiku Shoreikyoku,Kokumin Chochiku Sh5rei Iinkai gijiroku (here-

after cited as KCSIG), Secret, 1st session, June 9, 1938, Vol. 1 (Tokyo: Kokumin Chochiku Shoreikyoku, 1938), p. 15; also Fujii Tadatoshi,Kokubo fujinkai (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1985), p. 175.

  • 27. Nagahama Isao, Kokuminseishin sodo5inno shiso to kozo (Tokyo: Akaishi Shobo,

1987), pp. 140-41; OkurashOZaiseishi Hensanshitsu,Showa zaiseishi, Vol. 11 (Tokyo:Toyo Keizai Shinposha, 1957), pp. 173-74.


Journalof Japanese Studies


To advise the minister of finance, a 64-memberNational Savings Pro- motion Council was convened in June 1938. It met frequentlyover the next three years. Whereasthe previous CentralCouncil to EncourageDiligence

and Thrift of the mid-1920s had

little influence, National Savings Promo-

tion Council members seriously debated the options for enticing popular savings. They also providedthe bureaucratswith sobering informationon

the public'sreactions to the drives.That was undoubtedlybecause members included elected Diet members and prominentoutside experts, some with ties to the noncommunistLeft. Two were women, the home economist/

educatorOe Sumi and Hani Motoko, editorof Fujin no tomo. Closely allied

with Hani

were the liberal economist IshibashiTanzan and TakahashiKa-

mekichi, a

nationalisteconomist influencedby Marxism.28

Campaignleaders insisted they would coax, not coerce, their country- men to save. The National Savings PromotionCouncil called for an "enor-

mous patrioticnational movement that

seeks the enthusiastic,spontaneous

cooperationof the people and deepens the entire nation'sunderstanding of

the emergency." In 1938, the

Japanesehome front had yet to experience

significant hardship, and the planners assumed that substantial savings

would materializewithout much pain. Savings could be increasedby mak- ing "improvementsin every aspect of life, encouragingthe people to find

ways of rationalizing

consumption,. . .

cutting all unnecessaryexpendi-

tures,rationalizing businesses, and deferringwhat is not urgentand thereby saving the surplus."Prime targets of the early campaignswere employees and owners of war-relatedfactories whose incomes had soared since the outbreakof hostilities.29 Officials introducedmany of the mechanismsof persuasionduring the latterhalf of 1938. June saw "NationalSpiritual Mobilization Savings Pa- triotism Week." More successful was December's "Economic Warfare Week," which appealed for greater savings not by means of "daily life improvement"as in the past, but through the "renovationof daily life"

(seikatsu no sasshin)-in short, by serious

economizing. The government

also expanded upon techniques used in the interwarcampaigns. Special

commendationswere given to campaign volunteers and excellent savers.

School-based programspropagated thrift among the pupils, their parents,

and older siblings. Campaignsheavily focused on swaying the


of the family" and worked to "establisha wartimelifestyle in the home."

At a more concrete level, the governmentencouraged financial institutions to extend their hours to make saving more "convenient."Companies and

governmentoffices were instructedto requireemployees to buy "ChinaIn- cident Bonds" out of year-endbonuses.30

  • 28. Sait6 Michiko, Hani

Motoko(Tokyo: Domesu Shuppan,1988), pp. 261-62.

  • 29. Italics mine. Quoted in Okada,Chochiku shcrei undo, p. 99.

Garon:Savings and Thrift


Officials made increasinguse of mass media in an effort to appealto the more urban,literate, and consumer-consciouspopulace that had emergedin the interwaryears. Newspapers and magazines publicized the urgency of national saving, and the authoritiesran trainingcourses for local agents in the drives. National and prefecturalgovernments employed posters, pam- phlets, records, radio, motion pictures, exhibitions, and even advertising balloons. They also hired "popularartists," including well-known cartoon- ists. One was YokoyamaRytichi, whose comic strip about a boy named Fuku-chan delighted wartime and postwar readers alike. In 1943, Fuku- chan did his part, mouthing such slogans as "Blow the Anglo-Americans away with your savings."31 The degree to which the Japanesegovernment financed the war by "vol-

untary" saving is remarkable,compared to its enemies Britain and the United States. Greatertaxation was an obvious alternative,and one favored by many officials within the Ministry of Finance. The regime did in fact increase personal income and corporatetaxes steadily from 1937 to 1945. Nonetheless, taxationnever providedmore than one-fourthof Japanesewar


the remaindercoming from governmentbonds. Duringthe last

two years of World War II, taxes financedless than 20 per cent of govern-


expendituresin Japan.In both Britain and the

United States, by con-

trast, taxation paid for roughly 50

estingly, Japanmost resembledits

per cent of governmentspending. Inter- ally, Germany.The Nazi state continued

to rely on governmentdebt, and taxation financedonly one-quarterof war expendituresin 1943.32 As in Nazi Germany,the Japanesegovernment's war bonds were in large

part financed indirectlyby the savings of the people. Privateownership of governmentbonds did not become widespread, although the public could buy them at post offices. Popularlypurchased bonds initially accountedfor

  • 11 per cent of governmentdebt in 1938, but they steadily declined to a mere

2 per cent in 1944. Ratherthan rely on the public to buy most bonds directly,

the regime had the

Bank of Japanunderwrite more thanhalf of total govern-

ment debt. The Bank of Japanthen sold the bonds to financialinstitutions, which purchasedthe issues with money on deposit. The Ministry of Fi-

nance's Deposit Bureau rivaled the governmentbonds. Drawing most of

Bank of Japan's network in buying its funds from the vast pool of postal

savings, the Deposit Bureau alone purchaseda further35 per cent of gov- ernmentdebt by the war'send.33

  • 31. KokuminChochiku Shoreikyoku, "DWfuken ni okeru kokuminchochiku shoreijisshi

jik6 soran,"October 20, 1938, Kin'yUchochiku shirei, Vol. 1, doc. 6, Showa zaiseishi shiry6,

No. 9, Ministry of Finance; Yiiseish6 Chokinkyoku, Yibin kawase chokinjigyo 80-nen shi (Tokyo:YUcho Kenkyakai, 1957), p. 400.

  • 32. Shinju Fujihira, "ConscriptingMoney: War Finance and Fiscal Revolution in the

TwentiethCentury" (Ph.D. diss. in progress,Princeton University), chaps. 1, 3, 4.


Journalof JapaneseStudies


f ;b. ............................................. .. . .. ..... .... .. .. .. ,. o~~~ ~~~~ ~~ ~~~~~~cS
.' 'i
.. ..
~~~~~~~~~~~ ...
.- ..
.. ..
. u. ' '~~~~~~~~~
:'.^. i.
:-.'.i: ..

Garon:Savings and Thrift 55

Why did Japanesepolicymakers prefer to finance the war throughsav- ings, ratherthan substantial tax hikes?In Germany,Hitler and other top Nazis

feared that higher directtaxes would provokepopular resistance.34 Japanese officials likewise worriedabout the political costs of raising taxes to finance the war.Vice Ministerof FinanceIshiwata Sotar6 was emphaticwhen he ap-

pearedbefore the NationalSavings Promotion Council in 1938: "If we


taxes by Y4or 5 billion [ratherthan encourage the equivalentin voluntarysav- ing], all hell would breakloose." 35Ujiie Takeshi,chief of the National Sav- ings PromotionBureau, publicly admittedas much in 1943. Althoughtaxes were only one-thirdas large as nationalsavings, he granted,the public found them onerous enough. Were the governmentto rely solely on taxes to fund the warand thus raise taxes threefold, "thepeople would scream."36 Officials arguedthat Japanesewould be more willing to fund the war effort through saving, which unlike taxes promisedto augmenttheir wealth. Having ruled out majortax increases, some bureaucratsand expertspro- posed that the people be legally compelled to save. Yet here, too, govern-

ment leaders repeatedly rejected overt compulsion as unenforceableand counterproductive.Mused Vice Minister Ishiwata: "Let's say we compel saving by law. Are we going to fine people who don't save? Are we going to send them to jail? There'sno way that'sgoing to happen." 37 Despite the government'sprofessed aversion to high taxes and forced saving, "voluntary" saving became more and more compulsory and in-

creasinglyresembled taxation, as we

shall see. Moreover,as the costs of war

mounted, the regime issued larger numbers of bonds and printed more

money. Rampantinflation was the result of the latter. Inflationessentially

"taxed" the Japanesepeople, who were pressuredin effect to make low-

interest loans to the state while the real value of their

savings plummeted.

The China War dragged on. With no end in sight in 1941, the Japanese

leadership strained national finances to the limit by embarkingon a war against the United States, Britain, and other Westernpowers. While some insisted that "spirit" alone would defeat the enemy, sober leaders lectured the populace on the urgentneed to save. "Weapons,ammunition, and other materiel are also absolutely necessary," was how Finance Minister Kaya Okinoriput it in 1943. Remindinghis audiencethat "the Anglo-Saxon race

is long in perseverance,"he noted that in 1942 the Americans alone spent Japanon the war effort by a factor of SiX.38


  • 34. R. J. Overy, Warand Economy in the ThirdReich (Oxford:Oxford UniversityPress,

1994), p. 272, cited by Fujihira,"Conscripting Money," chap. 4.

  • 35. KCSIG,2nd special committee session, June 14, 1938, Vol. 1, p. 75.

  • 36. "Taidan: Hisshb ketsui o kokumin chochiku," Nihon fujin, Vol. 1, No. 8 (June

1943), p. 8.

  • 37. KCSIG, 2nd special committee session, June 14, 1938, Vol. 1, pp. 75-76.

  • 38. Kaya Okinori, "Naze chochiku o shinakerebanaranu ka," Nihon fujin, Vol. 1, No. 4


Journalof Japanese Studies


Table 1 National Savings Targetsand Actual Savings Increases (millions of yen)

Actual Savings

National Savings






  • 1938 8,000



  • 1939 10,000



  • 1940 12,000



  • 1941 17,000



  • 1942 23,000



  • 1943 27,000



  • 1944 41,000



  • 1945 60,000



Source: Chochiku Zoky6 ChO6 Iinkai, Chochiku hakusho (Tokyo: Chochiku Z6ky6 Ch56 Iinkai, 1963), p. 222.

Convinced that ever-greatersavings could be wrung out of its people, the regime set the annualnational savings targethigher and higher.To meet its goals, the governmentallocated individualquotas to the prefecturesand financial institutions. In 1940, quotas were extended to cities, towns, vil- lages, and even to savings associations within municipalities.The authori- ties pressed each entity to achieve its quota. As the figures in Table 1 indi- cate, they were ruthlesslyeffective in reachingor exceeding nationalsavings targets in most years. The national targets rose at a punishing pace at the

time of

the Pacific War(1941-45). As desperationset in duringthe last year

of the war, the cabinetrevised the annualtarget in mid-1944, raisingit from

Y36 billion to a theretoforeunthinkable Y41 billion. Such an increase, ac-

knowledged the government,would "trulynot be easy to achieve by


end in light of the presentliving conditions of the people."39 And yet it was achieved. So was next year'sincredible target of Y60 billion. By the time the

war ended, the state had times what it had been in

raised the national savings target to nearly eight


For ordinaryJapanese, the demandsto save became a fixturein everyday

life. By 1940, there seemed nowhere to hide. Employees were requiredto earmarkmore and more of their earnings for savings deposits. Those who

still possessed the

means to go out on the town discovered that spending

was just anotheropportunity to save. New oxymoronsabounded in the form of "shoppingsavings," "restaurantsavings," and "theatersavings." In each case, consumers were requiredto make deposits based on the amount of

their purchases. Financial institutions and local associations furtherpres-

  • 39. "Showa 19 nendo kokuminchochiku mokuhyogakukaitei ni

ber 15, 1944, Kin'yO:chochiku sh6rei, Vol. 2, doc. 6, Showa zaiseishi of Finance.

kansuruken," Septem- shiry6, No. 9, Ministry

Garon:Savings and Thrift


sured households to open new accounts on the occasion of birthdays,wed- dings, and other milestones. Remarked one official history, "it was no longer unusualfor homes to have five or ten savings passbooks."40

Reinforcing "GroupPressure"

Nor could the spendthrifthide in his or her neighborhood.There (and elsewhere) one encounteredthe ubiquitous savings association. When the

government launched its savings campaign in April 1938, officials pro- claimed savings associations to be the "front line in effecting saving." So

they remaineduntil the end

of the war.Campaign leaders may have ruledout

legal compulsion, but they warmly endorsedthe "semicompulsory"nature of the savings association.4'In many respects official thinkinghad changed little since the state'spromotion of savings associationsat the turnof the cen- tury.As postal savings authoritiesexplained in 1939, "for the masses below

the middleclass, the most effective way of getting them to practicediligence, thrift,and saving is to organize an association,establish regulations, and in- troducegroup compulsion over members."42Similarly the National Savings PromotionCouncil recognizedthat "saving is done most effectively when it is reinforcedby grouppressure [dantai no chikara] and carriedout in an au- tonomous, self-disciplined, and ongoing manner."43 As in the prewarde- cades, savings associationsplayed the mediatingrole of depositingthe funds of small saversin post offices and otherfinancial institutions. What distinguishedwartime savings drives from earliercampaigns was the state's determinationto organize the entire population into savings as- sociations. The directorof the National Savings PromotionBureau was par- ticularly blunt, directing prefecturalpromotion officers to make sure that "absolutelyno one evades participatingin a savings association."44Savings associations were formed in governmentoffices, companies, schools, and among trade associations, youth groups, women's organizations,and reli-

gious associations. The vast majorityof savings associations were


tial, based on the wartime hamlet associations (burakukai)in the villages and block associations (chonaikai) in cities and towns. Subunits of the savings associations similarly correspondedto the roughly ten-household "neighborhoodassociations" (tonarigumi).The total numberof savings as-

  • 40. OkurashoZaiseishi Hensanshitsu,Sho-wa zaiseishi, Vol. 1 1, pp. 187- 89.

  • 41. See statementsby TakahashiKamekichi and Ishiwata Sotaro, KCSIG, 2nd special

committee session, June 14, 1938, Vol. 1, pp. 74-76; Okada,Chochiku shorei undo, p. 96.

  • 42. Italics mine. Chokinkyoku,Yubin kawase chokingyomujokyo (Tokyo: Chokinkyoku,

1939), p. 110.

  • 43. Quoted in Okada,Chochiku shoirei undo-, pp. 99-100.

  • 44. Ishiwata Sotaro, "Kokuminchochiku shorei

shumu kach6 jimu uchiawasekaikyogi

jiko jisshi no ken," November9, 1938, Kin'yii:chochiku sh6rei, Vol.

2, doc. 5, Showa zaiseishi

shiryo, No. 9, Ministryof Finance.


Journal of Japanese Studies


sociations grew steadily during the China and Pacific Wars.By the end of


there were 65,500 such associations and 59 million members.Nearly


household belonged to at least one savings association, and many to

two, three, or even four (in the neighborhood,schools, workplace, or in


To reach greater numbers of savers, the government sponsored the

National Savings Association Law in ations became legal entities known as

1941. Henceforthall savings associ- "nationalsavings associations."The

changes were more than cosmetic. The law empoweredthe authoritiesto establish savings associations, whenever they deemed it necessary, and to compel individualsto join such associations.To encouragethe formationof savings associations,the statuteauthorized subsidies to the associationsand exempted the groups from stamp duties. From the saver's perspective,the most welcome change lay in the introductionof tax-exemptionon deposits made throughthe savings association.Depending on the type of accountor bond, up to Y3,000-5,000 in interestwas exempt from the income tax. That meantthat most Japanesepaid no taxes on savings in wartime.The Ministry of Finance's official history credits the National Savings Association Law with accelerating the formation of savings associations and substantially raisingthe level of nationalsavings.46 While officials generallypraised the performanceof ruralsavings asso- ciations, they remainedcritical of the associations organized within what

were called the "boom industries" (inshin sangyi). These were the muni-


factories and other firms whose employees benefitedfrom the onset of

war. Forcing workersto save nearly all of their increasedearnings became

one of the campaign'shighest priorities.Voicing the moral approbationof the state, Finance Minister Kaya denouncedsuch employees for their high levels of "wasteful spending." They daredthink of their windfall earnings as "theirown money and theirs to spend," whereas those wages should be treatedas "moneyresulting from the blood, sweat, and tearsof the Japanese people." In Kaya's eyes, their thinking smacked of the "old individual- ism."47 In practicalterms as well, the state needed to extractas much sav- ings as possible from those in the boom industries.Their income, if freely

spent, would have serious inflationaryconsequences. Moreover, if


ees did not save at the workplace,feared officials, they would not do so in neighborhoodsavings associations. In the city of Tokyo, for example, in- dustrial areas suffered from a dearthof membershipin residentialsavings associations,due allegedly to lower levels of communalsolidarity.48

  • 45. OkurashoZaiseishi Hensanshitsu,Shdwa zaiseishi, Vol.

11, p. 235; Okada,Chochiku

shirei undo, pp. 100, 104.

  • 46. OkurashoZaiseishi Hensanshitsu,Showa zaiseishi, Vol.

11, pp. 191-92.

  • 47. Kaya, "Naze chochiku o shinakerebanaranu ka," p. 35.

  • 48. Okada,Chochiku shorei undo, p. 104.

Garon:Savings and Thrift 59

Beginning in 1938, the governmentworked with employers to rapidly expand the numberof savings associations in the boom industries.In addi-

tion, state regulationsmandated the sociations should extractfrom each

percentageof earningsthat savings as- employee. That May the National Sav-

ings Promotion Bureau distributedsome 400,000 copies of the "National Savings Regulations Book" (Kokuminchochiku kiyakurei).Although the regulations governed all types of savings associations, the most detailed rules pertainedto employees in privatefirms and governmentoffices. A se- ries of tables fixed the percentage of one's earnings that must be saved,

accordingto factors such as

maritalstatus, numberof dependents,whether

one resided in a city or the

countryside, and whether one received the


come as salary or a bonus. Most important,government regulations classified all employees as


ther "those whose income has increased, comparedto before the Incident [China War],"or those whose income had not. Employees whose incomes had not risen and who supportedfamilies would not be requiredto save more than one per cent of monthly earningsthrough the association. On the other hand, a young worker with no dependents whose income had in-

creased would have seen at least 30 per cent of the first Y50 of wages de- ducted for savings each month, 60 per cent on the next Y50, and 80 per cent


everythingover Y100. If that same employee received a year-endbonus,

  • 60 to 90 per cent of it would have been automaticallydeposited in savings.

Nor was the employee free to withdrawhis or her savings. As in all savings

associations, withdrawalscould only be made with the approvalof the as-

sociation head, and only in the case of an unforeseen accident or calamity.

The head of a workplaceassociation was usually the managerof

one's unit.49

Whereas workplace savings associations could accuratelygauge earn- ings and extract savings according to formulae, the residential savings as- sociations functioned more arbitrarilyand, in many cases, brutally.Indeed, the state engineered a system in which the most visible compulsion was practiced by neighbor upon neighbor. After campaign officials allocated savings quotasto individualsavings associationsin 1940, local leaderscon- fronted ever-increasingdemands from above. Like a Tokugawa-eravillage when it came to paying taxes, residential associations found themselves making critical decisions about which households should tender more in savings each month to meet the quota, and which less. By the last days of the war,these decisions could reduce a family to basic subsistenceand even malnutrition. To make matters worse, wartime communities were a good deal less autonomousthan early modernvillages. Savings associationleaders, though notables within their communities, received explicit orders from the state.

  • 49. Okurash6Zaiseishi Hensanshitsu,Showa zaiseishi, Vol. 11, pp. 175-78; Okada,Cho-

chiku shirei undo, pp. 100-101, 103.

  • 60 Journal of Japanese Studies

26:1 (2000)

At first they were instructedto collect savings that were roughly equivalent to taxes, or hamletor block associationdues. Beginningin 1940 the govern-

ment directedthe

associations to

considerthe member's"property and liv-

ing standards"as

well. By 1943, savings associationswere underorders to

thoroughlyinvestigate the lives of neighbors.Officials expected association

leaders to "cultivatesaving at the source by guiding

membersin the reno-

vation of daily life, and help membersundertake side jobs."50

To make people sanctions that were

save, local savings associations employed an arrayof draconianby any measure. What happened to those

families who could not possibly save at the assessed levels? Replied one

block association head from a town in

Nara Prefecture,"we just tell them:

'Then, we won't give you rations.'" Indeed, the most effective forms of

local compulsioninvolved the hamletand block associations'powers to dis-

tribute rationed goods-first

granted in 1942. Nearly all essential com-

modities were rationed,from rice to fuel and clothing. At the height of the Pacific War, the government ordered savings associations to extract no

fewer than nine types of special savings, in addition to the usual monthly deposit. These included savings to commemorate birthdays, school en- trance,moving houses, and feats of braveryin the war.Particularly onerous was "Momotar6and Hanako-sansavings." In the aforementionedtown in Nara, when a child was born, the neighborhoodassociation was requiredto

make a commemorativedeposit in the family's savings account-five


for a boy and three for a girl. If the family's passbook did not recordsuch a

deposit, the town office refused to registerthe child for any rationswhatso- ever. Even if all was in order,to receive a coupon for the child's clothing, the family needed to deposit an additionaltwo yen.51 How effective were the savings associations in promotingsaving? Ac- cording to the most authoritativestudy by Okada Kazunobu,the associ- ations' overall quota accountedfor only 11 per cent of the nationalsavings targetin 1942. This is not entirelysurprising. In wartimeJapan, most saving was done by the wealthy and corporations,both of which benefited from windfall profits in the boom industries.Nevertheless, the figure of 11 per cent seriously underestimatesthe role of savings associations.For one thing, savings associationsaccounted for a growing proportionof nationalsavings

in the last

years of the war. The sheer numberof associationsand members

expanded during these years, and the weight of privately held bonds de-

clined. Moreover,savings associationswere far more importantthan statis-

  • 50. Okurash6Zaiseishi Hensanshitsu,Shdwa zaiseishi, Vol. 11, p. 179; Okada,Chochiku

shorei undo, p. 126.

  • 51. "Chochikusuishin taich6 no kessen

zadankai,"Shufu no tomo, Vol. 28, No. 5 (May

1944), pp. 14-15; on the ration system, see Ralph J. D. Braibanti, "Neighborhood Associ-

ations in Japan and Their Democratic Potentialities,"Far Eastern Quarterly,Vol. 7, No. 2 (February1948), pp. 10-52.

Garon:Savings and Thrift



indicate, argues Okada.They channeledhuge sums of money to finan-

cial institutionsthat the regime would have had great difficulty extracting by othermeans. Above all, the savings associationsenabled the officialcam- paigns to reach all classes and all locales. A generationof Japanesebecame acculturatedto saving on a regularbasis and in an institutionalizedmanner.52

Resistanceand Negotiation

The wartimecampaign to drumup savings was far from flawless. High- handedintervention into people's daily lives often provokedresentment and sometimes noncompliance. Yet rarely did popular irritation impair the

state's overall success in extracting savings. More surprising,the regime somehow avoided souringthe populaceabout savings campaignsin the long term, as evidenced by Japanesesociety's favorableresponses to postwaref- forts at promotingsaving. How do we explain both the low levels of popular resistance to the wartime savings campaign and the high levels of compli- ance? Patrioticfervor and an effective policing apparatusare importantfac- tors, but there are other less obvious, although more compelling, explana- tions. First,the wartimeJapanese state was more attentiveto noncompliance than we might expect. Savings-promotionofficials frequentlyrethought un- successful methods and devised and revised incentives to save. In addition, many within wartimeJapanese society came to attachrather positive mean- ings to household saving that went well beyond the imperativeto sacrifice for the nation. To be sure, Japaneseoften grumbledabout being forced to save and re- duce consumptionwhile others continuedto lead comfortablelives. In one

governmentsurvey of 38

towns and villages in late 1937, several local lead-

ers reportedthat lower-incomeresidents saved more in the campaignsthan

the rich. In KagawaPrefecture's Wada village, the tone was almostMarxist:

"In the sale of war bonds, too, it's the poorerpeople who put up the money

and bought them. The big capitalistsdidn't purchase the bonds

We saw

.... much the same in TakamatsuCity." Others ridiculed the campaign to en-

courageeconomizing on consumption,noting thatit simply arousedpopular hostility: "If the farm villages economize on consumption any more than they're now doing, people's health and physiques will decline. There's no marginto economize." Sometimes campaignofficials displayedlittle under- standing of just how poor many villages were. The Aichi prefecturalgov- ernmentdistributed an austere "sample menu" as part of "MinimalLiving Day" (Saitei SeikatsuDee). In at least one community,villagers greetedthe

model menu with derision, reportedlybecause lier than our most lavish banquets."5

its featured "foods are cost-

  • 52. Okada,Chochiku shdrei undd, pp. 111-13, 116.


Journalof Japanese Studies


Those complaints were voiced in 1937. By 1940, after three years of fighting in China, many ordinaryJapanese grumbled about their sacrifices in contrast to the "class that has prosperedunder the emergency."Some apparentlytook the government'span-Asianist rhetoric seriously. They no

doubt had seen campaign posters that called on Japaneseto

meet the na-


savings target of Y10 billion (1939) and, in so doing,


"Building the

New East Asia through Savings."54 And they did not like

what they saw. In February1940, one self-styled "patriot"from Nagano Prefecturewrote:

we depositmore than Y1O billion in thenational treasury, and the people are madeto suffershortages in materials.What in theworld do we haveto show for this?We seize no territory;we imposeno indemnity;we don'ttake over

theChinese economy; we don'tinfringe on thesovereignty of




the final analysis, our all-out fighting has producedresults close to nil.55

As the war drew to its disastrousconclusion, campaignleaders openly spoke of the public wrath that their aggressive methods sometimes pro- voked. In 1943, the vice president of the state-sponsoredGreater Japan Women'sFederation acknowledged distressing news from the home front. Her organizationreported numerous complaints of "unfairness"coming from people forced to save in their women'sassociations, neighborhood as- sociations, in the schools, and at work, "againand again."56 HayashiKimio, a WasedaUniversity economist, publicly criticized the unfairnessof the en- tire system, in which block and neighborhoodassociations arbitrarilyas- signed savings quotasto households.In the same wardin Tokyo, he told the press, some families were assessed one yen per month and othersten yen.57 In a remarkablycandid analysis, the chief of the PostalSavings Bureaulike- wise voiced concerns that unfairallocations and the "bureaucraticcast" of savings-promotionactivities were actually turningthe people against sav- ing. Seeking to reconcile the needs of households and the state, he prag- matically pr