Japanese Women at Work, 1880-1920

What was it like to be a 'boiled octopus' in the silk mills of Japan before the First World War? Janet Hunter looks at the life and conditions of the women who bore the brunt of Japan's rapid industrialisation.

As Western style factories and the mechanisation of production spread in the late nineteenth century, tens of thousands of individuals, mostly from rural backgrounds, took up factory work. By the late 1920s over 2 million Japanese workers were employed in large, mechanised factories, providing the core of a new, permanent working class.

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