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The Japanese fisheries based in Singapore, 1892-1945.


In the pre-war and the occupation periods, Japanese fishermen occupied a very important position in the fishing industry in Singapore, where fish constituted a major source of protein for the Chinese, Malays, and Indians.(1) As Table 1 shows, large numbers of local Chinese and Malay fishermen were engaged in fishing. But, since their catch was not commercially significant, the British colony was heavily dependent upon imports of seafood before the Japanese fishermen began to supply large quantities of fresh fish in the second half of the 1920s. In 1924, for example, the fresh fish landed in Singapore amounted to 6,400 tons of which 17 per cent came from the local waters (including the catch by the Japanese), six per cent from Johore, and 73 per cent from the Netherlands Indies.(2) In 1937 13,000 tons of fish were landed, with local fishermen responsible for 17 per cent, the Japanese 41 per cent, and the remaining 42 per cent brought largely from the Netherlands Indies.(3)

It should be noted that, as Table 1 shows, the number of Japanese fishermen rose from 200 in 1920 to 688 in 1929 and 903 in 1933, finally reaching a peak of 1,752 in 1936. Moreover, in the 1930s the fishermen accounted for a quarter to one-third of the total Japanese population in Singapore. As of 1 October 1934, for example, there were 3,287 Japanese residents, of whom 971 were directly engaged in the fishing industry, and 189 were their dependents.(4) Together, they accounted for over 35 per cent of the population.

In what follows, I shall study the factors behind the rise and fall of the Japanese fisheries based in Singapore before the Pacific War, examine the activities of the Japanese [TABULAR DATA FOR TABLE 1 OMITTED] and local fishermen during the Japanese occupation period, and evaluate the economic contributions made by the Japanese fisheries to Singapore and Japan.

Local Fishermen and Japanese Fishermen

The local fishermen used various fishing methods including kelong (fish trap) fishing, drift netting, and line-fishing, but were not productive compared to the Japanese fishermen. In the early 1930s, the Malay or the Chinese drift netter caught on average 4 to 8 katties of fish a day, whereas his Japanese counterpart caught 150 katties.(5) The reasons for the former's low productivity are not hard to find. He used "either a sampan or Koleh from 18 to 25 feet long, a drift net from 60 to 220 fathom long and either sails or rows from home early in the evening for his fishing grounds which may be from two to six miles away.... Generally speaking he has no choice of fishing grounds: he simply depends on luck as to which fish came his way...."(6)

In sharp contrast with the local fishermen, the Japanese fishermen employed large power boats as well as modern fishing gear, and engaged in large-scale fishing. They used drift nets, muro ami (bream nets),(7) handlining, shell-fishing and other methods. Drift netting, used to catch Spanish mackerel, shad, pomfret, and dorab, was initially conducted by fishermen from Kagawa prefecture, and was the most important technique until about the mid-1920s.(8) The Japanese drift netter "uses a boat 38 feet long and a net from 486 to 500 fathoms long. He goes in search of good fishing grounds and he has a good many to choose from. His farthest ground may be 300 miles away."(9)

The muro ami fishing was conducted almost exclusively by Okinawan fishermen. A muro ami fleet normally consisted of two powered parent ships and four non-powered fishing boats each of which accommodated about 10 fishermen. One of the parent ships tugged the boats to the coral-reefed fishing ground where naked divers drove a shoal of fish, mainly Caesio (delah in Malay), into a large net bag, and then closed and hauled it in. Since the fishermen did not draw a large fishing net over the sea bottom, the muro ami system did not cause major damage to their nets or coral. The length of the fishermen's stay on each fishing ground ranged from a few hours to two days, depending on the quantity of fish available.(10) The fishermen could continue fishing for about 6 months, because the two parent ships in turn plied between the fishing ground and Singapore, bringing ice, stores and provisions, and taking away the iced fish.(11) As the fish caught by Japanese drift nets and muro ami were immediately iced in the charcoal-insulated fish-hold of the parent ship, they were still fresh when they were landed in Singapore.(12)

Rise of Japanese Fisheries

The Japanese fisheries based in Singapore did not develop suddenly. Actually, in the late nineteenth century, many Japanese were already attempting to fish in the region, but without success. During the period from 1892 to 1895, 70 Japanese fishermen are known to have travelled to Singapore. Of these, 10 were from Chiba prefecture, and they fished in the waters of Singapore in 1895. However, after about three months, they had to quit when most of them became ill owing to the heavy work of fishing at night and the tropical climate to which they were not accustomed.(13) In the years before World War I, large numbers of divers from Wakayama prefecture went to Broome, Australia, for pearl fishing. They travelled via Singapore where they signed employment contracts with Guthrie, MacAlister, Katz Bros and other European merchant houses acting as agencies for Australia-based pearling companies. However, some of them changed their minds and stayed in Singapore to engage in fishing.(14)

It was only in 1912 that a Japanese line-fishermen, Sojiro Sakamoto, achieved success. In the following year, the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce, which had taken an interest in Southeast Asian fisheries for the past few years, sent a fisheries expert, Itaro Takayama, to Singapore to investigate the liability of Japanese fisheries and the conditions of local fish markets. As Takayama found that fishing licences were easily obtained, and that there was a large demand for fresh fish with efficient and well-organized fish markets, he recommended to the ministry that labour-intensive and small-scale fisheries be based in Singapore.(15)

The ministry commissioned two fishermen, Nobuyoshi Yoshino and Hamashichi Someya to carry out experimental fishing in the waters of Singapore, Riau, and the Straits of Malacca for two years from June 1914, employing five fishing boats and 20 fishermen. The undertaking was supervised by two pelagic fishery trainees from the Fisheries Training College in Tokyo, Tora Eifuku and Teiji Ishii. This experiment showed that drift net and line-fishing were most suitable for Japanese fishermen.(16) It should be noted that at that time no mention was made of the muro ami system, which was to become the driving force in the rapid growth of Japanese fisheries from the second half of the 1920s onwards.

In 1917, Itaro Nakamura and Tojiro Ishizu, both from Kyushu, embarked on line-fishing and drift netting, operating from Singapore and employing 15 Japanese fishermen. In the following year, Nakamura used the muro ami method for the first time, and in June 1920 he set up the Nanmei Fishing Company with other Japanese when Ishizu quit. As for Ishizu, he founded the Ishizu Fishing Company in January 1921, and engaged in muro ami and drift net fishing, employing 10 Okinawan fishermen at first in the waters around Sumatra, but later around Singapore.(17)

In the meantime, Tora Eifuku decided to stay on in Singapore after the fishing experiment. In 1917, he set up the Taisei Fishing Company with loans from his relatives and acquaintances as well as from a local Indian chetty. He embarked on drift net fishing, employing fishermen from Kagawa prefecture. In 1920, the company was reorganized as a joint stock company with authorized capital of one million yen, and paid-up capital of 250,000 yen.(18)

From 1919 to 1923, the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce provided the Taisei Fishing Company with an annual subvention of 10,000 yen under the pretext of meeting expenses for research on fisheries. The real motive behind the financial assistance was to make sure that the company would be a success, for its failure would have had a devastating impact on Japanese fisheries in Southeast Asia. However, the company continued to make losses due to the fall in fish prices and fishing output in the post-World War I period, and was obliged to scale down its operations. In the end, it was taken over by the Mihashi Fishing Company.(19)

Eifuku resigned from the Taisei Fishing Company in 1922, as he did not see much prospect for the company. He then took over the Nanmei Company, which was in financial difficulty, and renamed it the Taichong Kongsi. He adopted muro ami fishing, in addition to drift net fishing, employing many Okinawan fishermen. The company prospered, and began to operate from Batavia and Penang, while embarking upon purchases of fresh fish and shrimps from Chinese and Malay fishermen at sea. Moreover, it engaged in shell-fishing in the waters off the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.(20) In May 1929, Eifuku expanded the company by absorbing the Mihashi Fishing Company, which had just gone bankrupt largely due to the adverse effects of the Chinese boycott of the previous year.(21)

In the second half of the 1920s, the Taichong Kongsi and the Ishizu Fishing Company emerged as the leading Japanese fishing companies based in Singapore. As Table 2 shows, the catch by all the Japanese companies amounted to $778,219 in 1928, and these companies were responsible for $491,049 (63.1 per cent) of the total. Both firms owed their rapid growth to muro ami fishing, which they adopted by employing large numbers of Okinawan fishermen. Actually, by the mid-1920s the muro ami system had taken the place of the drift netting as the most important fishing method. In 1929 there were 600 muro ami fishermen, accounting for some 75 per cent of the Japanese fishing population, and this method accounted for some 90 per cent of the total catch.(22)


Okinawans and the Growth of Local Japanese Fisheries

Between 1912 and 1938, a total of 2,751 Okinawans obtained passports for Singapore. In 1912 the first batch of 25 travelled to the British colony, but there was then a seven-year hiatus. It was actually in the mid-1920s that the number of Okinawans began to increase rapidly in the British colony due largely to the growing importance of muro ami fishing, and Okinawans came to account for the majority of Japanese fishermen there.(23) As Table 3 shows, the number of Okinawan males in Singapore rose steeply from 292 in 1926 to 774 in 1930 and 1,035 in 1937.

A majority of the Okinawan fishermen, 571 out of the 1,070 Japanese fishermen in Singapore in 1935, came from the town of Itoman.(24) Itoman had become the leading fishing town in Okinawa, not only because it was surrounded by excellent fishing grounds, but also because it was close to Naha, which provided a huge market for fresh fish.(25) It was actually in Itoman that the muro ami method was born, and, as Table 4 shows, a large majority of Itoman people overseas were found in Singapore and other parts of Southeast Asia where muro ami fishing was actively conducted.

Non-Itoman fishermen also used muro ami methods when fishing in the waters of Japan and Southeast Asia. The reason is not hard to find. In Itoman, each fisherman kept a number of yatoigo (apprentices), and formed muro ami fishing teams together with other fishermen who also brought their yatoigo. As muro ami fishing required a high level of diving skills and teamwork, boys aged around 10 were recruited locally to undergo rigorous training in diving techniques, and at the same time to do heavy work such as collecting seaweed and shell-fish. While they became skilled divers, they were employed in muro ami fishing, but most of their earnings went to their respective masters. The apprenticeship lasted for about 10 years.(26) Because the fishing method became very popular, the demand for boys exceeded the supply, and the Itoman fishermen began recruiting boys from other parts of Okinawa. In the inter-war period, such impoverished Okinawan islands as Izena Jima, Yoron Jima, and Iheya Jima as well as Motobu-cho in Kunigami district of mainland Okinawa constituted the main sources of supply.(27) Poor parents sent their sons to the Itoman fishermen for apprenticeship, and received advance payment of 50 to 100 yen per head.(28) However, as soon as the apprenticeship was over, many of the boys returned to their hometowns, and began to conduct muro ami fishing in the Okinawan waters, or elsewhere. In this way, the muro ami method was adopted by non-Itoman fishermen.(29)


Year   Males   Females   Total   Remittances    Remittances per Head
                          (A)    (in Yen) (B)      (in Yen) (B/A)

1926     292      15       307     36,686             119.50
1927     501      34       535     80,528             150.52
1928     577      33       610     71,873             117.82
1929     587      28       615     56,761              92.29
1930     774      55       829     44,851              54.10
1931     755      83       838     54,498              65.03
1932     566      37       603     22,924              38.02
1933     802      86       888     90,157             101.53
1934     904      82       986     92,434              93.75
1935     972      98     1,070     93,822              87.68
1937   1,035     217     1,252    101,893              81.38

Source: Constructed from JFMA, J1.2.0/J8-2, 1927-38.

Muro ami fishing was highly productive, but required extensive fishing grounds as it had to change location each time it was used. By about 1920, the fishing resources around Okinawa had become depleted, and many fishermen migrated to other parts of Japan and to Southeast Asia.

The process of migration was accelerated by economic recession in Okinawa. Prior to World War II, the Okinawan economy was heavily dependent on agriculture, notably the cultivation of sweet potatoes for human consumption and sugar cane as a cash crop. Although sugar prices shot up during the World War I, they plummeted after the mid-1920s due to severe competition from imported sugar from Taiwan and elsewhere. As a consequence, the prefecture experienced a chronic economic slump, and large numbers of Okinawans migrated to other parts of Japan and to foreign countries in search of employment.(30)

Those who went to various parts of mainland Japan were unable to fish at will, as local authorities imposed strict control over the activities of Okinawan fishermen, who were highly productive. In certain regions, Itoman fishermen had to pay exorbitant licence fees, or were obliged to work in partnership with local fish wholesalers or other influential figures in return for the use of the licences granted to these local partners.(31) For example, they had to give to the local authorities as licence fees 15 to 20 per cent of the catch in Iyo, Tosa prefecture, and 40 per cent of the catch in Goto Ojika, Nagasaki prefecture.(32) To make matters worse for Okinawan fishermen, the cost of fishing boats rose to the point that most fishermen simply could not afford them. At the end of the Meiji period (1868-1912), for example, a fishing boat made of cedar cost as much as 150 to 200 yen.(33)

For several reasons, it was easy for Okinawan fishermen to fish in the waters of Southeast Asia. First, like Okinawa, Southeast Asia had a tropical climate, and was full of coral-reefed fishing grounds. Second, they could fish without restrictions provided that they did not intrude into territorial waters, and paid fees for registration of boats and certain fishing gear, fees which were imposed on all fishermen irrespective of nationality. In the 1930s, the annual registration fee was 50 cents per boat, and the licensing fee for a drift net was $2.(34) Finally, Okinawan fishermen could easily find employment with the Japanese fishing companies, which provided them with fishing gear and other equipment. Such fishing companies also recruited fishermen directly in Okinawa, and gave them advances to cover travel and other expenses. This made it fairly easy even for impoverished fishermen to migrate to Singapore. In July 1937, for example, Tora Eifuku, the owner of the Taichong Kongsi, had Kawajiro Higa and Zen'ei Yonashiro come to Singapore from Kunigami village in mainland Okinawa.(35) As a consequence, muro ami groups in Singapore often consisted of fishermen who came from different parts of Okinawa and spoke varied dialects.(36) Nevertheless, once the fishing company chose a leader, this man was responsible for co-ordinating the entire muro ami operation.(37)

Remittances by Japanese Fishermen and Fatal Accidents

Prior to World War I, Japanese fishermen/divers in certain parts of Southeast Asia were known for spending their earnings lavishly on gambling, drinking and women. The Japanese divers based in Dobo, Am island were a case in point. Several hundred Japanese, mainly from Wakayama prefecture, were employed by the Celebes Trading Company for pearl-fishing in the sea between Aru island and the south-west coast of New Guinea. During the pearling season, which ended in late May, they made some 500 to 600 yen each, a huge amount of money at that time. However, during the off-season from late May to late August, they normally squandered the bulk of their earnings on prostitutes, alcohol, and gambling in Dobo, and remitted little, if anything, to their families in Japan. Although there were nine Japanese brothels with 22 inmates in 1913, the demand for sexual services far exceeded the supply, and some 100 karayuki-san (Japanese prostitutes abroad) migrated temporarily to Dobo from Singapore, Makassar, Ambon and Merauke during this period every year, in order to make quick money.(38)

Similarly, there were large numbers of Japanese divers and fishermen based on Australia's Thursday Island. As of February 1906, this community numbered 713, including 230 seamen, 140 pearling divers, 125 assistant pearling divers working on boats, 10 trepang fishermen, 7 ordinary fishermen, 30 karayuki-san, and 171 others? It is likely that most of the divers, fishermen, and other Japanese men spent their earnings lavishly as the divers in Dobo did.

In contrast with the divers and fishermen at Dobo or on Thursday Island, the Okinawan fishermen based in Singapore spent most of their time at sea, and had little opportunity to squander their earnings on land. Nevertheless, they seem to have made use of valuable time to enjoy their life in Singapore. Yasuichi Kinjo of Kunigami village in mainland Okinawa, who worked as a fisherman for Tora Eifuku in the 1930s and during the occupation period, recalls that "[in pre-war Singapore], many Okinawans resided in a district which resembled Itoman town. When groups of muro-ami fishermen returned [to Singapore] from fishing, the streets were flooded with Okinawans. I felt as if I had been in Itoman, for the fishermen enjoyed gambling, while there were sounds of shamisen.... "(40)

There were large numbers of karayuki-san in the British colony in the late nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries, but licensed Japanese prostitution was abolished by the Acting Japanese Consul-General in 1920.(41) Some karayuki-san stayed on in Singapore, plying their trade illegally, but they had grown rather old by the mid-1920s when Japanese fishermen began to arrive there in large numbers. Moreover, since it was not until the early 1930s that licensed prostitution was formally abolished by the colonial authorities in British Malaya, the fishermen could also have gone to non-Japanese brothels.

At any rate, the Japanese fishermen in Singapore did save a great deal of money, and remitted it to their families in Japan. As Table 3 shows, remittances by the Okinawans (mainly fishermen) amounted to 36,686 yen in 1926, 56,761 yen in 1929, 22,924 yen in 1932, and 101,893 yen in 1937. The average remittances per head in these years were 119.50 yen, 92.29 yen, 38.02 yen and 81.38 yen respectively. Besides those in Singapore, there were many Okinawans in the Philippines, Borneo, the Netherlands Indies, and elsewhere in Southeast Asia, who also remitted large part of their earnings to Okinawa. In 1927, for example, remittances by the Okinawans in Southeast Asia, many of whom were fishermen, amounted to 387,520.90 yen,(42) and this money must have been a great help in alleviating the effects of the chronic economic recession in Okinawa.

Fishermen had a difficult existence, and many lost their lives while working. As Table 5 shows, at least 16 Japanese fishermen based in Singapore died of fatal accidents between 1920 and 1937. They were mainly in their twenties, as the fishermen who worked as divers were young men. Although I have not been able to obtain any information about the birth places of the deceased, judging from their names, most of them seem to have been Okinawans.


Since Japanese fishermen did not go through medical check-ups before going fishing, some could have been in poor health, or suffering from chronic illnesses. For example, Chukusei Uragaki, aged 22, was an excellent diver, but he drowned at Pulau Tioman on 1 July 1937 while driving fish into a net bag with other fishermen. On that day he had been in the water for six hours and was probably exhausted, but attacks of malarial fever he had suffered in September 1936 might have contributed to his sudden death.(43) In the event of an accident, fishermen could not take an injured person to a hospital within a short period of time, as their fishing grounds were far away from Singapore.

The Economic Depression and the Supremacy of the Taichong Kongsi

In the early 1930s, most Japanese fishing companies experienced financial difficulties, caused by a sharp fall in the demand for fresh fish and a rise in fishing costs. The demand for fish declined not only because the Depression reduced the purchasing power of local consumers, but also because the Chinese boycotted Japanese goods after the Manchurian Incident in September 1931. Since Caesio were caught only by the Japanese, they were an easy target for the Chinese, and suffered particularly sharp falls in price. Their price was now a mere quarter of that prevailing in the pre-Depression period,(44) and the monthly average income of the muro ami fisherman declined accordingly, from $70 in the late 1920s to $25 in 1932.(45) Many fishermen switched from muro ami to drift net fishing to catch Spanish mackerel whose price declined much less steeply. Indeed, the number of Japanese engaged in drift net fishing rose from 60 in 1929 to 262 in 1936, whereas the number doing muro ami fishing fell from 600 to 460 in the same years,(46) although there was a recovery later on.

The rise in fishing expenses was caused by the high cost of oil and ice. As the Southeast Asian fisheries became widely known in Japan, more and more Japanese fishermen migrated to Singapore. With the increase in the number of Japanese fishermen and fishing companies, the fishing resources in the nearby waters of British Malaya became depleted, and the fishermen had to sail to increasingly distant fishing grounds.(47) Since the fishing grounds were now located in waters some 100 to 800 miles away from Singapore, a lot of oil and ice had to be consumed, thereby increasing the cost of fishing.(48) In 1932, a 65-gallon drum of oil cost $13.20, and a ton of ice $13.25.(49) In 1933, the fishing expenses of the Taichong Kongsi (including those of the Batavia branch) amounted to $211,355, of which ice and oil accounted for 43 per cent and 22 per cent respectively.(50)

In Singapore, ice prices were particularly high due to an oligopoly practised by three major ice manufacturers, viz. the Singapore Cold Storage Co., the New Singapore Ice Works, and the Atlas Ice Co. In 1916, ice was sold to large purchasers at $20 per ton.(51) However, the price jumped to between $30 and $40 owing to increased demand in the immediate post-war period, and all the three manufacturers made immense profits, prompting them to expand production facilities greatly. There was then over-production, leading to cut-throat competition. The price subsequently declined to $8 per ton. The manufacturers therefore entered a cartel, fixing the price at $12 to $15 per ton. However, the Atlas Ice Co. expanded its production capacity greatly in the early 1930s, again causing an over-supply of ice in the market. Then one of the three companies began to sell ice below the agreed prices, in effect causing the cartel to collapse. As each firm tried to outsell its rivals, the price fell to as low as $5.(52) In 1933, the three agreed on prices of $14.25 ex factory, and $15 ex pier. They also divided the market among themselves. The Cold Storage got 50 per cent of the total, while the New Singapore Ice Works and the Atlas Ice Co. were given 32 per cent and 18 per cent respectively.(53)

The Japanese fishing companies faced hard times. Arrears of pay owed to fishermen amounted to about $30,000, and they owed local money lenders and banks more than $30,000. Furthermore, they were in urgent need of some $40,000 working capital for oil, ice and other supplies.(54)

In order to deal with the mounting problems, through the good offices of Kenzo Ito, Acting Consul-General, and Rikita Sakai, a Consulate-General employee, the Japanese Fisheries Association of Singapore was formed in 1931. Sakai was appointed to the post of advisor, while four fishing company owners, including Tora Eifuku and Tojiro Ishizu, were appointed members of the board of directors. The Association negotiated with the Singapore branches of Japanese banks for three-year loans, for which all the members were jointly liable.(55) It also attempted to prevent members from over-fishing and dumping fresh fish at local markets. Nevertheless, the Association did not function effectively, since it did not have any effective means to overcome differences among its members.(56)

The Depression years brought the ascendancy of the Talchong Kongsi. In 1931, there were 889 Japanese fishermen, of whom 393 (44.2 per cent of total) were employed by the Taichong Kongsi, and 290 (32.6 per cent) by the Ishizu Fishing Company.(57) In 1936, as Table 6 shows, the total number of the fishermen was 1,038, with 671 (64.6 per cent of the total) employed by the Talchong Kongsi, and only 56 employed by the Ishizu Fishing Company. In that year, the Ishizu Fishing Company and the Shinzato Company went bankrupt, as they were unable to repay debts they owed to chetties and other financial organizations.(58) In the meantime, the Taichong Kongsi continued to expand by buying up transports and fishing boats from the companies in financial difficulty.

In 1937, the Taichong Kongsi was reorganized as a joint-stock company under the name Eifuku Sangyo Company. Tora Eifuku and his wife owned 41 per cent of the shares, and their relatives and several executive staff held the rest. The new company consisted of the Taichong Kongsi (fisheries), the New Taichong Kongsi (foreign and domestic trade), the Taihock Kongsi (ice manufacturing and cold storage), Taihin Kongsi (iron works and ship-chandlering) and the Taichong Farm. Moreover, Eifuku constructed a pier at Tanjong Rhu, and installed oil tanks there.(59)

(as of 1936)

                Fish     Power   Fishing               Investment
Companies     Carriers   Boats   Boats     Fishermen       ($)

Taichong(*)      33        18      49         671         915,000
Oshiro            4         2       6          90          50,000
Kinjo             5         2       9         107          80,000
Ishizu            2         3       4          56         150,000
Others           10         1      26         114         105,000
Total            54        26      94       1,038       1,300,000

Note: * Includes two groups of muro ami fishermen operating from

Source: JFMA, E.4.9.0/7-8, 7 Nov. 1936.

Why was the Taichong Kongsi so successful at a time when most of the other Japanese fishing companies were either closing down, or scaling back their fishing operations? According to Eric Robertson, the firm "was founded in 1924, with a capital of $6,000, and by dint of bank advances and subsidies advanced to a leading position in the [fishing] industry".(60) It is true that the Talchong Kongsi received, from time to time, subsidies from the Japanese government under the pretext of conducting research on Southeast Asian fisheries and training Japanese fishermen.(61) In 1934, for example, the Japanese Ministry of Colonies provided a subsidy of 5,376 yen to train 14 or 15 drift net fishermen from Kagawa prefecture.

However, what deserves special attention is the ministry's subvention granted to the company in 1935. In the early 1930s Eifuku managed to acquire 1,257 square metres of land at Tanjong Rhu for $13,000, and he obtained permission from the municipal authorities to construct an ice factory and a refrigeration plant. However, as he did not have sufficient funds to buy equipment and carry out construction work, he applied to the Japanese Ministry of Colonies for a fisheries subvention on grounds that, since his company and the fishermen bore the costs of ice equally, lower ice prices would benefit both sides, and that, with a refrigeration plant, his company could regulate the supply of fish, and help stabilize fish prices.(62) The ministry was well aware that the oligopolistic agreement involving the three ice manufacturing companies was causing difficulties for the Japanese fishing companies. Therefore, it decided to grant Eifuku a subvention of 25,000 yen.(63) It might also have taken into consideration the Taichong Kongsi's relationship with the Kyodo Gyogyo, which I shall discuss later.

The Eifuku Sangyo became a general fishing company both in name and reality after constructing its ice factory and refrigeration plant. The factory was capable of producing 27 tons of ice a day while the refrigeration plant had 600 tons of cold storage capacity.(64) Although there are no figures for ice production, the company may have sold part of its output to other fishing companies, provided that the factory operated at its full capacity, because in 1933 the Taichong Kongsi had been purchasing an average of just 12.7 tons of ice per day (a total of 4,621 tons for the year).(65) In any case, the three existing companies, which together produced a total of 200 to 240 tons of ice per day, not only lost a good customer, but faced competition from the new Japanese rival. As a result, ice prices declined sharply to a mere $4 a ton in November 1936.(66)

Bank loans played an important role in Eifuku's success. Prior to World War II, three semi-official Japanese banks - namely the Bank of Taiwan, the Chinese and Southern Bank, and the Yokohama Specie Bank - had branches in Singapore. Eifuku must have been on good terms with these institutions, for the Eifuku Sangyo's outstanding liabilities to them amounted to $2 million in the late 1930s: $1 million owed to the Yokohama Specie Bank, and $500,000 owed each of the other two banks. The company had obtained the bank loans mainly to finance its new ventures, including ice production.(67)

The Eifuku Sangyo was not the only Japanese fishing company which received large loans from the Japanese banks. Robertson claims that the Yokohama Specie Bank granted a loan of $150,000 to the Ishizu Fishing Company, even though he does not say when this took place.(68) Moreover, it would be wrong to assume that the bank loans and government subsidies were the only factors behind the Eifuku Sangyo's success. Eifuku's managerial skills and his company's relationship with the Kyodo Gyogyo Co., a huge fisheries company based in Japan (renamed the Nippon Suisan Co. in 1937) contributed greatly to his success.(69)

Unlike the owners of the other Japanese fishing companies, Eifuku was a graduate of the Fisheries Training College in Tokyo, and was equipped with a knowledge of fisheries management and Southeast Asian fisheries. At the end of the 1920s, he began to secure capable men by recruiting graduates from his alma mater, other fisheries schools, and commercial schools. At the same time, he appointed his relatives to key posts, and attempted to enhance the loyalty of his executive staff, for example, by offering them shares in the company.(70)

Eifuku's method of profit-sharing between the company and the fishermen worked to the company's advantage. In the case of his Taichong Kongsi's muro ami fishing, after deducting fishing expenses from sales, the profit-sharing was done on the basis of 40 per cent to the company, and 60 per cent to the fishermen. For drift net fishing, the company was responsible for fishing expenses, and the sales value was equally divided between them. By way of contrast, the Ishizu Fishing Company, the company bore all costs of muro ami fishing, and shared the proceeds equally, whereas for drift net fishing the company provided fishermen with food, basic salaries according to grades of fishermen, and a percentage of the turnover. The Oshiro Company took 15 per cent of gross sales, and the balance remaining after various fishing expenses were deducted was given to the fishermen.(71) Thus, the method of profit-sharing was different from one company to another, but in the 1920s the average monthly income of the skilled fisherman was virtually the same, being about $50.(72) However, as the proceeds of the fishing companies declined sharply in the early 1930s, the Taichong Kongsi's method became advantageous to the company. In addition, Eifuku revised the ratio of profit-sharing in favour of the company.

What was the relationship between the Taichong Kongsi and the Kyodo Gyogyo? In 1935, the Kyodo Gyogyo sent a trawler, the Shinkyo Maru (473 tons) to Southeast Asia to conduct trawling operations in the waters of northern Australia, the Gulf of Siam, Java, and in the open sea facing the Indian Ocean.(73) The firm chose Singapore as its operating base, and concluded an agency agreement with the Taichong Kongsi. The Kyodo Gyogyo planned to transship most of the catch at Singapore onto mail steamers bound for Japan and other countries, and sell some in Singapore through the Taichong Kongsi.(74)

In October 1935, the Shinkyo Maru began trawling in the waters of Southeast Asia. It seemed very difficult at first sight to sell frozen fish in Singapore's fish markets, for large quantities of fresh fish were regularly supplied there. However, it happened that there was a large demand for deep-sea fish which could only be caught by trawling. As a result, 50 per cent of the catch was sold locally, while the remainder was transferred at Singapore onto a mail steamer bound for Japan.(75)

The volume of the Shinkyo Maru's catch landed at Singapore was fairly large, amounting, for example, to 17.4 tons in December 1935, 38.6 tons in March and 54.2 tons in August 1936.(76) However, after the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War in July 1937, the Chinese in British Malaya boycotted Japanese products, including Japanese-caught fish, and Chinese coolies refused to unload the catch from the Japanese trawler in Singapore. Under these circumstances, the Shinkyo Maru was obliged to abandon its Singapore base, and established a temporary base at Kao Hsiung, in Taiwan.(77)

Although the Taichong Kongsi's relationship with the Kyodo Gyogyo only lasted for slightly more than two years, it helped to raise the company's standing greatly. The Japanese Ministry of Colonies may have decided to give the subvention to Eifuku in 1935 for construction of the ice factory and the refrigeration plant in anticipation of future co-operation between the two companies, and Eric Robertson claims that the Taichong Kongsi "built a large cold-storage plant at Tanjong Rhu largely for the benefit of the Kyodo Gyogyo" (emphasis is mine).(78) Although he seems to have overstated the case, there is some truth to the assertion. It is also likely that in the 1930s Eifuku was able to get large loans from the Japanese banks partly thanks to his relations with the major fisheries company in Japan. Incidentally, the managing director of the Kyodo Gyogyo, Kosuke Kunishi, was, like Eifuku, a graduate of the Fisheries Training College, and he was the person in charge of trawling.

Decline of the Japanese Fisheries in the Late 1930s

When the Sino-Japanese War broke out in July 1937, the Chinese could not entirely boycott Japanese-caught fish in Singapore, because as much as 40 to 50 per cent of the fresh fish traded at the local market came from the Japanese. In the Malay Peninsula the Chinese boycotted most Japanese imports, but could not easily do so in the case of fish, for it was difficult to distinguish Japanese-caught fish from those caught by Malays or Chinese. When the war intensified in mainland China, however, the Chinese in the peninsula decided to boycott all fish brought in from Singapore.(79) This decision dealt a blow to the major Japanese fishing companies since some 30 to 40 per cent of their catches had been sent to the peninsula via Singapore before the outbreak of the war. Consequently, there was an over-supply of fresh fish in Singapore, which in turn led to a sharp fall in fish prices. The price of the fish caught by the muro ami method declined to between one-third and one-half of the figure before the Sino-Japanese War, while the prices of drift net catches by Japanese and by local fishermen fell by some 30 to 40 per cent.(80)

In the late 1930s, another obstacle stood in the way of Japanese fishing activities, namely a change in colonial fisheries policy. The British Colonial Office had been suspicious about the activities of the Japanese fishermen ever since the early 1920s. In September 1924, for example, it reported to the British Foreign Office that "The expansion of the Japanese fishing fleet in Malaya and neighbouring waters has become on a large scale during the past ten years and it may not be unjustifiable to point out that a fleet of this nature might in a case of war prove of great utility to the Japanese navy and a source of danger to ourselves...."(81)

Moreover, Robertson writes:

in order to play a part in time of war, it is necessary in naval matters to do so in time of peace. This precept was undoubtedly followed by both the Kyodo Gyogyo trawlers such as the Shinkyo Maru and by many of the Japanese fishing boats operating from Singapore.... There were so many cases of poaching by these boats within the three-mile limit, when frequently there was insufficient evidence of the presence of the shoals of fish to justify running the risk of detection, that it was accepted as a matter of course by the British authorities at the time that in most of these cases the vessels were acting as Japanese naval intelligence units.(82)

The British suspected Tora Eifuku, in particular, of having close relations with the Japanese military. This is largely because, whenever a Japanese officer visited Singapore, Eifuku personally showed him around the fortified zone. Eifuku was never issued with a fishing licence for the territorial waters of Sarawak and Burma, no matter how many times he applied to the British colonial authorities.(83)

Eventually, in 1937, the colonial authorities set about restricting the Japanese fishing activities, on the pretext of preserving fishing grounds for local fishermen. To begin with, in February 1937 they decided not to issue fishing licences to any new Japanese fishing boats. Then, in 1938 they revoked the licences for 30 out of the 150 Japanese-owned fishing boats, thereby forcing most of the smaller fishing companies to cease operations. In February 1939 they informed the Japanese Consul-General that they would not renew the licences for the 20 power boats and three sailing boats owned by the Eifuku Sangyo and seven other Japanese companies.(84) Furthermore, the Director of Fisheries in the Straits Settlements gave advance notice to the Japanese Fisheries Association that there would be no more renewal, after three months' grace, of the licences for fishing boats due to expire in July 1939, and this would apply equally to those which were to expire thereafter. In 1940, only three Japanese fishing companies remained, namely, the Taichong Kongsi, the Oshiro Company and the Kinjo Company, even though 30 had been in operation in 1938.(85)

The rapid decline in the Japanese fisheries resulted in massive unemployment among Japanese fishermen. Many of these men had no choice but to move to the Malay Peninsula to seek work. It happened that the Nippon Mining Company was anxious to employ them together with local Malays and Indians at the Bukit Besi Iron Mine at Dungun in Trengganu to replace some 2,300 Chinese coolies who had just quit to protest the Japanese invasion of China.(86) By late 1938, more than 500 Japanese fishermen had found employment with this and other Japanese mining companies in the peninsula.(87)

The restrictive measures against Japanese fisheries also resulted in a steep fall in supplies of fresh fish in Singapore. Total landings in Singapore declined from 13,044 tons in 1937 to 10,726 tons in 1939 and 10,116 tons in 1940. The Japanese fishermen's share of these quantities also fell from almost 60 per cent to 45 per cent over the same period.(88) As the local Malay and Chinese fishermen were unable to take the place of the highly-productive Japanese, Singapore had to rely heavily on landings from Moro, Cucub, Karimun, and Rhio.(89)

Fisheries during the Japanese Occupation

When the Pacific War broke out on 8 December 1941, local fishermen were prohibited by the British from fishing in territorial waters for security reasons. However, since a supply of fresh fish was of critical importance to the Japanese, about one month after the occupation of Singapore began,(90) the military authorities permitted them to resume operations. In the autumn of 1942 they ordered Noboru Sako, the fisheries chief of the Shonan Special Municipality, to exercise control over fishing equipment and other necessaries, in order to give priority to their own fish requirements. However, as Sako was fully aware of the difficulty of controlling the local fishermen, he persuaded them to adopt the following procedure: local fishermen were ordered to take all their catches to the fish markets in Orchard Road for auction, and were provided with fishing equipment, ice, fuel, and foodstuffs according to the amount of fresh fish they handed over. But, they had to supply 10 per cent of their catches to the military at a fixed price.(91)

In October 1943, a party of British and Australian sailors and soldiers infiltrated the Singapore harbour, and blew up seven ships by attaching limpet mines to the Japanese vessels.(92) At that time, there were 15 to 16 kelongs - fish traps - some 500 metres away from the beach. The Japanese military authorities assumed that the raiders had reached the Singapore harbour by going along one kelong after another, and ordered the removal of all kelongs.(93) This resulted in a steep fall in the output by local fishermen, although the kelong fishing was obviously not the only method they employed.

As for Japanese fisheries, in 1942 the Cabinet Planning Board at Tokyo decided to grant fishing licences mainly to those fishing companies which had been in operation in the region in the pre-war period. In Shonan, the Eifuku Sangyo, the Oshiro Company, and the Kinjo Company were commissioned to conduct fishing, while the Nippon Suisan Co. was ordered to undertake ice-manufacturing and the cold storage business jointly with the Eifuku Sangyo.(94)

However, there were few Japanese fishermen left in Shonan. This is largely because after the outbreak of the Pacific War the British had interned some 1,000 Japanese residents, and then transported them to internment camps in India. Among the group were 475 fishermen: 329 from the Eifuku Sangyo including Tora Eifuku and his wife, 87 from the Kinjo Company, 51 from the Oshiro Company, and 18 from other firms.(95) In addition, some fishermen were fishing at sea when the war broke out, and were taken to Australia.

In the internment camps in India, there were some 3,000 Japanese prisoners brought from Singapore and other parts of Asia.(96) The British and the Japanese governments agreed to an exchange of prisoners of war, and over 700 Japanese returned to Japan in September 1942. The Japanese prisoners of war selected for exchange by the Japanese government were largely those who were indispensable in the Japan-occupied territories, viz. professionals such as doctors, and employees of the Japanese companies, plus their dependents.(97) Few fishermen, apart from Tora Eifuku and his family, were selected for the exchange.(98)

Eifuku was also fortunate in another way, for the Nippon Suisan decided to provide two million yen for re-construction of the Eifuku Sangyo shortly after the fall of Singapore in February 1942.(99) Moreover, Tokuju Hashimoto, a former lecturer in wooden shipbuilding at the Fisheries Training College in Tokyo, volunteered to join the staff of the Eifuku Sangyo as ship-building manager in August 1942.(100)

When Hashimoto arrived, there were only four Eifuku Sangyo employees in Singapore, who had returned there from Japan. However, on 17 September 1942, Tora Eifuku and his family landed at Singapore from the Japan-bound ship carrying the exchanged prisoners of war.(101) Eifuku then set out to reconstruct the Eifuku Sangyo with the assistance of Hashimoto. The main activities of the company were to carry out fishing in the waters of Shonan, the Malay Peninsula, and Western Java, and to build wooden fishing boats in Shonan and the Malay Peninsula.(102)

As of 3 December 1943, the company had a fleet of 27 fishing boats, and employed 200 Japanese fishermen and roughly the same number of Malays and Chinese. The catch amounted to between four and five tons per day.(103) The number of Japanese fishermen later increased, and the volume of the catch also rose considerably, reaching some 10 tons a day in May 1943, still far below the pre-war level of 20 to 30 tons.(104) The Japanese military bought all the fish caught by the company at fixed prices. According to Tokuju Hashimoto, the Eifuku Sangyo supplied fresh fish to the military at 1,600 to 2,000 yen per ton in February 1944, whereas fresh fish were then trading in the black market at 6.42 yen per kilo (nearly 6,500 yen per ton).(105)

When the position of Japan began to weaken in war in 1943, the military authorities conscripted all Japanese men under the age of 40 in Shonan. Thus, the number of Japanese fishermen working for the Eifuku Sangyo declined. Moreover, although the military ordered Eifuku to increase the catch greatly, his company was always short of fishing boats. Actually, the moment the company repaired an old boat or built a new one, the army or the navy requisitioned it.(106) Fishing gear was also in short supply. However, in early 1944, fishing nets and rope were successfully made from coconut husks by two employees of the Senda Trading Company, and some of this equipment was sold in the local market.(107) It is not clear if the Eifuku Sangyo made extensive use of such products. At any rate the fishing output must have continued to fall steeply as the war progressed. When the conflict ended in August 1945, Tora Eifuku was interned by the British, and was not able to return to Japan until February 1946.(108)

Concluding Remarks

The economic contributions made by the Japanese fisheries were substantial. Japanese fishing companies employed Japanese fishermen, who spent most of their time at sea and remitted a large part of their earnings to their families in Japan, thus contributing little to the local economy. Nevertheless, it would be wrong to conclude that the Japanese fisheries constituted an economic enclave in Singapore. Japanese fishermen supplied some 40 to 50 per cent of the fresh fish traded in local fish markets, thereby helping to lower fish prices for consumers, and reducing greatly the British colony's dependence upon the import of fresh fish. Moreover, although all the equipment used by the Japanese such as fishing nets and boats were initially imported from Japan, they began to be produced locally during World War I.(109) Japanese fishermen were the first to supply large quantities of Caesio to the local fish markets. As this fish was fairly inexpensive, it soon became very popular among the local consumers, and brought about a major change in the food culture of British Malaya, for Caesio replaced dorab and Spanish mackerel as a main ingredient for fish balls, an indispensable ingredient in soup and vermicelli dishes.(110)

The economic impact of the Japanese fisheries was not confined to British Malaya alone, for Japanese fisheries in Singapore and other parts of Southeast Asia made large economic contributions to Okinawa. After World War I, the Okinawan economy was in decline, and local marine resources were decreasing due to over-fishing. The massive migration of fishermen to Southeast Asia helped to cut down the unemployment rate in the prefecture, while the remittances they sent helped improve economic conditions.

The relationship between the overseas Chinese and the Japanese in pre-war Southeast Asia is often described in terms of the conflict between the two racial groups, for the overseas Chinese boycotted Japanese goods to protest against Japanese military aggression in China. It is important, therefore, to note their symbiotic relationship, arising because the bulk of Japanese goods including Japanese-caught fish were sold through the overseas Chinese, who controlled wholesale and retail trade in the region. No matter how many fish the Japanese caught, they could not have reached local markets without the cooperation of Chinese merchants.

It should also be noted that the Japanese and local fishermen were not always rivals, since the Japanese fishing companies provided a sales outlet for the local fishermen's catch. The Taichong Kongsi, for example, purchased fresh fish and shrimps from Chinese and Malay fishermen in Tanjong Datoh, Ketaman, and other remote islands of the Netherlands Indies to sell in Singapore, and supplied them with a variety of goods including fishing gear, fuel and foodstuffs. The fishermen in these islands had formerly either dried or salted their catch for preservation, but they could now obtain ready cash for fresh fish and had access to a wide range of goods thanks to the company.(111)

Prior to the Pacific War, the British collected licensing fees for boats and fishing gear from local fishermen, but made little effort to improve their productivity, apart from preserving territorial waters for their use. However, during the occupation period, the Japanese military authorities set up a Fisheries Training School in Shonan where local students were given training in fishing, fish breeding and other subjects for six months.(112) In addition, the Eifuku Sangyo employed many local fishermen since there was a grave shortage of Japanese fishermen in Singapore. It is likely that the local Chinese and Malays, trained at the school or employed by the company, acquired modern fishing techniques, and made use of them in the post-war period.

In the immediate post-war years, there was a grave shortage of fresh fish caused by the absence of the Japanese fishermen, and the British colony imported large quantities of fresh fish from Indonesia and the Federation of Malaya. In 1947, imports accounted for some 76.7 per cent of the fresh fish auctioned at the local fish markets.(113) However, Chinese fishermen filled the gap created by the Japanese to a certain extent. They hired Japanese power boats from the Custodian of Property, conducting fishing in the waters of the Netherlands Indies, and purchasing fresh fish from the fishermen at sea to sell in Singapore. Actually, the Chinese fishermen inherited the muro ami system from the Japanese, even though there was a shortage of skilled divers.(114) In 1951 the muro ami catch amounted to 332.5 tons (8 per cent of total catches by fishermen in Singapore), and 354.7 tons (6.4 per cent) in 1952, and 250.9 tons (4.5 per cent) in 1953.(115) Indeed, the legacy of the Japanese fisheries outlived the Japanese occupation.

This paper is part of a research project currently in progress on Japan's economic activities in Singapore from 1870 to 1945. I wish to express my thanks to Professor Hitoshi Hirakawa of Tokyo Keizai University and an anonymous referee for their constructive comments and useful suggestions. I am also grateful to the Aichi Shukutoku Gakuen for its financial assistance for my fieldwork in Singapore in September 1996. I am solely responsible for the contents.

As regards Japanese names, the surname has been given after the personal name throughout. Macrons are omitted in romanized Japanese spellings. The $ symbol denotes the Straits dollar throughout. The exchange value of 100 yen was $82.90 (Straits dollars) in 1926, $87.37 in 1930, $51.47 in 1933, and $49.55 in 1937. See Nanyo Kyokai, Nampo-ken Boeki Tokei-hyo (Tokyo: Nihon Hyoron-sha, 1943), pp. 338-39.

1 Fish were marketed in three forms, namely boiled, dried and salted, and fresh. This paper concerns only the last as almost all Japanese-caught fish were sold fresh.

2 Raymond Firth, Malay Fishermen: Their Peasant Economy (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., 1946), p. 11. One ton equals 2,240 lb throughout this paper.

3 Computed from Statistics Department of Straits Settlements and Federated Malay States, Malayan Year Book 1937 (Singapore, 1937), p. 92, and Straits Settlements, Blue Book 1937 (Singapore, 1938), section 22, p. 761.

4 Japanese Foreign Ministry Archives (hereafter abbreviated as JFMA), K., 27 Nov. 1934. According to the information given by the colonial authorities, the number of Japanese fishermen was 1,050, not 971, in 1934. See Table 1.

5 W. Birtwistle, Annual Report on the Fisheries Department, Straits Settlements for the Year 1932 (Singapore, 1933), pp. 7-8. One kati is about 1.33 pounds.

6 Birtwistle, Annual Report 1932, p. 7. A koleh is a canoe-like boat used by local Malay fishermen which is sailed or paddled.

7 Muro ami fishing is also known in Japanese as oikomi ami (drive-in net) fishing.

8 Eric Robertson is wrong to argue that the drift netting was the most important Japanese fishing method, followed by the muro ami fishing before World War II. See The Japanese File (Singapore: Heinemann, 1979), p. 53.

9 Birtwistle, Annual Report 1932, p. 8.

10 Ibid., p. 6.

11 For further information about the muro ami fishing, see R.L. German, Handbook of British Malaya 1930 (London, 1930), p. 199; Kee Yeh Siew, "The Japanese in Malaya before 1942", Journal of the South Seas Society 20 (1965): 57; Katsuji Hiroyoshi, "Oikomi-ami Gyogyo no Seisei to Hatten", in Nihon ni okeru Kaiyomin no Sogo Kenkyu, ed. Ko Nakadate (Fukuoka: Kyushu Daigaku Shuppankai, 1987), Chap. 6.

12 Takumusho Takumukyoku, Nanyo ni okeru Suisangyo Chosasho (Tokyo: Takumusho Takumukyoku, 1931), pp. 89-90; C.F. Green, Annual Report on the Fisheries Department for the year 1926 (Singapore, 1927), p. 11.

13 Fujio Hara, Wasurerareta Nanyo Imin (Tokyo: Ajia Keizai Kenkyujo, 1987), pp. 144-45.

14 Itaro Takayama, Nanyo no Suisan (Tokyo: Dainihon Suisankai, 1914), p. 306.

15 Public Record Office London (hereafter PRO), Colonial Office to Foreign Office, 18 September 1924, F 3145/110/61, FO371/10299; Chikashi Kataoka, Nanyo no Nihonjin Gyogyo (Tokyo: Dobunkan, 1991), pp. 49-50.

16 Aichi-ken Suisan Shikenjo, Nanyo Gyogyo Chosa Hokoku (Gamagori: Aichi-ken Suisan Shikenjo, 1932), p. 32.

17 Ibid.

18 Kee, The Japanese in Malaya, p. 85; Kataoka, Nanyo, pp. 53, 58, 86.

19 Ibid., p. 58.

20 Ibid.

21 Suisan Iho 3 (Mar. 1931): 50.

22 Aichi-ken Suisan Shikenjo, Nanyo Gyogyo, pp. 36-37; Suisan Iho 5 (Nov. 1932): 188.

23 Minobu Azato, Okinawa Kaiyo Hattenshi: Nippon Nampo Hatten-shi Josetsu (Naha: Okinawaken Kaigai Kyokai, 1941), Appendix.

24 Okinawa-ken Kyoiku Iinkai, Okinawa-ken-shi: Imin (Naha: Okinawa-ken Kyoiku Iinkai, 1974), pp. 26-29, Appendix Table 15.

25 Hiroyoshi, "Oikomi-ami", p. 140.

26 Fujio Ueda, "Itoman Gyomin no Hatten", in Nihon ni okeru Kaiyomin, pp. 67-69, 145.

27 Shozo Masuda, "Itoman-shi Itoman-cho no Chiiki Tokusei", in ibid., p. 28.

28 Hiroyoshi, "Oikomi-ami", p. 145.

29 Masuda, "Itoman-shi", pp. 28-29.

30 Okinawa-ken Kyoiku Iinkai, Okinawa-ken-shi, pp. 173-88.

31 Ueda, "Itoman Gyomin", pp. 70-72.

32 Hiroyoshi, "Oikomi-ami", pp. 143-44.

33 Yoshinori Ide, "Okinawa Sangyo no Hensen to Suisangyo no Ichi", in Nihonn ni okeru Kaiyomin, pp. 47-48.

34 Taiwan Sotokufu Gaijibu, Nanyo Nenkan (Taipei: Nampo Shiryokan, 1942), p. 943.

35 Kunigami Mura Kaigai Imin-shi Hensan Iinkai, Kunigami-mura Kaigai Imin-shi: Shiryo-hen (Kunigami-mura: Kunigami Murayakuba, 1992), pp. 31-32.

36 Kon'ei Masukado, an Okinwan fisherman aged 20, committed suicide on a fishing boat in January 1933. Just before he died, he uttered some words in a dialect which was not understood by any of the other crew who were also Okinawans (Singapore Subordinate Courts, "Coroner's Certificate B, Coroners' Inquests and Inquiries", AD-019, S/No. 20, 5 Jan. 1933).

37 Kataoka, Nanyo, p. 67.

38 For further information about the life of the Japanese divers in Dobo, see Hiroshi Shimizu, "Rise and Fall of the Karayuki-san in the Netherlands Indies from the late Nineteenth Century to the 1930s", Review of Indonesian and Malaysian Affairs 26 (Summer 1992): 30-31; Utako Okaro, "Nanyo no Koro ni Nanno Fujiyu mo nai Nihonjin-machi", Kaigai no Nihon (Jun. 1911): 75-78.

39 Tsusho Iho 43 (Jul. 1906): 35-37.

40 Kunigami-mura Kaigai Imin-shi Hensan Iinkai, Kunigami-mura Kaigai Imin-shi: Honpen (Kunigami-mura: Kunigami Murayakuba, 1992), p. 506.

41 In 1907, for example, there were 93 Japanese brothels and 516 karayuki-san in Singapore (JFMA,, 31 May 1908). Detailed information on karayuki-san in pre-war Singapore can be found in J.F. Warren, Ah Ku and Karayuki-san: Prostitution in Singapore 1870-1940 (Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1993); Hiroshi Shimizu, "Karayuki-san and the Japanese Economic Advance into British Malaya, 1870--1920", Asian Studies Review 20,3 (Apr. 1997): 107-132.

42 JFMA, J1.2.0/J8-2, 12 Jun. 1928.

43 Singapore Subordinate Courts, "Coroner's Certificate B, Coroners' Inquests and Inquiries", AD-049, 399/1937, 3 Jul. 1937.

44 JFMA, E.4.9.0/7-7, 16 Nov. 1931.

45 Birtwistle, Annual Report 1932, p. 6.

46 Kataoka, Nanyo, p. 69.

47 JFMA, E.4.9.0/7-7, 16 Nov. 1931.

48 Ibid.

49 Birtwistle, Annual Report 1932, p. 6.

50 JMFA, E.4.9.0/7-7, 25 Jun. 1934.

51 Suisankai 407 (Aug. 1916): 70.

52 Nanyo Suisan 3,2 (Feb. 1937): 21-22.

53 Suisankai 614 (Jan. 1934): 83.

54 JFMA, E.4.9.0/7-7, 16 Nov. 1931.

55 Ibid.

56 Kataoka, Nanyo, pp. 69-70.

57 Ibid., p. 76.

58 Ibid., p. 75.

59 Robertson, The Japanese File, p. 56; Kataoka, Nanyo, pp. 75, 83-84.

60 Robertson, The Japanese File, p. 55.

61 Suisan Iho 3 (Mar. 1931): 46.

62 JFMA, E.4.9.0/7-7, 25 Jun. 1934. 63 Ibid., 17 Apr. 1935.

64 Nanyo oyobi Nihonjinsha, Nanyo no Gojunen: Shingaporu wo Chushin ni Doho Katsuyaku (Tokyo: Shokasha, 1938), p. 414.

65 JFMA, E.4.9.0/7-7, 25 Jun. 1934.

66 Ibid., 7 Nov. 1936.

67 Kataoka, Nanyo, pp. 82-84.

68 Robertson, The Japanese File, p. 16.

69 Although Robertson says that the Kyodo Gyogyo was a subsidiary of the Oriental Development Company (Robertson, The Japanese File, p. 57), the fishery company was independent until 1934 when it came under the control of the Nippon Sangyo Co. (Nissan).

70 Kataoka, Nanyo, p. 79.

71 Takumusho Takumukyoku, Nanyo, pp. 64-66; Nanyo Suisan 2,19 (Dec. 1936): 22.

72 Aichi-ken Suisan Shikenjo, Nanyo, p. 35.

73 The Kyodo Gyogyo was not the first company to engage in trawling in the waters of Southeast Asia. In 1912, a certain Chinese conducted trawling, employing the Golden Crown, a 100-ton trawler, with a crew consisting of a captain and a mate, both British, as well as 10 Chinese and Malays in the waters of the Straits Settlements. However, he incurred huge losses due to the crew's inexperience in trawling and bad choice of fishing grounds, and was obliged to cease the operations after three months. Itaro Takayama, Nanyo no Suisan (Tokyo: Dainihon Suisankai, 1914), p. 324.

74 JFMA, E.4.9.0/7-7, 14 Sep. 1935.

75 Ibid., 7 Nov. 1936.

76 Ibid.

77 Ibid., 10 Jan. 1938.

78 Robertson, The Japanese File, p. 57.

79 Nanyo Suisan 5,5 (1938): 49-50.

80 Ibid.

81 PRO, Colonial Office to Foreign Office, 18 Sep. 1924, F 3145/110/61, FO371/10299.

82 Robertson, The Japanese File, p. 59.

83 FMA, E.4.9.0/7-7, 14 May 1936.

84 JFMA, E.4.9.0/7-7, 10 Feb. 1939.

85 Haruo Watanabe, Nampo Suisangyo (Tokyo: Chukokan, 1942), p. 211.

86 Kee, The Japanese in Malaya, p. 61.

87 JFMA, E.4.8.0/X4-B1, 3 Dec. 1938; idem, E.4.9.0/7-7, 10 Jul. 1939. At that time, beside the Nippon Kogyo Kaisha's mine, there were several Japanese-owned iron mines in the peninsula, including the Ishihara Sangyo Koshi's Sri Medan Mine in Johore and Taiyo Mine in Trengganu, and Shigeru Iizuka's Endau Mine in Johore.

88 D.W. Le Mare, Report of the Fisheries Department, Malaya, 1949 (Singapore, 1950), p. 98.

89 W. Birtwistle, Annual Report of the Fisheries Department, Straits Settlements and Federated Malay States for the Year 1938 (Singapore, 1939), p. 3; Robertson, The Japanese File, p. 61.

90 Singapore was called Shonan (or Syonan) during the Japanese occupation.

91 Shingaporu Shiseikai, Shonan Tokubetsushi-shi (Tokyo: Nihon Shingaporu Kyokai, 1986), p. 173; Malayan Year Book 1937, p. 92; Blue Book 1937, Section 22, p. 761. According to Sako, the volume of fresh fish landed in Singapore increased from some 100 tons per day in the preoccupation period to some 200 tons per day in the early occupation period, thanks to the system of control. However, since total landings amounted to 13,000 tons in the whole of 1937 - an average of 36.6 tons per day - the figures he quotes do not seem to be accurate.

92 C.M. Turnbull, A History of Singapore 1819-1975 (Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1977), p. 210.

93 Shingaporu Shiseikai, Shonan, pp. 173-74.

94 Kikakuin Dairoku Iinkai, "Nampo Keizai Taisaku", 1 (Tokyo, 1942): 193-94. The Teikoku Suisan Tosei Co., founded in 1942 as a national policy company, took over the Nippon Suisan's ice-manufacturing and cold-storage facilities in Japan and the Japan-occupied Asian territories including Singapore in 1943.

95 Kataoka, Nanyo, p. 85.

96 Kiyoji Ueda, Waga Kokoro no Jijoden (Kobe, 1972), p. 54.

97 Ibid, p. 57.

98 Ibid, pp. 54-57.

99 Tokuju Hashimoto, Sokei no Hana (Tokyo: Aogaki Hakkojo, 1964), p. 70.

100 Ibid., p. 590. 101 Ibid, p. 69. 102 Kataoka, Nanyo, p. 86.

103 The Shonan Times, 3 Dec. 1942.

104 Ibid.; Hashimoto, Sokei, p. 152.

105 Ibid., p. 208. As the military authorities purchased fresh fish at a very low price, some Japanese fishermen sold part of their catch in a black market (Kunigami-mura, Kunigami-mura Kaigai Iminshi: Honpen, p. 505). Besides, as a sideline, a certain Japanese officer purchased fresh fish from local fishermen and, using the employees and vehicles belonging to the Nam Poh Kaisha, a Japanese company, sold them in the black market, making a lot of money. (Soo Kim Seng, "Oral History Interview", A000543/11, Singapore, 3 Apr. 1985.)

106 Hashimoto, Sokei, p. 152.

107 The Syonan Shimbun, 21 Jan. 1944.

108 Kataoka, Nanyo, p. 86.

109 Suisan Iho 3 (Jun. 1931): 51; Kataoka, Nanyo, p. 54.

110 Green, Annual Report, p. 11.

111 Ibid.; Suisan Iho 5 (Nov. 1932): 194-200.

112 The Syonan Shimbun, 27 Mar. 1944, 5 Mar. 1945.

113 Le Mare, Report of the Fisheries 1949, p. 98.

114 Blue Book 1946 (Singapore, 1949), Section 22-3, p. 435.

115 Tham Ah Kow, Report of the Fisheries Division Department of Commerce and Industry Singapore, 1953 (Singapore, 1954), p. 218.
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Date:Sep 1, 1997
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