My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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OSAKA, Japan —We spent two hours on our first morning in Osaka, June 4th, visiting a most modern textile factory, the Kanebo factory at Yodogawa. This was interesting to me because on one side they still had some of their older machines and on the other side some modern machinery acquired from the DuPonts last year and this year. The modern machinery did the job in three hours which took the old machinery 38 hours to do. This mill sells cotton materials all over Asia, Africa and S. America.

They have about 1900 employees and work on two shifts. There are boys dormitories and girls dormitories and few apartments for married workers. This is the same system which I described before. Apparently it is rather rare to give work to people who live in surrounding cities or towns. The girls come from the farms, hence the development of this dormitory system. In this particular factory, they give the girls, in their leisure time, classes in flower arrangement and the tea ceremony and they must dress in kimonos for this though they wear overalls in the factory!

There are tennis courts and playing fields for both boys and girls and a wonderful swimming pool.

We found some boys practicing Jiu-Jitsu and we found a kindergarten being carried on for the children of employees.

The wage rate and the cost of maintenance is just the same in this factory as in the one I described previously.

From two to three that day I met with the members of the Kobe Women's Club. This was a group made up largely of foreign residents with a few Japanese members.

For two hours that afternoon I talked with some of the leading business men of the city in their very fine clubhouse.

This was one of the most interesting talks I have had, for basically the economic questions are at the root of many of the problems now facing Japan. These men are not very cheerful. Their imports mount; their exports drop; they have trouble between the dollar area and the sterling area; they wonder what will happen to them if a truce comes in Korea and American purchases in Japan drop for they were only able to balance their budget last year because of procurement of military supplies in this country.

One man even hinted that it might be a serious question, if aid was not forthcoming from the U.S. , whether they would be obliged to turn to the Soviet Union or not. But the majority insisted that Japan knew they must be with the Western world. How could they meet a situation, however, where if they began to sell certain goods satisfactorily in the U.S. , the tariff was immediately raised on those goods by the U.S. ?

I think there will have to be an international commission to make a careful study of this whole question of production throughout the world and tariffs, since it is obvious that in the long run to starve a people out is no solution to their problems or to the problems of any of the other nations.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Osaka (Japan) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, June 11, 1953

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.