Bodies and Structures 2.0: Deep-Mapping Modern East Asian History

Franchises in the Empire

Hoshi Pharmaceuticals attempted to replicate its distribution machinery overseas, although it was only successful in Taiwan and, to a lesser extent, in Korea. Its greatest presence, by far, was in Taiwan where it had longstanding ties to the Government-General. By 1913, it had already established an official corporate branch office in Taihoku (Taipei) where Hajime was based as many as four or five times a year (Misawa et al. 2008, 43). The earliest overseas franchise conventions occurred in Taiwan a mere five months after the initial convention in Tokyo in July, 1921: one occurred in Taihoku attended by 265 franchise members and 158 invited guests, while another occurred in Tainan, attended by 423 franchise members and 72 invited guests (Liu 2009, 69-70). By the middle of 1922, fourteen county wholesalers (gunmoto urisabakusho) along with jijokai had already been established to support the franchises (“Taiwan ni shinsetsu gunmoto: jyū-yon ken” 1922). The development of the company's distribution network in Taiwan compared favorably to its expansion within Japan 's home islands—for example, the first jijokai in Niigata Prefecture opened in May of that year (“Niigata-ken Hoshi seiyaku jijokai setsuritsu saru” 1922). This was reflected in the per capita consumption of patent medicines within Taiwan—of 1,590,939.800 yen for a population of 3,615,545 people—almost exactly the same as 24,6549,988 yen for a population of 56,022,700 people for 1915 within Japan (Misawa et al. 2008, 43).

The company had a comparatively slower and more difficult time breaking into Japan's other major colony, Korea, which was formally annexed in 1905. Compared to Taiwan and Japan's home islands, per capital consumption of patent medicines was a paltry 162,491 yen for a population of 16,278,389 people (Misawa et al. 2008, 43). This was reflected in how the company characterized its efforts to sell medicines in Korea as a “pioneer movement” (kaitaku undō) that spread quality medicines to places rife with illness and poor quality medicines, which differed from how it characterized its efforts in Taiwan (“Kaitaku no noroshi heizen to kagayaku” 1924). Preparations for Hoshi's franchise system in Korea only began in late 1910s; in 1918, for example, the company dispatched an executive on a three-month fact-finding mission before beginning its expansion into the Korean Peninsula (“Takagi shucchōin Chōsen yori kikyō” 1918). Although it is unclear when, exactly, the first franchises appeared in Korea, the first general wholesaler (sōmoto urisabakusho) for the entire peninsula was established in Keijō (Seoul) in June of 1922, which, by the end of 1923, was in charge of eleven local wholesalers; the first franchise convention occurred in late May of 1924, simultaneously in Keijō (610 people), Kameyama (Pusan) (264 people), and Gunsan (288 people) (Misawa et al. 2008, 43).

Compare Hoshi's expansion in Japan's colonies to that of Mitsukoshi Department Store.

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