The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit. WEDNESDAY, MAY 22, 1889. JAPAN AND THE COAL TRADE.
In a recent artiole we drew attention to the phenomena] progress of Japan, which country is on a fair way to take rank as one ol the great Powers at no distant date. It lends a new interest, and one of an entirely different port to the contemplation of her progress, so far as New Zealand is concerned, to learu that she is likely to prove a formidable competitor with us m the ooal market, buch, however, it seems is the case, for we learn from a Taranaki contemporary | that we may look for a very keen competition m that quarter. «• The Japanese (says the "Herald"), with more than European facilities for the appreciation of the changing conditions of commercial progress have not been alow to realise the benefits they may gain by opening up the mineral riches which are at present buried beneath their soil They have coal m abundance, coal which is described as superior to anything that oan be produced either at Newcastle (N.S.W.) or Westport (N.Z.), and the density of tbe population m Japan enables them to command labor at a rate of remuneration which is little more than nominal, The Brisbane '* Courier " has gathered some information of a very interesting character bearing on this subject. At the islands of Takasbimft, Matsashima, and Nakanoshima there are mines which are already being developed at high pressure, whilst from Nagasaki right up coastwards for 100 miles stretches a continuous coal belt waiting to be tapped. Labor, which is slavery m everything but name, is utilised m working these mines. At the Miike, m Chekugo, 1700 convicts maintain a ceaseless daily toil of 12 hours, from week's end to week's end without intermission. At Takashima there aro 5000 miners employed, who, kidnapped by the labor agents, are virtually slaves. The average wage paid to the miner does not exceed 8d per day, on which munificent sum he has to support existence and bring up his family. The Japanese are not content to supply their own wants, but have already entered with energy into the geld of exportation. Han Francisco takes large quantities, aud the coal trade of the east is rapidly being monopolised. Not only is the Australian export attacked, but the New Zealand market is threatened. Japanese merchants, it is said, have already been instituting inquiries about the price of coal m Australia and New Zealand. In a few months the steamers of the British Indian lipp will be running direoi. from Nagasaki to Australia, and the advent of a Japanese line is anticipated also,"