This section introduces a selection of photos from Shashin Shuho that depict the state and nature of railroads of that era, along with related documents that show how railroads changed.

Issue No. 7, which was published on March 30, 1938, ran a Ministry of Railways advertisement featuring the slogan “Enhancing physical fitness – Preparation on the homefront.” The government at this time stressed the need for physical and mental training as part of the National Spiritual Mobilization movement (a government-led national campaign that started during the first Konoe Cabinet) that was implemented during the Second Sino-Japanese War. Following in line with this movement, the Ministry of Railways recommended hiking, mountain climbing, and swimming at the beach as ways for “enhancing physical fitness.”

Beginning in July 1938, the Ministry of Railways worked together with the Ministries of Culture and Welfare to promote youth education under the slogan of “Youth, travel by foot.” Issue No. 25 from August 3 and issue No. 34 from October 5, 1938 feature Ministry of Railways advertisements that contain this particular phrase.

The Ministry of Railways also encouraged people to take trips to historical monuments and scenic sites to help develop the “Japanese Spirit ” stressed in the National Spiritual Mobilization movement. The advertisements from the ministry pictured above show photos of Ohyama, Yoshino Shrine, and Nachi Falls.

While the Ministry encouraged people to travel by rail as mentioned above, it also ran advertisements calling for people riding trains to observe proper manners. The above advertisement from issue No. 59, which was published on April 5, 1939, features the slogan, “Observing public morals: A radiant culture,” while the one in issue No. 68 from June 7, 1939 encourages people to “give up space to transform confined trains into roomy cars.”
These advertisements about passenger etiquette imply that many people were already using trains at the time. The three following articles from Shashin Shuho reflect this trend in a more direct tone.

The top image is of an article from issue No. 98, which was published on January 18, 1940. The picture in the upper right of this image reads “Train pooling to alleviate congestion.” This offers a good example of corporate workers forming a local group to ride the train together in response to “the current situation in which more passengers than ever are riding our trains.”
The lower image is of an article from issue No. 103, which was published on February 14 of the same year. It states that ever since the Second Sino-Japanese War began, “the number of people moving has increased drastically, whether it be those heading to China and Manchuria or for work to help boost production. All means of public transportation are extremely congested, and this has tended to cause common manners for using public transportation to deteriorate .” The pictures in the image show examples of behavior that were a public nuisance when using the train.

The image above is of an article from issue No. 163, which was published on April 9, 1941. The title in the upper right of the image reads “Orderly lines: Off the train, on the train, and then out of the station”, encouraging passengers to form a single line when boarding trains to help alleviate congestion.

As the transportation capacity reached a limit in the midst these circumstances, the Ministry of Railways began restricting passengers to a certain level.

Document 1 is issue No. 178 of Shuho, which was published on March 13, 1940. This issue contains an article titled “Recent trends in public transport of government railways” which clearly indicates that the number of passengers, which had increased yearly at a nearly identical rate since 1932, jumped dramatically from 1938 to 1939 (see the eighth to tenth images).
Document 2 is a memorandum that was sent on July 11, 1941 from the Vice Minister of Railways to the Chief Secretary of the Cabinet. It requests for the Cabinet to instruct the various organizations under its supervision to delay general conferences, large meetings, and group trips for the time being because rail transport was expected to become extremely strained in the summer months. This memorandum also mentions that a notice would go out announcing the discontinuation of discounted fares for students and youth hikers as well as group travel discounts from July 14.

As described earlier, the number of people using trains continued to increase over the latter half of the 1930s. The Ministry of Railways attempted to impose a certain level of restrictions, but the trend towards greater use of trains continued well after the Pacific War started in December 1941. Issue No. 226 of Shashin Shuho, which was published on June 24, 1942, conveys proper passenger decorum when riding congestion trains, much in the same manner as one of the articles introduced previously.
The progress of war heightened the demand for ships to be used in transport. To satisfy this demand, the government decided to shift all coastal transport to land transport, and implemented “more stringent passenger restrictions” to boost capacity for transporting cargo.

Document 3 is issue No. 319 of Weekly Report, which was published on November 18, 1942. It contains an article titled “Emergency state of wartime land transport” in which the Ministry of Railways explains the previously mentioned transportation policy.
 Document 4 is issue No. 339 of Weekly Report, which was published on April 14, 1943. One of the articles in this particular issue is titled “Important Provisions and Rail Transport.” The article begins with the following statement: “This past two-day vacation found the Government Railways and other forms of public transportation packed with people eager to get out and enjoy spring. There were a variety of scenes, both happy and sad. I must say this is a matter of grave concern as the nation now finds itself engaged in a decisive conflict.” This passage reveals that people continued to use the trains extensively, despite the government’s policy designed to restrict the number of passengers.
 The image below is of an article from issue No. 291 of Shashin Shuho, which was published on September 29, 1943. This article asks people to refrain from using trains for travel with the slogan “Railroads are the weapons of victory – Do not waste our war strength on unnecessary travels.”

Even though the government maintained the aforementioned policy on restricting the number of passengers, these restrictions proved to be of little avail. Many people continued using trains to go purchase food and other provisions in the midst of tighter limits on daily commodities as Japan’s situation in the war grew worse. The image below is of an article titled “Peace on a crowded train ride” that appeared in issue No. 297 of Shashin Shuho, which was published on November 10, 1943. The pictures in the article show how crowded the trains were.

Kiyoshi Kiyosawa describes the congestion on the trains in this diary entry from March 8, 1944.
“The congestion on the trains is beyond description. It seems that railroad workers have taken the word “wartime” to mean it’s alright to be “unkind”. There is bickering everywhere.”

In light of these circumstances, the government decided in March 1944 to implement passenger transport restrictions in line with the “Outline of emergency measures for the final battle” that were passed the month before. The image below shows the cover photo for issue No. 315 of Shashin Shuho, which was published on April 5, 1944. The tiny caption in the bottom right reads “Ueno Station, three days after the announcement of travel restrictions.”

Document 5 is a set containing an abstract from the “Outline of emergency measures for the final battle” that the Cabinet enacted on February 25, 1944, and an excerpt from a newspaper article about these measures.
Document 6 is the “Instructions for travel restrictions based on emergency measures for the decisive battle from the Ministry of Transportation and Communication” drafted by the same ministry on March 12, 1944. In the first to fourth images, the document describes roles that each ministry should assume in enforcing these travel restrictions. The fifth to seventh images introduce the “Restriction on passenger transport based on the outline of emergency measures for the final battle”, which explains the Ministry of Transport and Communication’s policy, main points, and measures for putting these restrictions into place.
Document 7 is a set containing the “Restriction on passenger transport based on the outline of emergency measures for the final battle” and a newspaper clipping on the topic. This restriction was based on Document 6 and passed by the Cabinet on March 14, 1944. It set the rules for discontinuing all limited express and express trains, first-class, sleeping cars, and restaurant cars, while requiring police approval for long distance travel of over 100 kilometers. It also prohibited all forms of non-urgent and unnecessary travel for purposes such as leisure or shopping. These rules were announced to the general public.
Document 8 is “Notification of order on the restriction of passenger transport based on the outline of emergency measures for the final battle” that the Chief of the Bureau of Police and Public Security of the Ministry of Home Affairs issued to all prefectural chief secretaries on March 27, 1944. This came in response to the Cabinet decision described in Document 7 to provide police departments with an operational guide for issuing travel permits to individuals who needed to travel distances of over 100 kilometers.

Kiyoshi Kiyosawa penned the following statement in his diary on March 15, 1944, the day after the Cabinet decision described in Document 7 was announced.
“They decided to restrict passengers on trains by requiring the police to issue permits for any travel over 100 kilometers. No sleeping cars or restaurant cars. What a terrible regulation.
According to Nagasaki, the Director of the Railway General Bureau in the Ministry of Transport and Communication, it seems that similar restrictions are already in place in Germany.
I’m sure the recent move to close high-class restaurants is also another example of following the German model. Naturally, the situation demands it.
Like I always say, I’m sure the general public will come to know what war truly tastes like.”


Japan Center for Asian Historical Records, National Archives of Japan