History of railways in Asia
see also Railway history
In Japan railways were part of the stunningly successful industrial transformation of the late nineteenth century. Betweem 1870 and 1874, railway building accounted for nearly a third of all state investment in modern industry, augmented by large British loans. Profits were high as the lines facilitated the rapid growth of textiles, cement, glass, and machine tools as well as civil engineering.
China started building late. In 1900 there were only 860 kilometers of track and about 3,000 railway workers. After 1920 the major cities, ports and mining districts were connected. Railways became a major employer of industrial labor and by 1937 they had about 300,000 employees in China Proper and the Japanese-controlled Northeast, along 21,270 kilometers of track.