How did Japan emerge as a developed economy?
Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]:
Paper 1: Understanding the Global Economy (1945-2000)
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme II Chapter 1: Reasons for growth of the global economy
After experiencing defeat during the Second World War, the Japanese government focused its efforts on post-war reconstruction. Under the ‘Reverse Course’ policy, Japan was backed by the USA to rebuild its industries.
The Cold War climate proved to be fortuitous as Japan gained from the surge of demand during the Korean War in 1950. The increased US involved in the conflict became an opportunity for Japan to raise production of war supplies.
Additionally, the Japanese government turned to the Americans for access to foreign technology. The purchase of technology then aided the private firms’ efforts to raise the efficiency of production, as seen by the rise of prominent companies like Toyota and Honda.
Japanese companies in the 1950s and 1960s spent one-quarter to one-half of all their research and development budgets to buy foreign technology.
… Over the next few years [Sony] made cheap copies of the tape recorders American occupiers had brought to Japan. In 1953 it licensed from Western Electric the right to produce the new transistors that Bell Labs had recently invented. Sony turned out its first transistor radio – the world’s second – in 1955 and brought a miniaturized “pocket radio” to market two years later.An excerpt from “Global Capitalism” by Jeffry A. Frieden.
Better lives: Impacts of industrialisation
Strong state intervention was recognised as a major contributing factor for the Japanese ‘economic miracle’. Subsidies and loans were granted to the private firms to accelerate industrial production. Over time, living standards in Japan have improved tremendously. By 1970, almost every Japanese household owned a television, refrigerator and washing machine, ushering the ‘electronics age’.
Practically every household in Japan is now in possession of a radio while the dissemination rate of television sets is 87.8 per cent, that of electric washing machines 61.4 per cent and electric refrigerators 38.2 per cent, indicating that the standard of living in Japan has been raised considerably.An excerpt from Japan Report, Volume 10 Number 19 – by Japan Information Center, Consulate of Japan, 15 May 1964.
By the 1970s, Japan had caught up with the USA, becoming the second-largest market economy in the world.
What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that the government was responsible for the phenomenal growth in Japan after the post-war years?
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