Japan Economy

The prodigious development of the Japanese economy began in 1868, with the advent of the Meiji (Illuminated Government), which, by overthrowing the pre-existing feudal regime, gave a concrete response to the increasingly pressing demands of a new bourgeoisie, first mercantile then entrepreneurial, and at the same time a real solution for the now unsustainable situation of an overpopulated country, therefore poor in space as well as natural resources, for which an economic and social renewal seemed indispensable. The State, making the powers of the ancient feudal lords its own, was able to rapidly accumulate huge capital, which it soon invested in industrial enterprises, thus favoring the emergence of the nascent entrepreneurial class; at the same time, even if initially contrasted, the commercial openings with foreign countries broadened the horizons of the economy. L’ industry thus became the arbiter of the internal situation of the country; arose the zaibatsu, concentrations of industries dominated by large families, which little by little took the pre-existing small and medium-sized companies into their hands, mostly of former traders, favored in this by government policy, aimed precisely at accelerating the development of the country by supporting a few large monopoly complexes. Visit weddinginfashion for Economy of Eastern Asia.

This phase of initial expansion also took advantage of a strong customs protectionism, necessary to defend national products, still technically not very advanced, from foreign competition, while an unscrupulous propensity to imitate products that had already certainly established themselves abroad spread. The rapid industrial development inevitably determined the progressive decay of the agricultural economy, despite the land reform which, with the abolition of the feudal estates, he had assigned the land to the peasants; but the extreme fragmentation of funds followed and, therefore, completely insufficient agricultural incomes. There was the exodus from the countryside of masses of peasants traditionally loyal to duty, of very frugal habits and for which zaibatsu it continued, in fact, to embody feudal power; and precisely this overabundance of labor at extremely low costs was one of the determining factors of the rapid industrialization of Japan, which for the supply of raw materials was pushed to pursue a military and expansionist policy, which ended with the occupation of Manchuria and Korea. Having overcome the crisis of the 1930s without serious consequences, by virtue of a policy, first of monetary restriction and austerity and, then, of liberalization and public investments, Japan saw the strengthening of basic industries (engineering, chemical, electrical) and grow its commercial weight (4% of world exports), finding important development factors in East Asia and the Pacific area, from raw materials to labor and new market outlets. Despite the catastrophic outcome of the Second World War, the country, thanks to an extraordinary capacity for recovery, superior to that of Germany itself, although formidable, has set itself, in the rest of the century. XX, as the largest economic power on the planet after the United States, and indeed, since the 1980s, the first ever from a financial point of view. Initially, the post-war reconstruction was decidedly favored by the United States itself, which saw Japan as a barrier to the political expansion of Communist China and therefore, in addition to providing substantial financial aid, contributed to reintegrating it into the group of capitalist countries. However, the endogenous factors of the recovery soon emerged, first of all the organization of new and aggressive ones holdings (the keiretsu-ka, which replaced the zaibatsu, abolished with an anti-monopoly law), centered on large banks and therefore endowed with entrepreneurial skills suitable for managing large financial resources.

The availability of the latter, deriving from the marked propensity to save, was associated with the strong demand of the internal market, thanks to a continuous and significant growth in real wages, which multiplied purchasing power by 4.5 times in the period 1955-70.. Furthermore, the State exercised a shrewd incentive policy and supported an excellent commercial organization, coordinated by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), which, acting as a link between political and economic power, ended up guiding strategies productive background. While remaining faithful to the principles of the liberal economy, therefore, the Japanese government was assuming an increasingly important role in economic planning, which, although admittedly indicative, proved, in fact, to be binding and herald of excellent successes. From the mid-1950s a series of real economic booms followed one another, with GDP growth rates even higher than 10% per year (double that of other large industrial countries), interspersed with short recessions; industrial production increased by 15% in the 1960s alone, with a marked sectoral diversification, at the basis of which, however, was the weight of the large steel and petrochemical complexes, located in the port areas to meet the costs of transporting raw materials, almost entirely import. The first oil “shock”, in 1973-74, it therefore caused a significant backlash for a country whose crude oil requirement had grown by 30 times in less than twenty years. It was therefore necessary to reconvert the sectors with the highest energy consumption and, at the same time, to orient basic and applied research on alternative sources, including, in the foreground, nuclear power; furthermore, progressively transferring the production plants, first to neighboring Asian countries (South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, etc.), where labor cost far less, then directly to American and European export markets. The internationalization of the Japanese economy, in this way, became more and more marked during the Eighties, despite the persistence of more or less disguised protectionist attitudes, which was opposed by the attempt to curb the invasion of Japanese products by the United States and the European Community.

Having a very high saving capacity of families and businesses (huge amount of capital), the extraordinary successes nevertheless left open relevant social problems that only in a country where, due to many historical and cultural factors, the spirit was so marked. national self-discipline, the sense of respect for authority (with this also meaning loyalty to the “corporate family” as a reflection of the ancestral attachment to the patriarchal family) could be neglected for so long. First of all, there is the typical “dualist” character of the economy, especially industry, in which, alongside the large and modern complexes where workers enjoy an absolutely privileged and in various respects enviable situation even in the most advanced Western countries, there is a fabric of more fragile and more backward small and medium-sized industries, which play complementary roles to those of industrial giants and in which wages are very low and the possibility of dismissal or the obligation to work mobility is almost total, as they perform “buffer” functions in times of crisis. Furthermore, the allocation of capital almost exclusively to the productive and financial sectors has necessarily led to enormous shortcomings in social investments, while the constant use of criteria of immediate profitability and very intense exploitation of the most economically useful areas has caused no less profound imbalances in terms of settlement and environment: in particular, almost a quarter of the total population now resides in the megalopolis of Tōkyō, in conditions of habitability less and less acceptable.

Japan Economy