From the 1880’s, Japan had been advancing in technology at a rapid rate, it was only when the Second World War came in 1939 and the atomic bombs were dropped by the Americans in 1945 that Japan’s industry was mightily crushed. The loos of lives, structures and money amounted to well in the millions and many Japanese people were left in poverty with disease and radiation sickness. It looked as if Japan was at a dead end with nowhere to go and with no one to help them out of the mess they were in. They had lost the war and so had their allies (Germany etc) so how did they hoist themselves out of moral and physical and psychological depression and become the industry giant that they are today?
When Japan had been defeated, the Allies (England, America etc) thought that it was the end of Japan and it’s ever growing success in industry. Maybe this gave Japan an edge; the fact that the Allies thought that Japan wouldn’t be able to get back on their feet again gave them a false sense of security. The Allies thought that they wouldn’t have to be competing in technology any more so this left Japan to work as hard and efficient as it liked without the interference of Western countries.
The day after the Second World War ended (16th August 1945) some Bureaucrats in the city of Nagasaki decided to start holding some secret meetings about the fate of Japan and its economy. They had to meet in destroyed buildings with almost no hope for the future. This alone tells us a bit about how the Japanese people at the time thought. The leaders didn’t go into mourning; they set about how to recover Japan straight away. This shows us that they had a strong sense of determination and they were not going to go down without trying hard. Maybe this is one of the reasons why Japan pulled itself out of the mess it was in.
To add to this time of trouble for the Japanese, they had to pay lots of reparations to the Allies. This could have been machines and military equipment to money and food.
Some time after the war, most of the Japanese businesses that were involved in making products for the war (aeroplane parts, warship materials, artillery and gun parts) switched to make domestic products. This was a great leap forward in recovering Japan, now that the war was over, there wasn’t any need for making military objects and so many businesses saw the gap in the market. Millions of homes were destroyed in the war and so millions of domestic products were destroyed in the process. Steel factories that made parts for battleships started to make nails to build more houses and other factories started to make light bulbs.
I think that this was a turning point in Japan’s current status; it showed that many Japanese people had an astute mind, they new what decisions to make and when to make them.
Up until 1945, America and its armed forces had been very keen not to help Japan in any way because of what happened in the war. But in 1949 when China became a communist country, the last thing the Americans wanted was Japan turning communist. So they suddenly decided to drop the reparations that Japan were still paying to them and help them to rebuild their country. This would have been a big help for Japan since America was leading the world’s economy at the time.
In 1950, America and North Korea went to war many Japanese people saw it as a God send because many jobs were created when the Japanese began to make arms and military equipment for the American war effort. Steel rods, barbed wire and fences were also made which were all linked to making Japan a success.
The money that Japan received from the Americans when they bought Japan’s equipment helped to boost stock markets in Japan and therefore help Japan to get back on to it’s feet and well on track for becoming a successful country.
In the 1950’s Japan had climbed its way up to the 15th richest country in the world.
A main reason why Japan became successful is that they went to leading technological countries (America, western countries etc) and found out how their technology worked. After looking around for the most suitable and effective method, they would use it in their own country. For instance, Japan ‘stole’ methods of producing steel from America and they got ideas for making ships from England (the leading ship builders at the time).
Another thing that separated the Japanese government from others is that they prioritised which areas of their country needed money putting into it and then how much. Resources, Finance and Technology were the main areas to consider.
The Japanese new that rebuilding the country would be a long-term operation and the children were well aware of what was going on too. In fact, many school trips for children consisted of going to visit large ships in the hope that they would want to build them in the future. Gradually, more and more graduates from university were engineers. Because there were many engineers around more and more large pieces of machinery were being built like ships and bridges. This was all helping to link together all aspects of Japan and make them a more sustainable and economically advanced country.
Japan has no natural resources of its own (no coal, oil etc) so to expand and create the ships and machinery that it needs to go forward in the world it had to import and export goods. Japan was particularly good at doing this. So if they were going to import and export lots of goods then they were going to need many new ships. With their new, effective way of producing steel, they set about creating more and more ships.
Just as they did with the Americans, the Japanese came to Great Britain and looked at how we made our ships, with these new ideas they combined the steel making with the ships ideas to streamline their ship building techniques. It got to a point where instead of taking 18 months to build one large ship (like the British were still doing) it was taking the Japanese 7 months!
As time passed, Japan was exporting 80% of all of their ships. People were only too willing to buy them; Japan had overtaken the British and the rest of the world at making the ships that brought lots of money into the country.
Japan’s elevation and terrain is mostly mountainous with the flat land only situated at the edges of the country. Japan soon found that they had taken up all of the land they had, so they decided to reclaim some back. They pumped water out of an area and filled it with earth and concrete making artificial land.
Maybe it’s because the Japanese had such determined minds, and the will to overcome any obstacle that made them so successful.
Steel companies had been growing at a remarkable rate ever since the new techniques were brought in. So they were always looking for new areas to build bigger and better steel works than before. The government issued special bonuses for whichever steel factory created the steel quickest. Through implementing these new methods, the Japanese steel market boomed.
America’s management skills had been excellent for a long time, but it was only in the late 1950’s when Japan hired American management personnel to help them with their management problems. The bosses and personnel managers of steel companies were given special training by these American management consultants in the hope that they could implement what they had been told on their courses. They were given exams and a good result would be a good result for the company.
I think that on the whole, the Japanese people were determined, resourceful and astute. Combined with the fact that they had such disciplinary skills, Japan certainly deserve to be where they are now.