Term Paper: Japan and Korea

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Economic History -- Japan & Korea

Questions about the Economic History of Japan & Korea

Explain how the Meiji restoration led to Japan's early industrialization.

The Meiji Restoration is a critical period in the history of Japan in several ways including economically, industrially, technologically, and culturally. The Meiji Restoration is not an event as such, but rather is a series of events of transition out of several key cultural and social structures. "Meiji" is the Japanese word for "enlightened rule." The goal of the Meiji Period, beginning in 1868, is a goal that continues to play out in Japanese culture today: to combine "western advances" with "eastern values."

Japan, both geographically and culturally isolated, was stunned to experience the advances of the west when Commodore Matthew C. Perry arrived desiring to issue a treaty. Instead of racing to catch up with the technological advances of the west, the leaders of Japan made a far more effective and wise decision. The Japanese would consume the advanced technology and in the process adapt and reproduce the technology to Japanese values and practices. Foreigners arrive to Japan with advances far beyond anything they have; it was the end of the Shogunate and the return of the Emperor. There was now an Imperial Army and no more need for Samurai. War and battle broke out and ceased. These were massive shifts in Japanese culture and political structure in a compressed period of time. These cultural and political shifts resulted in a shift in perspective -- the Japanese were rethinking how their perceptions of themselves in the world and rethinking the world's perceptions of Japan. Changes ensured including the boom of industry, specifically technology and military.

2. What does Itoh mean by claiming that Japan's growth from 1950 to 1973 was due to important and non-repeatable conjunctural factors?

There were specific conditions that contributed to the unprecedented economic growth of Japan between 1950 -- 1973. Makoto Itoh poses describes several key conditions that made this growth possible, though it did not sustain in the same ways it grew. For Itoh, those conditions were: a favourable international market, relatively cheap and docile labour, availability of new technologies, and favourable terms of trade. These conditions described the atmosphere of the 1950s and 1960s wherein Japan saw average annual growth of almost 8%. These conditions made for short-term stability in the Japanese economy. In the mid 1970s, the Japanese economy destabilized more than once and saw great fluctuations. Inflation became an issue at the forefront when considering the Japanese economy at this point.

But before the fluctuations of 1973 and beyond, between 1950 -- 1973, Japan was an economic star. There was a bounty of new technology from America to import and improve. America experienced a long lasting economic growth spurt after World War II and into the Vietnam War era, providing a surplus of imports to the Japanese. Japan began consuming more and it was not of great concern with the low prices of oil. Increased industrial took workers away from agriculture and into industry. There was a surplus of people to become the workforce needed to propel Japan into the future and the workforce was long-lasting as the practice of offering lifetime employment became widespread across the country. The combination of these elements and the timing set the stage for Japan's super growth from 1950 -- 1973 according to Makoto Itoh.

3. Describe using the paper by Itoh, how the patterns of growth in the Japanese economy between 1975 and 1985 were bound to the patterns of growth in the U.S.

As was the period of growth between 1950 -- 1973 in Japan linked to the growth in the U.S.A., so were the patterns of growth between 1975 -- 1985 in Japan and the U.S.A. linked. The link between the U.S.A. And Japan may not have been forged but was certainly bonded because of interactions between the two countries during World War II.

According Makoto Itoh, Japan saw vast economic rebounding and growth due to increased exports to the U.S.A. In the U.S.A. In the 1970s and 1980s, there grew a fascination and curiosity for Japanese culture and commodities. This desire manifested in product consumption and cultural references. As the U.S.A. recovered from Reaganomics in the early and mid 1980s, so did Japan's economy boom again due to exponential surge of exports to the U.S.A. Thus when the U.S.A. receded, Japan receded. When the U.S.A. surged, Japan surged. The economic shifts are related to cultural interest and curiosity. During the late 1970s and early 1980s the U.S.A. dreamed of the future and put its imagination in play. To America, Japan was distant, ancient, mysterious, and futuristic. America, in its search and rediscovery of national identity, sought consumption of Japanese commodities to satiate its hunger. During this period, America went through a cultural awakening to Japanese culture and the Japanese economic profited a great deal. Often economic growth and shrinkage can be attributed to shifts in politics and cultural interests. Many areas of a culture have economic consequences. According to Itoh, the U.S.A. And Japan are closely tied together economically; what is good for one seemed to be good for the other.

4. Briefly describe what has happened to the Japanese economy between 1991 and present. Use specific terms like deflation in your answer.

According to Mitsuhiko Iyoda, in the period since 1991, Japan's economic growth is described as a "stagnation period." The economy saw relatively low growth despite retaining the largest budget in the world from 1991 -- 2000. The inciting event that brought upon this economic stagnation was the collapse of the bubble economy. Iyoda believes that the stagnation commenced in 1991 and last for a decade (2001). Iyoda contends that in 2002, the economic stagnation begins to subside and growth returns, though quite gradually. Iyoda also proposes that dramatic decreases in land value contribute to the stagnation period of 1991 -- 2001. Prices of land decreased and losses from land increased. Iyoda believes that growth in wages stagnated during this period as well. These, combined with capital losses in real estate characterize the general economic state since in Japan since 1991.

Deflation was a serious economic issue in Japan until 2007. Deflation, as imagined, is the opposite of inflation; it is characterize by a general decrease of the price of services and commodities. The deflationary spiral in Japan began in the 1990s. During this spiral, many loans were non-performing. The Japanese people did not trust the banks and feared their collapse. People did not utilize banks as they once did. Growth is slowed, as there is no money to lend. The Japanese increased their importation of cheap products from other sources such as China. Domestic competitors must compete with the production costs and wages for cheaper products; this causes prices for many items to decrease, deflating the economy as a result.

5. Describe what is meant by the term late industrializers.

"Late industrializers" are the people and countries of part of "late industrialization." Late industrialization describes a specific type of cultural and economic expansion that several countries including South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Brazil, and India have experienced in the last twenty years or less. Late industrialization is a sort of "piggy back" industrialization. In countries with late industrializers, the focus of manufacture and industry is on borrowed or foreign technology. In these countries, the people take technology from other countries and incrementally increase the quality and efficiency of not only the technology itself, but also the process of production of that technology. These are products are guaranteed a broad and deep customer base because it has already been long established by other global leaders. Consumers will also consume a newer, better, highly improved version of the commodities they already prefer. Then these consumers will be more likely to consume new products by the company that made their favorite products better and more of their favorite. In this way, late industrializers deepen existing markets, making for more competition and profit, and eventually expand the market with innovation.

Maintaining low wages for workers is an important part of the success of late industrialization. When labor-based industry wages increase, those industries will collapse from the competition of countries with even lower working wages. South Korea saw late industrialization after a political shift, just as Japan did, too. Shifts in politics contribute to late industrialization coming to pass. Industrialization is a process and happens slowly in some countries and quickly in others. Japan has had a longer process of late industrialization and South Korea has seen a greater one in a shorter period.

6. Describe briefly two elements of Korea's developmental state package and how this helped in the rapid growth of the country from the 1960s to the 1990s.

Again, Korea's rapid development and industrialization comes during and after a point of great political shift in its government and culture. Following the conclusion of the Korean War, the Korean government sought to revitalize and develop economy and… [END OF PREVIEW]

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