Nation Examined Term Paper

Pages: 10 (3209 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 10  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: History - Asian

Economic Growth of Japan

Cross Cultural Perspectives

Ms. Emily Archer

Economic Growth of Japan

Japan boasts one of the strongest economies in the world. In terms of capacity, Japan's economy ranks third after the United States and China. Extensive emphasis on the technology, which acts as one of the strongest resources of the country, has thrust Japan into a world economic power. The emphasis on technology has helped Japan become one of the greatest automobile manufacturing countries. Although recently challenged by the emerging electronic and automobile technologies of Korea, Japan's highly successful electronics industry focuses on the cameras, computers, music and video-related products. International trade relations have contributed significantly to the development of the country's GDP. Japan's powerhouse economic engines -- and its people -- were seriously challenged in March 2011 by one of the most severe earthquakes -- and tsunamis -- experienced in Asia in many years. But although Japan has many government-related problems, including a struggling labor force, unemployment and disenfranchised youth, in the main Japan is bouncing back fairly well from that disaster.

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Thesis: Notwithstanding the calamitous 9.0 earthquake, followed by an extraordinarily destructive tsunami that wiped out entire towns and took the lives of 15,854 people (in addition, 3,155 are listed as missing) -- and caused radiation from a nuclear plant to be leaked into the air and the sea -- Japan is coming back strong. The people of Japan are well educated, proud and resilient, and based on the economic structure it has worked hard to develop since the end of WWII, and notwithstanding temporary problems with unemployment and cutbacks by the government of certain benefits for workers and welfare recipients, Japan has the capacity to continue uninterrupted as a world economic power.

The Literature -- Economic Growth of Japan -- From Militarism to Production

TOPIC: Term Paper on Nation Examined Assignment

Anne Allison writes in the Anthropological Quarterly that it was not an easy task for Japan to rebuild after World War II. The nation had been propagandized into believing it was an empire builder through militarism, but after Nagasaki and Hiroshima were blown away by the forces of the first atomic bombs ever dropped on populated cities, it was time for citizens to roll up their sleeves and "work hard" (Allison, 2012, p. 351). They were urged to work hard "not to win a war but to increase prosperity at home," and due to the "economic miracle" that Japan accomplished in the post-WWII years, the country gained "…the global prestige that had eluded it as a would-be imperial power" (Allison, 351).

By the late 1980s, about 90% of Japanese citizens were considered part of the middle class, and working hard meant that a person might well afford a home "…stocked with the newest domestic electronics -- washing machines, color TVs, automobiles" and more (Allison, 351). The country experienced what Allison calls "reproductive futurism," that is, seeing one's future in the faces and images of children. At this point in the article Allison doesn't allude to the earthquake and tsunami when she asserts that "…today, things seem to have stalled. The economy is stuck, jobs have been lost, and kids are no long being born like they used to" (352).

The author is alluding to the "…reemergence of poverty in Japan," echoing what happened after World War II. She backs up her assertions of poverty by pointing out that Japanese youth "feel stuck" because they are "succumbing to the 'precariat,' precarious proletariat or working poor" (353). Indeed about half of the Japanese workers between the ages of 15 and 24 are "…irregularly employed which means no job security, no benefits, and wages that are static and low" (Allison, 353). And upwards of three quarters of those who are "irregularly employed" earn less than 2,000,000 yen ($26,000) a year, putting them in the ranks of the working poor (Allison, 353).

Many of those out of work or barely eking out an existence find "home" in what Japanese call "net cafes," which offer a "cubicle or reclining chair" for about $15 to $26 a night. These cafe dwellers are part of what Allison calls Japan's "floating population of flexible workers," are actually the mainly young people that are the "drifting poor"; they have no permanent homes and live on the streets if they can't afford a net cafe (353-54). These young people don't protest against the policies in Japan, Allison explains; they "simply don't participate in it (355). And many of those young people that Allison interviewed in a recent research project explained to her that they were "…socially disinterested, disinvested," and "depressed" (355). Given these depressing statistics, it is no surprise that "…60% of all those who commit suicide are jobless" (Allison, 346). These data and social reports indicate that while Japan has a reputation as an economic powerhouse, and despite recent setbacks Japan remains a world powerhouse economically. Still it is only fair to include the darker economic news with the more well-known side of the country, and that is its tremendously successful history of exporting cars and electronics.

Some authors, like C. Chandler, explain that that as far as the workforce in Japan, there is an absence of women employed in key position in companies, and he references what he calls "the narrow-mindedness of the youths in the society" (Chandler, 2012). It is clear that the number of Japanese students abroad is on the decline, and is contributing towards "insularity among the youth" he continues.

An article by C. Belanger offers general knowledge of the country, including environmental and geographical background as well as data on the animals and plants that characterize Japan. Through the article, researchers get to know the climatic conditions of Japan, and aside from the earthquake and tsunami disaster, and the radiation leaks, Japan is a fairly stable and ecologically sound nation.

The Literature -- Economic Growth of Japan - Oshima

Why is it general knowledge in the literature and in the worldwide conversation about Japan that this island nation will not be stymied for long notwithstanding the tsunami disaster? For one thing, even though Japanese people are now justifiable wary of electricity produced by nuclear plants -- and many nervous citizens carry miniature devices that can detect radiation following the meltdown of the Fukushima plant -- Japanese journalist Keiji Oshima explains in a peer-reviewed article that new clean energy systems will be built through Japanese technological know-how to replace the electricity that nuclear power once produced so efficiently.

There is naturally an increased demand for electricity in the country -- to rebuild the economy and keep factories going that produce the technologies that Japan markets all over the world -- and Japan is in a position to become a leader in building renewable energy sources, like solar, Oshima explains (Oshima, 2011, p. 90). These solar technologies will of course help fill in the gaps left by the shutdown of the nuclear plants, but they will also help Japan's exports to the West, where there is an urgency to slow down global warming by replacing coal and oil-fired plants with renewable systems.

Oshima asserts that because Japan is the world's leading manufacturer of lithium ion rechargeable batteries (which are needed to store electricity created by solar collectors, and are used in the hybrid autos that Japanese auto industry produces) the country has a product that is in great demand, helping the country stabilize its economic system. attempting to get back to the top of the world economies despite the setback of the natural disaster in the form of earthquake. Showing the classic Japanese ability for positive thinking, Oshima concludes his essay with the thought that Japan can "…foster a new future where only safe, eco-friendly, and renewable energy sources are used so that our planet can sustain itself in the long run" (Oshima, 91).

The parts of Japan's culture that has played vital roles in the growth and development of Japan include: an enhanced education system and structures, quality healthcare, human capital development, automobile manufacturing sector, electronic industry, resources, effective and efficient government system, and technology.

D. Ryan has conducted extensive statistical research in the Japan Country Monitor that there is the real prospect of constant or flat GDP levels in Japan in the near future. This is mainly because of the natural disasters (tsunami and earthquake). According to Ryan's article, consumer price inflation has been on the rise in the past year (Ryan, 2011). The article also recognizes that the continuous growth in the strength of the currency is not the main problem that the country faces towards revival. GDP of the country is also recovering having been on the decline in the first three quarters of 2011. The article illustrates appropriate measures essential for revival, include maintaining the constant interest rates in order to attract new investors to the economy.

The Literature -- System Breakdowns after the Earthquake / Tsunami

James B. Rice is logistics and transportation director at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and he writes in the peer-reviewed journal Mechanical Engineering that… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Nation Examined.  (2012, June 10).  Retrieved December 1, 2021, from

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"Nation Examined."  June 10, 2012.  Accessed December 1, 2021.