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Japan's Technological Challenge to the West, 1950-1974: Motivation and Accomplishment


  • Terutomo Ozawa

    (Colorado State University)


Japan's economy has enjoyed unprecedented technological growth in the decades since World War II. At first stereotyped as an exporter of shoddy good, Japan now enjoys a worldwide reputation as an efficient manufacturer of high-quality products. This book focuses on the unique experience of Japan's postwar industrialization. Although the literature of economics has frequently pointed out in passing that foreign technologies have been crucial to the formation of Japan's industries, until now there has been no detailed analysis to support this assertion. The book first describes the postwar technological environment in and outside of Japan. It identifies the Schumpeterian characteristics of economic development and the particular set of relationships that Japan had with the United States and with developing nations in Asia that provided it with the incentive and the necessary mechanisms to advance technologically. The book then examines the Japanese government's selective policy of importing technology for the development of key industries, government controls on imports and on foreign industrial ownership, the efforts of individual Japanese firms to choose, adapt, and perfect imported technologies, and the development of indigenous technologies and their export to the rest of the world. Two final chapters probe the social and psychological causes of Japan's century-old desire to catch up with and surpass the West in industrialization. They discuss the impact of recent changes in the international and domestic economic situation on both the traditional values of the Japanese and the direction of Japan's technological future, and take up some of the implications for the United States policy on technology and trade of Japan's rising competitiveness in the world market.

Suggested Citation

  • Terutomo Ozawa, 1974. "Japan's Technological Challenge to the West, 1950-1974: Motivation and Accomplishment," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262650673, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:mtp:titles:0262650673

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Van Wijnbergen, Sweden, 1986. "On fiscal deficits, the real exchange rate and the world rate of interest," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 1013-1023, October.
    2. Tabellini, Guido & Alesina, Alberto, 1990. "Voting on the Budget Deficit," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 37-49, March.
    3. Tobin, James, 1969. "A General Equilibrium Approach to Monetary Theory," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 1(1), pages 15-29, February.
    4. Sutherland, Alan, 1997. "Fiscal crises and aggregate demand: can high public debt reverse the effects of fiscal policy?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 147-162, August.
    5. Menahem E. Yaari, 1965. "Uncertain Lifetime, Life Insurance, and the Theory of the Consumer," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 32(2), pages 137-150.
    6. Robert Summers & Alan Heston, 1991. "The Penn World Table (Mark 5): An Expanded Set of International Comparisons, 1950–1988," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(2), pages 327-368.
    7. Uzawa, H, 1969. "Time Preference and the Penrose Effect in a Two-Class Model of Economic Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 77(4), pages 628-652, Part II, .
    8. van Wijnbergen, Sweder, 1987. "Tariffs, Employment and the Current Account: Real Wage Resistance and the Macroeconomics of Protectionism," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 28(3), pages 691-706, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lu, Qiwen & Lazonick, William, 2001. "The organization of innovation in a transitional economy: business and government in Chinese electronic publishing," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 55-77, January.
    2. Shuhei Aoki & Julen Esteban-Pretel & Tetsuji Okazaki & Yasuyuki Sawada, 2009. "The Role of the Government in Facilitating TFP Growth during Japan's Rapid Growth Era," CIRJE F-Series CIRJE-F-622, CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo.
    3. Omar R. Malik & Masaaki Kotabe, 2009. "Dynamic Capabilities, Government Policies, and Performance in Firms from Emerging Economies: Evidence from India and Pakistan," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(3), pages 421-450, May.
    4. Terutomo Ozawa, 2001. "The "Hidden" Side of the "Flying-Geese" Model of Catch-Up Growth: Japan's Dirigiste Institutional Setup and a Deepening Financial Morass," Economics Study Area Working Papers 20, East-West Center, Economics Study Area.
    5. Peter Draper & Andreas Freytag & Sören Scholvin & Luong Thanh Tran, 2016. "Is a 'Factory Southern Africa' Feasible? Harnessing Flying Geese to the South African Gateway," CESifo Working Paper Series 5867, CESifo Group Munich.

    More about this item


    technological development; postwar Japan;

    JEL classification:

    • O14 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Industrialization; Manufacturing and Service Industries; Choice of Technology
    • N95 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - Asia including Middle East
    • O53 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Asia including Middle East


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