Energy costs increased substantially and the yen's exchange rate was shifted to a floating rate. The eventual recession reduced expectations of future growth and reduced private investment. Economic growth went down from 10% to 3.6% during the period 1974-79 and to 4.4% in the decade of the 80s. But despite the oil crisis and its consequences, Japan's major export industries stayed competitive through its cost-cutting policy and increasing efficiency. It reduced industrial energy demands and allowed the automobile industry, along with other industries, to improve. By the late 70s, the computer, semiconductor and other technology and information-intensive industries entered a period of rapid growth. During this high-growth era, exports continued to support Japan's robust economic growth in the 70s and in the 80s. However, the problems encountered on account of its growing balance of payments surplus urged for the opening of domestic markets and a stronger focus on domestic demands as its engine of economic growth (Ministry of Foreign Affairs).
Today, the Japanese economy is the second larget market economy in the world (Ministry of Foreign Affairs 2007). Its 2002 GNP was recorded at 532.96 trillion yen. Its per capita national income in 2001 was U$24,038, which ranked Japan as the fifth among OECD member nations. Since the collapse of its so-called "bubble economy" in th 90s, its GDP growth stagnated. Sustained recovery did not loom clear ahead. The Japanese government has since been experimenting on a wide range of structural and regulatory reforms. The major changes have also been occurring in the corporate world as businesses struggle to spark and increase competitiveness by veering away from traditional employment practices, such as lifetime employment and seniority-based wages (Ministry of Foreign Affairs).
The type and behavior or government also depended on the leaders, which run it. Yoshida Shigeru was the Japanese Prime Minister after World War II (Answers.com 2007). He was ambassador to Britain in the 30s. In World War II, he was arrested for trying to force an early Japanese surrender and was not released until the start of the Allied occupation of Japan in September. In 1946, he became Prime Minister. From that year to 1954, he formed five separate cabinets and guided Japan back to a phenomenal level of economic prosperity as well as charted a course for postwar cooperation with the U.S. And Europe. In 1951, Yoshida negotiated the peace treat, which ended World War II and a security agreement between Japan and the U.S. He was the most powerful political figure in postwar Japan until 1954. From 1930-32, Yoshida was Japan's ambassador to Italy and to Great Britain from 1936-39. In the latter part of 1944, he was arrested for advocating for peace but worked again for the government after Japan surrendered in 1945. He was head of the Liberal Party. He then served as Prime Minister five times between 1946 and1954, the start of Japan's evolution as an economic miracle. During his administration, a new Constitution was promulgated, land reforms instituted, American occupation of Japan...
But unresolved trade problems with mainland China, rearmament, alliance with the U.S. And economic rehabilitation finally compelled him to withdraw from the post. His policy for Japan's postwar recovery was called the Yoshida doctrine. It focused on the country's resources on economic production with the support of well-trained workers. At the same time, it advocated the adoption of the U.S.' position on security and international politics. The doctrine was considered a safe course throughout the Cold War as it led to Japan's incredible economic growth, but later in the 90s, it would create a new set of problems. Large trade imbalances and protectionism would bring on overwhelming outside pressure to get rid of unfair trade practices. From within, businesses with global markets urged for more flexible workforce and open markets for their foreign goods. Japan was also pressured to assume a greater share of the international military burden, characterized by distrust in the military and long-held pacifism. Yoshida's policies relied on U.S. military protection at the expense of independence in foreign affairs (Answers.com).
Yoshida was a product of the Tokyo Imperial University (Answers.com 2007). He began his diplomatic career in 1906 just after Japan's victory over Russia in the Russo-Japanese War. Throughout the 30s and before World War II, he participated in Japan's imperialist movement. After his imprisonment in 1945, he became one of Japan's most important postwar leaders. He enforced a pro-United States position and advocated pro-British ideals. His knowledge of Western societies from education and political work in foreign countries made him the perfect candidate for selection by the Allies who occupied Japan. He was first replaced by Tetsu Katayama on May 24, 1947, but he was reinstated as the 48th Prime Minister on October 15, 1948. It was under his rule that Japan began to rebuild its industrial infrastructure, destroyed by the War and heavily invested on unrestrained economic growth. Many of the concepts applied under his doctrine and rule still had impact on Japan's political and economic policies afterwards. However, since the 1970's environmental movement, the economic surge and the end of the Cold War, Japan has struggled to redefine its national goals. Yoshida was retained through three succeeding elections as the 49th Prime Minister on February 16, 1949; the 50th on October 30, 1952, and the 51st on May 21, 1953. But he was finally topped on December 10, 1954 when he was replaced by Ichiro Hatoyama. He retired from the Diet of Japan in 1955 (Answers.com).
The Japanese government today has changed many forms since its beginnings as a sovereign nation (Luu et al. 1996). It evolved from the aftereffects of World War II and the occupation of Japan by U.S. forces. Its constitution was ratified by General Douglas McArthur. It contained a bill of rights similar to that of the U.S., continuing peace of the Japanese people and the role of the Emperor as figure head of the government. It likewise had a provision, which translated the Japanese army into a much weaker version than the earlier one before the War. This postwar army would perform a purely self-defensive role, with the U.S. army providing most of the left-over defense. The constitution also provided for three branches of government with a series of checks and balances, like those of the U.S. Constitution. These branches of government were the executive, legislative and judicial branches, again similar to those of the U.S. government (Luu et al.).
Answers.com. (2007). Shigeru Yoshida. 4 pages. Encyclopedia Britannica: Answers Corporation
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