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Japanese-American Relations

Yet for all its burgeoning national power and immense industrial achievement, prewar Japan was in other respects still a very poor country. Its military might was achieved only by extreme economic militarization; in 1937 Japan devoted an extraordinary 28.2 percent of its national income to the military, the contemporary United States about 1.5 percent (Kennedy, 1987, 332) -- a demonstration of the disparity in capacity of which Admiral Yamamoto, the planner of Pearl Harbor, warned his political superiors in vain. Japan might be an industrial Great Power, but the Japanese standard of living was comparable to those of its impoverished East Asian neighbors, not to those of the industrial West.

By 1945, Japan was moreover laid prostrate by the war itself. The Japanese, however, were quick to learn from their painful experience. The American model of civilian-based industrial prowess, when put to the test, had shown itself superior to the Japanese spirit of military bushido. Constrained in any case from re-embarking on a military path, the Japanese after 1945 threw themselves into applying the spirit of bushido to civilian economic development.

This collective decision was reinforced by American occupation policy. Initially, US occupation policy aimed primarily at making Japan a more open society, to eliminate what Americans (and a good many Japanese) perceived to be the roots of Japanese militarism. With the coming of the Cold War, however, what America most wanted in Japan was stability, and the American authorities actively fostered the dominance of the politico-economic elite that, in subsequent decades, would prove so impervious to American calls for reform (Smith, 1998, 125).

"Japanese, Inc.:" The 1970s and 1980s

Within a generation, by about 1970, the results were manifest in the form of Japanese automobiles on American street. Americans in their forties and older can still distantly recall a time when "Made in Japan...

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Japanese-American Relations. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 04:52, September 21, 2017, from
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