Infusions of $2 billion in American aid had begun by keeping a defeated enemy with an economy in ruins from starving to death. It had ended by rebuilding the Japanese economy to levels that even at an early stage markedly surpassed prewar standards. In his book on the Japanese occupation, one author paints a vivid picture:
In time, the Japanese brought their consumer products up to and above world standards and captured world markets. But how could they have done so without enough local consumers in the first place? [This development was] . . . demonstrated [by] the hordes of electric appliance salesmen squatting in the village street across from the local food corporation office . . . when the farmers and their wives arrived . . . to collect their payments for the
harvest . . . The electric juicers, rice cookers, vacuum cleaners, and "room coolers" that competed for the farm wife's eye, to say nothing of the small power cultivators the farmer bought, were all tried out on the Japanese first and then, suitably improved, sold overseas. A generation before, the same farmers or their parents sold their daughters into mills and brothels to buy food and only silk habutae, celluloid toys and small electric bulbs could be offered to foreign buyers from what was then normal production for the Japanese market at home (Cohen, 1987, pp. 458-459).
In his own recollections of the Korean War, Theodore Cohen, then an official in the U.S. occupation, recalls a budget mission to the U.S. Pentagon to submit Japanese aid requirements for 1951-52:
I was constantly reminded, "Now, with the war, Japan doesn't need aid any more. And no wonder. In the single month of August 1950, U.S. procurement officers signed contracts with Japanese suppliers for $60 million in goods and
services . . . In the second half of 1950 . . . receipts tripled and during 1951 they reached almost $1 billion. This was three-quarters as much as all other Japanese for...
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