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Japan After World War II: Struggle, Reconstruction, Kaizen, Theory Z, Sacrifice

Published Tue Jun 18 2019 By Chandra Rana Magar
Japan After World War II: Struggle, Reconstruction, Kaizen, Theory Z, Sacrifice

Japan is indeed one of the most inspiring countries in the world, proclaimed the miraculous country with forging progression in the modern era which survived even after the traumatic nuclear hits on World War II.  

After launching a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Japan took part in the devastating World War II; it resulted in the air-raid by the United States in the mid-August 1945, with nuclear bombard on Hiroshima (Little Boy) and Nagasaki (Fat Man).

As a result of nuclear radiation, the bombs turned cities to ashes, with casualties of approximately 140,000 people in Hiroshima and 80,000 in Nagasaki. The cities, factories and economic growth were down on the knees while Japan remained in mere mercy.

And now, after nearly 74 years of World War II, Japan has raised up like the Phoneix from the ashes. Surely, it was full of struggle and sacrifices but was worth as the country lies in the peak of technology advancement. The simple motto to Japan’s welfare is “Kaizen” translated as continuous improvement.

Here are the secrets to prosperity & economic development in Japan:

Aftermath Of World War II: Recover & Treaty

Following the end of the war, Japan was devastated heavily on industrial development, causing the Japanese cotton industry on a loss of 20% of spinning and 14% weaving capacity. Moreover, the nation lost its territory acquired after 1894, suffered from a severe food shortage and transportation network disfiguration. 

Then, the United States focused on strategic foreign assistance and aided on the rebuild of post-war Japan. With the operation named The United States' occupation of Japan (1945–52) led under the United States' supreme commander General MacArthur, Washington DC invested around $2.2 billion on Japan’s reconstruction (adjusted inflammation to $28.8 billion as of 2019).

Nuclear attack on Hiroshima
Nuclear attack on Hiroshima

Well, the decreased industrial production in 1946 to 27.6%, recovered by 1951. Following 2-years after the end of The US occupation on Japan, Japan, and the United States signed a peace treaty in 1952 and shed-off the US control over Japan, establishing the Self Defense Force of their own in 1954.  

Later on January 19, 1960, Japan and the United States signed a new Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security. Reportedly, in 1960, Japan’s industrial production rose up by 350%.

Moreover, between the era from 1953-1965, Japan’s GDP was growing 9% per year, increment in manufacturing and mining was 13% in construction and 12% in infrastructure development.

Change In Structure Of Investment

Before World War II, most of the people were involved in agriculture, venturing in cotton production. In 1965, Japan’s 41% population were involved in labor while 26% relied on agriculture.    

With the Bank of Japan issuing loans for industrial development, the majority of the population followed labor resulting in the agriculture population declination by  17% in 1970 and to 7.2% in 1990.

Meanwhile, under 5% of Japanese do agriculture; means majority are employed in labor works including industrial and service sectors. Transiting from agriculture to industrial prominence, Japan began investing in the manufacture of automobiles, steel, shipbuilding, chemicals, and electronics.

Toyota is one of the leading company in Japan
Toyota is one of the leading company in Japan

Some famous world-class companies in Japan are Toyota Motor, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial, Nippon Telegraph & Tel, Honda Motor, Nissan Motor, Hitachi and many more.

It gained a rapid pace in economic development as the workforce of 47% from 1970 went to up 59.2% in 1990.  Well, the report after investment transition was exceptional as it rose up more than 30% in the late 70s.

Japan became the country with third-largest Gross National Product (GNP) with US$23,801 in 1990 behind the United States and the Soviet Union.

Between the time period of 1987-1989, Japan’s economic growth averaged at 5% and is on a low increasing pace since 1992 as the GNP growth came down to 1.7%.

Korean War (June 25, 1950- July 27, 1953)

For a fact, the Korean War played an important role in the economic touch ups for Japan. To produce supplies for the United States, over $3.5 billion was spent on Japanese companies, encouraging the industrial flourishment for Japan.

By the 1950s, the manufacturing of Japan grew up to 50% of its original, while the living standard of Japanese people rose twice in comparison to 1949.

In addition to that, during the Korean War, approximately 200,000-400,000 Korean fled to Japan for works and shelter, which gave an additional labor supply for Japan.

Oil Crisis: A New Evolution To Technology

After the 1973 Oil Crisis, Japanese companies relying on petroleum were in a shock that halted in the economic growth of the country in the mid-1970s. The challenge became a seed to new inventions and ideas for business magnates as they sought for alternatives.

By the late 1970s and 1980, Japan reduced the companies’ dependence in oils and developed the majority use of alternatives, resulting in the advancement of microcircuitry and semiconductors in the 80s.

Japan began enhancing industries products on consumer electronics and computers. Well, the nation had an economic growth of 4-6% with an average of 5% in the 1980s, though the remarks were convincing as the United States secured the growth rate of 3.8% at that time.

Then in July 1992, Japan founded Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd., the power plants focused on the production of nuclear fuel and its re-processing.

Theory Of Z Of Ouchi & Kaizen

Japan, a nation with wide recognition for an impressive comeback and enhancement from World War II, is famous for respect and dedication for their work. The work management in Japan is one of the appreciated ideas, based on the Theory of Z or so-called Japanese Management.

Introduced in the 1980s, the ‘Theory Z’ focus on promoting employees stability, productivity and satisfaction in exchange for quality of service. Undoubtedly, the perception has become an effective and efficient way to power up individual, companies as well as the nation’s economic growth.

Well, Professor William Ouchi has written a book Theory Z How American Business Can Meet the Japanese Challenge (1981), which revolves on the idea of how American business can achieve high efficiency to promote business.

Co-operation with co-works builds up effiecienty and base for success
Co-operation with co-works builds up effiecienty and base for success

But surely, motivation is indeed a vital push-force to perfection. Well, there is saying “Repeated failures lead to success” that depicts Japanese self-motivation “Kaizen” means to work for continuous improvement, which has been a simple secret to success.

Success is a trade with sweat. Kaizen!

Economic Stats Of Japan 2018

  1. GDP (in US$ PPP)-5,594.5
  2. GDP per capita (in US$ PPP)- 44,227
  3. GDP growth (real)- 0.8%
  4. Inflation rate- 1.0%
  5. Unemployment rate- 2.4%
  6. Government debt (in % of GDP)- 237.1%

According to econometric models, Japan's GDP is projected to trend around 5700.00 USD Billion in 2020.   

Check Out 5 Facts About Japanese Workplaces

  1. Unlike American workplaces, Japan follows strict rules which include formal dress up and tight punctuality
  2. Surely the well-said proverb that “The oldest trees often bear the sweetest fruit” seems so effective implementation in Japan. In Japan, employees must get the approval of seniors for decisions
  3. Group work and co-operation is the base of success. Japanese work in groups and belief on promoting “One for all and All for one” environment
  4. Most often Japanese co-workers take each for treats as a sign of respect and care
  5. Bosses made personal visits in employees' house and company make arrangement for sick workers

Stay tuned with for more!