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Japan's Gilded Age

In: Historical Events

Submitted By dw3280a
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Japan’s economy in 1990 was 73 times bigger than in 1950, an unprecedented amount of growth. In 1945, just 5 years earlier, Japan lay in shambles. They were the subject of bombardments for almost four years and had the first ever atomic bombs dropped on two of their major cities: Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Most of the infrastructure, such as factories and railroads had been destroyed. How did Japan go from absolute shambles to one of the world’s largest and most developed economies in such a short period of time? One theory credits Japanese Prime Minister Ikeda who used monetary and fiscal policies to lower interest rates and taxes resulting in more capital investment. Another more mainstream theory credits the United States’ post-war policy of helping Japan rebuild via political and financial assistance is often given credit for helping Japan develop. A final theory, which this paper will argue precludes American policy, cites shifts in Japanese attitudes away from loyalty to an emperor and instead towards democratic institutions resulting in improved living standards. Although many factors and policies contributed to Japanese economic growth after World War Two, without a shift in attitude from Japanese citizens it would have been impossible to have economic success.
The cultural beliefs of Japan that prevailed through world war two came from the Meiji Restoration in 1868. The Meiji government had three political priorities which, after implemented, shaped the views of Japanese citizens through world war two. The first priority was to create a central army capable of defending Japan against foreign aggressors. Second, the Meiji’s wanted to create a strong central government with a powerful emperor whom all citizens were loyal to. The last major shift was to end Japan’s policy of isolation and instead to “seek knowledge” from around the globe (Hane and Perez, Ch 3)....

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