After World War II ended in 1945, Japan made a new start toward economic reconstruction as a democratic and pacifist state. Thanks to its highly educated and abundant labor force and to the concentration of capital and resources in certain key industries, such as electric power and steel, Japan succeeded in recovering from the ruins of war and achieving industrialization during the 1950s and 1960s.
High economic growth prevailed from the mid-1960s through the 1970s with the arrival of a mass-consumption society, as technological innovations spurred the expansion of manufacturing facilities and sales of such consumer durables as television sets, refrigerators, and automobiles.
The economy showed its resilience especially after the two oil crises of the 1970s. Dealt a severe blow by the big jump in the price of crude oil, Japanese businesses responded by developing fuel-efficient products and manufacturing processes.
Japan's industrial structure was transformed from one centered on traditional "smokestack" industries to one focused on high-tech, electronic industries. As a result, Japanese products have gained a reputation around the world for their high quality, reasonable prices, and energy efficiency.
Following the phase of yen appreciation that began in the mid-1980s, Japan also became a major player on the global financial market. At the beginning of the 1990s, however, land and stock prices, which until then had been rising sharply, suddenly collapsed, and the economy plunged into recession.
Photo: East Nippon Expressway Company Limited