Japan is widely known worldwide as one of the most progressive nations in the East Asian region. Its inclination towards industrialization has enabled it to produce some of the most advanced technological innovations that have found great usage in contemporary times, as it triggered economic growth that has propelled it towards international prominence. The aforementioned trend Japan has started has heavy implications on its political economic development, which is the subject matter of this study.
Verily, this study would explore on the way Japan has evolved in terms of its political economy. How did Japan reach its present status as a developed nation? How did trends in political economy influence the growth and development of Japan? Those kinds of questions will serve as the focus of insights in this study. Apart from studies on the imperial history of Japan, its growth as a nation through the developmental state theory is a crucial case in point that leads to answers to the questions mentioned. Furthermore, the impact of globalization provides another aspect that helps define the formation of present characteristics Japan possesses.
The global influence of Japan first spanned when it grew into an empire during the early parts of the 20th century. When Japan opened its doors to foreign influence for the first time after years in isolation, its lineage towards industrialization have produced phenomenal effects at a rapid pace, while it kept its traditions intact and even used those constructively. Soon, concepts like democracy and nationalism has urged the formation of strong political and military institutions, alongside economic developments that supported such trend of organization. With that growth came the trend of expanding territorial bounds through annexations of surrounding territorial domains within present-day Korean Peninsula and Mainland China. The participation of Japan during World War II gave the nation an opportunity to exhibit its progress in industrialization, political and military construction through its involvement in major battles and conquests that made it a threat in the mold of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy in Asia. The loss of Japan in World War II signaled its heavy decline as a nation, although it took only a matter of years before it experienced its next wave of economic resurgence (Adams 33-92; Pieterse and Kim 117-140).
When World War II ended, Japan had to deal with a plethora of political economic problems largely caused by the massive damage it incurred during the conflict. World War II proved too costly a conflict for Japan, and its loss has rattled its integrity as a nation, leaving many of its citizens to suffer. Yet, what ushered to the redevelopment of Japan was a political economic model that revitalized the prowess of the nation in industrialization - the developmental state (Onis 109).
The developmental state model served as an antithesis to criticisms of structural theory by neoclassical theory adherents. The role of state in a developmental state is crucial, in that it enhances markets through positioning itself in a supportive role. Yet, unlike traditional structuralist paradigms, the developmental state model assumes a role that recognizes the market as having a major role in industrialization (Onis110). For Japan to facilitate the developmental process, it established a pilot agency called the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), which handled the affairs of the nation in terms of policies pertinent to industrialization, investments and research for innovation. With MITI at the helm of the developmental process, Japan grew significantly starting from the 1960s, enabling it to go on its way as one of the economically prominent nations in the world. The bureaucracy is isolated from private interests, an attitude that ran simultaneously with cooperation between the public and private spheres for development (Onis 114-115).
The developmental state model waned in significance when industries formed by bureaucratic intervention soon gained stability in revenue through established connections abroad and in overseas. The fruits of the Japanese bureaucracy soon gained notoriety worldwide, as Japanese companies went on to become among the most globally recognized ones. With that came the inevitable decline for the role of the bureaucracy, one that picks further implications from the rise of globalization (Pekkanen 364-365).
With technology enabling the whole world to become more connected with one another, companies from Japan that have gained firmly-rooted international connections have become instrumental to the emphasis of their growth switching from bureaucratically set policies to those adhering to global economic trends. In other words, Japanese companies have become more responsive to the world economy rather than to the rigid advices of the bureaucracy, which played a key role in spearheading the developmental state model. With interconnectivity through the Internet, communication channels enabled the demand for information in Japan, thus causing the isolation of the bureaucracy to wane through the formation of civil society groups. Overall, the further engagement of Japan in communicating and interacting with the rest of the world has enabled it to drop the developmental state model. The equilibrium obtained by Japanese companies in its global connections has rendered bureaucratic direction unnecessary (Pekkanen 381-383).
Japan is a nation that has built itself around the idea of maintaining markers that would lead to progress. Its removal from isolation that led to the onset of the Meiji Period has served as the ideal starting point for the direction Japan has headed. The introduction of industrialization has remained in constant motion throughout the years, with many opportunities emerging in gradual forms in between major conflicts. Remarkable, those major conflicts did not cause Japan to lose track of what it has learned throughout the years, as it simply hit checkpoints that served as springboards for heights it has presently reached.
Industrialization grew gradually during the pre-World War II period. The development of institutions started during that period, has proved competitive to global standards and has gained considerable improvements throughout time. Yet, an astounding lesson for Japan is its defeat in World War II, in which it had to deal with costly damages that has stricken the lives of its people and crippled its economic state.
The move of Japan to initialize the developmental state model proved pivotal to its rise as a global economic force starting from the 1960s. State-led direction of the market through industry specificity and other related policies gave Japan a new direction for growth. One could think of the developmental state process as one that has helped incubate crucial market agents that led to Japan being among the most important economic centers of the world. However, the developmental state model did not linger in permanency, as the emancipation of its creations and the influence of globalization has removed the necessity of bureaucratic intervention.
Globalization has rightfully entered for Japan, whose companies and institutions have found nurturing under bureaucratic tutelage. With those bodies having found full development, globalization served as the stabilizing force that enabled those to gain crucial connections with other government bodies and companies worldwide. Simply put, globalization served as the fitting stage succeeding the developmental state model for the further development of the political economy of Japan. While globalization opened Japan to risks associated with global forces, it nevertheless proved that the nation has readied itself for such circumstances. Verily, the developmental state model has served as a way of preparing Japan to the contemporary setup of international politics, which is the trend of globalization.
Overall, one could properly state that Japan is a product of gradual development. While it would not have reached its current heights by itself, its traditions have become a formidable characteristic of its comprehensive growth agenda. Foreign influence triggered Japan to become the nation it is at this time. Industrialization enabled it to transform into one of the most powerful economic centers of the world, as its products have greatly benefited living standards across the globe. Yet, such transformation would not have become possible if not for the compelling circumstances it has faced throughout the 20th century.
The growth of political and economic institutions in Japan proved instrumental to its upward transformation, although instances particularly World War II has compelled it to rise from complete disarray through using its lessons in industrialization and development of institutions. Such is evident in the rise of the developmental state model, which eventually made Japan ready to ride by the waves generated by globalization. With globally competitive institutions and companies, Japan has comprehensively gained fruits from its gradual growth.
Adams, F. Gerard. East Asia, Globalization, and the New Economy. Florence, KY: Routledge, 2006. Print.
Onis, Ziya. "The Logic of the Developmental State." Comparative Politics 24.1 (1991): 109-126. Print.
Pekkanen, Robert. "After the Developmental State: Civil Society in Japan." Journal of East Asian Studies 4 (2004): 363-388. Print.
Pieterse, Jan, and Jongtae Kim. Routledge Studies in Emerging Societies: Globalization and Development in East Asia. Florence, KY: Routledge, 2012. Print.