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WWII aftermath: How did Japan and Germany become global powerhouses?

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their recovery's were underwritten by the US and they spent virtually nothing on defense for nearly 40 years...

10 ( +12 / -2 )

How about how both countries received massive investment, devalued currencies. The Cold War meant that the Allies were never not going to abandon (at that time) West Germany Germany at the centre of Europe and with brand new arrow straight roads was well set. Japan go rich off the Korean War and again, a non abandonment strategy by the US THAT GAVE Japan access to US markets There was a lot of hard work but both countries took benefit from very favourable conditions...

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Both countries went to work transferring the technological knowledge and skills gained creating systems and weapons for destruction to industries that created higher value added consumer products based on plentiful and cheap oil, and their governments provided vary favorable regulatory and infrastructure conditions for those industries to develop and succeed, including methods to tame labour.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

W. Edward Deming invented the 'Japanese Economic Miracle' almost single-handed. Until he was summoned to Japan by the Supreme Commander, the economy here floundered. You couldn't even make a cross-town phone-call in Tokyo in the early 1950's. America saved Japan from itself both Constitutionally and economically. The 'Deming Prize' is his memorial. There are others.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Lots of US investment while US domestic production facilities remained pre-war technology. And no military needed as posted above.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Its me or I know exactly why. We Japanese and the Germans are hard working people. We work alot and we are smart. We live in a stressfull life with many rules showing respect to our comunities. (My whole family work 10hours/day) I are 7 sisters and brothers, we all have a degree and private business. I make ovens and tunnels. My father has a large workshop he builds steel structures. Well thats an example of my family.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Lest we forget, Germany and Japan prior to WW2 were two of the largest economies in the world. They already had cultures that enabled their success. I don't believe the aid and favorable conditions they received post-war would have produced economic juggernauts in any random country in SE Asia, Africa, or South America.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Llol usa always have to be the center, sorry americans this is something you cant take credit for

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

Germany cities were destroyed and burned to almost 100%, but the industrial sites survived the war in a surprisingly good condition. The Nazis invested a lot in the core industries and they were very modern, compared to many other european countries. After the war it was not difficult to change from war production to consumer goods. Of course the first 5-10 years were hard, but after that it improved very fast. Germany also profited a lot from the fact that millions of germans who lost there homes in the east, because of ethnic cleaning after the war, now came into the FRG and they were "hungry" for almost everything, those people worked very hard because they lost everything. The Marshall plan also helped, but it was not so generous from the US as you might think, the money given, were given under the condition that the countries had to buy with it goods from the US, so it helped also the US a lot. In the GDR, the situation was quite different. The Soviet Union dismantled a lot of factories, buildings, infastructure and brought it to their country. In the FRG this practise stopped much earlier and never reached that level as in the GDR. So it was not really a miracle what happened.

Believe me, there was no “Wirtschaftswunder”

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Abnormal growth rate due to radiation therapy. Thank the USA.

-9 ( +1 / -10 )

The losers will be winners.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

A few of the MAIN reasons:

1) Japan and Germany have very high productivity per dollar per hour, compared to other regions. You give them plans for a factory and some products, let them loose, and they can churn out high quality products VERY efficiently. Few countries (even today) can do that.

2) Both were basically hand held all the way up (e.g. WWII was largely due to the mistakes made with Germany after WWI)

3) Neither country would have grown had it not been for the MASSIVE growth in the U.S economy, which was bolstered by the U.S. consumption AND the U.S. dollar (reserve currency).

Check the book, "The Mouse That Roared" for a good metaphorical description.

Bottom line, both the German "Miracle" and the Japanese "Miracle" were one off events, and can't really be duplicated, unless you duplicate EVERYTHING (e.g. a couple of world wars, two losing countries with high productivity, a growing MASSIVE world power, etc.)

Not gonna happen again.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I read that some economists have the opinions that UK and France got rich through a combination of manufacturing & protectionism policies. German & US copied UK policy. Japan copied US after WWII, Singapore, Taiwan, Korea copied Japan in 80s, China in the 90s. They argue, all these miracle countries were using similar policies of manufacturing & protectionism, letting local industry mature before opening the country for free market competition. They also present cases of countries that directly allow free market without giving local industry the chance to mature, these countries have very little growth.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

May be people will see this unrelated but...

In Japan the "Shinkansen" already existed around the end of the 1920s and during the war, construction of the Shinkansen was alredy happening. The goal of the Shinkansen was to connect to main land and all the way to Europe, going through Taiwan and Korea.

Germany had its Road and Urban plans created and partially implemented during the 1930s

If you see, Germany as well as Japan had plans before the war and both countries had those plans come to reality (probably not in the original scale that there were planned though).

Many important companies that existed in both countries are still major companies now (the Zaibatsu thing in Japan may have "ended" but the companies remain). Hugo Boss, MItsubishi, Mitsui, Mercedes Benz, Volks Wagen, Kinnittetsu, etc., etc.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

To me it was the dynamics of the time; Germany and Japan prospered for a number of reasons. First and foremost both HAD to rebuild (a consequence of their having started the military action and then having been defeated), which created jobs and wealth, and both were able to get financing to do so. As mentioned by a previous commenter both countries had been industrially successful prior to the war and had skilled labour forces. Both countries people are renowned for their technological expertise and work ethic. On an aside, when I was in Japan during the bubble years of the 1980’s I had businessmen tell me they saw business as competition, as a competition in which they would defeat the US, which motivated them to work even harder. The US had the world’s strongest economy and both Germany and Japan benefited by doing business with it and its partners. Both Germany and Japan understood the US consumer society that was developing during the 1950’s (expanded by conscious decisions made by the Eisenhower administration?) well and were able to enter the US market selling a range of products, many superior to anything made in the US at the time. Both Germany and Japan were welcomed by the world as trading partners known for selling some of the best and in many cases the best goods produced anywhere. Their attention to quality has been a key factor in their respective successes. In my opinion, Germany and Japan have made life better for the world since the end of WW2.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

“The United States took on responsibility for Japan’s security”, allowing to it focus on its economic recovery.

Still doing it today. Horray!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Their work ethics can be traced from the tumultuous origin,but basically, born from poverty,with all its inherent fears , and adversity. Germany , born from a then backwater Brandenburg under the Hohenzollern's had to fight for territory from powerful neighbors like Russia,the Austro-Hungarians and France. To maintain the territories and survive required them to be ever ahead of the newfound enemies. Success, being a bad teacher, both countries went on to become shrill and belligerent, culminating in the pulverization in WWII.But, long years of diligence in adversity inculcated the spirit of hard work in them. Poverty and Fear was their mojo.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Free-loading off the US taxpayer for national defense

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Rose from the ashes. Culture of hard work. lots of foreign investment. heavily devalued currency. didn't spend much on defence for years. next to large communist countries/blocs so incentivized to produce and also made lots of money and grew industry on the back of US military presence or even wars. Were heavily protectionist until quite recently. and the list goes on.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

In fact, as many words in Japanese are written with characters that were originally Chinese, it is not really clear what is a single word in Japanese. There is not one word that has similarities between Japanese and German language and way of thinking. There is nothing in common between these two countries.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Both countries had nowhere to go but up. Their factories and infrastructure were destoyed, and rebuilding was a priority. There was no red tape, no collusion, no kickbacks, but there was financial assistance from America, America eliminated tariffs in things like electronics, appliances, and optocal goods, while a weak yen and mark made Japanese and German goods cheap. The VW bug (commissioned by Hitler, ironically) became the world's top selling car, and with it's low labor costs, Japan was the China of the 60's and 70's.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

@gaijinfo Wo! Wasn't that also a Peter Sellers movie? The Mouse That Roared? I remember! Must be the gingko.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

sfjp330

Most words translated into Kanji concerning modern commerce, politics/ideology, science and western philosophy were invented in Japan during the Meji period which was adopted afterwards in China. Words like 自由、平等、科学、水素etc. were first devised by Japanese forefathers in their respected area of expertise.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Free-loading off the US taxpayer for national defense

You are welcome to leave.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

TravelingSalesAug. 14, 2015 - 01:20PM JST Free-loading off the US taxpayer for national defense

Stupid comment. Japan pays for it. Furthermore the value of Japan to US strategic policy n the region in unquestionable.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

not to mention all the war spoils they had carving trough asia and europe helped a lot dont ask were germany got its supply of gold.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Genetically and culturally predisposed to work hard, long hours, strong family values. Shalom to both. Family

The only thing Japan does not pay for on the shared bases with the Status of Forces Agreement are the soldiers and US citizen salaries. Everything else is paid for by the Japanese govt. They are not leeches at all.

Double Shalom Shalom means peace by the way.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan and Germany are examples that the west or the US does a better job at promoting economic liberalism than trying to build democracy. I think it was the significant change in economic policy from a somewhat fascist system (especially in the case of Germany) to a free market system that resulted in the economic miracle. However, its sad that the idea of economic liberalism has seemed to become demonized and deminished as the cold war went on.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Andreas ZachcialAug. 14, 2015 - 10:51AM JST

Germany cities were destroyed and burned to almost 100%, but the industrial sites survived the war in a surprisingly good condition. The Nazis invested a lot in the core industries and they were very modern, compared to many other european countries. After the war it was not difficult to change from war production to consumer goods. Of course the first 5-10 years were hard, but after that it improved very fast. Germany also profited a lot from the fact that millions of germans who lost there homes in the east, because of ethnic cleaning after the war, now came into the FRG and they were "hungry" for almost everything, those people worked very hard because they lost everything. The Marshall plan also helped, but it was not so generous from the US as you might think, the money given, were given under the condition that the countries had to buy with it goods from the US, so it helped also the US a lot. In the GDR, the situation was quite different. The Soviet Union dismantled a lot of factories, buildings, infastructure and brought it to their country. In the FRG this practise stopped much earlier and never reached that level as in the GDR. So it was not really a miracle what happened.

Believe me, there was no “Wirtschaftswunder”

Yes, the Marshall Plan helped WEST Germany a great deal. Oh, and the UK, Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Sweden (not even part of WWII), Spain, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Austria, Denmark, Finland. Eastern Bloc nations were prohibited, By Stalin, from taking the credits from the USA.

Yes, indeed, there was a "Wirstshaftswunder" in Germany; West Germany. The GDR sputtered and coughed through the 1950's and 1960's building crappy cars and radios to supply the other captive nations of the eastern bloc. Tell me, if the FRG was not a success, why did so many people want to move there in 1989? Maybe because it was a success and the GDR was one giant prison camp?

And your comment on "somewhat fascist system", belies your total ignorance on what the Nazi state really was as an economy. Perhaps reading a few more books would enlighten you? I sure hope so.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

*@overchan We work alot and we are smart. * actually it comes too a bit more than just that. although id say work alot should be change to work too much. Also that doesnt explain the 20+ years of stagnation, and now China has surpassed Japan. Does that make Chinese people harder workers and smarter than Japanese!? That must also make Americans the smartest and hardest workers in the world. sorry you logic doesnt really make sense.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Deming wasn't the only American to help Japanese industry after the war. http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/2000/pulpit_20000525_000408.html

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japan did get a jump start by the American occupation, demilitarization, high early emphasis of education, and timing of its demographic dividend and became a world power quickly after its industrialization. However Japan did not receive any foreign aid beyond the one received from the United States right after the war and of course we know that probably about 1% was spent on their own defense budget back in the day. So they have to be grateful and appreciate what America did for them. But still Japan charted its very own and unique route to development. Basically the effects of its institutional development and tradition, the impact of colonization and economic development and the impact of trade on Japan's development played a major role in how Japan achieved development using its own resources. In the end what Japan has accomplished is outstanding.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Was it Rumsfeld or Cheney that said after Bush invaded Iraq that, "we will be greeted with flowers after we leave, and they will prosper as Japan and Germany did after the war." Japan and Germany re-built themselves a few years after the war. What will Iraq and Afghanistan be like 70 years from now? It's a matter of cultural values, education, and to some extent, religion. Plus, from the Vietnam War on, U.S. kept invading other countries, and results were very poor. Nothing like how Japan and Germany were re-built so we should just leave other nations alone from now.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

you can attribute much of the help from the United States to guilt over the racism that was behind the decision to drop the atom bombs on Japan after the war had already been won and there was some guilt over the fire bombings of civilians in both Japanese and German cities but you will not find many in the U.S. now who will admit that. The attitude of Prime Minister Abe is prevalent in the leadership of the United States for some reason.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

TravelingSalesAUG. 14, 2015 - 01:20PM JST

Free-loading off the US taxpayer for national defense

''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''

Japan has been paying everything Beside that each year Japan has been paying extra fund called Omoiyari Fund every year, Last year payment was $3 billion.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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