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History of Japanese Technology



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The rise of Japan as a leading economic power in technology is given credit to several contributing factors (McLoughlin). These factors include Japan's high-standard work ethics, its low unemployment rate, and the fusion solution, which all lead to specific technologies that Japan masters.
First, a working Japanese citizen is expected to work extremely hard in order to prevent bringing shame and dishonor to his or her family and country. The pressure on these people to do well in life is so great, if one feels that he or she has made one mistake, he or she might go as far as committing suicide to try to regain their honor. Also, the Japanese mentality of ethnocentrism causes them to desire to be the best in their work: "May our country, taking what is good, and rejecting what is bad, be not inferior to any other" (Mutsuhito, Emperor of Japan from 1868 to 1912). The Japanese focus on education should also be noted, resulting in a much more intelligent civilization. Young children and teenagers are expected to do well and get only the best grades. Students who do poorly in school are considered to dishonor their family. There are few major colleges in Japan and this creates a highly competitive society not only with the rest of the world, but within itself. If one is not admitted into one of these colleges for whatever reason, he or she is rejected by society. Meiji [Emperor's rule] leaders encouraged industrialization and developed a system of universal education which was designed to produce patriotic and highly skilled citizens and sent people to study and borrow Western ideas and methods (Farah, Flickema, Hantula, Johnson, Karls, Resnick, and Thuermer). The Japanese people are fiercely competitive amongst themselves, yet unlike the United States, Japanese businesses are actually cooperative and helpful to one another instead of using cutthroat economics. Another factor that helps the Japanese to work to their potential is the fact that they were defeated in World War II. At first glance, a loss of a war may not seem like it would actually help a civilization to advance in the fields of science and technology, but in Japan's case it did. After the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan surrendered and formed a peace treaty with the United States (Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki). This treaty states that an emperor may still rule the Japanese government, but they must only have a small military for defense. Because of this, the Japanese people can focus on developing their economy through new technologies and perfecting existing technologies.
In addition, the low unemployment rate of Japan helps them to prevail economically. According to the Encarta Encyclopedia, the unemployment rate of Japan was 3.3% in 1996, and 4.8% in 1999 (Encarta Encyclopedia). These percentages represent the average margin of unemployment in Japan. This has greatly helped Japan's economy to grow. Japan's economy was five times larger in 1973 than in 1955 (Encarta Encyclopedia). Japan also exports more than it imports, causing its economy to flourish.
Next, Japan's improvement and combination of existing technologies to produce new ideas, inventions, and innovations is known as the fusion solution. The fusion solution is a huge part of Japanese success and helps them to continue to be a world leader in technology. Much of the time, Americans develop a technology and the Japanese improve on it. The fact that Japan exports more than it imports allows them to create quality products from raw materials at a low price. This is generally why many Japanese products are preferred over American and European exports. Also, Japan's geographical problems lead them to adapt to their environment and create better forms of products that are more convenient for the Japanese. One example of this would be the fact that gasoline prices in Japan are outrageously high. In January of 2001, Japanese gasoline cost $4.16 per gallon (Global comparison of price per gallon of gasoline). This has led to the development of Japanese fuel-efficient vehicles that other countries are just starting to develop. Another example is the overpopulation of Japan. Being an island, the Japanese have limited space to go one the population reaches a certain number. This hasresulted in the development of stronger and lighter materials to build up skyscrapers and make the most of limited space. All of these factors led to Japan's economical success with technology.

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