What are the prospects for Japan as an industrialized nation in the 21st century?
Japan's post-war industries are categorized into two types:
the basic material industries such as steel, aluminum refining, petrochemicals, cement, and fiber, and the heavy chemical industries such as metal, machinery, and chemicals.
By introducing state-of-the-art technology and mass-production systems from the United States, these industries developed rapidly in a short period of time.
However, due to the oil crises in 1973 and 1979, fuel and raw material expenses soared, which triggered a stagnation in industrial growth.
Next, attention was turned to the electronics industry, which required a high-level processing technology.
Japanese products demonstrated an overwhelming strength in the world market.
In the 1990s, with the rapid appreciation of the yen, Japanese industries which had been propped up by exports ceased to grow at the same fast pace as before.
Also, American and European antipathy toward strong Japanese products affected the situation, making technological innovation using imported technology more difficult.
It is said that the task facing the country in the 21st century is to create its own distinctive, leading industries from among fields in which basic research is now beins done.