Economic History of Japan during the World War 2

The aggression of Japan against the US and the UK testified transformations in the country's economic policy. In wartime, the monopolists had subordinated the state apparatus to their influence and used it to strengthen their position and to maximize profits and the struggle for the redistribution of the world. In fact, the terms of the war economy have been uneven. Participants of fascist militarist bloc, especially Germany and Japan, began to move the economy on a war footing long before the outbreak of the Second World War and thus ensured the creation of powerful armed forces. In fact, economies of Japan have been adapted to conduct a brief war. The goal of this essay is to analyze the general features of the economic situation in Japan during World War II.

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Economic Transformation at the Beginning of the World War 2

Among the participants of the fascist-militarist bloc, Japan was the most economically developed state after Germany. In fact, there was a process of rapid growth of state-monopoly capitalism. In the middle of 1941, the highest military and political leadership of Japan took a decision on the timing of the outbreak of war in the Far East.  Besides, government noticed the priorities for implementation of their plans of conquest and completed the design of the so-called "new economic structure" that was introduced in August of the same year. The most important branches of industry, as well as in the field of trade and finance have accelerated the process of creating the so-called "control associations”. Representatives of the largest corporations led these unions and had the ability to distribute raw materials, fuel, labor, and financial resources. The new economic structure was designed to strengthen the Japanese militarism and military economy metropolis by more strict control, increasing the exploitation of Japanese workers and peoples of the occupied territories. Thus, the government of Japan has sharply increased the allocations for military purposes. In 1941, when the total amount of the country's budget was 16 542 million yen, the direct military spending amounted to 12,503 million yen. At the beginning of the war against the US and the UK, Japan has become one of the largest colonial powers. Japan occupied vast areas of Asia and the islands in the Pacific Ocean with a total area of 5.6 million square kilometers and with a population of over 190 million people. Great East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere, which was created by militarists, had to ensure economic autarchy and extensive database to conduct the wars of conquest.

Weaknesses of the Japanese Economy during the World War 2

Fuel and raw material base of Japan could not fully meet their needs. In 1941, the country extracted 55.6 million tons of coal, 1380 tons of iron ore, produced 33.9 billion kilowatts of electricity, smelted 4308 tons of pig iron, and 6840 tons of steel. However, crude production level, even with the use of resources of the occupied areas did not meet the needs of the war economy. A situation with fuel caused a particular concern for a government. The armed forces and industry of Japan spent mostly pre-war oil reserves. Due to lack of iron ore, production capacity of the steel mills remained unloaded. Most important was a shortage of crude oil, production of which in Japan was about 500 thousand tons per year. Therefore, Japanese government considered stockpiling of strategic raw materials as the most important task of preparing for aggression. Thus, they created 5674 tons of oil, 254.7 tons of bauxite, and 4468 tons of scrap iron reserves. In accordance with existed standards of oil consumption, these materials would be enough for about a year of a war. Tokyo’s authorities realized that the important channels of raw material to Japan would close with the outbreak of war. Therefore, all calculations were limited to capture and colonize the country of the South Seas with cash reserves of raw materials in a short time. The oil of the Dutch East Indies, tin from Indochina, rubber, iron ore, and nickel from Malaya strengthen the economic base for of Japan. The Japanese militarists had hoped to get strategic raw materials after the seizure of the Soviet Far East and Siberia regions. According to the program, developed by the Institute of total war, they hoped to use oil of Northern Sakhalin and a coal of Primorsky region. Besides, agricultural production under the system of large landed estates was not productive. Despite the fact that the intensification of labor was high and agriculture employed about half of the working population, the production of rice decreased in 1940-1941. At the expense of imports, Japan satisfied only 22% of rice needs. Thus, Japan's dependence on the importation of agricultural products was also a weak side of its economy.

 
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Strengths of the Japanese Economy during the World War 2

Because of already existing resources to the beginning of the Pacific War, Japan has achieved significant results in the development of a military industry. The country has a well-developed rail, road and water transport. The length and branching of the network bandwidth of roads, the number of rolling stock provided military requirements, including planning for deployment of offensive operations on the territory of Manchuria and Korea against the Soviet Union. Before the start of the World War, Japan's trade fleet ranked third in the world after the US and the UK. The tonnage of its cargo fleet amounted to 6,384 thousand tons in December 1941. Overall, this situation ensured in landing operations and the transportation of goods in the proposed short-term war. In 1941, Japan's military production exceeded 5 billion yen unlike to 1.9 billion in 1937-1938 years. By the end of 1941, the release of weapons and military equipment has been increased in several times. Moreover, Japan created a big military and economic potential that met the needs of conducting a brief military campaign against the US and Britain in the Pacific and South-East Asia. In fact, the militarization of the economy was accompanied by intensified exploitation of workers and the number of mobilized people in the industry has increased in several times. For the purpose to increase the stock of the most important materials and organize their distribution, the government established a special control corporation in the spring of 1942. Measures to mobilize the resources of the occupied territories gave Japan the opportunity to expand the production of armaments and military equipment in early 1942. A major role was played by the strengthening of control in the field of distribution of strategic materials and further reducing metal consumption by civilian industries. The focus was on the production of aircraft, aircraft bombs, sea mines and torpedoes. In 1942, their production increased almost in two times in comparison with 1941. At the same time, Japan decreased the production of those types of weapons, military equipment, and vehicles, which, according to the Japanese command were less necessary for the conduct of the war against the US and the UK.

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Conclusion

Consequently, Japan was on the side of Hitler coalition during World War II and sought to seize the possessions of the Western powers in the Indian and Pacific oceans. At the initial stage of the war, Japan had some success and increased its share in the heavy industry. Moreover, the country had a well-developed rail, road and water transport. However, Japan's economy was faced with many difficulties caused by the shortage of raw materials. Therefore, most of the needs of the armed forces and industry in oil and metal were met through reserves. However, Japan captured the territories that were rich in raw material, and such situation opened some prospects in increasing military and economic potential for conducting a war against Great Britain and the United States. Therefore, the economic situation in Japan changed every year of the war and had its strengths and weaknesses.

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