In 1960 Japan was ruled by the conservative LDP. Nabuski Kitchie ran the LDP, a man who had been jailed as a war criminal during the occupation. His comeback can be attributed to his pre-war contacts in big business. Kitchie believed to survive Japan’s economy had to grow. I order to do so Japan’s businesses had to be disciplined. Kitchie gave directives to the ministry to pass on to the heads of big business. These directives were much like orders from a general.
Some Japanese people began to rebel against the growing central control the nation was taking. They feared that democracy was being overridden for the sake of economic prosperity. Other groups began to voice opinions regarding the direction they felt Japan should move in. There were many forces pulling at Japan, political demonstrations, walkouts and strikes in Japan’s largest industries. This was a time of crisis in modern Japanese history.
The Japanese had signed a treaty with the United States, which scattered military bases and nuclear weapons throughout Japan. Fearing the United States would use Japan as a battleground for the Cold War, they were against the renewing of the treaty. Kitchie however, believed with the Americans responsible for their national security, they could use their resources to build their economy. Kitchie met with President Eisenhower and assured him the treaty would be passed by the time of his visit to Japan. Fearing the protests could affect the passing of the treaty Kitchie used his power in nefarious ways to insure the passing of the treaty. As a final attempt to stop the passing of the treaty, the Socialist politicians tried to barricade the speaker in his chambers to prevent the vote. Kitchie sent in troops to escort the speaker to the Diet Chamber to proceed with the vote. Because there were no Socialists in the Chamber at the time of the vote the treaty was ratified. Upon hearing the news, Japanese students attacked the government in a huge protest. During this protest a student was killed. Due to the anti-American theme of the time President Eisenhower cancelled his visit to Japan. Kitchie was completely embarrassed and resigned just five days after the treaty was ratified.
Labor unions became a thorn in the side of big business. Despite legal agreements between the unions and business to the contrary 1200 workers were laid off. Picket lines made national attention after a man in line was stabbed. To further complicate national matters, a right wing fanatic assassinated Umajio Asanuma, the leader of the Socialist Party at the podium of the Diet Chamber. This forced Japan to realize that they had to unite the people to insure economic growth.
To bring unity to Japan enters a bureaucrat Ikeda Hayato. At this time big business and the government were on the same team. MITI, Ministry of International Trade and Industry, was the primary Japanese government agency charged with the formulation and execution of industrial policy (Pacific Century, page 257). MITI decided Japan’s future was dependent on electronics. Supported by the government, the Japanese were able to invent new products. The government let big business form kaitsu, grouping of banks, manufacturers and distributors. These kaitsu would violate anti-trust laws in the United States, but worked for Japan’s economy. Japanese companies shared technology and resources to accelerate the economy. Japanese products entered the American markets, and began to affect American companies. Japan concentrated on technological advantages and low prices, where the United States concentrated on customer service; as a result Americans lost jobs.
Between 1985 and 1992 the United States spent over 30 billion dollars on military bases to defend Japan. During that same period Japanese companies spent more than one hundred billion buying American businesses and real estate. They went on to buy over 41 million dollars of the United States growing debt. They are 120 million people working in harmony for the sole purpose of building economic power for Japan Inc., which have succeeded in making Japan a world economic power.