Japan in the Free World Economy: A Statement on National Policy by the Research and Policy Committee of the Committee for Economic Development

By Keizai Doyukai; United Nations Environment Programme | Go to book overview

2. ECONOMIC
DEVELOPMENT
of POSTWAR JAPAN

1. High Rate of Economic Growth

Japan is a small country with an area of only 142,000 square miles, less than one-twentieth of the continental United States. And Japan is poor in its natural resources and must import almost all of the major industrial raw materials such as raw cotton, wool, rubber, bauxite, petroleum and iron ore. Indeed, there are hardly any industrial raw materials in which Japan is self-sufficient. Moreover, Japan is a mountainous country and arable land occupies only 18 per cent of its total area.

As of the middle of 1962, Japan's population totaled 95 million and is the seventh largest in the world, following China, India, the Soviet Union, the United States, Indonesia and Pakistan. Its population density in terms of arable land is about 20 times as high as in the United States.

Despite these unfavorable economic conditions, Japan has seen a remarkably high economic growth since the end of World War II. During the several years immediately after the War, the annual economic growth rate was 11.2 per cent. This was more or less natural since Japan's economic activity had dropped to an extremely low level at the end of the War, with its industrial production registering less than one-third of the prewar level and its national income one half of the prewar level. It is a remarkable fact that even after 1951, when Japan's industrial production regained its prewar level, the total economic activity of the nation has continued to grow at annual rates of 7.6 per cent during the 1951-56 period and at 9.0 per cent during the 1956-59 period. With the real gross national product increasing at the rate of 7.76 per cent annually during the 1951-57 period, Japan's economic growth rate excelled all the non-socialist countries in the world. Thus, although Japan's national income is still relatively small and Japan is now confronted by many economic difficulties, the Japanese people may well be proud of their great achievements over the postwar years.

-72-

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