Economic Independence of Japan

After WWII, Japan increased its economic power by importing raw materials add value by manufacturing goods, especially automobiles, and exporting them.  As a result of the economic growth, the Japanese yen appreciated its value and, in mid-80’s, many started to say that we should move away from high export-dependency but to move toward domestic economic expansion.  Soon after this, the bubble had burst and, even after more than twenty years since then, Japan has yet not got out of deflation.  Due to the Yen’s appreciation, wages and salary of Japanese people became extremely high compared to other currencies.  Furthermore, companies in other countries in Asia had advanced from their technological innovations to gain market shares.  For example, a Korean appliance manufacturer who is good at Marketing, gained market share by grasping consumers’ need in the countries where it moved into and made the products that the consumers in that country want.  I wonder how many Japanese companies abroad use Marketing to provide the products that the applicable consumers need and want.  In any event, as a result of moving their factories outside Japan, the nation's industries are being hollowed out


In August 2012, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan (MAFF) reported the food self-sufficiency (calorie-base) stayed at 38%, the same level as in 2011.  The energy self-sufficiency of Japan is even lower at 18% but, excluding nuclear electric power generation, it is only at 4%. What if multiple natural disasters happen and no food or energy can be imported from abroad?  What would the people of Japan do?  I strongly believe that individuals should start from a small effort and to make it bigger for Japan’s independence because we cannot immediately increase self-efficiency of both energy and food.


Two years ago, I visited one of the World Heritages in Japan called Shirakawa-go.  People who used to live there placed a small-scaled hydroelectric generator in the stream nearby for electricity.  They also grew crops, bred silkworms, and raised livestock to supply their needs.  Living at a modern period, we do not have to live like the one that people in Shirakawa-go used to do but their way of living gives a hint for self-sufficiency.  We can utilize the natural resources in Japan such as abundant water, mountains and technology for electric generation for individual houses to start with.  It does not take a long time if it’s for a household use.  For future energy use, we should put emphasis more on biomass.  In short, we should start from what we can in terms of energy self-sufficiency by natural resources using whatever we have.   


As for food self-sufficiency, individuals can actively participate in improvement.  Recently, Japanese food became famous for its healthiness.  Why not more Japanese people to eat more Japanese food to further activate agriculture and fishery in Japan?  Of course, good marketing strategy might be necessary to promote people pay more attention back to Japanese food.


I believe that it would be possible for Japanese economy to revive itself by simply starting from these two basic points.

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