One of the most fascinating and interesting histories in the world we can think of is the history of Japan – a country with many wars, and also times of peace, one that has modified itself a lot to become a world leading nation in economics and technology. But how?Ancient to ModernDuring the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, massive changes took place in Japan – the emperors and old ways of government were swept away and modernisation influenced by western ideas, was introduced.
World War IIFor a long time the Japanese have successfully invaded many neighbouring countries. In 1905 they were so powerful they could defeat Russia, a much larger country, in a short war. In 1941 they attacked the US Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbour, Hawaii and also countries including Malaysia and Singapore. The United States and the British formed the Allies and declared war on Japan, while Japan joined with Germany and Italy. That was the beginning of World War II.Meanwhile at home, the people of Japan suffered more than before – there were food shortages and poor living conditions.
Men were sent to war, women were to stay at home to look after the children and make essential war supplies, such as food, weapons and water.Scientists of both sides work frantically to develop an atomic bomb. In August 1945, it looked as though the Japanese would have to surrender. Two of these destructive weapons were dropped, one in Hiroshima, the other in Nagasaki. Many people were either wounded or passed away, the majority from exposure to the harmful radiation produced by the bomb.World War II officially ended on September the 2nd, 1945 and a surrender ceremony, attended by representatives of the Allied forces and the Japanese was held.General MacArthurGeneral MacArthur arrived in Japan from America in the year 1945, a few days before the ceremony. His responsibility was to make sure that Japan never went to war again.
He did this by changing the whole system of the country. It was to have no army, navy, nor air force, therefore Japan saved money by not spending money on defence, but to rebuild its economy and improve the people’s lifestyle.The Korean WarIn 1950, when a civil war between north and south Korea broke out, American troops were sent out to support the south side. They no longer needed a peaceful Japan, but a cooperative partner in Asia during the war.
They needed guns, weapons, tools and spare parts for the military equipment – it was a turning point for Japan. The industry began to produce these things, and as a result, its economy skyrocketed.Industrial SuperpowerThe old prime minister, Nobusuke Kishi was forced to resign in the late 1950s – the new leader, Hayato Ikeda introduced an income-doubling plan. He said that if the people worked hard in their occupations, the government would help by increasing the average income.
It was astonishingly successful – by 1964, approximately 90 per cent of Japanese households had a television, fridge and washing machine, also known as the three treasures. But it was not just the government, which was responsible for the economical growth – the people were superb at applying new western ideas to their products.One of the most successful stories is the story of the transistor radio.
In 1952, Masaru Ibuka paid for a license from USA to develop the transistor, a device that amplifies the voice, although the Americans said that making a radio out of it was not possible. In two years, he was able to develop a transistor radio and export it to other countries. Many other inventions were made, such as the video camera, and robots.The steel industry is the foundation of Japan for construction of cars, ships, trucks and even buildings. As there was a shortage of oil in 1973, caused by the Arab/Israeli war, the country shifted to the electronic industry – it was scarcely affected by the shortage of oil then.It has now built on that, and now it is an expert in technology – women assemble televisions on modern assembly lines, etc.
ConclusionThe Japanese have tried so hard to rebuild their country after the war into an industrial superpower and land of beautiful places. Japan has an astonishingly fascinating history, one of war and conflict, one of peace and happiness, and one of many interesting events.