Japan became the world’s largest vehicle producers in 2007, surpassing the United States by producing 11.48 million vehicles, compared to 11.36 million in the United States.
Thanks to its highly educated and abundant labor force and to the concentration of capital and resources in certain key industries, such as electric power and steel, Japan succeeded in recovering from the ruins of war and achieving industrialization during the 1950s and 1960s.
Japan's industrial structure was transformed from one centered on traditional "smokestack" industries to one focused on high-tech, electronic industries. As a result, Japanese products have gained a reputation around the world for their high quality, reasonable prices, and energy efficiency.
During the occupation of Japan after WWII, The allied powers attempted to dissolve the old-family business structure prevalent in Japan, and create a more recognizable “free enterprise system.”
General Douglas MacArthur was in charge of the dissolution, and was almost successful in breaking apart these zaibatsu (family-controlled monopolies). What happened, however, was that the newly formed companies ended up later reintegrating. These detached companies became reconnected, through a formulation of shared purchases, to form what are known as kieretsu.
Japan's modern history is unusual in Asia because it was the only Asian country to achieve advanced industrial status by the mid-20th century. Before World War II it did so through intensive exploitation of the countryside and imperial conquest. After the war the Japanese rebuilt their economy along far more egalitarian lines.
Japan developed a distinctive and powerful version of developmental nationalism in the first decade after World War II. During this time, the sense of Japanese uniqueness that had undergirded pre-surrender nationalism was muted in favour of an emphasis on what Japan had in common with the rest of the advanced industrial world. The Japanese were part of a global postwar trend..., policies that harnessed the market, at the time.
There have been a number of high-profile strategic acquisitions by Japanese firms that have made worldwide headlines. One case in 2006 involved Toshiba's majority purchase of America's Westinghouse corporation, made to increase its presence in the global nuclear power generation and energy systems sector. Another, the same year, was the $3.8 billion acquisition of the Pilkington glass company of Britain...to consolidate its share of glass for cars and buildings in Europe.
Automobile sales are a key to keeping the Japanese economy going. More than 50 percent of the vehicles made in Japan are exported. Exports of vehicles and vehicle parts reached about $180 billion in 2007, accounting for roughly 20 percent of Japan exports.
The Japanese manufacturing industry has been more internationalised. The research here indicates that this sector had an overseas production ration of 45 percent in 2006--up from 22 percent in 2000.