America and the Japanese Miracle

Exploration on East Asia and postwar Japan has produced a number of studies that have contributed to the formation of a political and economic perspective of the transformation of modern capitalism. These works point out that the conditions for Japanese economic recovery were found not only in the inclination of Japan’s capitalist elites to reignite the process of industrial accumulation, but also in the propelling role played by military spending and by actual wars. This sort of spending was not done by Japan, but by the United States, thereby helping Japanese capitalism, which had lost all its areas of imperialistic influence, to find an anchor on which to start a new movement of accumulation. It is legitimate to say that without such U.S. spending, Japan’s economic recovery would have been much more problematic and may not have happened in any continual way.
In this context, the view that Japan and Europe grew faster than the United States because they had a comparatively smaller military budget is misleading. American military expenditure fueled the production and profits of the most advanced components of U.S. monopoly capital as well as the economic expansion of Europe and Japan. The links between American armament expenditures and capital accumulation in Europe and Japan are diverse. Consider, for example, the formation of NATO. The bulk of its costs were borne by the United States, generating a flow of dollars to Europe that helped ease the dollar shortage of the 1950s. At the same time, NATO’s military findings were of crucial importance for the modernization of, at least, the electronic and aviation industries of the European countries. In the Japanese case, beginning with the Korean War, the links are much clearer. American war orders uplifted the whole industrial sector of the shattered Japanese economy. A decade later, the American escalation in Vietnam “actually helped Japan reenter the Southeast Asian economy.”
America and the Japanese Miracle...