UBC Theses and Dissertations
A study on Japan's reaction to the 1973 oil crisis Yamakoshi, Atsushi
The object of this dissertation is to investigate Japan's reaction to the 1973 oil crisis in order to answer two major questions. First, why and how was Japan able to recover from the 1973 oil crisis? Secondly, what was distinctive about Japan's reaction to the oil crisis as compared with the reactions of other countries? Chapter One provides a general review of the 1973 oil crisis. It also discusses the focus and the basic methodology of this dissertation. Chapter Two examines the political aspects of Japan's reaction to the oil crisis. At the beginning of the 1970's, the Japanese political scene was in a state of historical transition mainly because the. opinions of Japanese people were becoming diversified after the accomplishment of extensive economic growth. The 1973 oil crisis reflected the differences of opinion in the government and the conflict of interests among industrial sectors. This chapter pays special attention to Japan's bureaucracy in facing the oil crisis. Chapter Three discusses the economic aspects of Japan's reaction to the oil crisis. The oil crisis created great confusion within the Japanese economy because it occurred at the time of the inflationary situation after the "Nixon Shock" in 1971. However, Japan recovered from the crisis by changing its industrial structure. The oil crisis elucidated the vulnerability, efficiency and flexibility of the Japanese economy. Chapter Four deals with the business aspects of Japan's reaction. Japanese business leaders tried to influence the decision-making process of the Japanese government through the activities of four major business organizations: Keidanren, Nissho, Nikkeiren and Doyukai. Companies made efforts to rationalize their production process by decreasing intermediate inputs. These rationalization efforts decreased demand for the materials produced by oil-reliant industries and accelerated the structural change in Japanese industry. The cooperative relations between the government and business and between management and labour moderated the friction caused by this structural change. Chapter Five offers the major findings of the preceding chapters. Based on those findings, it concludes that Japan's recovery from the 1973 oil crisis was accomplished by the voluntary commitment of various social factions to solving the problems caused by the crisis rather than by the consensual efforts led by the government. This voluntary commitment is recognized as the most distinctive feature in the Japanese reaction to the oil crisis.
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