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Japan’s postwar experience with technology transfer Goode, James Thomas

Abstract

The international transfer of technology is increasingly seen as a major element in economic development for both the developed and less-developed countries. The thesis examines Japan's postwar economic development and the role played in that process by imported, foreign technologies. The discussion focuses on commercial transfers of technology and, because of the frequent close connection between technology transfer and foreign direct investment, there is considerable discussion of foreign direct investment in Japan. The paper is based on an extensive review of existing government and nongovernment material in both Japanese and English and on a series of interviews with Japanese government and business officials involved in postwar transfers. In addition, three case studies of technology transfers were carried out and are included as appendices. Fallowing an introductory chapter dealing with general issues of technology transfer and economic development, the postwar Japanese experience is treated chronologically for the period: 1945-1955 "Japan's Postwar Recovery", 1955-1963 "Structural Transformation", and 1963-1973 "Liberalization and Internationalization". The central importance to Japan's postwar development of the period of "structural transformation", and the technology transfer which took place during that period, is stressed. The current status of technology transfer in Japan is also discussed and the present and future importance to Japan of technology exportation and independent technology development is pointed out. A concluding chapter outlines major special characteristics of the Japanese postwar experience and suggest what lessons it may hold for others. It is argued that the favourable domestic and benign international environments as well as the large size of the domestic market and a basic antipathy to foreign direct investment are all special characteristics which strongly influenced the course of postwar technology transfer to Japan. On the other hand, a competitive domestic business environment, consultation between government planners and businessmen, selective or discriminatory development policy, and widespread public support for goals supportive of technology change are all argued to be aspects of the postwar Japanese experience which hold important and general lessons for other countries.

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