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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Japanese direct foreign investment in the United States and Canada by sogo shosha since 1951 Kurihara, Tamiko


This thesis examines the spatial and sectoral characteristics of Japanese Direct Foreign Investment (DFI) since 1951 with particular attention to sogo shosha investment in the United States and Canada. The thesis presents five main conclusions. First, the internal conditions of Japan have considerably influenced Japanese DFI and the role of sogo shosha. Second, the investment climate of the United States has proved increasingly attractive to Japan. The United States has received the largest amount of postwar accumulated Japanese DFI. Canada with a smaller market and less favorable investment environment has received a smaller amount of investment ranking overall eleventh in total Japanese DFI in the world. Third, Japanese investment has been directed at securing a supply of natural resources. It has also sought a market for its manufactured products by increasing its investment in commerce and services. Throughout much of the period, manufacturing investment has concentrated in developing countries but this situation is changing with an increasing proportion in North America in the last ten years. Most significantly with the rising value of the yen, major financial investments are now occurring in North America. Fourth, sogo shosha investment long associated with commerce has locationally been flexible in the North American context, setting up new offices in the rapidly emerging information and transportation centers such as Los Angeles and Denver. However, except for single resource-based areas, sogo shosha investment has little effect on regional economies. While the sogo shosha proportion of total Japanese DFI is declining, they still practice a well established management style involving minority equity shareholding and long-term purchasing contracts in North American companies which give them access to information and management decision-making. Finally, the thesis shows the need for theoretical explanations of Japanese DFI to be revised in the light of the constantly changing empirical dimensions and an understanding of the importance of Japan in the contemporary world economy.

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