History of Japanese Technology Evolution

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History of Japanese Technology Evolution


Brief History till Early 20th Century2
Post World War II3
History of Japanese Technology Evolution


It is probably safe to say that most people of this society are familiar with the significance of U.S. science and technology. Often overlooked, however, is the key role played by the next most technologically innovative nation—Japan. From automobiles to video game consoles to invisibility cloaks[1], advances developed in Japan have impressed the world for centuries[2] and affect our lives in many different ways. Japan is a leading nation in scientific research, particularly technology, machinery and biomedical research. Nearly 700,000 researchers share a US$130 billion research and development budget, the third largest in the world. Japan is a world leader in fundamental scientific research, having produced fifteen Nobel laureates in physics, chemistry or medicine,[3] three Fields medalists,[4] and one Gauss Prize laureate[5]. Some of Japan's more prominent technological contributions are in the fields of electronics, automobiles, machinery, earthquake engineering, industrial robotics, optics, chemicals, semiconductors and metals. Japan leads the world in robotics production and use, possessing more than half (402,200 of 742,500) of the world's industrial robots[6]. When we look at this country, it is very hard to find the explanations for Japan’s technological strength. The enterprises here are mostly small, and offer neither lifetime employment nor sophisticated training programs. The development of small regional factories forms a crucial part of Japan’s modern technology history[7]. It is well-known fact that Japan, even today, is a country of small firm.

Brief History till Early 20th Century

Japan has a long history of borrowing foreign technology, and there has been a military imperative behind it. Since the late nineteenth century the indigenization of technology, diffusion of it throughout the economy, and efforts to encourage Japanese enterprises which could take advantage of technology are seen as having been fundamental to national security[8]. When Japan came face to face with the West in nineteenth century, this small country acknowledged the technology gap that existed, but at the same time, Japan was unfortunately smitten with the idea of ‘Japanese spirit with Western ability’ because of it burning nationalistic sentiments.[9] Concerning the technology gap, first of all, the Japanese did not suddenly awaken to this gap between themselves and the western immediately prior to the Meiji Revolution. When for the first time they saw the U.S. fighting ship, they were very much frightened and called it 'Kurofune' (black ship), and they used the word as a symbol of the challenge by the Western technology. It embodied steam engine, big guns and iron structure, symbolizing the western superiority in power, arms, metallurgy and transportation, which were the principal achievements of the Industrial Revolution in western Europe and which made the major European countries and the United States industrial as well as military power in the world. The Japanese leaders, both in Bakufu and in the Meiji Government, recognized their shortcoming in these respects and tried to adopt these technological elements through import of machines and learning their use, and they succeeded in such way as described in the following[10]. The leaders hastily introduced western social system including parliament, banking, insurance, Joint Stock Company, civil and commercial code, army and navy, modernized means of national- and international communication. Each element implied advanced technology developed among the European Industrial Revolution. When Japan opened its doors to western influence in the mid-nineteenth century, the word ‘technology’ was a relatively new intruder into the English language. Popularized...
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