See also: Japanese post-war economic miracle
The war wiped out many of the gains Japan had made since 1868. About 40% of the nation's industrial plants and infrastructure were destroyed, and production reverted to levels of about fifteen years earlier. The people were shocked by the devastation and swung into action. New factories were equipped with the best modern machines, giving Japan an initial competitive advantage over the victor states, who now had older factories. As Japan's second period of economic development began, millions of former soldiers joined a well-disciplined and highly educated work force to rebuild Japan. Japan's colonies were lost as a result of World War II, but since then the Japanese had extended their economic influence throughout Asia and beyond.  Occupation
The United States occupation of Japan (1945–52) resulted in the rebuilding of the nation and the creation of a democratic nation. United States assistance totaled about US$1.9 billion during the occupation, or about 15% of the nation's imports and 4% of GNP in that period. About 59% of this aid was in the form of food, 15% in industrial materials, and 12% in transportation equipment. United States grant assistance, however, tapered off quickly in the mid-1950s. United States military procurement from Japan peaked at a level equivalent to 7% of Japan's GNP in 1953 and fell below 1% after 1960. A variety of United States-sponsored measures during the occupation, such as land reform, contributed to the economy's later performance by increasing competition. In particular, the postwar purge of industrial leaders allowed new talent to rise in the management of the nation's rebuilt industries. Finally, the economy benefited from foreign trade because it was able to expand exports rapidly enough to pay for imports of equipment and technology without falling into debt, as had a number of developing nations in the 1980s.  Rebuilding
The early postwar years were devoted to rebuilding lost industrial capacity: major investments were made in electric power, coal, steel, and chemicals. By the mid-1950s, production matched prewar levels. Released from the demands of military-dominated government, the economy not only recovered its lost momentum but also surpassed the growth rates of earlier periods. Between 1953 and 1965, GDP expanded by more than 9% per year, manufacturing and mining by 13%, construction by 11%, and infrastructure by 12%. In 1965 these sectors employed more than 41% of the labor force, whereas only 26% remained in agriculture. Japan's highly acclaimed postwar education system contributed strongly to the modernizing process. The world's highest literacy rate and high education standards were major reasons for Japan's success in achieving a technologically advanced economy. Japanese schools also encouraged discipline, another benefit in forming an effective work force. The mid-1960s ushered in a new type of industrial development as the economy opened itself to international competition in some industries and developed heavy and chemical manufactures. Whereas textiles and light manufactures maintained their profitability internationally, other products, such as automobiles, electronics, ships, and machine tools assumed new importance. The value added to manufacturing and mining grew at the rate of 17% per year between 1965 and 1970. Growth rates moderated to about 8% and evened out between the industrial and service sectors between 1970 and 1973, as retail trade, finance, real estate, information technology, and other service industries streamlined their operations.  Oil crisis
Japan faced a severe economic challenge in the mid-1970s. The world oil crisis in 1973 shocked an economy that had become virtually dependent on imported petroleum. Japan experienced its first postwar decline in industrial production, together with severe price inflation. The recovery that followed the first oil crisis revived...