Investing Japan demonstrates that foreign investment is a vital and misunderstood aspect of Japan’s modern economic development. The drive to become a modern industrial power from the 1860s to the 1930s necessitated the adoption and internalization of foreign knowledge. This goal could only be achieved by working within the overarching financial and technological frameworks of Western capitalism. Foreign borrowing, supported by the gold standard, was the crux of Japan’s pre-war capital formation. It simultaneously financed domestic industrial development, the conduct of war, and territorial expansion on the Asian continent. Foreign borrowing also financed the establishment of infrastructure in Japan’s largest cities, the nationalization of railways, the interlinked capital-raising programs of “special banks” and parastatal companies, and the rapid electrification of Japanese industry in the 1920s.
Simon James Bytheway investigates the role played by foreign companies in the Japanese experience of modernization while highlighting their identity as key agents in the processes of industrialization and technology transfer. Investing Japan delivers a complex, multifaceted analysis, intersecting with the histories of formal and informal economic imperialism, diplomacy, war financing, domestic and international financial markets, parastatal and multinational enterprise, and Japan’s “internationalization” vis-à-vis the emerging global market.
A brilliant treatise in economic history.
A major contribution to the literature on Japanese financial and economic history, this work is the first comprehensive study in English of foreign involvement in Japan’s modern economy through both loans and joint ventures. It challenges notions of Japanese economic development as a largely ‘autonomous’ process by highlighting the long history of foreign investment in modern Japan. The book richly documents the enormous inflow and multifaceted use of some ¥4 billion in foreign capital prior to World War II and places in compelling historical perspective the growing foreign presence in Japan’s postwar economy.
An accessible and illuminating account that demonstrates the crucial and often neglected role of foreign investment in Japan’s capital formation and economic activity from the mid-19th century up to the present. Simon Bytheway’s book will become standard reading for all those interested in Japan’s financial and monetary history, and the country’s economic development as a whole.
In this new major contribution to international financial and economic history, Simon Bytheway covers a lot of ground, from Japan’s market-opening shock in the mid-1800s, to the origins of the Japanese gold standard, to present-day globalization. Bytheway is one of the rare foreign scholars based in Japan and writing in Japanese. He knows the subject intimately, and he has now brought his history of the critical role played by foreign investment in Japan to an international audience.
Bytheway’s study is a tour de force. He has delved into multiple archives and an extensive array of Japanese and English-language sources to come up with a masterly description of Japanese foreign borrowing over a century and a half. His command of the Japanese sources is particularly impressive.
- 304 pages
- 6 x 9 inches
- Harvard University Asia Center
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