From Ashes to Oil to Ships to Modern Japan.

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From Ashes to Oil to Ships to Modern Japan.

Here is a little story that is at the core of Japanese economic recovery after WW2 but it is little known, even in Japan.

After the war. Japan was heavily in debt and most industries were still in shambles. The government was working on a stimulus project but it wasn’t easy. Japan needed petroleum but the Americans were the only ones selling to Japan and at a very expensive price. Because of American influence, no one else would sell oil to Japan – not the English, not the French not nobody. Also, Japan didn’t want to rely on American oil because they could stop the supply for their own agenda – Japan went to war against America because America stops selling oil to them. Japan wasn’t going to go through that again so they looked for sources. At the time only America, Russia, and the Middle East could supply large quantities but, Russia was communist so it had to be the Middle East. Since no one would sell Japan the needed oil tankers Japan would have to build their own(only America and England made them back then). But this led to an even greater obstacle. The shipping cost would be too high even if the biggest tankers available were used. It was simply too far to ship cheaply and they would have to be able to recover the shipbuilding costs.

The decision was made to build tankers big enough to bring down the shipping cost to manageable levels. This meant building ships nearly twice the size of contemporary tankers. However, current tankers were as big as shipbuilding technology could make them back then – that’s why they didn’t build them bigger! The strength of the metal for the hull cross members could not sustain the weight of a ship twice the normal size and simply making the hull and beams thicker would make the ship too heavy. The solution was to use a stronger type of metal alloy, but this could not be welded, cut or press using the standard shipbuilding machines because it was too hard and more brittle. All these machines had to be modified and new processes had to be invented to build a ship of this size but after a lot of hard work the ships were built and they performed excellently.

This caused a positive chain reaction:
1) it gave Japan an affordable dependable supply of petroleum to fuel the nation.
2) Raised the economy because Japan became the biggest shipbuilder at the time selling lots of ships to foreign countries.
3) triggered the growth of other industries because ships need lots of components materials and specialists. One ship means a lot of work for hundreds of industries.

shipbuilding raised many areas of manufacturing and material processing so that the next industry to make it big was cars. After that electronics then everything else. An open American market helped Japan grow but if it wasn’t for the ingenious and daring plan of the Japanese government, Japan would be in the same situation that most SEA countries are in today.

Note The Korean government based its economic plan on the Japanese one.
Basically, Korea did: ships, cars, electronics then Kpop.



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