Over a series of decades, Japan has undergone remarkable metamorphosis. Once a cultural and social backwater, the country is today a force to be reckoned with in the global mainstream. Its economic successes in particular are considerable. Japan is now the third-strongest economic power after the USA and the EU. The country owes this to its flourishing export business and highly developed technologies.
In sectors like automotive engineering, machine manufacture and electronics, Japanese companies have become renowned for unsurpassed quality. Such a feat is all the more astonishing when one considers that the Pacific nation was totally on its knees at the end of World War II. Its demise started with the Japanese armed forces’ attack on Pearl Harbour. We all know what then ensued: in August 1945, the Americans bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki so that the Japanese had no alternative but to capitulate.
The third-largest economic power after the USA and EU.
It was now a question of rebuilding the country in ruins. In the initial post-war years, Japan was still occupied by the Americans who naturally wanted at all costs to prevent Japan from re-acquiring its military strength. Japan ceased to manufacture armaments and many antiquated institutions were dissolved. All available funds went into reconstruction and industry. At the same time, the political sphere embraced democracy. Japan got slowly back onto its feet.
When the Korean War broke out in 1950, Japan aligned itself with its former enemy, the USA. From this point on, there was no stopping Japan’s recovery. It experienced a textbook example of an Economic Miracle. What started in the Fifties, continued over the following three decades. Economic growth was particularly high in the Sixties at an average of 10 per cent. But the surge of success continued thereafter. Growth was so strong, that Japan overtook other industrialised nations, including Germany.
In the Nineties this was halted. A speculation bubble that started growing in about 1985 finally burst at the beginning of the Nineties. This recession was a bitter economic setback. But even this didn’t hold Japan back in the long term. A country that had experienced such a rapid rise from nothing can also survive a financial crisis, however serious. Japan worked consistently at improving its economic situation and gradually recovered. Japan today ranks among the world’s biggest exporting nations. So it looks as if Japan could achieve all the goals that it sets itself. But what is the secret of its success?
A number of different factors have undoubtedly contributed to Japan’s success story. The Japanese mentality and attitude to work have certainly played their part. The Japanese are generally considered hard-working, tenacious and ambitious. They are known to be industrious and extraordinarily disciplined. When they set a goal, they do not let up until they have achieved it. A great deal is possible with targeted planning and wholehearted effort. In this way various well-known Japanese companies have become market leaders in their sectors.
So there’s plenty we can learn from the Japanese. On the way to success, it is particularly important to act with deliberation and always keep one’s eyes set one’s target. A company that wants to stay on the market in the long term and maximise its profits must not stop investing in the future and in progress. There is always room for improvement. Japanese companies are aware of this and all their employees constantly endeavour to optimise their processes and products. Perhaps we should follow their example and be more open to change. Often it is utterly simple steps that achieve great things: new software, an energy-conserving measure or a more efficient piece of equipment.
Investment in the future and progress.
Not every innovation works wonders immediately. But that shouldn’t be the motivation for introducing them. It is a question of working persistently towards success. The Japanese have never let themselves be put down, have recovered from their comprehensive defeat and have since become stronger than ever. They have seized all opportunities that have come their way. This principle is applicable on the small scale to any business. There are always ways and means of achieving a goal – be it a question of cutting costs, accelerating production, attracting new customers or achieving greater precision. The achievement of future goals is possible with changes, improvements and investments that are initiated today.
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