When one thinks of Japan today, it’s hard not to think of electronic goods, gadgets and computer games. Japanese electronics have a reputation for high quality, innovation and reliability, but that has not always been the case, in fact just a few short decades ago, nothing could be further from the truth.
Japan was facing widespread famine, poverty and a crumbling infrastructure during the mid-20th century; it deteriorated to the point where factories were said to have halted production so that their sites could be turned into farmlands to grow produce.
But by the 1960s, Japan had risen to be the second most powerful economy in the world, and entered what many call the “economic miracle years.” The man who is said to have spearheaded this movement was Prime Minister Hayato Ikeda, who was in office between 1960-1964.
Hayato pushed forward the idea of “over loaning” that saw the Bank of Japan issue massive loans to city banks, which then had the capital to lend to enterprises and individuals alike. This policy was a huge catalyst in spurring on Japan’s infrastructure and allowed companies the resources to create world-leading technologies.
This time saw such commercial gadgets erupt: from NHK and Nippon Columbia’s digital recording technology to Sony’s portable self-contained video-tape analogue recording system. Other examples included released quartz wrist watches by Seiko in 1969 and the iconic bullet train in 1964.
By the time the Tokyo Olympics rolled around in 1964, Japan was a successful country in its own right. For the next two
decades, Japan enjoyed phenomenal growth. During this time of prosperity, a plethora of companies released ground-breaking products, from personal cassette tape players to computer games, home video recorders to entertainment systems. It was this period of innovation that cemented the idea that Japanese products were synonymous with quality and forward thinking ideas.
In recent years, many companies such as Sony are struggling despite the success of individual products like the Play Station 4. Others have drastically altered their products to stay relevant and competitive. Ricoh, for example, migrated from cameras to office and industrial electronics.
Japanese products still have the hallmark of quality associated with them, and while they may not be as cheap as some of their competitors, consumers know that they are investing in a product that is safe, reliable and innovative.