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Japan and Two Hundred Years of Globalization

Japan, the poster child of globalization is now moving on and clearly moving away from globalization.

As we study the history of globalization, we see Japan as the most successful example of how an economy and even a society can be built on and transformed by embracing ideas from the West, while at the same time keeping its most important and powerful traditions in firmly in place. In the late 19th century, Japan adopted many ideas from the West, right around the Meiji Restoration which restored practical imperial rule to the Empire of Japan in 1868.

Japan had a hunger in the 1880s to early 1900s to import ideas on industry, food and all things of interest from the US and Western Europe. This is clearly evident in the old black and white pictures of formal gatherings with Japanese ladies sometimes dressed in beautiful western outfits in corsets and imported hats from London, while men were in smart looking black ties, again imported from Europe. But by the early 1900s, Japan had imported and improved many industrial technologies especially in shipping – this was natural since Japan, an island country, had a interest to reach out to the vast Pacific Ocean. The West was shocked into reality when the Japanese Navy challenged the Russians in 1905, making it the first time an Asian power defeated a European power.

This globalization period that started at Meiji Restoration, continued into the 1950s to 1980s, making Japan a fierce competitor in a wide variety of industries including autos, consumer and industrial electronics and many others. Japan even embraced sports such as golf, with many Japanese men and women taking interest in this Western sport, especially in the 1980s and 90s, and resulting in literally hundreds of golf courses being built around the country. By the way, when flying into Narita International Airport, just look down, you will see dozens of gold courses located just outside of Tokyo.

However, we see a change in Japanese society. The strong interest of looking to the West for ideas is fading. Japan is beginning to look inward for solutions and new ideas. This is clearly evident in the solutions that Japan has for an aging population. Now Japan is building robots (the country is a leader in robotics), to look after the older generation. Japan is also focusing on its traditional strengths and as mentioned in other Classiarius presentations, it is turning to its youth for new ideas in cryptocurrencies and blockchain as both industry leaders in the future and sources of revenue for this aging society.

Japan is going through generational changes, and we at Classiarius will be keeping you informed on tech, mainly tech, as well as cultural and social change into the 2020 Olympics and beyond.

Team Classiarius


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