Chapter 3: An Asian leader: Japan’s development trajectory
Japan’s development trajectory was heavily influenced by two factors: geography and foreign intervention. As a mountainous island nation, Japan lacked many natural resources and faced barriers to transportation, and was forced to make a concerted effort to industrialize. Japan was given impetus to develop after its negative experiences with traders from the United States, who forced Japan to open up to trade. This caused Japan to feel its own deficiencies painfully; with insufficient resource security and barriers to development, Japan had to seek innovative ways and obtain sufficient funds to industrialize. Japan is an island chain in the North Pacific Ocean (Figure 3.1), east of Korea, Russia, and China (US Central Intelligence Agency 2012). With terrain that is mountainous and rugged, only 12 percent of Japan’s land mass is comprised of arable land. The Japanese Alps on the main island of Honshu cover an area 140 miles long and 60 miles wide. Per capita land mass is the smallest of all G-7 nations. Because of Japan’s mountainous terrain, it was not until the 1960s that Japan was able to build up its road network, and the main form of transportation remained the railways.
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