MITI Case Study

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MITI was created with the split of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry in May 1949 and given the mission for coordinating international trade policy with other groups, such as the Bank of Japan, the Economic planning Agency, and the various commerce-related cabinet ministries. At the time it was created, Japan was still recovering from the economic disaster of World War II. With inflation rising and productivity failing to keep up, the government sought a better mechanism for reviving the Japanese economy.
MITI has been responsible not only in the areas of exports and imports but also for all domestic industries and businesses not specifically covered by other ministries in the areas of investment in plant and equipment, pollution control,
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As industry became stronger and as MITI lost some of its policy tools, such as control over allocation of foreign exchange, MITI's policies also changed. The success of Japanese exports and the tension it has caused in other countries led MITI to provide guidance on limiting exports of particular products to various countries. Starting in 1981, MITI presided over the establishment of voluntary restraints on automobile exports to the United States to allay criticism from American manufacturers and their…show more content…
Before that point, MITI had been able to keep the exchange rate artificially low, which benefited Japan's exporters. Later, intense lobbying from other countries, particularly the United States, pushed Japan to introduce more liberal trade laws that further lessened MITI's grip over the Japanese economy. By the mid-1980s, the ministry was helping foreign corporations set up operations in Japan.
The decline of MITI was described by Johnstone:
... by the early 1980s, when Western analysts first became aware of MITI, the ministry's glory days were over. In 1979 MITI lost its primary instrument of control over Japanese firms — allocation of foreign currency. The power, that is, to decide who could — and who could not — import technologies. [For example] ... MITI bureaucrats attempted to deny fledgling Sony the $25,000 the company needed to license transistor technology from Western Electric.[1]
However MITI still continued to benefit industry, especially in semiconductors, where, to overcome resistance to a new technology, it forced every electronic company to have at least one CMOS project going.
The declining significance of MITI to Japanese companies made it a less powerful agency within the bureaucracy, and by the end of the 20th century, it was folded into a larger body. In 2001, it was reorganized into the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry
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