1901 - 1935
1935 - 1945
World War II
1945 - 1955
1955 - 1965
1965 - 1975
1975 - 1985
1985 - 1995
Towards Industrialization (1935-1945)
Early Industrial Growth
From 1935 on, the automobile, aircraft, electric and chemical industries experienced strong growth in response to the needs of the era. With the implementation of the Automobile Manufacturing Industries Act (1936) and orders from the military, the motor vehicle industry leapt into the spotlight. By 1937, when the Sino-Japanese War began, as many as 16 companies were participating in the manufacture of automobiles and establishing an infrastructure for the industry.
Establishment of Comprehensive Automobile Industry Policies
In 1930, an advisory organ of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry submitted a report stating that "the government should devise appropriate protective policies to assist in the wholesome development of the automobile industry". As a result, the Committee for the Establishment of a Domestic Automobile Industry was formed in May 1931 which drew up specifications for "Ministry of Commerce and Industry Standard Model Automobiles", calling for the manufacture of medium-sized, 1.5-2 ton trucks and buses according to its specifications.
In 1932, the Tokyo Gas & Electric Engineering Co., Ishikawajima Automobile Manufacturing and Dat Automobile Manufacturing together produced an experimental car called "Isuzu". In June that year, these three companies established the Domestic Automobile Association, Japan's first automobile manufacturers organization. In April 1937, these same companies merged to form the Tokyo Motor Co., Ltd., which became the forerunner of Isuzu Motors and Hino Motors.
The Automobile Manufacturing Industries Act
The first companies operating under this law were Toyota and Nissan. While zaibatsu companies such as Mitsui were hesitating, these two new companies, prepared to take the risk, aggressively embarked upon the mass production of automobiles.
In 1937, one year after the creation of the Automobile Manufacturing Industries Act, the Military Vehicle Subsidy Law of 1918 was officially revoked.
Withdrawal of the Big Three
However, they were forced to stop production with the passage of the Automobile Manufacturing Industries Act which, as previously explained, aimed to eliminate dependence on foreign manufacturers for reasons of national security. Moreover, when foreign exchange regulations were revised after the break-out of the Sino-Japanese War in 1937, import prices skyrocketed with the decline in the yen exchange rate. Feeling the mounting pressure, the Big Three finally discontinued production in 1939 and withdrew from Japan.
Between 1925 and 1935, the Big Three produced a cumulative total of 208,967 units. In contrast, domestic production for the same period totaled 12,127 units, just 5.8% that of American manufacturers.
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