Japan/Germany post WW2 economic recovery

Discussion in 'Economics' started by Wordsmith, Feb 12, 2012.

Welcome to the Army Rumour Service, ARRSE

The UK's largest and busiest UNofficial military website.

The heart of the site is the forum area, including:

  1. Wordsmith

    Wordsmith LE Book Reviewer

    I've been doing my historical research - here's a reminder of how hypocritical the Germans are being about writing of Greek debt.

    Marshal Plan (1948 - 1951)

    The Marshall Plan (officially the European Recovery Program) was an example of American generosity that I can find few parallels for. Between 1948 - 51 they effectively gave grants or low cost loans to Europe to help it recover from the 2nd World War. Germany was the third biggest recipient ($1.5 billion) after the UK ($3.3 billion) and France ($2.3 billion).

    Considering it was just 6 years since the US had spent a lot of blood and money in defeating Germany - and the memory of the concentration camps was still fresh - helping the German economy recover was a real feat of statesmanship.

    Marshall Plan - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    London Agreement on German External Debts (1953)

    Despite Marshall Aid, Germany was still saddled with a lot of external debt. The London Agreement wrote of 50% of the debt and put the rest onto 30 year repayment terms.

    Agreement on German External Debts - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    So maybe Merkel should remember that when Germany was in a desperate economic situation 60 years ago, it was treated with far more generosity than she now appears to be prepared to extend to Greece.

  2. Hmm. Nothing to do with a foreign policy objective of containing communism, then?
  3. Alsacien

    Alsacien LE Moderator

    Exactamondo, just like Japan.
    Ironically one of the major factors in the bomb dropping decision, limited (compared to a land invasion) economic long term damage.
  4. Wordsmith

    Wordsmith LE Book Reviewer

    I'd be genuinly interested to see any references for that.

    My understanding is that the major factor in using the bomb was the need to reduce American casualties - calculated as being of the order of 500,000 based on a full scale military invasion.

    As to economic damage, the Japanese economy had already been trashed by the US submarine campaign (which was strangling the supply of raw materials) and Le May's strategic bombing campaign - which was burning the heart out of city after city. The Japanese economy was already badly damaged by the time of their surrender.

  5. Was it CHURCHILL who said after the war, looking at GERMANY and RUSSIA,

    "I think we have killed the wrong pig"
  6. Alsacien

    Alsacien LE Moderator

    It was book I read years ago, I will try and remember what it was.
    The just of it was IIRC that Japan provided a non-communist buffer to China/Russia in Pacific.
    The casulties would have been horrendous on both sides and was for such the primay consideration, but due to the range integral damage to Japan was relatively light (compared to Germany), which is maybe why the economy recovered so quickly.
    I only remembered because of a chap on telly tonight talking about his "non-disclosure" agreement that he signed while getting repatriated as a FEPOW.
    (Caveat that this an old recollection and could be bollocks).
  7. Wordsmith

    Wordsmith LE Book Reviewer

    In 1945, Churchill was a bit like Cassandra - able to see the forthcoming curse of communism but unable to make the Americans in particular see the danger.

    What is worrying about the present Euro crisis is that the way democratic politicians are being pushed aside by Merkozy/Brussels. We've effectively seen new governments in Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy as a result of the financial crisis. And democratic actions like a Greek referendum have been stopped by crude threats.

    If the euro is the great idea it is supposed to be, it would be supported by the public across Europe in referenda. Yet Brussels runs scared every time one is mooted...

  8. Wordsmith

    Wordsmith LE Book Reviewer

    You might be interested in a book by Edwin Hoyt called "Japan's War - the Pacific Conflict 1853 - 1952". In it Hoyt attempts to show how Japan's militaristic society was shaped from 1853 when Commodore Perry and his fleet forced Japan to open its borders to foreign contact and trade again. It made me realise that the Japanese expansionist tendencies that led to war with China (and thence the US/UK) had deeper roots than might first have been thought.

    I've just looked up some statistics on the damage to the Japanese economy before the atomic bombs were dropped:

    - Oil refining down to 17% of capacity
    - Aero engines down to 25% of capacity
    - Aircraft production down to 40% of capacity
    - Electronics production down to 30% of capacity

    178 square miles of industrial area had been burn out in 61 major cities with over 600 major factories destroyed or severely damaged. In addition 80% of Japan's merchant fleet had been sunk via torpedo or mine - a devastating blow for an import dependent nation.

    By any standard the Japanese economy was in a parlous state. My reading of the use of the atomic bombs is that they did not greatly increase the damage to the Japanese economy, but - by being a new and powerful weapon - tipped the balance between doves and hawks in the Japanese government enough for Hirohito to instruct that government to surrender.

  9. Wordsmith

    Wordsmith LE Book Reviewer

    The tragedy in all this is that Churchill (the arch imperialist) realised that the Second World War might well be the last hurrah for the Empire, but that if it saved democracy, then maybe history would call it a price worth paying.

    A rational man would not have fought on after the fall of France - Churchill was historian enough to know that without powerful allies the UK was doomed to eventual defeat. (And who could forecast then that Hitler would be insane enough to declare war on Russian and the US).

    He might have had his flaws, he might have made his mistakes, but there was a greatness of spirit in Churchill that should not be denied. He saw the evils in Nazism (and later in Stalinism) and that there was more at stake than just a war between two nations. Nazism Churchill stopped (barely) and communism he failed against, but I shudder to think of the world we might live in now were it not for Churchill and his sense of history.

  10. The important lesson is that Japan never wanted a war with America: it was an oil war. When the USA, Dutch and British governments embargoed oil supplies to Japan she was finished as a major power unless she obtained new supplies. The only place they could come from was the Dutch East Indies, and the only viable long term threat to the Japanese tankers was the US Navy. So Japan had to occupy the Philippines to secure one flank and Singapore to secure the other. Japanese naval staff studies proved that the British could never mount an effective response because they were too weak and too far away, which was correct. The same studies proved that it was a logistical impossibility to haul forward the supplies the American forces would need to retake the Western Pacific.

    Those conclusions were wrong. The US Navy didn't win the war simply because of its warships: it won because if built, manned and operated supply vessels in such huge numbers that the fighting fleets could eventually operate off the coast of Japan and still be replenished every day with everything from fuel oil to cartons of ice cream.They even had dozens of small aircraft carriers which regularly met up with the fast carriers to fly off replacement planes.

    It was never easy though. Which was one of the reasons the Americans didn't want the Royal Navy back in the Pacific; they were too busy looking after their own ships to worry about a poor relation which would always be on the cadge. The RN was a port based Navy, not a free ranging one -- which was why its battleships nearly had to give up the hunt for the Bismark when their bunker tanks were running out and they had no idea at all of how to refuel big ships in rough weather.

    And the really big lesson is not to try to cripple an emerging Asian power by cutting off its oil supplies -- unless you're very, very sure that you know exactly what you're doing. It would have been rather embarrassing if the Japs had detonated an atomic bomb over San Francisco the day after the Hiroshima blast.
  11. To paraphrase a speech by Churchill during WW2 ….

    “ Voting for acceptance of the bailout offer may not be the end , nor the beginning of the end , nor even the end of the beginning but just a continuing of the same “ .

    There are still many acts to be played out in this particular Greek tragedy .

    FORMER_FYRDMAN LE Book Reviewer

    Major factor? Look at the state of the place by 1945 as a result of the strategic bombing programme. The primary driver was a swift conclusion with minimal allied casualties following the Okinawa experience (coupled with a bit of scientific and military curiosity and perhaps a desire to show the Soviet Union why it needed to play nicely-ish). I've never read of Harry Truman choosing to nuke the Japs for the benefit of their economy. Events in Greece have unhinged you.....

    Edited to add, agree 100% with Wordsmith.

    FORMER_FYRDMAN LE Book Reviewer

    Bit selective there Jim. Japan had already attacked China long before the US started an oil embargo - to argue that they didn't want war given that that war was the inevitable direction their expansionist policy was taking them is disingenuous.

    As for a Japanese atomic bomb - never in a million years. Most of their technology was obsolete by 1943 and their successes on 1942 were largely down to playing against a set of 3rd XI's who were woefully unprepared and who took time to get their act together.

    Thanks for raising the point about Japanese assessments of US logistic capability - despite that I think Yamamato had a clear idea of what was going to happen, he must have been extremely frustrated that others 'knew better'.
  14. Wordsmith

    Wordsmith LE Book Reviewer

    The oil (and scrap iron) supplies were embargoed because Japan was engaged on an expansionist policy, having brought Korea under its sphere of influence and invaded China in 1937. Japan was asked to stop its aggressive expansion, upon which oil and scrap iron supplies would be resumed. As Japan saw it as its god-given right to dominate the Pacific, they chose war as the alternative to meeting American demands.

    I have also seen a study which suggests that the oil embargo was applied more strictly than Roosevelt intended by middle ranking officials in the state department. When Roosevelt realised what was happening, it was too late to reverse the policy because that would have looked like weakness in Japanese eyes.

    The Japanese naval staff studies (according to Gordon Prague) tended to be slanted to give the results the Japanese high command wanted to see from them - a fault by no means confined to the Japanese. The fact that the staff studies came to a specific conclusion does not validate that conclusion.

    You could equally argue that Japan lost the war because it did not have the industrial capacity to compete with America. Yamamoto knew it - few others did in the Japanese high command. Tojo famously underestimated American economic and military potential.

    Or to be more precise, Ernie King didn't want the Royal Navy in the Pacific partially because he was an Anglophobe and partially because of the fleet train problem. Nimitz and Bruce Fraser (C in C British Pacific fleet) got on famously. The RN ships were designed for the North Atlantic where ranges were shorter. They proved perfectly adequate for that theatre.

    (And when the Kamikaze's started, the Americans came to appreciate the armoured decks of the British fleet carriers).

    At the start of the Pacific war, all nations were experimenting with refuelling at sea. The Pearl Habour strike force carried out trials in the months before December 7th in order to find the best way of reaching Hawaii with full tanks. And one of the reasons they managed to hit so much of the American fleet at Pearl Harbour was that Kimmel didn't have enough tankers to keep more than part of his fleet out for more than a few days.

  15. Yes, Yes , of course the Japanese are peaceloving peoples, Ask the Chinese, Koreans, and Filipinos. Japan even set up a share the wealth program called the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.....

    Reality is Japanese Militarism, embodied most often in the Army Officers cliques simply had no clue about the USA or the UK's ability to fight. Years of raping an pillaging Chinese cities and destroying ineffective Chinese armies had given them a false impression of invincability. The Army even ignored Khalkin Gol as an aberration. The Navy was far more realist.