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The Economies of Japan and the Koreas

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The Economies of Japan and the Koreas.

Concerning economic power, not only is Japan the most powerful nation in all of Asia (this hegemonia is questioned when comparing Japan to China in certain economic areas), but also it has the 2nd strongest economy of the world, losing

only to the USA. South Korea has a fantastic economy as well. It has high investments mainly in the area of technology. North Korea on the other hand, is the opposite of South Korea and Japan. It is extremely undeveloped and primitive. Part of this is because of the country’s political system.

JAPAN: Japan has nowadays one of the most powerful economies in the world. It can be considered the 2nd or 3rd largest economy, depending on which point of view is used to compare. After WWII, the country was left in ruins, after suffering the devastating effects of the first nuclear bombs. However, in the 1960s, Japan had the highest economic growth rate in the world. This exponential growth rate went on to the 80s, and in the 90s, slowed dramatically. The growth rate was now minimum compared to the 60s, but it had already made Japan the 2nd strongest economy in the world.

Japan is a small island nation, and thus, has inadequate resources. As it has a very strong economy, a huge deal of energy needs to be imported so as to nourish this economic giant of the East. In the beginning of it’s growth, Japan had as main resource oil, but after the oil crises of the 70s, it decided to reduce dramatically the importation of this fossil fuel. Other important energy resources it uses include coal, nuclear power, and hydropower. The deposits of magnesium, silver, and gold are enough to meet Japan’s current industrial demands, but on the other hand, it needs to import bauxite, copper, and iron ore, which are the main raw materials used in industry.

Agriculture, foresting and fishing together account for only 1.3% of the Japanese economy. Only 15% of Japan’s land is suitable for cultivation. Japan normally produces a slight surplus of rice but imports large quantities of wheat, sorghums, and soybeans. Japan is the largest market for U.S. agricultural exports. Japan’s main agricultural products include potatoes, sugar beets, vegetables, fruit, pork, poultry, dairy products, eggs, fish. The nation's forest resources, although abundant, have not been well developed to sustain a large lumber industry. About a third of all forests are owned by the government.

The industrial activities in Japan acount for about 25.3% of the economy. The main type of industries found in Japan are those of high tecnology. Heavy industries either declined or maintained

themselves stables, while the one of high tecnology does nothing but increase it’s participation in Japanese market. Industry in concentrated mainly in the areas around Tokyo. The fields in which Japan enjoys relatively high technological development include semiconductor manufacturing, optical fibers, optoelectronics, optical media, facsimile and copy machines, industrial robots, and fermentation processes. Japan is also a leader in the prodeuction of satellites, rockets, and large aircrafts. It is also has a significant amount of computer design and manufacturing companies.

Japan's labor force consists of some 64 million workers, 40% of whom are women. The unemployment rate is currently 4.9%. One major long-term concern for the Japanese labor force is a low birthrate. In the first half of 2005, the number of deaths in Japan exceeded the number of births, indicating that the decline in population, initially predicted to start in 2007, has already started. Japan has an external debt of 1.545 trillion dollars.

SOUTH KOREA: The growth of South Korean economy in the past three decades has been considered spectacular. Four decades ago, South Korea was a mainly agricultural country. It’s status was compared to those of the poorest countries of Africa and Asia. However, the government wanted to change the country, so they started to invest in light industry and consumer products first. The government carried out a currency reform, strengthened financial institutions, and introduced flexible economic planning. After that, in the 70s and 80s, the government started to brutally encourage heavy and chemical industries, as well as consumer goods and automobiles. Also, it must be taken to consideration that the government made a long term investment in the country: they spent billions of dollars on education, so as to have a qualified labor force to support south Korean development. Nowadays, South Korea is part of the select trillion dollar club of world economies. From African status to global power status,

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