Ministry of International Trade and Industry

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(MITI) (Japan)

A Japanese ministry created in 1949 through a merger of the Trade Agency and the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, which, along with the Ministry of Finance, is considered to have been an important catalyst for Japan's postwar economic development. During the early postwar period, it marshalled scarce foreign exchange, resources, and technology in its attempts to foster the industrial success stories of the period in shipbuilding, steel, and chemicals. At the same time, MITI was responsible for the establishment of home-grown oil, biotechnology, and aerospace industries, although these have proved to be less internationally competitive so far. Although its achievements may be qualified, the ministry's decision to create in Japan a value-added, highly industrialized economy appears to have been the correct one. Today, MITI's agencies and bureaux include organizations which oversee national resources, small and medium industry, industrial policy, international trade, the environment, and consumer protection. MITI's influence in the business and political worlds is legendary. On retirement at around 50, officials from the ministry often find jobs as executives in the flagships of Japanese industry in a practice known as amakudari or ‘descending from heaven’. Other old boys from MITI have had political careers; among them Kishi Nobusuke and Shiina Estusaburo who enjoyed considerable influence within the Liberal Democratic Party because their civil service experience gave them great fund-raising capacity. In 2001, it was reorganized as the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI).

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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