The Development of Japan's Electric Lamp Export Industry and Voluntary Export Restraints during the 1950s and '60s : The Case of the Christmas-tree Lamp Industry

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  • 戦後日本における輸出電球工業の展開と輸出規制 : 1950~60年代のクリスマス電球工業を中心として
  • センゴ ニホン ニ オケル ユシュツ デンキュウ コウギョウ ノ テンカイ ト ユシュツ キセイ : 1950~60ネンダイ ノ クリスマス デンキュウ コウギョウ オ チュウシン ト シテ

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This paper examines the development of the Christmas-tree-lamp industry, which was one of the export industries that contributed significantly to Japan's economic development during the 1950s and 60s. It focuses primarily on three periods: (1) pre-1958; (2) 1962-64; and (3) post-1967. The majority of Japanese-made Christmas-tree lamps were exported to the US during the 1950s. These exports exceeded American domestic production levels by the mid-1950s, and Japan adopted voluntary export restraints (VER) in 1958 to prevent a flood of exports and the trade friction that would result. The VERs were also intended to regulate excessive competition in Japan and thereby to bring stability to Japanese manufacturers of the product. Because of inadequacies in the functioning of the VER system, however, conflict erupted between exporters and manufacturers in 1962-3. The Japanese Electric Lamp Industry Association and the Ministry of International Trade and Industry proposed reforms to the VER based on self-regulation by the industry, but the proposals were not accepted and the reforms were never implemented. Meanwhile, exports of Christmas-tree lamps to the US from developing countries (South Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong) increased rapidly, and Japan accordingly lifted the VERs in 1967 in order to be able to compete. The Japanese Christmas-tree Lamp Trade Association also developed plans to enhance Japanese competitiveness and stabilize the manufacturing sector, but these never took concrete form. As a result, Japan's Christmas-tree lamps lost most of their market share in the US, and the Christmas-tree-lamp industry ceased to be a significant part of Japan's economic growth by the beginning of the 1970s.

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