Ministry of International Trade and Industry (通商産業省
Tsūshō-sangyō-shō or MITI) was one of the most powerful agencies
of the Government of Japan. At the height of its influence, it
effectively ran much of Japanese industrial policy, funding research
and directing investment. In 2001, its role was taken over by the
Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI).
3 Deputy ministers
4 See also
6 External links
MITI was created with the split of the Ministry of Commerce and
Industry in May 1949 and given the mission for coordinating
international trade policy with other groups, such as the Bank of
Economic planning Agency, and the various commerce-related
cabinet ministries. At the time it was created, Japan was still
recovering from the economic disaster of World War II. With inflation
rising and productivity failing to keep up, the government sought a
better mechanism for reviving the Japanese economy.
MITI has been responsible not only in the areas of exports and imports
but also for all domestic industries and businesses not specifically
covered by other ministries in the areas of investment in plant and
equipment, pollution control, energy and power, some aspects of
foreign economic assistance, and consumer complaints. This span has
allowed MITI to integrate conflicting policies, such as those on
pollution control and export competitiveness, to minimize damage to
MITI has served as an architect of industrial policy, an arbiter on
industrial problems and disputes, and a regulator. A major objective
of the ministry has been to strengthen the country's industrial base.
It has not managed Japanese trade and industry along the lines of a
centrally planned economy, but it has provided industries with
administrative guidance and other direction, both formal and informal,
on modernization, technology, investments in new plants and equipment,
and domestic and foreign competition.
The close relationship between MITI and Japanese industry has led to
foreign trade policy that often complements the ministry's efforts to
strengthen domestic manufacturing interests. MITI facilitated the
early development of nearly all major industries by providing
protection from import competition, technological intelligence, help
in licensing foreign technology, access to foreign exchange, and
assistance in mergers.
These policies to promote domestic industry and to protect it from
international competition were strongest in the 1950s and 1960s. As
industry became stronger and as MITI lost some of its policy tools,
such as control over allocation of foreign exchange, MITI's policies
also changed. The success of Japanese exports and the tension it has
caused in other countries led MITI to provide guidance on limiting
exports of particular products to various countries. Starting in 1981,
MITI presided over the establishment of voluntary restraints on
automobile exports to the
United States to allay criticism from
American manufacturers and their unions.
Similarly, MITI was forced to liberalize import policies, despite its
traditional protectionist focus. During the 1980s, the ministry helped
to craft a number of market-opening and import promoting measures,
including the creation of an import promotion office within the
ministry. The close relationship between MITI and industry allowed the
ministry to play such a role in fostering more open markets, but
conflict remained between the need to open markets and the desire to
continue promoting new and growing domestic industries.
As late as the 1980s, prime ministers were expected to serve a tenure
as MITI minister before taking over the government. MITI worked
closely with Japanese business interests, and was largely responsible
for keeping the domestic market closed to most foreign companies.
MITI lost some influence when the switch was made to a floating
exchange rate between the
United States dollar
United States dollar and yen in 1971. Before
that point, MITI had been able to keep the exchange rate artificially
low, which benefited Japan's exporters. Later, intense lobbying from
other countries, particularly the United States, pushed Japan to
introduce more liberal trade laws that further lessened MITI's grip
over the Japanese economy. By the mid-1980s, the ministry was helping
foreign corporations set up operations in Japan.
The decline of MITI was described by Johnstone:
... by the early 1980s, when Western analysts first became aware of
MITI, the ministry's glory days were over. In 1979 MITI lost its
primary instrument of control over Japanese firms – allocation
of foreign currency. The power, that is, to decide who could –
and who could not – import technologies. [For example] ... MITI
bureaucrats attempted to deny fledgling Sony the $25,000 the company
needed to license transistor technology from Western Electric.
However MITI still continued to benefit industry, especially in
semiconductors, where, to overcome resistance to a new technology, it
forced every electronic company to have at least one CMOS project
The declining significance of MITI to Japanese companies made it a
less powerful agency within the bureaucracy, and by the end of the
20th century, it was folded into a larger body. In 2001, it was
reorganized into the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI).
Important MITI agencies include:
National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology
Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO)
Japan Patent Office
Japan Patent Office (JPO)
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (January
Fifth generation computer
Economy of Japan
^ Johnstone p. xv
This article incorporates public domain material from the
Library of Congress Country Studies website
http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/. – Japan
Chalmers A. Johnson (1982). MITI and the Japanese Miracle. Stanford
University Press. ISBN 0-8047-1206-9.
Bob Johnstone (1999). We were burning: Japanese entrepreneurs and the
forging of the electronic age. Basic Books.
(in English) METI website
Coordinates: 35°40′19″N 139°45′04″E / 35.672°N