S-Space Graduate School of International Studies (국제대학원) Institute for Japanese Studies(일본연구소) Seoul Journal of Japanese Studies Seoul Journal of Japanese Studies vol.6 no.1(2020)
Japan’s Special Procurement in the 1950s and the Cold War Structure
- Chung, Jin Sung
- Issue Date
- Seoul Journal of Japanese Studies, Vol.6 No.1, pp. 1-41
- Cold War; special procurement; the Japan-US economic cooperation framework; MSA; the Korean War
- This article is a revised and translated version of the author’s Korean article “1950-nyŏndae Ilbon ŭi ‘t’ŭksu’ wa naengjŏn kujo,” published in Ilbon pip’ŏng[Korean journal of Japanese studies] 22 (2020), with the permission of Sŏul Taehakkyo Ilbon Yŏn’guso [Institute for Japanese Studies, Seoul National University].
- The practice of the special procurement of materials and logistical support from Japan, operated by the US that emerged after the Korean War, was an influential factor defining the Japanese economy through the 1950s. It facilitated the growth of Japanese economy by enabling the national annual acquisition of 800 million dollars of currency during the Korean War. To sustain economic growth, the Japanese government sought to secure new sources to replace the Korean War special procurement after the armistice. By utilizing US foreign aid sponsored offshore procurement, Japan was then able to acquire further procurement contracts amounting to 400 or 500 million dollars a year in the late 1950s. In addition to enabling the government to acquire foreign currency, special procurement also served as an opportunity to revive Japanese military industry and spearhead national economic influence in Southeast Asia.
Japan’s economic gains from special procurement were rooted in its deep involvement in the US-led Cold War complex in East Asia. During the Korean War, Japan earned its special procurement income by undertaking the role of “rear supply base.” To secure further procurement of American dollars after the war, the government and business community responded to US initiatives and mobilized Japanese industrial productivity toward general procurement in support of US military forces, and participated in the US foreign aid strategy after the enforcement of the San Francisco Peace Treaty. Japan secured special economic benefits by actively committing to the US Cold War strategy for East Asia. Through these measures, the US fostered Japanese economic power as a rear supply base by providing the economic benefits of special procurement. Special procurement therefore embodied the shared interests of Japan and the US. On the other hand, special procurement also represented a crucial point at which the interests of Korea and Japan diverged. Not only because the Korean War special procurement occurred at the expense of immeasurable human and material loss within Korea, but also because the Korean reconstruction special procurement contributed to another form of Japan’s subjugation of the Korean economy.