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Rivalry and cooperation: how the Japanese photographic industry went global

By Patricia Ann Nelson


This thesis analyzes the postwar political economy of the global photography industry, i.e. camera/lens and film, up to 1995 and finds that the Japanese industry has met unprecedented success. The question addressed in this thesis is: who drove the success of the Japanese photography industry, the government or firms? The words 'rivalry' and 'cooperation' are used in this thesis because they most aptly describe the three main relationships in the photography industry during the postwar period: bureaucrat-politician, government-industry and firm-firm. Cooperation and rivalry always existed in these relationships, but one often took precedence over the other.\ud \ud The camera/lens makers in Japan's photography industry benefited from cooperative relationships through export promotion and import protection policies from 1950 to 1973. Export promotion was effective because Japanese camera/lens firms began to 'export' to US military postal exchanges in Japan during the Allied Occupation (1945-1952). After that time, the US market was wide open to Japanese exports due to Japan's balance of payments problems and America's mounting security concerns in Asia. Exports of cameras/lenses to the US and Europe expanded throughout the 1950s and 1960s, while photographic film manufacturers (who also produced cameras/lenses) caught up technologically and enjoyed a protected domestic market for film. After 1974, rivalry increased in the three main relationships primarily due to changes in the international trading regime and within Japan. In particular, firm-firm rivalry in cameras/lenses and film grew throughout the 1970s and intensified during the 1980s as new technological advances raised the stakes for global market shares.\ud \ud This thesis shows that some firms have been successful despite government involvement in the industry, while others have been successful because of it. Cooperation between the government and industry was important in the early years because of the tight controls placed on industry (up to the early 1970s). But the influence of the government waned as the firms within the photography industry went global and rivalry among firms increased. Additional sectoral studies of Japan's early export industries (e.g. sewing machines, bicycles, clocks/watches) are needed to provide additional evidence of the extent to which there was cooperation and/or rivalry in the three main relationships in Japan's postwar political economy

Topics: HF
OAI identifier: oai:wrap.warwick.ac.uk:2546

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