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Technology and Investment: The Prewar Japanese Chemical Industry
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  • Barbara Molony, Santa Clara University

Barbara Molony (Author)


The chemical industry was Japan's first "high-tech" industry, and its companies the most important examples of a noteworthy business structure in the prewar period, the so-called "new zaibatsu."

Molony deals with one branch of the chemical industry--electrochemicals--with shorter descriptions of related branches. At the hear of the book is the story of Noguchi Jun, founder of Japan Nitrogenous Fertilizers (Nippon Chisso Hiryō) and one of Japan's best known twentieth-century entrepreneurs. Noguchi's firm developed from a fertilizer company to a multifaceted company producing a wide range of technologically sophisticated products while he forged ties with civilian and military leaders in Japan and Korea who controlled access to capital and to the hydroelectricity needed for chemical manufacture. The book also treats the second and third waves of investment and electrochemicals during the 1920s and 1930s.

This study analyzes the nature of prewar Japanese entrepreneurship, the links between technology and investment, the emergence of a class of scientific managers, and the relationship of business strategy to imperialism in the years leading up to World War II.

Publication Date
Harvard University Asia Center
Citation Information
Barbara Molony. Technology and Investment: The Prewar Japanese Chemical Industry. (1990)
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