Acta Universitatis Danubius. Relationes Internationales, Vol 12, No 2 (2019)


The Impact of Military Strategic Thinking on Japanese International Economic Relations

In the Post WW II Period


Nicolae-Florin Prunău1


Abstract: Japan's economy is invariably seen as a prime example of a capitalist system and an analysis of the elements on which the Japanese economy is founded seems to lead inexorably to the conclusion that Japan is an established member of the group of highly developed capitalist nations. Although the post-war economic crises have also affected the Japanese colossus, they have resisted due to the diversification of risks, the clients, the collaboration with multiple companies, the adaptation to new technologies, the innovation, the flexibility and above all, due to the formidable force of the Japanese people to overcome difficulties. Japan has a tradition of success, based on the military performance of the past. The orientation towards the performance of the Japanese companies, by the strategic character, can be correlated with the management of the military doctrine, both the classical and the modern one. The theme is anchored in reality because Japanese companies are a benchmark for emerging economies, as is the case in Romania.

Keywords: Economy; Keiretsu; strategic; tradition


1. Introduction

World War II, the nuclear weapon, experienced over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the years that followed, especially in the first part of the cold war, did not end the strategy, as it was once believed, but on the contrary, they raised new problems, new challenges, as new and complicated vulnerabilities arose. The power of destroying weapons could not prevent the philosophy, physiognomy and proliferation of reflection on this subject, as man is made to think. As a result, people - and especially military theorists - have ceased to respect the strategy2, to base and recast them, approach with approach, concept with concept, its new philosophy and its new architecture, in all possible configurations, from economic and informational ones to military ones. They did not believe for a moment in the “death” of the strategy and in the omnipotence of politics without it, and the experience of the Vietnam War and the confrontations at the millennial border showed that they were right.

Politics without strategy means failure and even disaster, and strategy without politics is like a plan without a title or as a road without beginning and without end, as a road to nowhere (Bădălan, Arsenie, & Văduva, 2009, p. 9).

Generally speaking, military theorists use two main levels of military strategy: the big strategy (general, national, war) and the small strategy (operational or armed struggle) (Bégarie, 2011, pp. 98-100).

Accepting the idea that, during the war, several types of confrontations are activated (political, informational, psychological, in the media, diplomatic, economic, military, etc.), it turns out that the operational strategy (of the armed struggle) represents a subsystem of the general strategy of the state. In the general context of the actions coordinated during the war, the great strategy emphasizes, in particular, its military component (operational, armed confrontation).

In the Romanian military theory, the strategy of armed struggle is considered to be the highest field of military art. For this reason, it is natural for it to set objectives and direct the investigation of the military phenomenon by the other two components of military art - operative art and tactics.

The strategy of the armed struggle (operational) is based on laws and principles that, in general, have manifested, with different intensities and consequences, throughout the history of wars.

Asia has always been a major challenge in military art. This is where the Art of war of Sun Tz and the Arthashastra of Kotyila Indian appeared, and here is the largest military empire of all time, the Mongolian one. Gingis-Han imposed on the contemporary war of movement, China developed the indirect strategy and strategic culture of the stratagems, while the Islamic corridor created that strategic line we are facing today. Islamism, especially because of its fundamentalist side, is perceived as a barbarism of the late twentieth century and the beginning of the 21st century, but its influence on Asian strategic culture (and beyond) is as substantial as possible. Japan is reborn, China is at the top of the great strategic nuclear powers, North Korea has nuclear means, Russia, as well as European and Asian countries, therefore Eurasian, lays the foundations of strategic partnerships in this part of the Earth that are reconfiguring the military relations in the area. Strategic culture is a serious support for Asian military doctrines and strategies.



2. Military Strategic Thinking

The strategy in general and the military strategy in particular has been analyzed from different angles and points of view, being defined as the case may be. Below I have extracted some of its definitions.

Strategíe - 1. A component part of the military art, which deals with the problems of preparation, planning and conduct of war and military operations. 2. (In the phrase) Economic strategy = setting the objectives and planning the course of actions to be taken both at the microeconomic level and at the macroeconomic level. - From fr. strategy3.

Strategy - the science that deals with the management of complex systems, in a certain perspective, aiming at achieving the final purpose of the action and linking the successive operations necessary to achieve this goal (Military dictionary, 2013, p. 293).

The strategy is to use war for the purpose of war. In fact, she deals only with combat, but her theory must deal with the agent of this specific activity, the armed forces, themselves and their main relations, because the armed forces fight, which exerts its first effect on them. . The strategy must study the struggle in relation to its possible outcomes, as well as with the most important intellectual and moral forces in its use.

The strategy is to use warfare for war purposes; it must therefore propose to the whole military act an objective that corresponds to its purpose, that is, it elaborates the war plan and links to this objective the series of activities that must lead to it, drawing up the plans of the different campaigns and organizing their separate battles (Von Clausewitz, 1982, p. 161).

Military strategy - the most efficient and safe way to use forces and means based on some concepts and an overall plan and conducting their actions in order to achieve the purpose of the armed struggle and the general political war (Onişor & Udeanu, 2014, p. 1).

Military strategy - an essential part of the military art that studies the problems of conducting the war as a whole and of the military actions of strategic magnitude, establishes the strategic objectives of the war, elaborates the plans of the country and the army for the war and, according to the laws of the armed struggle, it bases the logic of the deployment. Strategic, their rules, procedures and rules (Military dictionary, 2013, p. 294).

Military strategy - branch of military science and art that studies the problems of conducting the war as a whole and of large-scale military actions, how to use forces and means to achieve the political aims of the war, elaborates the plans to prepare the country and the army for war. The military strategy is subordinated to the state policy, fulfilling its decisions and guidelines. The military strategy has a leading role in relation to the operative and tactical art, guiding their actions and integrating them into an overall conception of the conduct of war (Military Lexicon, 2014, p. 305).

The main functions of the military strategy are (Onişor & Udeanu, 2014, pp. 1-2):

  • defining the character of the future war;

  • preparing the country, the armed forces and the population for war;

  • the overall military leadership of the war;

  • conducting strategic campaigns and operations;

  • establishing the modalities of integration and cooperation within possible military alliances;

  • general training of command staff.

The military strategy elaborates the basic principles of the organization and conduct of military actions, which reflect the long experience of wars. These principles include: economy of forces, freedom of action, concentration of forces and means on the main directions, surprise and avoidance of surprise, maneuver, cooperation.


3. Constraints of Military Strategy (Onişor & Udeanu, 2014, pp. 3-4)

The vulnerability of the state to an aggression triggered by surprise, with the limited (tactical) use of the performing military means, but with a considerable action force.

This constraint is the result:

the insufficiency (non-fulfillment) of regional or regional security systems;

lack of the security and defense guarantees that the state needs;

the inefficiency of the national defense system with real deterrent valences and a corresponding action viability.

The military strategy must propose the alternative of conducting war and armed struggle, as well as offering temporary solutions in relation to the survival of the state in a special strategic situation.

The second constraint of military strategy results from the principles of military doctrine, which expresses justice and what is “right” in the preparation and conduct of war (armed struggle).

From a doctrinal point of view:

no neighboring state or other military power is considered an enemy (aggressor);

the state in question will not take aggressive actions against any other state;

the premeditated acceptance of the conduct of the main military actions on the national territory;

military actions only target the opponent's invasion groups.

The national will exerts another constraint on the military strategy.

The national will is a dynamic element of state power and consists of:

the public will;

the will of power;

the will of the legislature;

the will of the executive;

the will of the presidential institution.

The national strategy (Onişor & Udeanu, 2014, p. 5) must offer solutions and solutions that are in line with the national will.

The legal constraints affect the theoretical development and the practical-applicative side of the military strategy. In this regard, the following are considered:

the laws of the country;

the attributions of the bodies empowered in defense matters;

the established relations between the legislative and the executive, between power and opposition.

Geographic constraints have a great influence on military strategy. The elaboration of the military strategy will take into account: the geostrategic position of the state, the neighbors, the nature and configuration of the borders, the size of the national territory, the access to the sea, the physical-geographical characteristics of the space, the territorial infrastructure.



Structure of the Armed Forces and Risk

There is a close relationship between military strategic conceptions, military structure and risk. A strategic conception satisfies the achievement of political objectives against certain threats, and the structure of the military force ensures the potential needed to implement the strategy. Bureaucratic inertia is a constraint of routine military strategy and resistance to innovations and strategic changes. The military strategy recommends to discourage war and to annihilate the superiority of a strong opponent, the creation of military alliances. The military strategy must start with the elaboration of the military conceptions from the very clear definition of interests (goals, objectives) and then follow the establishment of the necessary forces and means.



4. Japanese Corporate Mentality

Japan's economy is invariably seen as a prime example of a capitalist system and an analysis of the elements on which the Japanese economy is founded seems to lead inexorably to the conclusion that Japan is an established member of the group of highly developed capitalist nations. However, the internal mechanisms of a country may differ significantly from the system, perceived externally. Although it has not yet been widely recognized, a new type of economic system has developed in Japan, a system that is very different from traditional capitalism (Matsumoto, 2010). To understand the Japanese corporate mindset, it must be observed and studied from within. The new corporate system has unique characteristics and differs from the Western-European and / or United States capitalist corporations.

The type of American manager is missing in Japan. In the United States, the core of the enterprise is the management class. The core of the Japanese enterprise is the group of permanent workers; workers who are for all practical purposes employed and who aspire to employment throughout life. They are different from non-permanent employees - most of them representing women and sub-contracted teams, who are to be laid off during periods of declining economic activity. The graduates of the universities of Japan join in the first stage after graduating the group of permanent workers and subsequently occupy various positions, moving from the production line to specialized personnel, as a result of the need, while being paid rather than seniority. position. Participates in the sessions of the consultation groups, in the Japanese style, for discussing and analyzing important decisions.

In the last two decades, the Japanese have developed their own “PM” theory of leadership, in which P represents performance and M for maintenance (Performance & Maintenance). The latter is less of a concern to individual employees than to maintaining social stability. Given the amazing success of the Japanese economy over the past thirty years, many Americans have been searching for the secrets of Japanese management in the hope of copying them. However, there are no secrets of Japanese leadership; it is doubtful whether there is such a thing as management, in the American sense, in Japan. The secret is in Japanese society; and if any group in the company should be designated as a bearer of secrecy, it's about workers, not managers. In order to be able to understand the content and specificity of the management of Japanese companies, it is necessary to have a contextual approach. The following are some of the general characteristics of Japanese culture and management:

- a first specific element, which is the basis of the Japanese behavior and management, it is the so-called “amae”, which designates a specific state of dependence and self-help that exists between the components of any organization;

- characteristic of the Japanese social climate, their specific culture, is the so-called paternalism, groupism or familiarity;

- in close connection with the amae, another interpersonal relationship specific to the Japanese culture, namely oyabun - kobun (oyat - father, ko - children), is manifested on the vertical of any organization. Essentially, by oyabun - kobun is meant the relations that are constituted in the process of work between persons located on different hierarchical levels. The person above in the hierarchy, so in the position of chief, is oyabun, being subordinate to several kobuni, whom he treats equally, without discriminating between them;

- Another major feature of the management and activity of organizations in Japan is the wide proliferation of “small groups” and “clicks” within them, called in Japanese “habatsu”. Small groups are basic functional components of government bodies, political parties, large companies, etc., and the most common criteria for setting up are graduating from the same universities, marriage links and working together within the same group (Nicolescu, 2001, pp. 204-205).

Japanese corporate governance can be analyzed from the perspective of a defining characteristic of “internalization”: the belief that companies should be controlled by internally appointed managers who are integrated into their companies. Examples are provided from recent contacts with corporate management and other sources to illustrate how it determines the response of management to specific developments. Internalism depends on a socio-corporate environment created by specific historical and economic circumstances. There are potentially disruptive elements that could alter this environment and undermine the foundations on which internalism is based. However, major change seems unlikely in the near future (Buchanan, 2007).


5. Conclusions

The main purpose of the study is to determine the performance orientation of the Japanese keiretsu groups, as a result of reflecting the strategic thinking in military doctrine. The theme is anchored in reality because Japanese companies are a benchmark for emerging economies, as is the case in Romania. Although the post-war economic crises have also affected the Japanese colossus, they have resisted due to the diversification of risks, the clients, the collaboration with multiple companies, the adaptation to new technologies, the innovation, the flexibility and above all, due to the formidable force of the Japanese people to overcome difficulties. Japan has a tradition of success, based on the military performance of the past. People's ability to accept leaders' decisions is a prerequisite for long-term success. The military strategy, which is based on planning, organizing, coordinating and controlling, is in full synergy with the Japanese business environment strategy. The orientation towards the performance of the Japanese companies, by the strategic character, can be correlated with the management of the military doctrine, both the classical and the modern one.

From a managerial point of view, keiretsu groups are organized as network structures, consisting of a group of companies often vertically integrated that cooperate with each other to achieve a certain objective. At the center there is a main company (computer) and numerous subcontractors, who work in a unit production system. In the research, we appreciate that there is a close relationship between the strategic thinking in the military doctrine and the strategies of the Keiretsu groups, which, although it cannot be said that they are strategic alliances, lend and implement its positive aspects.

In the post-war period major changes took place throughout the world economy. The interdependencies of national economies not only acquire new characteristics and dimensions, but also have a new perspective. One of the countries that suffered great losses during the Second World War is Japan, which has miraculously restored its economy on a new, modern technical basis. We appreciate that this economic growth as well as the profound changes that have taken place in the Japanese postwar production apparatus are based on the Keiretsu financial-industrial groups. The keiretsu groups carry a strong imprint of Japanese cultural values, deeply rooted in Japanese society. Often it emphasizes strong personal relationships, close human relationships and mutual trust. The financial strength of these groups leads to the possibility of creating a diversified business palette. These aspects offer an undeniable advantage of keiretsu, that of diversifying the risks leading to their minimization.


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1 Assistant Professor, Danubius University of Galați, Romania, Address: 3 Galati Blvd., Galati 800654, Romania, Tel.: +40372361102, & PhD Student, Business Administration, “Ștefan cel Mare” University of Suceava, Romania, Address: 13 Universității Str., Suceava 720229, Romania, Tel.: +40 230 216 147, Corresponding author: florin_plummy@yahoo.com.

2The term comes from Greek, from strategos (ςτρατεγος) = leader, army commander, magistrate elected each year, in ancient Greece, to command the army (from ςτρατος = army and αγειη = to lead).

AUDRI, Vol. 12, No. 2/2019, pp. 134-141

3The Explanatory Dictionary of the Romanian language (2nd edition revised and added), Author: Romanian Academy, Institute of Linguistics “Iorgu Iordan”, Universe Enciclopedic Gold Publishing House, Bucharest, 2010


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