Japan’s postwar social metabolic crisis

Mark Metzler*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In the autumn of 1945, the people of Japan faced a multilevel calorific crisis. Under wartime restrictions, supplies of food, energy, and basic materials for civilian use had been contracting for five years or more. With the war’s end, supplies were still further curtailed - energy supplies especially - reducing production of many basic goods to half or less of their pre-war levels. The country was returned to its island boundaries, and resource exchanges with other countries were largely cut off. This great contraction took place in one of the most surveilled and enumerated societies in the world, and the abundant statistics tell a story that is both detailed and stark. It was a kind of ‘natural experiment’, happening at some of the frontiers of human historical experience. The historical moment is doubly significant because this phase of radical constriction was followed, within a decade, by a tremendous ramping up of national material and energy usage, which would continue for another two decades at a pace that had not yet been seen in human industrial history.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Economic and Business History of Occupied Japan
Subtitle of host publicationNew Perspectives
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781317270096
ISBN (Print)9781138195899
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jan 1
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)


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