GEOGRAPHIC position and industrial progress have combined to place within the reach of Japan the economic leadership of Asia. But Japanese policies on the mainland have not always been of the sort to contribute to the attainment of that leadership. There has been a conflict of political and economic interests in which the cultivation of friendly relations with Asiatic neighbors has alternated with acts of imperialistic and commercial aggression. Japan is recognized as the most powerful nation of Asia and her economic development is the most advanced. However, in China, in India and in other parts of the continent she is not accepted as a leader but is regarded with increasing suspicion and animosity. Boycotts and tariffs are barring Japanese goods from Asiatic markets -- and these markets are essential to the continued expansion of Japanese manufacturing.
Of the amazing changes that have occurred in Japan since the country was opened to foreign intercourse, none has been more striking than the development of manufacturing industries. Stimulated in the earlier years of the modern period as the one possible defense against the western nations, industrialization has come to be regarded as the most promising solution to the problem presented by a population which has doubled since 1873 and which is increasing at the present time at the rate of approximately one million per year. There is no outlet in agriculture: the area of the Japanese islands is limited and only 16 percent of the surface is arable.
Manufacturing has therefore been encouraged, and though Japan still remains essentially agricultural the progress made has been remarkable. There are now about two million workers in Japanese factories. Japan has become an important manufacturer of cotton textiles, raw silk, rayon, electrical equipment and numerous other items. She now ranks seventh among the nations in number of cotton spindles, and only the United States and the United Kingdom consume a greater quantity of raw cotton.
Japan's industrial progress has been accomplished, however, in the face of severe handicaps.
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