This article examines the changing extent of the Cold War's influence on popular American perceptions of goods made in Japan. Although the National Security Council recommended in 1948 that the United States rebuild Japan's devastated economy to strengthen an anti-communist ally in East Asia (and America's position there), U.S. merchants, consumers, manufacturers, and journalists did not consistently go along with this official economic policy. The American press initially depicted the Japanese economy as needing assistance and producing only cheap, inconsequential products, but as Japan's economy began to recover in the mid-1950s and Japanese manufacturers produced better quality goods, concerns over competition revived racialized wartime rhetoric. Japan's emergence as a successful exporter of high-end merchandise by the 1960s seemed to prove the strength of American-style free market capitalism.

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