Japan was a latecomer to computer manufacturing. IBM
wholly owned subsidiary of IBM, along with other foreign
subsidiaries, originally dominated the Japanese market.
1980s, Japanese computer manufacturers viewed their
battle as one of capturing Japan's domestic market from
not of penetrating world markets. However, Japan's
developed with extraordinary speed and moved into
markets. The leading computer manufacturers in Japan at
the end of
the 1980s (in the domestic market) were Fujitsu, IBM
Hitachi, NEC, and Unisis in mainframes, and NEC, Fujitsu,
Epson, Toshiba, and IBM Japan in personal computers.
benefits extended by Japanese industrial policy to the
computer industry, IBM was able to maintain a significant
position in Japan--a 24 percent share of the mainframe
a 6 percent share of the personal computer market in 1988.
In 1988 Japan exported US$1.5 billion of computer
more than twelvefold from the US$122 million in 1980.
firms were not very successful in exporting mainframe
but they did very well in peripheral equipment, such as
and tape drives. In the rapidly growing personal computer
Japan achieved a modest market share in the United States
the 1980s. Imports of computer equipment in 1988 came to
billion (including parts). However, much of the computer
produced by foreign-owned firms that is used in Japan is
manufactured domestically by subsidiaries rather than
The special treatment extended to the computer industry
the subject of trade disputes with the United States in
in particular the government procurement practices for
supercomputers (the fastest, top-of-the-line computers).
was the inability of United States manufacturers to sell
machines to government-funded agencies in Japan. Some
changed in 1987, but supercomputers remained one of three
singled out for further negotiation by the United States
under the provisions of the 1988 United States Trade Act.
conflict ensued over a Japanese proposal to protect
software under patent law rather than under copyright law,
that the United States felt would reduce protection for
States-designed software in the Japanese market. This
resolved when the patent law proposal was dropped.
Data as of January 1994