Some of the factors that spurred the development of electronics technology in Japan before the US can be dated back to the Meiji Restoration in 1868. Authority was centralized in Tokyo and, already in 1870, a ministry of technology was created. In the years to follow, government policies encouraged the accumulation of capital and acquisition of foreign technology. By the end of the First World War, the groundwork had been laid for the establishment of conglomerates, the "zaibatsu", such as Mitsubishi and Mitsui.
The Japanese economy rebounded spectacularly after World War II, and the production of electrical appliances grew rapidly. The country had progressively been weaning itself off of a dependence on imported technology since the early 1900s. Technological advancement surged after the conclusion of the war.
By the early 1950s, Japan had achieved the accumulation of capital and resurgence of consumer demand that were necessary for the emergence of new technology such as transistors. However, the question of whether Japan or the US led in developing transistors has been hotly debated.
There is general agreement that Japanese firms were ahead of their American counterparts in terms of finding commercial applications for the devices. This has been attributed to the fact that the companies developing transistors in the US were almost entirely alreadý invested in products that used vacuum tube technology. Texas Instruments was an exception, and they achieved commercial success with their transistorized calculators. It was the Japanese company Sony which initially opened up consumer markets by introducing the transistor radio in 1955.
Japanese producers's research and development efforts were driven by consumer demand for transistorized devices, while in the US, firms were focused on high technology outlets and military contracts. After an initial period of advancement, however, Japanese firms came to lag behind American companies by up to 2 years in their efforts at developing integrated circuits by the beginning of the 1970s.