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Distributed for University of British Columbia Press

Japan’s Motorcycle Wars

An Industry History

For decades the crown jewels of Japan’s postwar manufacturing industry, motorcycles remain one of Japan’s top exports. Japan’s Motorcycle Wars assesses the historical development and societal impact of the motorcycle industry, from the influence of motor sports on vehicle sales in the early 1900s to the postwar developments that led to the massive wave of motorization sweeping the Asia-Pacific region today.

Jeffrey Alexander brings a wealth of information to light, providing English translations of transcripts, industry publications, and company histories that have until now been available only in Japanese. By exploring the industry as a whole, he reveals that Japan’s motorcycle industry was characterized not by communitarian success but by misplaced loyalties, technical disasters, and brutal competition.

312 pages

Table of Contents


Introduction: Why the Motorcycle?

1 Japan’s Transportation Revolution, 1896-1931

2 Motorcycle and Empire: A Study in Industrial Self-Sufficiency

3 Know Your Customers: Designing Products for an Impoverished Postwar Market

4 Know Your Competitors: Finding a Niche in a Crowded Manufacturing Field

5 The Rise of the Big Four

6 Bitter Realities: Going Bankrupt in Japan

7 Sales versus Safety






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