Penicillin and the Reconstruction of Japan

Daniele Cozzoli


This paper explores postwar American strategies regarding penicillin in Japan. Perceived as both an American gift and a symbol of reconstruction, penicillin played a singular role in Washingtons postwar policies towards Europe and Japan. Washington encouraged US pharmaceutical companies to penetrate Europe but sought to protect intra-European trade. In Japan, however, importing penicillin from the US or establishing private American factories was forbidden. Jackson W. Foster implemented a smaller-scale, military-directed version of the USs wartime penicillin project. In this paper, it is argued that the MacArthur administration aimed to boost Japanese penicillin production and transfer American industrial culture to Japan. This was initially a major success. However, the Japanese pharmaceutical industry failed to break down barriers to market entry established by first movers and, consequently, was uncompetitive throughout the twentieth century. This paper regards the American penicillin project in Japan as a factor in the weakness of the postwar Japanese pharmaceutical industry. 


Key words: Penicillin - Cold War - Japan - Europe 

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