Japan`s trade policy refers to Japan`s approach to importing and exporting with other countries. In the 1960s and 1970s, imports increased in parallel with exports, with an average annual rate of 15.4% in the 1960s and 22.2% in the 1970s. In some ways, import growth was limited for much of this period by exports, with exports generating foreign exchange to buy imports. However, in the 1980s, import growth remained well below exports, with an average annual rate of only 2.9% between 1981 and 1988. This weak growth in imports was reflected in the large trade surpluses that occurred in the 1980s. In the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, concerns were expressed about the safety of Japanese food exports. The power of the plant has also been severely affected by power supply problems.  Japanese exports were also fuelled by the continuation of the trade war between China and the United States, and in January 2019, Japan announced an expected decline in exports. Sales of electronics and semiconductor equipment were realized as China slowed purchases due to the combined factors of the trade war and declining demand for smartphones.  In general, Japan did not import an unusually large share of its GNP, but was heavily dependent on imports for a large number of critical raw materials. Japan was far from the only industrialized country to depend on imported raw materials, but it depended on imports for a greater variety of materials, and often a greater share of its needs for these materials. The country, for example, imported 50% of its food calorie intake and about 30% of the total value of food consumed in the late 1980s. It was also dependent on imports for about 85% of its total energy needs (including total oil and 89% of its coal) and almost all of its imports of iron, copper, lead and nickel.
Pressure to increase imports peaked in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when the United States insisted on quantitative targets to increase imports of semiconductors, cars and spare parts. Jagdish Bhagwati (1988) calls this policy voluntary import expansion (VIE) policy. In general, in theory (Greaney, 1996) and in practice (Dick, 1995), these policies have had negative (and generally higher)`s welfare effects or little effect (Parsons,2002). However, in the late 1980s, it appears that some internal changes in Japan`s import policy were under way. The rapid appreciation of the yen after 1985, which made imports more attractive, sparked a domestic policy debate on non-tariff barriers and other structural features of the economy that hinder imports. Greater openness of policies and structures has been sought in response to internal pressures and not in response to foreign pressure and international commitments. The collapse of the Japanese asset price bubble in the early 1990s and the lost decade that followed helped open up the incubator trade. Discount markets opened distribution chains and several companies turned to foreign trade and investment to avoid losses and even bankruptcies.
Products manufactured by Japanese companies in South Asian countries have been reintroduced at lower prices. The Japanese consumer has also changed: economic problems have forced many Japanese to seek advantageous prices first and then to worry about national pride or higher quality.