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This question is really contingent on another question: "When?"

In the 17th Century, the Tokugawa Bakufu forbade foreigners real access to Japan in part to protect domestic markets.

In 1868, samurai overthrew the Bakufu to install the Emperor as the center of political power. This was called the Meiji Restoration, and was in part a reaction to the failure of the Bakufu to protect the Japanese economy from the encroachments of the United States, Britain, and France in 1853. This was also a way to give samurai jobs in light of their falling economic power.

In the early 20th Century, Japan's imperial government injected massive amounts of capital into the economy to militarize. They began fighting wars with Korea and China to expand their territories and great new lands for Japanese development.

In the 1950's, Japan's government loosened antimonopoly laws to help re-establish business "partnerships" and "networks" (keiretsu) to create powerful economic engines.

In the 1990's, after the collapse of the real estate market in Japan, the government tried to improve its economy by massive grants of money to private companies to build infrastructural projects throughout the country and by giving banks who had lost all of their capital funds loans to recover them.

In the mid-2000's, Japan's government under Koizumi Jun'ichiro privatized its postal service in an attempt to improve its economy.

In 2010, the government of Hatoyama Yukio attempted to make the economy better by expanding entitlements, providing new types of free education, and upping health care payments/reimbursements.

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Q: What did the Japanese government do to help improve its economy?
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