The YS-11 programme remains something of a controversial topic in its native Japan. Some see it as an epic adventure and fabulous idea, a monument to Japanese industrial policy; whereas others see it as a folly doomed to failure from the start. Regardless it is clear that the aircraft itself was capable and although it clearly never met the financial targets set for it it sold 182 aircraft, a decent number, and continued in service into the 2010s.
One of these dreamers was Akazawa Shoichi, the director of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) Ordnance division. He was a veteran of WW2 and agreed with Japan's approach of pushing the economy towards high value economic areas such as steel and aircraft production. Civil aviation was the pinnacle of an advanced nation's manufacturing, whilst benefits accrued through the programme would drip down to other areas of the economy especially the military. Akazawa worked his way through protracted negotiations and in March 1959 the special corporation the Nihon Aeroplane Manufacturing Co (NAMCO) was founded. This was a conglomerate of separate organisation's executives and designers with a 54% share under government ownership. The artificial nature of NAMCO as a company would lead to a host of obstacles - not the least of which was that NAMCO had no facilities of its own for manufacturing, or a permanent staff.
Although several legendary wartime designers (like Horikoshi Jiro who designed the Zero) were included in the design process Japan had almost no history of designing civilian airliners and even if it had it was obsolete. Instead the YS-11 was designed by heavily leaning on existing foreign technology, copied from various sources and airshow visits, benchmarking and incorporation of foreign technology into the airframe. The cabin pressurisation system for example was a direct copy of US equipment. Information was funneled through Japan's reborn airlines, diplomatic missions, industry journals and lots of photographs back to the design team.
Often it seems the Japanese designers harked back to old style traditional Japanese mentalities. An entertaining story for example was that initially the designers didn't include any toilets on the aircraft. The airlines were incredulous but the designers thought the passengers could just wait it out as the plane was already full with seats!
1995. Mercado, S. The YS-11 Project and Japan's Aerospace Potential. Japan olicy Research Institute
1996. Samuels, R. Rich Nation, Strong Army": National Security and the Technological Transformation of Japan. Cornell University Press