I don't intend to go into great detail about the history. Briefly in March 1982 after negotiations with two distributors Kanda Shokai and Yamano Music Fender Japan was established. The board had 6 votes Fender 3 Kanda 2 amd Yamano 1, Fender owning 38% of the stock. Fender of course owned all the intellectual property so really had absolute control. After talking to several companies including Tokai Fujigen in Matsumoto was chosen to make all the Fender branded guitars and the vast majority of the Squier ones. Fuji were well known for their Ibanez guitars and some very good copies of others. It is said that Moridaira in Nagano made some Squiers but I have never seen any absolute proof of this. Some of this project will cross over with models I have already covered I will try to indicate this as I go along.
The first guitars were the much lauded JV series and The SQ serial numbers. These are covered in great detail on 21frets.com. These were exported to Europe in the main although some found their way to other parts of the world, they were not officially exported to the USA and hence don't figure in US catalogues or pricelists. To 21 Frets
It has always been a mystery to me why Fender Japan produced some guitars specifically for export why not just produce more of the domestic model and export them. Some say it is because Fender Japan cared more about the domestic market than the Export market, but I am not sure about that. It seems to me the quality of the Export guitars is every bit as good as it could be, certainly in the early days. You can drive yourself mad trying to find which export models match which domestic models and if there are any differences. I may do some of that as I write the pages. It is made harder by the fact that Fender Japan don't often publish the model designation used in Western catalogues they just show their own designation. This also results in difficulty in being sure any pictures are of an export guitar unless you can see the stamps.
The JV export models are thought by some to be the best Fenders ever produced certainly up to that time. You only have to read comments from Dan Smith and Bill Schultz to know how good these guitars were.
Problems arose after the sale of the brand to Bill Schultz and his team in February 1985 as the Factory wasn't included in the sale. The team had stockpiled some guitars plus some bodies and necks also some machinery so production was very limited if not non-existent and most of the guitars produced up until the establishment of the new factory towards the end of 1985 initially producing only 5 guitars a day were made in Japan This didn't stop when Corona opened it continues right up until today MIJ models are featured in US catalogues and pricelists even now.
I am not sure what catalogues existed in the early days but finding any between 1984 and 1989 is extremely difficult so accurate information is scarce for that period.