Because in the late 70's when Fender sold out/off CBS or wtf it was, they outsourced their manufacturing to Japan. They didn't get it right straight away. But within a couple of years (turning point around '80) they had it down better than any American manufacturer could at a cheaper labour point. Oh, and they ended up making better guitars just to prove their point.
Much has been made of the JV line of strats that came out of Japan at that time. I had a Squier Strat from '80 or '82, anyway, it was superb. Not only was it cheaper, but it sounded exactly the same, maybe not so great in fit and finishing but half price you wouldn't complain.
Today, Japanese guitars are seen as some of the best in the world. A lot of that comes from the investment they put in to factories in Matsumotu. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matsumoku
Based in Matsumoto, Nagano, Japan, they invested heavily in infrastructure. It wasn't long before they were knocking out superior guitars.
There is a whole history of this. Some of us have done the research. It's long and complicated because many company headstock names are just fronts for each other. There are few factories but many more headstocks.
Even Fender played the merry go round later on dillying and dallying with China, Indonesia as labour laws got stricter or more relaxed, they always looked for the main deal. But still guitars are made in Japan today and it is seen as a real craft there and their native brands command very high prices not least because shipping is a bitch outside Japan.
They took that template that they were given and they ran with it. They do strats, gibsons, and every other knock off you can find. But they all observe the cardinal rule: thou shall not copy thy headstock. The headstsock is the signature of the guitar. Ever wonder why you can get a strat or tele for 140 bucks? Well it's because they changed the shape of headstock.
Ibanez, ESP, all have their own factories. Sometimes it's the same factory.
Then you get the dirty stuff like the outsourcing that goes on, claiming it's built in a certain country but they offload it to Indonesia where labour laws are laxer and labour is cheaper, then pass it off by branding the headstock with 'Fender' or wtf. They all do it. Till they get caught. It's a dirty business and it's very hard doing research because they set up a facility in one country, outsource it, then sell it at the other end of the planet.
I can't really boil down my years of research in this area in to a single post, so excuse the schizo nature of it all.
Even today, those old Matsumoko guitars are cherished and revered. Uncle Mat's as they called them.
Let me start out by saying My Name is Michael, I own an 1980 Aria Pro 2 TS-500, 1983 Aria Pro 2 TS-300, 1983 CS-350, and a 1981 Skylark ( auction part...www.tdpri.com
It's a massive rabbit hole. It helps if you have been buying guitars from this country for several decades.
It don't matter shit what is writ on your headstock. These fuckers play loose and fast all the time. Using slave labour. Fender, Gibson, the absolute worst offenders. Been going on decades. Every guitar is made in a batch. That is why a lot of Gibsons are bad. They were outsourced with poor quality control. Made massive profits for shareholders. Company got sold again. Thanks Henry!
If you want to know specific stuff, then start asking specific questions: i.e. I have this Ibanez with serial no:********** - can you identify it?
Sometimes we can. Certain serial numbers have ID's for the country they were made in.
I got a guitar on amazon for 100 bucks, was the wrong guitar. They sent me a 200 bucks guitar! But it was unplayable. It was a reject. It came from Japan, where the rest of the stock came from Indonesia. Even had the Jap writing on the headstock in the form of a card saying how much Yen it cost! I whipped that little fucker in to shape within a few hours. New strings, new nut, new action, new intonation. Plays like a fucking champ. Super Strat Aria Pro II (like they used to make in Matsumoku).
Westone guitars are great. Not flashy but do the job right. Thay also had people who could match wood and grain.