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I think くる in this sentence is supposed to be in past tense, right ? then why did they use くる here ?

戦後、経済の高度成長とともに、生活にも少し余裕ができてくると、欧米の生活様式や考え方がたくさん入ってきた。

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    Why do you think it should be in the past tense? Because the final verb is? – Blavius Apr 19 '17 at 1:04
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    Because in the context. the "余裕ができて" happened quite a long ago. – zellowflash Apr 19 '17 at 4:25
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    Basically it is a very good idea to stop thinking that くる is "present tense" and きた is "past tense", because Japanese grammar simply doesn't work like that. Actually in most languages (including English!) you cannot simply assume that "past", "present" and "future" tenses map onto those times. – Brian Chandler Apr 19 '17 at 9:52
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「Mini-Sentence A + + Mini-Sentence B

In this sentence pattern using the conjunctive particle 「」("when"), the main verb in Mini Sentence A must always be in the predicative form (terminal form) . There is no exception to this rule whether you like it or not. It does not matter when the action/event described by that verb took place. In this respect, Mini Sentence A is tense-less.

(The predicative form happens to be the same as the present-tense form, but that does not mean you can call the verb in Mini-Sentence A the "present-tense form".)

Mini Sentence B, however, must be put in the correct tense that will indicate when the action took/takes/will take place.

「戦後{せんご}、経済{けいざい}の高度成長{こうどせいちょう}とともに、生活{せいかつ}にも少{すこ}し余裕{よゆう}ができてくると、欧米{おうべい}の生活様式{せいかつようしき}や考{かんが}え方{かた}がたくさん入{はい}ってきた。」

This sentence is a good example of that rule in use. Everything that is described in the sentence took place a few decades ago including 「生活にも少し余裕ができてくる」. The fact that that mini-sentence would be written in the past tense in English is completely irrelevant as the language we are discussing here is none other than Japanese.

If your goal, however, is translation (instead of Japanese reading comprehension), then that should sound most natural in the target language. Go ahead and put 「余裕ができてくる」 in the past tense.

My own TL attempt:

"After WWII, when people started having money to spare as our economy boomed, a great deal of western life styles and ideas began to be imported."

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Everything that @l'électeur mentioned is correct, just wanted to add a note about the particular implications of 「S1 と、S2」. More than just meaning "when", it expresses a natural causality or sequence of events, that might even be better conveyed by "whenever" in some cases. (If any of my examples are misleading or mistaken, let me know. I am not native so I might miss a nuance here or there.

  • 「ボタンを押すと、電気が消えます」(Whenever [and because] you press the button, the light turns off)
  • 「犬が夜中に吠えると、となりの人が「うるせぇ!」と大声で叫びます」(Whenever [and because] a dog barks in the middle of the night, my neighbor yells "Quiet!!" loudly)
  • 「転学して友達とお別れを言うと、さびしくなるような気がする」(When [and because] I transfer schools and have to say goodbye to my friends, I have a feeling that I will feel lonely)

In the last case, it is more of an emphasis on the causal relation than on the reproducibility of the situation, though repetitive situations make the causality clearer.

In any case, in order for there to be any kind of causality, the first sentence has to be in the non-past tense (as the grammar is fairly uniform, and saying "whenever you pushed the button, the light will turn out" makes no sense). This applies even for when the overall situation is in the past tense, because the implication is that, if the same situation were to happen today, the outcome would be unchanged. (The button still controls the light, the neighbor still is mad about the dog, and changing schools will still make you lonely). The same time-independent causality applies to your sentence as well.

I hope that I helped explain things at least slightly more understandably.

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