Foreign Rights News

(Japan in 50 Years, Japan in 200 Years)
  by Haruhito Takeda
June 1999, 192 x 134 mm, 261 pp., yen2,300-
In the first section of this book, Takeda alludes to the common perception that Japan's economy in the fifty years since Word War II possessed a unique character that set it apart from the market economies of the West, and asks whether this uniqueness is something peculiar to post-war Japan, or if its roots may partially be found in Japanese tradition. He then goes on to discuss that Japanese economic ideology since World War II is not particularly unusual if examined from the perspective of 200 years of Japanese tradition, and actually remained within the boundaries of what was considered “common sense”(i.e., accepted social norms) over the period. The author proceeds to investigate whether, as many have vehemently maintained in recent years, this 200 year-old Japanese “common sense” is in fact rather a lack of “international common sense.” In response to this question, Takeda concludes that Japanese economic ideology is not necessarily irrational compared to that of the rest of the world, but rather it contains universal concepts and elements in common with the ideologies of other developed nations, if not all of humanity.
This book makes clear on numerous levels the Japanese economic consciousness that gives modern Japanese society its character, from a historical perspective then contrasts with Western ideologies. Takeda focuses on elements that are essential to understanding the Japanese economy: business ownership, how competition in the marketplace is rated, the ambiguous nature of contract theory in Japanese society, and the perception of work and labor.

Chapter 1: Companies and investors
  1. The myth of “fail-proof” companies
  2. Traditions of the latter-day merchant class
  3. The joint-ownership system of the zaibatsu
Chapter 2: Markets and competition
  1. Markets and transactions
  2. Competition and cooperation as business methods
Chapter 3: Contracts and conflict resolution
  1. Ambiguity in contracts
  2. Conflict resolution
Chapter 4: The labor system and employment security
  1. How long and how hard - observing the rules of work
  2. From artisans to employees
  3. Moving up in the world and the white-collar labor force
Chapter 5: Government and the national interest
  1. National interest as an objective
  2. Government as the final authority

About the Author
Born in Japan in 1949. Ph.D. in economics from the University of Tokyo Graduate School, the Department of Economics. Currently Professor at The University of Tokyo Graduate School of Economics. Specializes in Japanese economic history. Previous works include A History of the Japanese Copper Industry (The University of Tokyo Press); The History of Japan Vol. 19: Imperialism and Democracy (Shueisha Inc.); The Economics of Collusion (Shueisha Inc.); A Chronicle of Events in Japanese Economic History (Shinyosha); The Era of the “Zaibatsu” (Shinyosha).

Readership: General Readers

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