Japan’s first decade of the twenty-first century is often called the “second lost decade,” following the post-bubble “lost decade” of the 1990s, characterized by policy paralysis and overall lackluster economic growth. For those studying Japan more closely, however, the same decades reveal nothing short of a broad transformation in numerous core tenets of Japan’s postwar political economy. How can we best capture this transformation?
Each chapter in this volume examines a different aspect of Japan’s political economy within a longer historical trajectory, from multiple angles, to depict a flexible but resilient system. They include: a comprehensive overview of the political economy; Japan’s financial system; corporate reorganization; the politics of reform; small and medium enterprises and the labor market; compensation systems; and foreign multinational corporations. The editors characterize Japan’s process of change as syncretism—practices foreign, domestic, old and new were selectively adopted, mixed and matched, along the way creating a new and unique hybrid system.