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.
Kenji Kushida is the 2010–2011 Walter H. Shorenstein Postdoctoral Fellow at the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center. Kay Shimizu is assistant professor in Columbia University's Department of Political Science. Jean C. Oi is William Haas Professor in Chinese Politics in the department of political science and senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University.