College Of Arts And Sciences | Japan's Economic Miracle
E104 | 0182 | Kasza
This course analyzes the performance of Japan's modern
politico-economic system. Since World War II, Japan has forged the world's
the most successful economy, especially during the "miracle" years of the
early 1950s to the early 1970s. We will examine many central features of
Japan's political economy, such as the industrial structure, state economic
policy, production systems, trade patterns, and labor-management relations.
As we study these topics, we will consider several competing interpretations
of Japan's success.
1. History. Some argue that the timing of Japan's modernization and the
legacy of its traditional society gave it a special advantage in confronting
the tasks of economic development.
2. Culture. Many stress the role of traditional cultural values, such as
group solidarity, a strong sense of hierarchy, nationalism, and family
loyalty, in Japan's economic success.
3. Policies and Institutions. Another set of interpretations stresses the
decisions of statesmen and entrepreneurs, whose wisdom in creating
institutions such as the enterprise union, the postal savings system, and
just-in-time production was the key to development. The role of the state
is particularly controversial.
4. International factors. A final school of thought sees Japan's success as
stemming from a beneficial international environment, emphasizing such
factors as low defense spending, the global free trade regime, and the
availability of foreign technology and economic models.
Though we will focus on the causes of Japan's success, we will not ignore
its costs or the economic difficulties Japan has confronted in the last ten
years. We will also study issues of economic contention between Japan and
the United States.