Japan Remodeled: How Government and Industry Are Reforming Japanese Capitalism

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As the Japanese economy languished in the 1990s Japanese government officials, business executives, and opinion leaders concluded that their economic model had gone terribly wrong. They questioned the very institutions that had been credited with Japan's past success: a powerful bureaucracy guiding the economy, close government-industry ties, "lifetime" employment, the main bank system, and dense interfirm networks. Many of these leaders turned to the U.S. model for lessons, urging the government to liberate the economy and companies to sever long-term ties with workers, banks, suppliers, and other firms.Despite popular perceptions to the contrary, Japanese government and industry have in fact enacted substantial reforms. Yet Japan never emulated the American model. As government officials and industry leaders scrutinized their options, they selected reforms to modify or reinforce preexisting institutions rather than to abandon them. In Japan Remodeled, Steven Vogel explains the nature and extent of these reforms and why they were enacted.Vogel demonstrates how government and industry have devised innovative solutions. The cumulative result of many small adjustments is, he argues, an emerging Japan that has a substantially redesigned economic model characterized by more selectivity in business partnerships, more differentiation across sectors and companies, and more openness to foreign players.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Since early 2002, Japan has been on a steady economic rebound. Japan Remodeled by Steven K. Vogel, political science professor at the University of California, Berkeley, gets beyond the punditry by presenting a social-science understanding tested against executive interviews, company case studies and foreign comparisons. It is. . . the best analysis in English of Japan's distinctive market economy."—New York Times, 7 January 2007

"Vogel's book is a very important contribution that should stand up well for a number of years. His approach is careful, nuanced, appropriately eclectic, somewhat skeptical, and very readable. I believe he successfully explains why economic reform is not causing a convergence between the Japanese version of capitalism and that of the United States (puncturing a belief that was popular among Wall Street investors in the late 1990s). He also provides convincing arguments about the uncertain impact of much of the reform effort."—Edward J. Lincoln, 33:2 (2007), Journal of Japanese Studies

"Japan Remodeled is an important book. Japan's economic system is undergoing major transformation exacerbated by 15 years of malaise. Steven Vogel provides a sophisticated, careful, rather cautionary analysis of Japan's processes and patterns of public policy reform and corporate restructuring. He cogently argues Japan's capitalism is being reshaped partially toward a liberal market system, but with distinctive institutions and values persisting."—Hugh Patrick, Columbia University

"Japan Remodeled provides a very broad discussion of Japanese capitalism, covering a number of industries and firms in a way that masterfully surveys the Japanese economy as a whole. It provides an elegant explanation for why things haven't changed more than they have, which is simply that the Japanese don't want more change. Steven Vogel brilliantly gets the story right, neither exaggerating nor minimizing the changes that have occurred; he is both commonsensical and honest about Japanese politics."—Mark Tilton, Purdue University

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Steven Vogel is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of Freer Markets, More Rules: Regulatory Reform in Advanced Industrial Countries, also from Cornell, and editor of U.S.-Japan Relations in a Changing World.

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