Japan Program scholars regularly author books, book chapters, journal articles, working papers, and policy recommendations. We also share the outcomes of our research projects, proceedings from our conferences, and materials from our workshops and policy outreach activities. Browse our publications below.
In his new book, 'Human Rights and the State: The Power of Ideas and the Reality of International Politics,' Kiyoteru Tsutsui explores the paradox underlying the expansion of universal human rights and Japan's engagement with human rights ideas and laws.
This paper reexamines Japanese policy choices during its banking crisis in the 1990s and draws some lessons relevant for the United States and Europe in the aftermath of the global financial crisis of 2007–09. The paper focuses on two aspects of postcrisis economic policy of Japan: the delay in bank recapitalization and the lack of structural reforms. These two policy shortcomings retarded Japan’s recovery from the crisis and were responsible for its stagnant postcrisis growth. The paper also suggests some political economy factors that contributed to the Japanese policies.
On August 15, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will publish a short statement to commemorate the seventieth anniversary of the end of World War II. This follows similar practices of his predecessors. Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama started by delivering a short statement on the fiftieth anniversary in 1995. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi followed in 2005 with the statement on the sixtieth anniversary.
This paper aims to understand Japan’s financial regulatory responses after the global financial crisis and recession. Japan’s post-crisis reactions show two seemingly opposing trends: collaboration with international organizations to strengthen the regulation to maintain financial stability, and regulatory forbearance for the banks with troubled small and medium enterprise [SME] borrowers.
I propose and test a theoretical framework that explains institutional change in international relations. Like firms in markets, international institutions are affected by the underlying characteristics of their policy areas. Some policy areas are prone to produce institutions facing relatively little competition, limiting the outside options of member states and impeding redistributive change. In comparison, institutions facing severe competition will quickly reflect changes in underlying state interests and power.
Cloud computing is a revolution in computing architecture, transforming not only the “where” (location) of computing, but also the “how” (the manner in which software is produced and the tools available for the automation of business processes). Cloud computing emerged as we transitioned from an era in which underlying computing resources were both scarce and expensive to an era in which the same resources were cheap and abundant. There are many ways to implement cloud architectures, and most people are familiar with public cloud services such as Gmail or Facebook.
The global Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) industry has experienced a rapid, radical reorganization of industry leaders and business models—most recently in mobile. New players Apple and Google abruptly redefined the industry, bringing a wave of commoditization to carriers and equipment manufacturers. Technologies, corporate strategies, and industry structures are usually the first places to look when explaining these industry disruptions, but this paper argues that it was actually a set of political bargains during initial phases of telecommunications liberalization, which differed across countries, that set the trajectories of development in motion. This paper shows how different sets of winners and losers of domestic and regional commoditization battles emerged in various ICT industries around the world. Carriers won in Japan, equipment manufacturers in Europe, and eventually, computer services industry actors rather than communications firms emerged as winners in the United States. These differences in industry winner outcomes was shaped by the relative political strength of incumbent communications monopolies and their will to remain industry leaders, given the political system and political dynamics they faced during initial liberalization. The U.S. computer services industry, which developed independently of its telecommunications sector due to antitrust and government policy, eventually commoditized all others, both domestically and abroad. This paper contends that a political economy approach, tracing how politics and regulatory processes shaped industry structures, allows for a better understanding of the underlying path dependent processes that shape rapidly changing global technological and industry outcomes, with implications beyond ICT.
Failed Democratization in Prewar Japan presents a compelling case study on change in political regimes through its exploration of Japan's transition to democracy. Within a broad-ranging examination of Japan's "semi-democratic" political system from 1918 to 1932, when political parties tended to dominate the government, the book analyzes in detail why this system collapsed in 1932 and discusses the implications of the failure.
This volume collects 22 articles by Masahiko Aoki, selected from writings published over the course of his 45-year academic career. These fascinating essays cover a range of issues, including mechanism design, comparative governance, corporate governance, institutions and institutional change, but are tied together by a focus on East Asia and a comparative institutional framework.
This paper contributes to the discussion of how Public Private Interplay (PPI) can be used to foster Next Generation Access (NGA) buildouts in Europe by introducing the experience of Japan. Japan, which succeeded in both promoting nationwide network buildouts and fostering competitive dynamics that led to the world's fastest and cheapest broadband services and deploying them nationwide. The process entailed deregulation, which unleashed new entrepreneurial private actors, and re-regulation that protected them from incumbent carriers.
Phillip Y. Lipscy and Lee Schipper examine energy efficiency in the Japanese transportation sector since the 1970s. Comparisons with the United States and other developed economies illustrate that Japan primarily stands out due to low activity levels and modal structure rather than modal energy intensity. On-road automobile energy intensity has shown little improvement, albeit from a low base, over the past four decades. They also consider policy measures undertaken by the Japanese government.
This paper presents a simulation model based on the growth rate, the inflation rate, and the consumption tax rate in the future. Future tax revenues and fiscal expenditures are projected using regression models estimated from past data. The fiscal situation is called unsustainable if the outstanding amount of Japanese government bonds (JGBs) becomes higher than the level of private sector financial assets. We focus on the general account of the central government, which is the source of JGB issues.
The digital information technology (IT) revolution currently underway is profoundly reshap- ing economic activity, influencing politics, and transforming societies around the world. It is also forcing a reconceptualization of the global and local: many of the technologies, platforms, and fundamental disruptions are global in nature, but national or local contexts critically influence the uses and effects of IT.
Japan’s first decade of the twenty-first century was both disappointing and bewildering, producing wildly contrasting evaluations. Many have come to call this period the “second lost decade,” 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?
The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) came to power in 2009 with a commanding majority, ending fifty years of almost uninterrupted Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) rule. Then, in 2012, just over three years later, the DPJ lost power in an equally stunning landslide loss to the LDP. This volume examines the DPJ’s remarkable ascendance, its policies once in power, and its dramatic fall.
In our current era, the advent of digital technologies and accelerating globalization is driving ever-faster commoditization of firms and products. With rapidly improving Information and Communications Technology (ICT) tools, manufacturing is decomposed with finer granularity, and corporate functions can be outsourced and offshored more than ever before. Services can be unbundled into activities that can be taken apart, reconfigured, and transformed with the application of algorithms. Overall, firms are experiencing accelerating shifts in the sweet-spot for markets and business models in
We consider the vulnerability of nuclear power plants to a disaster like the one that occurred at Fukushima Daiichi. Examination of Japanese nuclear plants affected by the earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011 shows that three variables were crucial at the early stages of the crisis: plant elevation, sea wall elevation, and location and status of backup generators. Higher elevations for these variables, or waterproof protection of backup generators, could have mitigated or prevented the disaster.
The Fukushima nuclear disaster was a critical juncture in the world’s relationship with nuclear energy, as well as Japan’s postwar political economy, society, and national psyche. The DPJ, and particularly Prime Minister Kan, were later widely criticized for mismanaging the disaster, contributing to the party’s loss of power. This paper closely examines the crisis as it unfolded, assessing the degree to which the government’s chaotic response can be attributed to the DPJ’s political leadership.
A fundamental transformation of services is underway, driven by developments in information and communications technology (ICT) tools, the uses to which they are being put, and the networks on which they run. Services were once considered a sinkhole of the economy, immune to significant technological or organizational productivity increases. Now, they are widely recognized as a source of productivity growth and dynamism in the economy that is changing the structure of employment, the division of labor, and the character of work and its location.
This article first provides a game-theoretic, endogenous view of institutions and then applies the idea to identify the sources of institutional trajectories of economies development in China, Japan, and Korea. It stylises the Malthusian phase of the East Asian economies as a peasant-based economies in which small conjugal families self-managed their working times between farming on small plots—leased or owned—and handcrafting for personal consumption and markets. It then compares institutional arrangements across these economies that sustained otherwise similar economies.
This paper analyzes the causes, responses, and consequences of the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident (March 2011) by comparing these with Three Mile Island (March 1979) and Chernobyl (April 1986). We identify three generic modes of organizational coordination: modular, vertical, and horizontal. By relying on comparative institutional analysis, we compare the modes' performance characteristics in terms of short-term and long-term coordination, preparedness for shocks, and responsiveness to shocks.
This paper examines how diversely organized capitalist societies evolve by analyzing the transformation of Japan’s financial system since the 1990s. The banking, securities and insurance, as well as the postal financial institutions changed significantly, but are hardly converging to Anglo-American or ‘liberal market’ models. The authors contend that Japan’s new financial system is best characterized as syncretic, with new, traditional and hybrid forms of practices, organizations and norms coexisting.