Skip to main content

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated Cookie policy, Privacy policy and Terms & Conditions

Opening Up Japan

After a dozen years of stagnation, Japan's economy seems to be looking up. But appearances can deceive. Despite improvements and reforms, many of Japan's fundamentals remain woeful.

Japan's decline has been palpable. In the late 1980's, it was fashionable in some Japanese policy circles to argue that the Pax Americana was over, to be replaced in Asia by Pax Japonica. America's economy seemed to be tanking, Japan's was soaring, and projections favored 2005 as the date when it would overtake the United States. That things have turned out far differently reflects Japan's inertia.

The problems underlying Japan's decline are legion. Japanese policymakers and business leaders do not understand the concept of "creative destruction." Too many industrial dinosaurs are kept on life support. So, although some firms do extremely well - say, Toyota and Canon - there is little space for new ventures and entrepreneurs. If Japan's economy were a computer, it would have a hard disk full of obsolescent programs and a "delete" button that doesn't work.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.

Subscribe

Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.

https://prosyn.org/FGfpnRi;