The Giants of Asia
With their huge populations and buoyant growth rates, China and India are two of the economic and technological powerhouses of the 21st century. And though many seem to forget it after the Lost Decade, Japan is the third largest economy in the world, the second largest developed economy and the world’s largest creditor nation. Nevertheless, all three countries have giant problems, too. Will the giants of Asia stumble in the face of the US rebound? And when might Asian production finally and decisively shift to low-cost Indonesia, Bangladesh and Vietnam?
Specifically, in this meeting, we want to look at the following questions about Japan:
- Some have argued that the (first) lost decade in Japan took place because the LDP and the state were too locked into the Cold War and a client relationship with US occupiers to take the steps that were necessary. In the light of the country’s second lost decade, does this account still hold (enough) water?
- Was low household consumption, due to uncertainty about the future, to blame; or was there a productivity slowdown – and if so, why? Or was it all to do with an overvalued Yen?
- How much, and how, do we combat the standard ‘cultural’ explanations – refusal to allow immigration, in-bound FDI or female empowerment; government/civil service corruption; and ageing of the population?
- It is often pointed out that Japanese small firms, agriculture and retailing are backward. Why is this, and how important is it?
- The Japanese working class is notable for its quiescence – a big contrast with its record during the 1940s and 1950s, and with China, India and South Korea today. What can we learn from this in terms of the economy?
Professor James Woudhuysen
- Tim Callen and Jonathan David Ostry, eds, Japan’s Lost Decade: Policies for Economic Revival, 2003, IMF Google book, mainly financial
- Magnus Blomstrim and Sumner La Croix, eds, Institutional Change In Japan, 2006, Google book – glance at the Introduction and at the chapters on corporate governance (4), life-time employment (6) and the labour movement (7)
- Yoshio Sugimoto, An introduction to Japanese society, third edition, November 2009, tables on the working class, pp40-44. Search inside the Google book
- Foreign Press Centre, Japan, Facts and Figures
- Nikkei Weekly – two weeks for free