Capitalism in Japan

1475 words 6 pages
Because no nation has come half so far so fast, Japan is envied by capitalists elsewhere and looked upon as an example to emulate. Thirty years ago, its war-shattered economy was little more than one-third the size of Britain's. Today the Japanese G.N.P. exceeds the combined total of Britain and France, and the gap is certain to widen in the years ahead.
The Japanese variant of capitalism cannot be readily or precisely copied, except perhaps by a few Asian countries, because it is rooted in a homogeneous, hierarchical society with a not so distant feudal past. Changes are slowly taking place, but disciplined workers still display an almost mystical loyalty to their companies, and paternalistic employers reciprocate by guaranteeing job
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Rather than yielding to the pleas of special interest groups to prop up badly managed and uncompetitive firms, the government usually tries to purge the economy of them as quickly and smoothly as possible. When Japan's shipbuilding industry, which accounts for fully 50% of the world's capacity, ran aground in the 1974 recession, the government began urging the yards to diversify into other lines of business such as industrial machinery, antipollution equipment and desalination plants, and encouraged banks to make available the necessary financing. Orders for ships have picked up again, and the slimmed-down industry is benefiting.
Procedures for getting the public to support broad shifts in policy are built right into the political system. Though responsibility for overall economic policy rests with the Premier and his Cabinet, all government departments and agencies have policy study groups that range from a handful to 200 or more businessmen, scientists, lawyers, journalists, farmers and others. Usually, the outside advisers approve departmental actions, but sometimes policy initiatives are scrapped. Example: to help close a fiscal 1980 budget deficit, the Finance Ministry last autumn recommended a corporate tax increase. It was shelved when businessmen on the ministry's Tax System Deliberation Council convincingly argued that the move would stifle growth.
From the lowliest bureaucrat to executives in the boardroom,


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