The End of Japan, Inc.?

JAPAN, INC., IS IN disarray. Individual Japanese companies compete just as aggressively as before on the world market. But no distinctive Japanese policy exists anymore, least of all in economics. Instead, short-term fixes and panicky reactions to the unexpected are the norm. As in the West, these are no substitutes for policy, and they are having little, if any, success. Part of the problem is that none of Japan’s available choices looks attractive: none would produce consensus. They would instead cause division among the nation’s major groups—bureaucrats, politicians, business leaders, academia, and labor. Japanese newspapers are full of plaints about “weak leadership.” But that is only a symptom. The ...

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