Sixth Asian Studies Conference Japan
    Saturday and Sunday, June 22-23
    Ichigaya Campus of Sophia University


last update 2002/03/09

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Contact the organizers: Asian Studies Conference (ASCJ) c/o Institute of Asian Cultural Studies, International Christian University 3-10-2 Osawa, Mitaka-shi, Tokyo 181


Session 8: Room 310
Japanese Economy and Society through a 'British Mirror'
Organizer / Chair: W.R. Garside, University of Otago.

This panel investigates aspects of British and Japanese economic and business development in the 20th century, emphasizing the extent to which the issues in question might be better understood or evaluated through a 'British mirror'. In each of their chosen themes contributors investigate (a) how far Japanese contemporaries were aware of parallel developments outside their country (in this case Britain), (b) the extent to which contemporary policy and other reactions were tempered by this knowledge, and (c) how far British perspectives on the Japanese issue under review provide a clearer or at least different interpretation of events than appeared to Japanese contemporaries.

This comparative perspective introduces evidence of Japan's observation and understanding of parallel issues outside its own country, of the extent to which authorities learned or failed to learn from such knowledge, and the degree to which Britain was likewise viewing events in Japan as part of its own educative development.

W. R. Garside, University of Otago. "Striving for Success: The Political Economy of Industrial Policy in Britain and Japan since 1945"

This paper discusses the extent to which the highly stylized development of Japanese industrial policy before and after the high growth period was as distinctive as the literature suggests. It highlights the concern for faster growth in Britain and contrasts the role of governments in assisting the process. In doing so it examines the specific economic, political and administrative imperatives that Japan was working under and which were not readily transferable to other countries but which remain an essential part of her rapid economic transformation. Many of the essential characteristics of that transformation were apparent too in Britain though less visibly so. The contrast that will be drawn will be between the Japanese determination to make economic growth explicit and part of the social, economic and political contract with the nation and a British determination to 'pick industrial winners', to facilitate industrial finance, to develop research and development and to gain competitive advantage but according to administrative, economic, political and social imperatives that were always different from Japan. The moot point is whether in thereby experiencing a different growth trajectory Britain saved herself from the worst excesses of capitalist development that Japan was later to experience.

2) Takeshi Yuzawa, Gakushin University. "Winds of Change: 'Thatcherism' and the Japanese Economy since the 1970s"

This paper examines the contrasting economic performance of Britain and Japan since the 1970s, with particular reference to the impact of the 'Thatcher revolution' upon Japan's adaptation to the changing international economic environment. It surveys the extent to which British preoccupation with issues of industrial relations, the culture of enterprise, and institutional/trade union rigidities were mirrored in Japanese reactions to economic opportunity before and after the 1973 oil crisis.

The paper pays particular attention to Japanese assessments of the British privatization programme, focusing upon its impact on the railway sector in each country. Consideration is given to the extent to which British experience with 'the force of the market' was translated into Japanese policy towards Japan National Railway.

3) Tamotsu Nishizawa, Hitotsubashi University. "Business Studies and Education in Britain and Japan"

G.C. Allen wrote in his first book on Japan in 1927: 'If England afforded the best example of nineteenth century industrialism, Japan may be considered a typical country of modern industrialism.' Here I argue and re-evaluate the merits and demerits of Britain's 'industrial individualism' and Japan's 'industrial collectivism' from the viewpoint of business education and managerial human resources.
Japanese system of education and human resources development has been favorably remarked by the British observers since the Meiji era. If we compare the number of institutions for higher commercial and business education in pre-war Britain and Japan, Japan's superiority is quite clear. And if we compare the number of graduates from the Faculty of Commerce in Birmingham University and that from Tokyo University of Commerce, the contrast is clear. These characteristics seem to have continued fairly long in post-war period. Japanese system of business education seems to have been appropriate for 'industrial collectivism'. But we may have to re-evaluate the British system of business education appropriate for 'industrial individualism'.

4) Michiya Kato, University of Birmingham. "Japanese Interwar Unemployment and the 'British Disease'"

The nature and extent of interwar Japanese unemployment is a neglected historical item, as is the Japanese policy response. Drawing upon recently completed doctoral research, this paper outlines the extent to which Japanese responses to the growing problem of casual and hidden unemployment and the effects of the world slump on each was forever proscribed by a concern not to give way to demands for compulsory unemployment insurance, or large scale public works or direct government involvement in industry for fear of the 'British disease' of recurring financial commitment, budgetary instability and a tangible shift in the relations between industry, labour and the government. The paper also highlights the extent to which Japanese officials investigated conditions in Britain and elsewhere in Europe in order that the Japanese cabinet could be fully informed of the consequences of alternative unemployment policies as they were being played out elsewhere in the world.

Discussant: Roger Buckley, International Christian University.


list of panels