Publisher description for Inside the Japanese system : readings on contemporary society and political economy / edited by Daniel I. Okimoto and Thomas P. Rohlen.


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Counter Among the world's great industrial states, Japan is the newest, most dynamic, and most distinctive. Whether viewed as a model, a partner, or a threat, no country is more important or less understood. What are the central features of Japan's industrial system? What are the core institutions and practices that have to be understood in order to know how it functions? What sets it apart from other industrial systems, notably that of the United States? Is the Japanese system changing, and if so, how? These are the basic questions addressed in this volume, which presents in compact form the best thinking, the most stimulating arguments, and the classic interpretations of contemporary Japan. The book comprises 55 selections by economists, political scientists, anthropologists, business consultants, and others, which together give an unparalleled insight into the inner workings of the Japanese industrial system. The selections are relatively short, in most cases extracts or abridgements of longer works, and cover all levels of the system, from workers and managers, through company organization, to the nexus of ties between companies and their subcontractors, subsidiaries, banks, shareholders, and 'business group' affiliations. The book also considers the controversial subjects of industrial policy, government-business relations, financial markets, sociocultural factors, and the political context within which the whole system functions. A concrete illustration of the overall system in operation appears in a case study of the near-bankruptcy and subsequent turnaround of Mazda Motors.