This presentation examines the evolution of the Japanese micro-brewery (ji-bīru) industry from its initial establishment through deregulation in 1994 to the present. Drawing on archival data as well as first-hand interviews, I show how deregulation of the brewing industry merged with a larger policy goal, the rejuvenation of regional prefectural economies. This policy agenda subsequently resulted in a discourse and logic that shaped the entire industry and its economic trajectory. In particular, the emphasis on regional revitalization served to mobilize a particular group of both entrepreneurs and support actors and institutions. I show that deregulation is not simply the removal of rules, and that entrepreneurs are not simply independent and atomized actors. The very identity of entrepreneurs in the ji-bīru industry, the definition of the ji-biru product and the standards by which it was judged, were a result of the interaction of entrepreneurs, supporting actors and institutions, and the state through the process of deregulation. I also examine how these various aspects impacted the long-term survival and growth of the industry as a whole.
Jesper Edman is the Director of the Stockholm School of Economic’s European Institute of Japanese Studies Tokyo Office and an in-coming faculty member at Hitotsubashi University’s Graduate School of International Corporate Strategy. He teaches International Management and his research focuses on the impact of foreign firms on Japanese business practices, globalization strategies of Japanese multinational enterprises and Japanese entrepreneurship.