Contrary to the received opinion that Japan is suffering from "arthritis" and hence economic stagnation, I argue that Japanese capitalism has been undergoing a great transformation since the early 1980s. Arguments in support of this view are presented at three levels:
- the corporate level, characterized by an increasing heterogeneity of firms in terms of organization and performance;
- the institutional level, characterized by decline of previous forms of coordination;
- the social compromise level, characterized by a surge of multidimensional inequalities.
This paper furthermore demonstrates that rather than converging towards an Anglo-Saxon or continental European variety of capitalism Japan follows its own trajectory. This has important implications for the understanding of contemporary capitalisms.
Sébastien Lechevalier is Associate Professor at EHESS (Paris) and founding President of Fondation France-Japon de l’EHESS (EHESS Paris日仏財団: http://ffj.ehess.fr/). He specialises in Japanese economy, conducting research on various topics such as institutional change, inequality, industrial dynamics and innovation. He published in 2011 The Great Transformation of Japanese Capitalism (1980-2010) (Presses de Sciences Po, in French, forthcoming in English, Routledge). He is currently coordinating 2 research projects: “Is Deindustrialization inevitable? The future of manufacturing in Japan, Korea, Germany, and France” and "Corporate finance and governance in Asia: understanding organizational and institutional changes " (in collaboration with T. Hoshi and H. Miyajima). Full CV can be found here: http://crj.ehess.fr/document.php?id=332