The Political Economy of Japanese Globalization

By Glenn D. Hook; Hasegawa Harukiyo | Go to book overview
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Introduction

Glenn D. Hook and Hasegawa Harukiyo

During the latter part of the twentieth and at the beginning of the twenty-first century, an extensive debate has emerged centring on the meaning, process and consequences of globalization as witnessed today. As a natural corollary to that, questions have arisen as to why such concepts as globalization should be used in order to make sense of changes in the world today.

Kilminster (1997) found the first appearance of the word 'globalization' in Webster's Dictionary in 1961, which indicates that, already forty years ago, attention was being paid to globally integrative phenomena in the political, economic and social dimensions of life. At the beginning of The Modern World-System, Wallerstein quotes Marx as a key for his own world-system approach: 'On their heels treads the commercial war of the European nations, with the globe for a theatre' (Wallerstein 1974: xv). This suggests that the emerging dynamics of capitalism have encouraged a global perspective for some time, but the current interest in 'globalization' as such dates from the last twenty years of the twentieth century. It is this phase of globalization, whose implications have even affected the concepts of time and space, that will be explored here, with particular reference to Japan.

The recent debate on globalization in the West covers an area ranging from international relations and politics (Held 1995; Mittelman 1996; Kofman 1996; Gray 1998; Falk 1999; Gilpin and Gilpin 2000) to political economy and business (Kay 1993; Albert 1993; Hirst and Thompson 1996; Korten 1999) and sociology (Featherstone et al. 1995; Scott 1997; Giddens 1998, 2000). It is generally assumed, whether the term 'globalization' is used or not, that a fundamental transformation is taking place in the world today, and that the result has been to raise the levels of interpenetration and interdependence among nation states and societies, positing the possibility of convergence in some social institutions, practices and values. Opinions on this process differ, depending upon the 'where', the 'how' and the 'when' of the commentators as much as on their political, social or economic allegiances.

For example, from a political angle Held (1995) argues for a 'cosmopolitan' model of democracy as a new concept for a new world order, while Gray (1998) rejects any idea of global 'democratic' capitalism arising from the alleged globalization of today. Gilpin and Gilpin (2000), on the other hand, emphasize the

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