Informality and Monetary Policy in Japan: The Political Economy of Bank Performance

By Adrian Van Rixtel | Go to book overview

3
Informal aspects of Japanese
economic policy

It appears that the informal structure of transactions in Japan is receiving greater attention as scholars seek to approximate empirical reality more closely.

Y. Murakami and T.P. Rohlen (1992)

The informal system, the driving force of Japanese activities, is a native Japanese brew, steeped in a unique characteristic of Japanese culture.

C. Nakane (1970)


3.1 Introduction

As has become clear from the analyses of the Japanese political economy and economic system presented in chapter 2, a significant number of scholars stress the importance of informal factors in the public–private sector relationship in Japan. For example, in the previous chapter the informal organisation approach was introduced, which, according to Murakami, 'provides the most useful explanation of the key feature of the postwar Japanese economy' (Murakami 1987, p.55). Upham (1987, p.204), states that 'informality is preferred by every level of government and in all areas of government–citizen contact'. And Haley (1991, p.163) is emphatic regarding the enforcement of government policy:

What distinguishes Japan is the persuasive resort to informal enforcement in contexts that seem to require formal regulations in other industrial states. In Japan informal enforcement is not a process of governing, but has become the process of governing. It is used to implement nearly all bureaucratic policy, whether or not expressed in statute or regulation, at all levels of government and all administrative offices.

With respect to the organisation of the Japanese bureaucracy, Keehn (1990, p.1021), declares that 'the processes of informality and discretion are a good deal more than flexible practices that complement and flesh out formal rules and procedures. They are organizational strategies crucial to the functions and performance of bureaucracy and government

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