The Political Economy of Japanese Globalization

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

7

Americanization or Europeanization?

The globalization of the Japanese economy

Kudō Akira


Introduction

The internationalization of the Japanese economy has been proclaimed repeatedly even if this observation is limited to the post-war era. The specific meaning of internationalization has varied with each successive wave, but generally speaking, up to the end of the 1980s, the trend was from internal internationalization - the internationalization of the Japanese economy itself - to external internationalization - the international influence of the Japanese economy. The latter can be referred to as 'international Japanization'. Considering the growing status of Japan in the global economy, such a trend was only natural (Ozawa 1995; Kudō 1994a, 1995a).

From the beginning of the 1990s, however, a reversal has occurred: 'internal internationalization' has once again become the focus of debate. For example, major topics have included the opening of allegedly closed markets, the elimination of barriers to FDI in Japan, and an emphasis on international cooperation in economic policy. Certainly, debate about 'external internationalization continues', but its focus is less on the active international role of the Japanese economy than on its passive impact. Take, for example, the debate on the chaos that might accompany the widespread sale by Japan of US treasury bills (shortterm government bonds). Why the debate has shifted in this way requires analysis, but it is undeniable that the shift has in fact taken place.

These issues have certainly taken on a new coloration in the 1990s, but basically they remain variations on a theme that has repeatedly appeared in the past. The older term 'internationalization' has also largely given way to the term 'globalization', but that is surely little more than a question of terminology. So does that mean that the question of the internationalization or globalization of the Japanese economy in the 1990s and early twenty-first century is unworthy of academic scrutiny? Two reasons suggest otherwise. First, the Japanese economy of the 1990s follows the unprecedented experience of the 'bubble economy' of the late 1980s. The present economy is marked with the scars the 'bubble' inflicted, which cut to the very heart of the economy's structure. Second, after a period in which the decline of US hegemony was widely forecast, the 1990s have

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