Economic Development of Japan

Key information

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Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of Economics

Module overview

This module will introduce students to the main themes in the economy of Japan. The course provides a historical overview of economic development of Japan, from origins of institutions and industries to contemporary challenges of long stagnation. The long-run trends in Japanese economic performance are examined, linking them to the structural transformation the economy. Emphasis will be placed on the importance of institutional development and the state, as well as the particular form of private sector development closely linked with them. These features of Japan political economy are important not only in explaining its rapid industrialisation and high speed growth, but also in understanding the rise and collapse of the bubble economy, and the subsequent long stagnation since the early 1990s. The course also engages with contemporary policy debates. Along with the focus on the long run trends, the course also covers key topics in the Japanese economy, including banking and finance, industrial organisations, labour, international trade, population and agriculture.

Students pursuing a degree external to the Department of Economics should contact the convenor for approval to take this module.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

  • Show a clear awareness of the historical underpinning of the Japanese economic development.
  • Understand and evaluate the main debates over sources of economic growth in Japan.
  • Apply their knowledge in analysing the causes and consequences of economic growth, and the reasons for Japan's economic slowdown since the early 1990s.
  • Describe and analyse the main sectors and institutions in the contemporary economy.

Economic Development of Japan builds on prerequisite knowledge of economic theories and theories of development economics, such as growth theories, the concept of comparative advantage, national income accounting, institutional economics, etc.

Method of assessment

Assessment weighting: Exam 70% / coursework 30% (1 essay 2500 words). All coursework is resubmittable.

Suggested reading

Core Reading List:
  • David Flath, The Japanese Economy, Third edition (2014).
  • Christopher Howe, The Origins of Japanese Trade Supremacy (1996).
  • Penelope Francks, Japanese economic development. Theory and practice, (1992, 1999).
  • Kasushi Ohkawa and Henry Rosovsky, Japanese Economic Growth. Trend and Acceleration in the twentieth century, (1973).
  • Ryoshin Minami, The Economic Development of Japan, (1986).
  • Ryutaro Komiya, The Japanese economy, Trade, Industry and Government (1991).
  • Takafusa Nakamura and Konosuke Odaka, eds. The economic history of Japan 1914-1955 (2003).
  • Richard Katz, Japan: The System that Soured (1998).
  • Cargill and Sakamoto, Japan Since 1980 (2008).
Additional Reading:
  • Tessa Morris-Suzuki (1994) The Technological Transformation of Japan, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Chie Nakane and Shinzaburo Oishi (1990) Tokugawa Japan. The social and Economic antecedents of Modern Japan, Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press.
  • William Lockwood ed. (1965) The State and Economic Enterprise in Japan, Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press.
  • Peter Duus ed. (1989) The Japanese Informal Empire in China 1895-1937. Princeton: Princeton University.
  • Ryutaro Komiya, Masahior Okuno, and Kotaro Suzumura eds. (1988), Industrial Policy of Japan, Tokyo: Academic Press.
  • William M. Tsutsui ed. (2006), A Companion to Japanese history, Malden, MA:  Blackwell.
  • Adam S. Posen (1998), Restoring Japan's Economic Growth, Washington DC: Institute for International Research Advancement.
  • Takeo Hoshi and Anil Kashyap (2011) 'Why Did Japan Stop Growing?', Tokyo: National Institute for Research Advancement.
  • Aoki, Masahiko and Hugh Patrick (eds) (1994), The Japanese Main Bank System, Oxford University Press.
  • T. Okazaki and M. Okuno-Fujiwara (eds) (2000) The Japanese Economic System and its Historical Origins, Oxford University Press.
  • Hoshi, Takeo and Anil Kashyap (2001), Corporate Financing and Governance in Japan.
  • Takeo Hoshi and Hugh Patrick (eds) (2000), Crises and Change in the Japanese Financial System, Boston Kluwer Academic Publishers.
  • Aoki, Masahiko, Gregory Jackson, and Hideaki Miyajima (2007), Corporate Governance in Japan: Institutional Change and Organizational Diversity, Oxford University Press.
  • Ito, Takatoshi, Hugh Patrick, and David E. Weinstein (eds) (2005) Reviving Japan's Economy, MIT Press.
  • R. Mikitani and A. Posen (eds) (2000) Japan's Financial Crisis and its Parallels with the to US Experience, Institute of International Economics, Washing
  • Toshihiro Nishiguchi and Jonathan Brookfield (1997), "The Evolution of Japanese Subcontractors," Sloan Management Review, 39(1), 89-101.
  • Yoshiro Miwa and J. Mark Ramseyer, 'The Fable of the Keiretsu', Journal of Economics and Management Strategy, 11(2), Summer 2002, 169-224.
  • Andrew Gordon (1990) 'Japanese Labor Relations During the Twentieth Century,' Journal of Labor Research, VI(3), Summer 1990:239-252.
  • Takao Komine and Shigesaburo Kabe, (2009) "Long-Term Forecast of the Demographic Transition in Japan and Asia," Asian Economic Policy Review, Vol. 4, Issue 1, pp. 19-38, June 2009.
  • Marcus Rebic, (2005) The Japanese Employment System.
  • Paprzycki, R., and K. Ito (2010), "Investment, Production, and Trade Networks as Drivers of East Asian Intergration, "Center on Japanese Economy and Business, Columbia University, Working Paper No. 288.


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