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Home > Books & Journals > Journal Abstracts Last Updated: 14:23 03/09/2007
Journal Abstracts #97: May 8, 2003

Social Science Japan Journal

Journal Name: Social Science Japan Journal: October 2002, Vol. 5, No. 2

Print ISSN: 1369-1465, Online ISSN: 1468-2680

General Articles:

The Political Economy of Taxes and Redistribution in Japan (pp 159-178)
Andrew Dewit and Sven Steinmo (Associate professor in the Department of Economics at Rikkyo University in Tokyo, specializing in the politics of public finance. Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Colorado, Boulder.)
The past decade has seen a highly polarized debate concerning the Japanese fiscal system, particularly the role of income tax. Several authors argue that Japanese income tax is grossly unfair to low- and middle-income taxpayers, while others depict it as the most progressive in the industrialized world. Indeed, many critics claim that it is too progressive, and some even denounce it as 'socialist'. What is sorely lacking is an account that places contemporary Japanese taxation, and the larger fiscal system, in a comparative and historical context. That is what this paper offers. We argue that Japan's tax system is neither highly redistributive from the rich to the poor nor vice versa—at least in the traditional way that redistribution is understood in most Western tax systems. Rather, Japan stands out for the scale of its inter-regional redistribution and the debilitating politico-economic incentives that stem from it.

Regionalizing the State: Japanese Administrative and Financial Guidance for Asia (pp 179-197)
Walter Hatch (Assistant professor of government at Colby College, Maine, USA)
In the face of mounting pressure to reduce state intervention in the marketplace, Japanese bureaucrats have managed to preserve threatened government institutions such as administrative and financial 'guidance'. They have done so by promoting the regionalization, or Asianization, of Japanese industry, dispensing advice and capital both to domestic manufacturers investing in the region and to host states in Asia that regulate such investment. Japan's experience suggests that, under certain conditions, regionalization may exert a force that runs counter to globalization.

The Development of 'Newspaper Studies' as an Academic Discipline in the Discursive Space of 1930s Japan (pp 199-214)
Yoshimi Shun'ya (Professor of sociology and cultural studies at the Institute of Socio-Information and Communication Studies, University of Tokyo)
There has long been a conventional understanding that mass communication studies in Japan started with the introduction of theories of mass communication from the USA in the 1950s. However, as this paper demonstrates, a new academic paradigm, 'newspaper studies' (shinbungaku) had begun to take shape as early as the 1920s. At first the infant discipline occupied a very marginal position in mainstream academia, but as Japan prepared for war during the 1930s, giving information increasing strategic importance, these early media studies became associated with the state's mobilization for total war. This paper identifies three competing perspectives in pre-war newspaper studies: an empiricist-historical perspective, a constructionist perspective, and a Marxist perspective. It then demonstrates how the second perspective transformed itself into a logic of propaganda, and joined hands with ultra-nationalism. The paper concludes by arguing that the parameters of the discursive space concerning mass media in the 1920s and 1930s survived to the post-war era.

Two Currents of Conservatism in Modern Japan (pp 215-232)
James Babb (Lecturer in Japanese Politics at the Department of Politics, University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England)
This paper examines the division of Japanese conservatives into two political parties in the early post-war period in order to understand why one party chose to enter a coalition government led by the Japanese Socialist Party in 1947 while the other refused. It argues that Japanese conservatives were divided between those who favoured heavy industry and state involvement in the solution of social and economic problems, and those who focused on the defence of the rural and traditional status quo. The war had augmented this division and moved the industrializing conservatives closer to the Socialists. This commonality of interests continued after the war and formed the political basis for an industrial–statist conservative alliance with the Socialists, which led to the formation of a centre–left coalition government in 1947.

Survey Articles:

The Present State of Research on Zaibatsu: The Case of Mitsubishi (pp 233-242)
Nakamura Naofumi (Associate professor of economic history at the Institute of Social Science, University of Tokyo)
The objective of this article is to present a broad outline of studies on Japanese zaibatsu from the 1960s to the present day, viewed in the context of shifts in the post-war Japanese economy. Research on zaibatsu constitutes one of the most substantial bodies of work in Japanese business history studies. In tracing its development the paper identifies three distinct peaks in research activity: in the second half of the 1960s, in the late 1970s to early 1980s, and in the first half of the 1990s. The first of these periods was marked by monopoly capital research that focused on the biggest zaibatsu, especially Mitsui; the second adopted the methods of business history and expanded the research focus to take in smaller zaibatsu and the so-called 'new-wave zaibatsu'; the third sought to explicate connections between pre-war zaibatsu and post-war enterprise groups. From the mid-1990s, however, Japan's prolonged recession and the accompanying pressures for economic structural reform brought a rapid cooling of interest in these representative institutions of the 'old' Japanese economy. The paper surveys these trends and introduces the latest research, with special reference to Mitsubishi, and suggests some possible paths along which zaibatsu research may develop in future.

Social Science Japan Journal (2002)
Copyright ©2002 Oxford University Press

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