The Institutional Foundations of Japanese Industrial Policy

by Chalmers Johnson



In Japan, macro industrial policy has been of much greater importance than industrial targeting. Japan's genuine successes with targeting have depended as much on the macro environment created by industrial policy as on the concrete policy measures intended to promote or support particular industries. Macro industrial policy in Japan is rather an emphasis on economic fundamentals in public policy making and the use of the criterion of international competitive ability in evaluating all governmental programs. Industrial policy means the initiation and coordination of governmental activities to leverage upward the productivity and competitiveness of a whole economy and of particular industries in it. The formulation and implementation of industrial policy in Japan depend as much on its depoliticization to the greatest degree compatible with democracy as on any economic mode of thought. Japan has been able comparatively to depoliticize its industrial policy because of widespread public awareness of Japan's dependency on imports for most of its fuel, food and raw materials.

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