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MITI and the Japanese Miracle: The Growth of Industrial Policy, 1925-1975 1st Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0804712064
ISBN-10: 0804712069
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"There are, unfortunately, few books on Japanese politics and economics that deserve to be widely recommended to nonspecialists from either discipline, let alone to the generally informed public. Happily, Chalmers Johnson's excellent study is one of those rare gems that will demand attention from wide audiences. It is a sparkling addition to scholarship and literacy." —T. J. Pempel,Political Science Quarterly

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 412 pages
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press; 1 edition (June 1, 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804712069
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804712064
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 9.2 x 6.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #338,493 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Chalmers Johnson, president of the Japan Policy Research Institute, is the author of the bestselling Blowback and The Sorrows of Empire. A frequent contributor to the Los Angeles Times, the London Review of Books, and The Nation, he appeared in the 2005 prizewinning documentary film Why We Fight. He lives near San Diego.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By D. Tanimura on October 24, 2004
Format: Paperback
MITI And The Japanese Miracle: The Growth of Industrial Policy, 1925-1975 is Chalmers Johnson's in-depth, revisionist approach to understanding Japanese culture, society and economy. As the title eludes, the text focuses on what specific societal, governmental and cultural systems allowed for Japan's bubble economy of the 1980s. Like Harumi Befu's Hegemony of Homogeneity, MITI draws its strength from analyzing and criticizing the essentialist approach to understanding Japan. At the same time, both texts suffer from a clear lack of conclusions on the nature of Japan, though this does not undermine their ultimate validity.

MITI is useful in understanding Japan's last century in that it attempts to give an unbiased, insider's view of the history of Japan's industrial boom. Johnson's central argument is that Japan owes its unprecedented and generally unexplainable (inscrutable) economic achievements to what he calls a "plan-rational system". Johnson believes that the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) combined with Japan's "iron triangle" formed from the government, bureaucrats and heavy industry were not only interconnected but completely interdependent; working together as a single whole with only one goal: economic development.

The first chapter entitled, "The Japanese `Miracle'" serves a double purpose of showing the central argument of the text while at the same time analyzes and eventually disproves/ invalidates the four main conclusions being drawn by Johnson's contemporaries about Japan's economic boom. Here, Johnson explains the first theory, "The national-character explanation argues that the economic miracle occurred because the Japanese possess a unique, culturally derived capacity to cooperate with each other, " (8).
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Suckwoo Lee on July 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book is the classic to be read in the field of the developmental state which refer to East Asian economic developmental strategy not only for Japan. thou Chalmers Johnson is not the one who coined the word, developmental state, he has been most influential in that field by this book. btw dry and technical? I can't see why this book recieves that kind of respose. the overall style of description is something of an well written novel. the author gave the life to the past with details. and that it's interesting enough to be sombering overnight. Below I try to depict the position of this book on the discouse of economics
Johnson revived almost forgotten ghost from the sea of oblivion: mercantilism.
Mercantilism seemed completely beaten away long before modern economics took shape. Mercantilism was a pragmatic adaptation, not a theory of how economies are supposed to operate. It anticipates or at times contradicts market signals, with the goal of channeling resources to (or away from) selected sectors, in the interests of the prosperity of the one or the power of other. But economists argued that such a policy is no more than the terror against market efficiency. The wisdom of the state can¡¯t be claimed to be more efficient than market. Moreover, it often mass-produces rent-seeking distortions on resource allocation. It makes more harms than benefits. The state should not guide the resource allocation. The role of the state lies in other area: providing the public good and responding to market failures.
Johnson labeled this kind of role as the ¡®regulatory state¡¯. The United States and Britain exemplify the ¡®regulatory state.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By AliGhaemi on February 18, 2012
Format: Paperback
The phrase 'Japan Incorporated' gained prominence in the 1960s and persists to this day. While many see Japan as an industrial behemoth with a diversified set of complex and heavy industries not many know how this came about. MITI And The Japanese Miracle: The Growth Of Industrial Policy, 1925-1975 is an insightful book on the topic with an in-depth focus on MITI, Japan's famed and mystical Ministry Of International Trade And Industry. MITI practically conducted and coordinated Japan's industrial policy from 1949 until 2001 when it was folded into the then newly-created the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI).
Up until that time MITI was Japan's blunt instrument of economic policy and industrial structure. It was both revered and feared by the industries and cartels it espoused and nurtured. Staffed by handpicked and elite bureaucrats, this prodigious promoter of Japan's industry, productivity and exports was the official forum responsible for knitting the country's moves in the economic arena from its perch in Tokyo. It is not explicitly mentioned in this book, but on occasion, MITI was also complicit in suppressing internal Japanese citizens' dissent or protest against industry such as with the infamous Minamata Disease. MITI was also feared and disliked by foreign interests for its skillful shielding of Japanese economy from competition and penetration with the aid of both its own guidelines and associated laws.

MITI is "without doubt the greatest concentration of brain power in Japan" according to the book. That is a profound statement by Chalmers Johnson, the author and, now-deceased, Japan expert.
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