The Emptiness of Affluence: Vitality, Embolism and Symbiosis in the Japanese Body Politic

Part of the St Antony’s Series book series


The general outline of Japan’s attainment of economic power over the past several decades is well known. Japan’s GNP multiplied by 152 in the four decades from 1950, as compared with 39 times for the other post-war economic ‘miracle’, West Germany. Its proportion of the world’s GNP rose from 1 per cent in 1950 (when the US share was 39 per cent) to 12.8 per cent in 1990 and is expected to reach 17 per cent by the end of the century.1 Japan’s regional predominance is such that its GNP came to make up 66 per cent of that of the whole of Asia (including China, India and Australia and New Zealand).2 In the significant high-tech area of semi-conductors, long dominated by the US (with 83 per cent of world production coming from five US companies in 1965) Japanese output surpassed 50 per cent in 1988 (and held at 49.7 per cent in 1991), while the US share fell from 51.6 per cent in 1984 to 36.5 per cent in 1988.3


Liberal Democratic Party Japanese People Leisure Satisfaction Eastern Economic ReView Japan Time 
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  1. 3.
    1965 figures from Shigeto Tsuru, Japan’s Capitalism: Creative Defeat and Beyond, Cambridge University Press, 1993, p. 199, and later details from Sakai Akio, ‘Chiteki shoyuken no keizai-teki imi’ o ika ni saguru ka, Kyoto daigaku keizai kenkyusho, February 1992, tables 1 and 3, with 1991 figures from Purejidento, March 1992, p. 209.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    Estimate by Kenneth Courtis, of Deutsche Bank, Tokyo, quoted in Christopher Wood, The Bubble Economy: The Japanese Economic Collapse, London, Sidgwick and Jackson, 1992, p.181.Google Scholar
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    See, for example, Osaki Masaharu, Murai Yoshinori and Murota Takeshi,‘Chiiki jiritsu to Ajia to no kyosei’ (Regional self-sufficiency and co-existence with Asia), Entoropi dokuhon 5 (The Entropy Reader, No. 5), The Bessatsu Keizai Seminar, Nippon Hyoronsha, August 1988.Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1997

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