The Electoral Foundations of Japan's Banking Regulation
Posted: 2 Jul 2008
Date Written: June 9, 2000
This article locates Japan's financial policies in the context of electoral incentives. The collapse of Japan's economic bubble in 1990 exposed the rot in the banking system, hidden for decades by a Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) government intent on maintaining favor with local support groups and protecting inefficient small banks. In a move wholly uncharacteristic of Japan's postwar politics, the LDP ultimately forced the banks to absorb huge losses rather than require taxpayers to bail out their mortgage-lending subsidiaries (jusen). We compare the government's subsequent bank bailout scheme with past government action and find that the government's objectives have shifted from boosting bank profits to ensuring their prudential regulation. We conclude on an optimistic note about the prospects for more public goods-oriented politics in Japan.
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