Japanese Corporate Governance: The Hidden Problems of the Corporate Law and Their Solutions
Columbia Law School, Center for Law and Economic Studies, Working Paper No. 153
24 Pages Posted: 2 Jan 2000
Date Written: April 1999
It has long been said that the Japanese corporate governance does not pay sufficient attention to shareholders as the owners of the corporation. And yet, despite this seeming lack of shareholder ownership, Japanese firms have performed quite well until recently. This paper seeks to solve this conundrum by developing the "Company Community" concept as a positive model of the Japanese corporate governance. This model is used to illustrate how the Japanese system of corporate governance solves the hidden problems of the corporate law. These hidden problems of corporate law are common to all developed economies and consist of the dual problems of balancing between monitoring and autonomy of management and balancing between money capital and human capital.
The company community concept solves these problems through an intricate system of monitoring consisting of three levels. The first level is the in-house monitoring by core employees who are quasi-residual claimants and monitor management as a participant in the Community. The second level is the monitoring by cross-shareholders in the firm, the main bank in particular. Cross-shareholding also has the effect of stabilizing the management position against outside control. The third level is the monitoring by exit of the outside shareholders. These multiple levels of monitoring have the effect of stabilizing management yet upholding shareholder ownership as the end game norm.
JEL Classification: G34
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation