The Politics of Syncretism in Japan's Political Economy
Kushida, K. E., K. Shimizu and J. Oi, Eds. (2014). Syncretism: Corporate Restructuring and Political Reform in Japan, Shorenstein APARC.
40 Pages Posted: 14 Jun 2018
Date Written: May 28, 2014
Kushida and Shimizu examine Japan’s financial system, both the conventional financial sectors, such as banking, securities, and insurance, as well as the massive postal savings system. They argue that Japan’s pattern of change is syncretic, whereby new ideas and practices are coexisting with pre-existing organizations and norms. Regulatory reforms allowed new entries, new possibilities for reorganization, and new strategies. Yet, although some financial institutions aggressively pursued new opportunities, others retained traditional organizations and strategies, and still others became hybrids. This has resulted in a syncretic system.
The authors go beyond the characterization of these transformations as syncretic to contend that a specific set of political dynamics shaped Japan’s process of change, a process that they refer to as syncretization. This distinctive pattern of regulatory reform consisted of a strong political leader- ship pushing through reforms in the face of traditionally powerful interest groups. Such a pattern of reform left room for the long-standing and powerful interest groups to slow down or even reverse the reforms when the political impetus for reform waned.
Keywords: Japan political economy, financial big bang reforms, finance reform
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