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Publication Title

Current Politics and Economics of Japan

Document Type

Peer Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Since the early 1970s, the term “Japan Inc.” has provided a familiar heuristic in the field to describe the prevailing mode of industrial policymaking in Japan. Based largely on the post-war studies of Japan’s rise to the status of an economic superpower, the “Japan Inc.” model depicts Japan’s industrial policymaking as a harmonious process of cooperation between the Japanese government (working through the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, MITI) and the country’s big business.

Despite its applicability to the dynamics of government-business cooperation in Japan during the country’s ascent to the status of an advanced industrialized society, however, the “Japan Inc.” model’s heuristic value in describing Japanese policymaking has been substantially diminished in the post-industrial era. The rapid shift, in recent years, of the primary economic base in Japan from heavy industry to information and telecommunications, has also led to an increasing diversification of interests among the Japanese power elites at all levels, political, bureaucratic, and business/industrial. Subsequently, far from reflecting the traditional traits of “harmony” and “consensus” implied by the “Japan Inc.” model, the Japanese policy process in the new information age has been characterized largely by conflict, deadlock, and partial compromise among competing elite power groups.

Against this backdrop, the purpose of this paper is to,

  1. present an analysis of the conflicting interests which have emerged since the advent of the new technologies and
  2. provide a case study of Japanese policymaking in the post-industrial era.

In so doing, this paper will focus on an analysis of the telecommunications policymaking process in Japan during the 1970-93 period.


NOTICE: this is the author’s final version of a work that was accepted for publication in Current Politics and Economics of Japan. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as copyediting, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published as:

Akhavan-Majid, Roya, (1995). "Telecommunication Policymaking in Japan, 1970-1993: A Case Study in Elite Conflict." Current Politics and Economics of Japan, Vol. 4, No. 2/3, pp. 91-101.



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