Dr. Hirofumi Ueda
Department of Economics, Japanese Economic History
Dear Professor Ibuka,
I am writing this letter to explain my motivation in attending Keio University focusing on History of Japanese Economy and Business. I would be extremely grateful if you could give this a read.
Summary – In 1945, Japan was in a devastating state, had 3 million war dead and lost a big piece of national wealth. What accelerated the development of the country was that, as a foundation, Japan always valued education and maintained literacy of all people. With the weapon, big Zaibatsu and business groups adjusted to the changes that’s been brought by the Americans, and established businesses to satisfy every section of living. In addition, existence of welfare society helped companies and government save a lot of money to keep going. We maintained this model to stay as one of the most credible countries in the world, but would it continue to be this way with onling changes?
Question – Disappearing welfare society, aging population and change in working style, how are these influencing the business history of this country? Can we continue to thrive?
Methodology – Investigate where we are compared to other emerging markets and impacts of recent changes in the society and analyse the outcome.
Findings – For many years, Japan was Asia’s richest and most powerful economy. It was the first Asian economy to industrialise, then the emerging Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and later China followed its tracks. Now, Japan is steadily being overtaken. Most economists argue that the best way to compare living standards is to take GDP per person measured at purchasing-power parity, which adjusts for differences in the cost of living in each country. On this measurement, Japan was overtaken by Singapore in 1993, by Hong Kong in 1997 and by Taiwan in 2010. But the most humbling re-ranking will be when South Korea becomes richer than Japan. The latest forecasts from the IMF suggest that this could happen within five years. It is time we learn from our neighbors how they are coping with similar changes are experiencing.
Conclusion – To avoid this from happening, government will have to educate the citizens of what’s really happening and take measures in terms of balancing welfare, tax reform, reviving domestic businesses. Scariest thing is that Japanese traditionally tends to be blind to information of the outside and stay in their bubble. It would be very exciting for me to research and understand where we are headed. I look forward to hearing from you soon on this matter.
*特集 : 日本中小企業(工業)研究の到達点 : 下請制, 社会的分業構造, 産業集積, 東アジア化, 植田, 浩史, 三田学会雑誌 （慶應義塾経済学会) 101 （ 4 ） 591(1) – 595(5) 2009年01月