Dismantling Japanese Developmentalism

  • 22 Sep 2017
  • 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM (UTC-04:00)
  • Massey College University of Toronto 4 Devonshire Place Upper Library

Organized by Consulate-General of Japan in Toronto and Munk School of Global Affairs


Japan’s combination of economic success and conservative dominance from the 1950s into the early 1990s was the consequence of what Pempel calls “developmentalism.”

The term involves more than the well-studied ‘developmental state.’ Most particularly, the Japanese success story relied on a specific and unusual socio-economic alignment; a positive sum relationship between state direction and corporate creativity; and Japan’s Cold War security and economic partnership with the United States. The combination unleashed a positive cycle of economic development and conservative political strength.

Japan’s positive cycle was challenged by two external changes: first, the breakdown in diplomatic and security bipolarity that began with the Nixon visits to China and the Deng economic reforms; and second, the challenges from increased power of global finance and multinational production networks. These external global shifts undercut the Japan’s prevailing model and opened the challenge to find a suitable substitute.

That search has continued for over twenty years  resulting in some successes and many false starts. Professor Pempel’s talk will examine the relationship between this more complete understanding of developmentalism as the roots of Japan’s early successes and the subsequent difficulties of finding its adequate replacement.

SPEAKER T.J. Pempel Jack M. Forcey Professor of Political Science, University of California, Berkeley

T.J. Pempel is Jack M. Forcey Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley. His research focuses on Japan’s political economy, economic and security issues in East Asia, and Asian regionalism. His most recent book with Keiichi Tsunekawa is “Two Crises, Different Outcomes: East Asia and Global Finance” (Cornell University Press).

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