Business, Legal & Accounting Glossary
Japan Inc. is a term that emphasizes Japan’s traditional, highly centralized economic system. A primary feature of Japan Inc. was the key role of Japan’s MITI, which guided Japan’s development in the postwar years. Another major characteristic of Japan Inc. were the keiretsu that accounted for the overwhelming share of Japanese economic activity. The term Japan Inc. gained notoriety in the 1980s when many Americans felt an alliance of Japan’s bureaucrats and corporations – i.e. a “Japan Inc.” — pursued unfair trade policies. Some observers, however, felt the notion of Japan Inc., run by undifferentiated salarymen marching in lockstep, was as much myth as reality, and that a Japan Inc. never existed. Regardless, Japan’s prolonged recession during the 1990s made Japan Inc. — whatever it had represented — a much less feared entity. Moreover, since the 1990s, Japan has undergone major changes that have made the features of the Japan Inc. stereotype substantially less prominent in the country’s business culture.
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This glossary post was last updated: 9th February, 2020