The Economic Crisis in Japan

Mainstream Perspectives and an Alternative View

Author: Paul Burkett and Martin Hart-Landsberg


Various explanations have been proposed for Japan's deepening economic crisis: (1) the country's "anticapitalist" economic institutions, (2) the failure to clean up bad bank loans and bankrupt companies, (3) a deflationary liquidity trap, (4) upward pressures on the value of the yen, and (5) balance-sheet adjustments instigated by the collapse of the 1980s "bubble economy." Our critical survey suggests that the kernel of truth in all these perspectives lies in their common (mostly unstated and unconscious) implication that Japan faces a crisis of capitalist maturity involving a worsening trade-off between economic stagnation and the exploitative, wasteful, and destructive utilization of productive capacity. This dilemma can only be overcome through an explicit rejection of capitalist priorities and a movement toward a more worker-community-centered economy.
Regions: East Asia
Countries: Japan

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September 2003
© 2002 ILO/Crozet M.