How have state policies influenced the development of Japan's telecommunications, computer hardware, computer software, and semiconductor industries and their stagnation since the 1990s? Marie Anchordoguy's book examines how the performance of these industries and the ecomy as a whole are affected by the socially embedded nature of Japan's capitalist system, which she calls communitarian capitalism. Reprogramming Japan shows how the institutions and policies that emerged during and after World War II to maintain communitarian rms, such as the lifetime employment system, seniority-based wages, enterprise unions, a centralized credit-based financial system, industrial groups, the main bank corporate governance system, and industrial policies, helped promote high tech industries. When conditions shifted in the 1980s and 1990s, these institutions and policies did t suit the new environment, in which techlogical change was rapid and unpredictable and foreign products could longer be legally reverse-engineered. Despite ecomic stagnation, leaders were slow to change because of deep social commitments. Once the crisis became acute, the bureaucracy and corporate leaders started to contest and modify key institutions and practices. Rather than change at different times according to their specific ecomic interests, Japanese firms and the state have made similar slow, incremental changes.
Marie Anchordoguy is Professor of Japan Studies at the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington. She is the author of Computers, Inc.: Japan's Challenge to IBM.