Japan’s Gradual Transformation
Corporations, Globalisation and the Law series
Edited by Luke Nottage, Leon Wolff and Kent Anderson
Chapter 1: Introduction: Japan’s Gradual Transformation in Corporate Governance
Luke Nottage, Leon Wolff and Kent Anderson Like other major post-industrial democracies around the turn of the 21st century, Japan is undergoing a ‘gradual transformation’ in socio-economic relations (Streeck and Thelen, 2005). Unlike the ‘great transformation’ that engendered the welfare state in the mid-20th century (Polanyi, 1944), the current shift is back towards more market-driven governance. Yet entrenched legal and social norms and institutions mitigate the pace and influence the direction of this shift. Consequently, the ways in which it occurs and the overall extent of the transformation vary among countries, although some identifiable patterns are emerging from this transition worldwide. One common but relatively low-key means of effecting a ‘gradual transformation’ is ‘layering’. This means adding new institutions to see whether innovations will percolate through to other fields (Streeck and Thelen, 2005a). In policy initiatives and practices in Japan, layering seems particularly popular. One recent example is the superimposition of new postgraduate ‘Law School’ (hoka daigakuin) programs on top of undergraduate legal education since 2004. This reform is aimed at boosting the quality and quantity of law graduates able to qualify as bengoshi lawyers, public prosecutors and judges (Miyazawa, 2007). A second example of newly layered institutions is the greater use of lay participation in legal arenas. For example, in 2009 Japan will introduce a quasi-jury system (saibanin seido) for serious criminal trials. This may, as promised by the reformers, have much broader ramifications for both criminal justice and civic engagement (Anderson and Nolan, 2004; Ambler, 2007). A third...