Cover of Circles of Compensation by Kent E. Calder
Circles of Compensation
Economic Growth and the Globalization of Japan
Kent E. Calder

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August 2017
320 pages.
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Cloth ISBN: 9780804798686
Paper ISBN: 9781503602441

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Japan grew explosively and consistently for more than a century, from the Meiji Restoration until the collapse of the economic bubble in the early 1990s. Since then, it has been unable to restart its economic engine and respond to globalization. How could the same political–economic system produce such strongly contrasting outcomes?

This book identifies the crucial variables as classic Japanese forms of socio-political organization: the "circles of compensation." These cooperative groupings of economic, political, and bureaucratic interests dictate corporate and individual responses to such critical issues as investment and innovation; at the micro level, they explain why individuals can be decidedly cautious on their own, yet prone to risk-taking as a collective. Kent E. Calder examines how these circles operate in seven concrete areas, from food supply to consumer electronics, and deals in special detail with the influence of Japan's changing financial system. The result is a comprehensive overview of Japan's circles of compensation as they stand today, and a road map for broadening them in the future.

About the author

Kent E. Calder is Director of the Reischauer Center for East Asian Studies at SAIS/Johns Hopkins University in Washington, D.C. He previously served as Special Advisor to the U.S. Ambassador to Japan and as Japan Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and he has taught at Princeton, Harvard, and Seoul National Universities.

"Circles of Compensation is a beautifully written breakthrough analysis of how to think about one of the world's most important nations. Its conclusions have powerful implications for anyone interested in global economics and politics. Simply too important to pass up."

—Jeffrey Garten, Yale University

"Kent Calder's Crisis and Compensation is one of the classic works on Japanese politics—and with Circles of Compensation, he's written another seminal book on Japanese political economy. In reading this new book, one learns everything one needs to know about Japan's economic problems. An absolute tour de force."

—Margarita Estévez-Abe, Syracuse University

"Calder is a scholar and intellectual leader with practical and policy experience. His work is leaving a mark on US-Japan relations."

—John V. Roos, Former U.S. Ambassador to Japan