Reports on Annual Meetings 1994-2002

2002: Why the Japanese Economy Does Not Recover

The 50th Annual Conference was held at Gifu Keizai University, Gifu, on the 19th and 20th of October 2002. There were two plenary sessions and ten parallel sessions.

2001: The American Economy in the 1990s: Prosperity or Bubble?

The 49th Annual Conference was held at Komazawa University, Tokyo, on the 20th and the 21st of October 2001. There were 13 parallel sessions and two plenary sessions both entitled, "The American Economy in the 1990s: Prosperity or Bubble?" Gary A. Dymski (Univ. of California, Riverside) addressed the first plenary session. Tetsuji KAWAMURA (Musashi Univ.) and Nobuharu YOKOKAWA (Musashi Univ.) co-chaired.

Dymski presented a paper entitled "Global Hegemony and Financial Instability in a New 'American Century': Can the U.S. Economy Escape the Law of Gravity?" He argued that the apparent success of the American economy was due to its hegemonic role in the post-cold-war era when the relative strength of the U.S. economy and the instability and stagnation of other regions coexisted. However, the end of the sustained U.S. expansion had now arrived. The benefits deriving from global U.S. hegemony were being overtaken by the costs of the accumulated fragility of the international monetary system. (Oct. 20th, 16:30-47:30).

Three speakers Hideo OKAMOTO (Tokyo Keizal Univ.), Tetsuji KAWAMURA (Musashi Univ.), and Shinjiro HAGIWARA (Yokohama National Univ.) addressed the second plenary session. Tokutaro SHIBATA (Tokyo Univ.) and Satoru NAKAMOTO (Osaka City Univ.) commented. Takeshi NAKATANI (Kobe Univ.) and Toshio MASUDA (Hosei Univ.) co-chaired.

OKAMOTO discussed how the complex structure of the U.S. welfare system survived the restructuring storm in the last quarter century. According to OKAMOTO, much of the structure survived. For example, the senior citizens and survivors insurance benefits program highlights the importance of social security policies. However, as represented by abolition of the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program and curtailment of the Earned Income Tax Credit scheme, the structure of the welfare system was badly damaged.

KAWAMURA discussed the unprecedentedly long peacetime boom of the U.S. economy in the 1990s. According to KAWAMURA, the fundamental reorganization and restructuring of economic systems since the 1980s, including the postwar corporate system, mass-production system, traditional labor relations, and Keynesian policies account for this sustained prosperity. Restructuring was induced by the decline of the postwar 'Pax Americana' regime during the early 1970s. The so-called 'IT (information technology) boom' merely accelerated the underlining tendencies towards prosperity, especially after the mid-1990s. It is now clear that the 'IT boom' was largely a 'bubble', although its potential effect extended to all major aspects of the economy. Accordingly, the arguments of 'new economy' that place so much emphasis on the 'IT Revolution' are too superficial to explain the long boom of the U.S. economy in the 1990s.

HAGIWARA analysed the structural transformation of the U. S. economy at the beginning of the 21st century, focusing on financial instability. He first presented Minskyâ's financial instability hypothesis. Secondly, he focused on the investment and finance of the New Economy in the 1990s and clarified the process of the increasing prices of capital assets in the U.S. He then discussed the role of the U.S. financial market in creating and developing new information technology in the U.S. His discussion then moved to "securitized financial institutions", showing how U.S. commercial banks responded to securitization. Hagiwara concluded that "securitization" brought about financial instability in the U.S. economy and has been the source of the current financial crises.


2000: Political Economy of Globalization

The 48th annual conference was held at KOCHI University, Kochi, on the 21st and 22nd of October 2000. There were fourteen parallel sessions and a plenary session.

The theme of the plenary session was "the Political Economy of Globalization". The organizing committee proposed discussion of the following topics: (a) the definition, significance and purpose of globalization, (b) globalization as an ideology, (c) the 'IT revolution' as a technological foundation of globalization, (d) the relationships between globalization and regionalism, and (e) the differences between globalization and classical imperialism.

Three speakers, Masaru Kaneko (Keio University), Hiroshi Noguchi (Kansai University) and Atsushi Fujioka (Ritsumeikan University) gave papers.Yahiro Un'no (Kanazawa University), Yoshiharu Shimizu (Kanagawa University), Hiroji Baba (Daito Bunka University) commented.

Kaneko made the following observations. (1) The digital divide has become evident throughout the world, and the U.S. government pursues the policy of arbitrating the international laws on information technology. (2) There are serious differences between the U.S. and European policies on the protection of confidential information. (3) There are taxation differences between them. (4) Electronic banking has heightened the instability of international finance. On the basis of these considerations, Kaneko concluded that nation states would break down, and that Japanese were too unaware of these changes.

Noguchi put forward the following arguments. (1) The 'IT Revolution' became well known in 1999, when big businesses started to organize full scale e-business activities on the Internet. (2) Capitalism has shifted to global capitalism. (3) In the 19th century, world markets were integrated and enterprises undertook cross-border mergers and concentrated on the process of industrialization. Today, international market integration is again taking place, helped by air transportation and information technology. Technological progress has stimulated economic growth, and the prices of commodities are falling as they did in the past. But the balance sheet of information technology is still in deficit, and the productivity of heavy IT users has not improved. (4) As market segmentation develops, networks of organizations become more important, since network externalities create exchange value characterised by knowledge, service, brand, and culture.

Fujioka argued as follows. (1) The importance of globalization is based on military power exercised throughout the world. The bases of military power are nuclear weapons and intelligent systems. Economic and financial globalization is progressing under the military supremacy of the U.S. (2) The deterioration of the world eco-system has been brought about by U.S. top-down globalization. (3) Although citizens' movements against globalization are divided into two camps, ones based on humanity and ecology are needed to act as the counter-power against present globalization.

[Yasuhiko YONEDA & Kazuo SHIBAGAKI]

1999: Theories of Crisis and the Crisis of the Capitalist Economy

The 47th annual conference was held on the Tama campus of Hosei University, Tokyo, on the 16th and 17th of October in 1999. There were eleven parallel sessions and a plenary session.

The theme of the plenary session was "The Crisis of Capitalism in the 90s and the Theory of Depression".

Three speakers, Yoshio Komatsu (Tokyo University of Agriculture) Isao Shimohirao (Fukushima University) and Kiyotaka Hirota (Kochi University) gave papers. Iichiro Sekine (Kochi Junior College), Mitsuru Takayama (Tokyo Keizai University), Takeshi Nakatani (Kobe University) commented. Yuji Oishi (Komazawa University) and Yoshiharu Kikumoto (Kobe University of Commerce) co-chaired.

Komatsu presented the following analysis: (1) The Jugular Cycle can explain the long depression of the 90s. However, the short-term international movement of capital also contributed to the depression. (2) The depression may have created mega-monopoly or ultra-monopoly across borders, reducing the threat of an imperialistic war. (3) The information revolution, i.e. Internet commerce, made production to order possible, which decreased the probability of depression. (4) In the twenty-first century it is extremely important to organize associations like cooperative unions and cooperative societies in order to create "eco-coop socialism".

Shimohirao made the following observations: (1) Broadly speaking, there have been three big business cycles since the war. The third cycle started with the depression of 1992. These cycles have corresponded to investment in equipment. The bubble economy accelerated investment, giving rise to the unprecedented depression that followed. (2) Japan's strong international competitiveness enabled her to continue exporting to the U.S. and Asian countries. As a result, Japan was able to postpone the crisis. (3) The Asian countries had been in a state of over-production, which was masked by their bubble economy, but it became apparent with the currency crisis of 1997. (4) The U.S. tried to destroy Japanese economic systems in agriculture, commerce, and finance, these being the systems that supported Japan's economic growth. (4) It is wrong to claim that the America's high growth and prosperity in the 1990s was brought about by deregulation. It was due to the weakness of its rival countries, such as Germany and Japan.

Hirota made the following claims: (1) we cannot observe a periodic cycle in capital investment because monopoly capitalism does not have self-coordinating mechanisms. (2) Japan vigorously pursued capital accumulation after the 70s. The excessive Japanese accumulation of capital, however, was made possible by the U.S. Keynesian expansion policy which increased Japan's exports to the U.S. (3) The U.S. current balance of payment deficit eventually depreciated the dollar after 1985. Japan's capital investment increased in the bubble economy in spite of the appreciation of yen. (4) Almost all the Asian currencies were pegged to the U. S. dollar. The depreciation of the Asian currencies increased their international competitiveness against Japan. (5) The Japanese depression of 1997 was caused, not by depressed domestic consumption but by the Asian currency crisis and the decline in her trade surplus. (6) U.S. prosperity in the 90s was not accomplished by deregulation and mega-competition. A sudden depreciation of the dollar may cause a worldwide depression. In order to prevent such a catastrophe from happening, the world economic system must be changed.

[Yoshiharu KIKUMOTO]

1998: The Financial Crisis of the 1990s

The 46th JSPE annual conference was held at Sapporo Gakuin University, Hokkaido, on October 3 and 4, 1998. There were ten parallel sessions and two plenary sessions.

The theme of the first plenary session was "Contemporary Economy and Financial Crisis".

Mitsuharu ITOH (Fukui Prefectural University) was the invited speaker.

He pointed out that hedge funds invested too recklessly, at a leverage ratio more than 30 times that of the original capital, in the small and weak emergent Asian market. He stressed that the effective regulation of hedge funds and confrontation with market fundamentalism were urgent issues on the agenda.

The theme of the second plenary session was "he Financial Crisis of Contemporary Capitalism".

Three speakers, Yoichi KAWANAMI (Kyushu University), Jiro KIMURA (Momoyama Gakuin University) and Yoshiyuki YAMAGUCHI (Rikkyo University) gave papers.

KAWANAMI discussed the present situation of frequent currency and financial crises since the 1980s. He explained that excess savings and a rapid decrease in the rate of profit in the real economy had stimulated the accumulation of a huge amount of idle money capital. This poured into the burgeoning financial market, seeking high risk and high return, which eventually caused the financial bubble.

KIMURA insisted on financial instability as the main cause of today's crisis. He then pointed out that disequilibrium in the property market and in international capital transfers accelerated financial instability.

YAMAGUCHI emphasised that a financial crisis, like the failure of Hokkaido Takushoku Bank, signified restoration of the adjustment function to a market. He also suggested that it would cost less to bail out failed banks than to leave them bankrupt.

(Katsumi SUGIURA)

1997: Frontiers of Political Economy: Market and Society

The 45th annual meeting was held at Nihon University, Tokyo, on October 25 and 26, 1997. There were seven parallel sessions and a plenary session.

The theme of the plenary session was "Frontiers of Political Economy: Market and Society". The organizing committee proposed discussion of current economic problems from the viewpoint of political economy and new ways to deepen and widen the theoretical relevance of political economy.

Five speakers, Katsumi SUGIURA (the University of Tokyo), Takahisa UEMURA (Yamaguchi University), Tokutaro SHIBATA (the University of Tokyo), Kinya INUGAI (Niigata University), and Okinori KARATO (Hokkaido University) gave papers. Koji MORIOKA (Kansai University) and Kiichiro YAGI (Kyoto University) co-chaired.

SUGIURA discussed the "Concept of a Pluralistic Economic Society". SUGIURA emphasized the complex nature of economic societies built on the coexistence and interaction of pro-market and contra-market factors. He rejected both the views of the large state and the full-fledged market society, and favored a pluralistic society with multi-faceted communities combining market relations and non-market ones. He then recommended a communication-oriented method for the analysis of economic societies, and proposed a model of pluralistic communities.

UEMURA examined the "Possibility of a Critical Theory of Institutions". Reviewing the methodology of Japanese Marxian economists, he insisted that neglect of the conduct and consciousness of agents had prevented them from making serious study of the institutional setting of capitalist production. He proposed a critical theory of institutions that was in essence the reification theory of G. LUKACS and Y. TAKAHASHI applied to the reproduction of the consciousness and forms of conduct of agents.

SHIBATA examined "Stage Theory and the Evolution of Institutions". He started with a re-examination of the Marxian version of the materialistic view of history. He eliminated its mechanistic interpretation that there is a one-to-one correspondence between productive forces and relations in production. In his view, the institutional diversity of capitalism, in space as well as historical time, should be explored. He argued that the institutions of capitalism have evolved as the composite result of the conduct of classes, groups and other collective/individual agents whose interests are in conflict with each other. He further sketched an evolutionary variant of the stage theory of capitalism in the age of Pax Americana.

INUGAI made his presentation under the title of "System of the Critics of Political Economy as an Emergent-Complex-System: Integration of Market and Society in the Upwards Unfolding of the General Theory". As suggested by the title, INUGAI interpreted the Marxian system using concepts recently developed by system sciences, and he called for cooperation among political economists in order to extend Marxian theory ? as suggested by his six-part plan of the critiques brought against political economy.

KARATO dealt with "Market-Rationality and Plan-Rationality: A Critique of Pro-Market Social Relations". In his view, the penetration of pro-market relations into the entire economic-social formation proceeds through the interaction between market-rationality and plan-rationality. Taking examples from recent dynamic changes in Japanese industry, he focused on the disciplining of workers, i.e. the reorganization of shop-floor exploitation under the pressure of mega-competition.

(Kiichiro YAGI)

1996: Industrialization in East Asia and Globalization

The 44th annual conference was held at Matsuyama University, Ehime, on October 12 and 13, 1996. There were fourteen parallel sessions and a plenary session.

The theme of the plenary session was "Industrialization in East Asia and Globalization".The organizing committee proposed discussion of the characteristics of recent industrialization in East Asia, its influences upon the advanced economies, and its implications for world capitalism.

Two speakers, Yasuo INOUE (Nagoya City University) and Nobuyoshi NAKAGAWA (Osaka City University) gave papers. Hitoshi HIRAKAWA (Ibaraki University) and Kiyokatsu NISHIGUCHI (Ritsumeikan University) commented. Akira ICHII (Chuo University) and Toshio YAMADA (Nagoya University) co-chaired.

INOUE defined the characteristics of industrialization in East Asia as "he third international division of labor". In his view, the first such division was the traditional one between manufacturing in the advanced economies and agriculture in the underdeveloped economies that came about during the 19th century. The second was the international division of labor under the postwar Fordist regime. The industrialization of NIEs took place in that period. The third was the international division of labor based on product differentiation, or the recent development of East Asia since the 1980s. Finally, INOUE examined the characteristics of the East Asian economic bloc in comparison with the North America and the EU.

NAKAGAWA conceptualized the recent development in Asia as the "new industrialization in Asia", and argued that this industrialization would continue to 2020. He pointed out that its framework consisted of "he advantage of a peripheral situation", the alliance of State, domestic enterprises and multinational enterprises, and triangular trade among the US, Japan and Asia. He maintained that "he advantage of the peripheral situation" arose from Gerschenkron's "advantage of backwardness", and a concentric circle centered Japan.

(Akira ICHII and Toshio YAMADA)

1995: Contemporary Capitalism: Marxist Theories and Methods

The 43rd annual conference was held at Keio University, Tokyo, on November 4 and 5, 1995. There were eight parallel sessions and three plenary sessions.

The theme of the first plenary session was "On the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake".

The theme of the second plenary session was "heories and Methods for the Analysis of Contemporary Capitalism". Three speakers, Isamu KITAHARA (Keio University), Makoto ITOH (the University of Tokyo) and Toshio YAMADA (Nagoya University) gave papers. Katsumi SUGIURA (the University of Tokyo) and Akio FUJITA (Kanazawa University) co-chaired.

KITAHARA presented a paper entitled "Reorganization of State Monopoly Capitalism in the Post Cold War Era" which argued as follows. Since the collapse of the socialist system in the Soviet Union and East Europe, state monopoly capitalism under the cold war is now reorganizing itself into worldwide state monopoly capitalism. It is characterized by the development of new industries based on new technologies, notably information technology, and by industrialization in East Asia. This process will suffer from persistent chaos because of the lack of hegemonic power and weakened international cooperation.

ITOH argued that the conditions necessary for high economic growth in the Keynesian era had dwindled away as the real accumulation of capital proceeded, and that the absolute overproduction of capital became apparent in this process. Itoh saw the revitalization of the market economy and mega-competition among multinational firms as a backward flow of capitalist development towards the pre-Keynesian era. He emphasized that these new tendencies are the material bases for neo-liberalism.

According to YAMADA, contemporary capitalism, characterized as Fordism by the Regulation School, has fallen into crisis because of the maturity and exhaustion of its regime. However, none of the new models, such as Neo-Fordism (USA), Volvoism (North Europe) and Toyotism (Japan), has succeeded as the mode of development to replace Fordism.

The theme of the third plenary session was "Economy and Society of 50 years of Postwar Japan".

Three speakers, Satoshi NIHEI (Senshu University), Nobuhiro UEHARA (Shizuoka University) and Fusao SHIMOYAMA (Kyushu University) gave papers. Shoji INUZUKA (Meijo University) and Hideaki OUCHI (Tohoku College of Science and Technology) commented. Kazuo SHIBAGAKI (Musashi University) and Yasuhiko YONEDA (Chuo University) co-chaired.

NIHEI presented a paper entitled "he Crisis of Japanese Capitalism after the Dissolution of the Cold War System", arguing that Japanese capitalism, which had developed by depending on the US market in the Cold War Era, was facing a severe crisis. The escalation of US-Japan trade friction was destroying Japan's re-production system, extending over heavy and chemical industries, small and medium-sized industries and small farming.

The title of UEHARA'S presentation was "Agricultural Problems in Contemporary Japan". He pointed out that the small farmer regime established by the postwar agricultural land reform is in the last phase of its extinction as a result of the Uruguay-Round Agreement. He insisted on the importance of rebuilding the small farmer regime with a system for the collective utilization of land.

SHIMOYAMA, in his presentation entitled "Postwar Japanese Capitalism and the Labor Union Movement", divided the postwar labor movement into two stages: before and after 1965. He set high value on Sanbetsu and Sohyo's achievements based on classical trade unionism in the former stage. He also emphasized that positive attempts to revive the labor movement had been made even in the latter stage.


1994: The Japanese Depression in the 1990s

The 42nd annual meeting was held at Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, on October 8 and 9, 1994. There were eleven parallel sessions and a plenary session. The theme of the plenary session was the Japanese Depression in the 1990s.

Three speakers, Yahiro UNNO (Kanazawa University), Kazuo KONISHI (Rikkyo University) and Kiyoko IMURA (Keio University) gave papers. Kiyotaka HIROTA (Kochi University) and Yoichi KAWANAMI (Kyushu University) commented. Masatoshi KAWANABE (Rikkyo University) and Kenji TOMINOMORI (Obirin University) chaired the session.

UNNO examined the macroeconomic policies adopted between the depressions of 1980 and the current "Collapse of the Economic Bubble", arguing that those policies themselves created the "bubble" and inevitably prolonged the depression.

KONISHI considered the structure and causes of the current depression. The causes of the depression are firstly the limitations of an export dependent economy, and secondly the limitations of an extremely easy money market based on the lowering of capital acquisition costs and a tendency towards the higher prices of oligopolistic products.

IMURA considered problems in the US-Japan economic relationship. She argued that the "bubble" and the prolonged depression were the consequences of contradictions in Japanese economic development since the 1970s.

(Masatoshi KAWANABE)