Japan attracted very much attention during its impressive economic growth from 1955 to 1990. The country had still been considered a developing economy in the early 1960s according to the statutes of the IMF. By the late 1980s, it was counted among the leading high tech nations of the world with an income level close to that of the US (see the chapter on Macroeconomy for more details).
Japan's relative economic success reached its peak during the speculative real estate and stock market bubble that built up in the second half of the 1980s and burst in 1990/1991. Since then international attention has shifted to its rising giant neighbour China.
However, it is still worthwhile to take a closer look at the Japanese economy, its markets and its companies.
- Japan is the third largest national economy - who could afford to ignore its domestic market, its technological capacity and financial strength?
- It is the richest economy in terms of net foreign assets, though its ratio of public debt to GDP is the highest among OECD countries. What inherent risks does such a constellation bear for Japan and for the international financial system?
- Japan is a front runner when it comes to demographic change. How does it cope with an ageing society and an ageing work force? What can we learn?
- Since the mid 1990's, Japan has had to cope with deflation. Why has it not been able to escape from it? How has the economy, the financial sector and Japanese business been performing in such an environment?
- As a resource poor country, Japan depends on trade, but its import/GDP and export/GDP ratios are the lowest among OECD countries. Outword and inward FDI levels are also relatively low. Why is the Japanese economy so little internationalized?
- Some Japanese companies that are top at home have not succeeded internationally and top international companies have failed in Japan. Why?
- Why does it seem so difficult to do business in Japan and with Japanese companies? Regulatory barriers to trade and investment are as low or high as elsewhere.
My research on the Japanese economy covers many subjects. Details are given under the separate topics listed on the left.
The broad scope of my research on Japan is driven by the belief that one needs to have a picture of the whole system in order to understand the parts or specific aspects - be it Japanese management, the functioning of labour markets, the structure of the financial system or the difficulties encountered by foreign companies doing business in Japan.
Teaching and public lectures
At Munich University, I regularly teach the elective "Japanese Economy and Society" to students of Japanology, business studies and economics.The elective consists of an introductory lecture on the structure and development of the Japanese economy and seminars focussing on specific areas (labour, finance, business, corporate governance, CSR). In one of the seminars students work on actual company projects within the context of German-Japanese business relations.
I also give lectures on the Japanese economy for other audiences. The most recent presentation, given at the DIJ Forum in Tokyo in March 2012, can be listened to here.