Japan Inc. in pursuit of new values beyond the Lost X Years
Japan Incorporated or "Japan Inc" was once a synonym for the economic successes Japan achieved during the high growth era of the 1970’s through to the early 1990’s. Described by admiring nations as an “economic miracle”, Japan had been driven by a single centralized motivation to catch up with the Occident. During this period, Japan was unified under an invisible hand - the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) played a symbolic role in guiding the national mission of becoming a global heavyweight in terms of GDP.
After achieving its objective, when Japan’s GDP ranked second only to the US, Japan unconsciously lost its benchmark and ultimately found itself at a crossroads without a new national mission. Around the early 1990’s, the bubble economy collapsed and zero growth with deflationary waves began to hit the Japanese economy. By the year 2000, economists were labelling the previous decade "the Lost 10 Years" in the hope the Japanese economy would soon bottom out. Now, more than 20 years after the collapse and with no signs of economic growth, this period has been described not as the Lost 20 Years, but the Lost X Years.
Japan’s manufacturing focussed model had worked brilliantly in previous years. It coupled Japan’s unmatched standards of excellence in terms of technology and product development with mastered production, engineering efficiency and control of the highest quality. But today, Japan is matched and even overtaken by emerging countries in these domains. Japan will not see new economic growth whilst it remains in the nutshell of its conventional paradigm, i.e. the mono-culture of the "product-out” mindset. Reform is necessary to pursue new values through either the combination of plural technologies and products including software or through cross-border partnership to generate synergies.