Past Event

Japan’s Multiple Models

March 19, 2021
1:00 PM - 3:00 PM
Online Event Zoom Webinar


Finding broader characterizations ill-fitting, scholars have often spoken of Japan’ political economy as a sui-generis Japanese model. This workshop proposes that in fact the models that Japan has offered the world are multiple. The “economic miracle” made Japan a key point of reference for planners, politicians, and intellectuals on both sides of the Cold War, as well as in the Global South. But interpretations diverged over what generated such prosperity and what its political import was. Since the collapse of the bubble economy in the early 1990s, Japan has become a symbol of something else: the fragility of growth. Here, too, it has come across as multifaceted. To contemporary observers, Japan has appeared not only as a cautionary tale but, increasingly since the 2008 financial crisis, a template for how to manage secular stagnation. Over three presentations and a follow-up discussion, we will explore how Japan's political economy has been variously interpreted and put to use by an array of observers—from American Neocons, to Bulgarian planners, to a transpacific clique of free marketeers.

Jennifer Miller, Assistant Professor of History, Dartmouth, wil offer a talk on "The Right Kind of Traditional: U.S. Neoconservative Thought on Japanese Capitalism in the 1970s and 1980s".

Victor Petrov, Assistant Professor, The University of Tennessee Knoxville, will offer a talk on "A Forest of Chimneys: Socialist Bulgaria's Modernisation and the Dream of a 'Mini-Japan' 1965-1989".

Colin Jones, Adjunct Associate Research Scholar, Weatherhead East Asian Institute, Columbia University; Postdoctoral Fellow, Max Planck Institute for European Legal History, will offer a talk on "How 'Structural Impediments' Were Made: Japan's Land Problem, US-Japan Trade Talks, and the Neoliberal Turn".

Commentator: Steven Vogel, Professor, University of California, Berkeley

Moderated by: Carol Gluck, George Sansom Professor of History, Department of History, Columbia University

This event is organized by the Weatherhead East Asian Institute at Columbia University.

Contact Information

Athina Fontenot