chapter  3
Predicament of communality: lessons from Japan
Lessons from Japan Tatsuo Inoue
Pages 11

Many advocates of the so-called ‘Asian Values’ have confidently claimed that the ‘miraculous’ economic development of several Asian countries is due to their success in adapting their emerging capitalist economic systems to the communitarian values embedded in their traditional culture. The postwar Japanese political economic system that reached its peak in the 1980s was once regarded as a paradigm of communitarian reconstruction of capitalism that brings about rapid economic growth without undermining social harmony and political stability. In this system, the communitarian mode of Japanese identity-formation and conflict-resolution pervades the closely cooperative and integrative labor-management relationships, longterm dealings and group-oriented practices of business, and the informal and conciliatory way of governmental intervention in the market. Recent setbacks of Asian newly industrializing economies and the prolonged economic and political de´baˆcle of Japan since the 1990s have, however, eroded popular confidence in the tenacity of the communitarian practices that were said to be constitutive of the ‘Asian way’ of social ordering.