Economic and social changes have been transforming Japan for a few decades. This presentation underlines that the Japanese economic process has lost a significative part of its autonomy. This has implications for the whole society and for the future of Japan.
Until the 1990’s, Japan, mainly under the MITI’s guidance, drove its growth and the expansion of its share of the world liberalised economy, partly at the expense of some other countries, in an autonomous manner. Japan imported, adapted and improved foreign technologies. Japan boosted its fully owned enterprises at home and abroad, thriving first on productive lifetime employees and on rising domestic demand. They were mainly managed and funded by Japanese residents only, and cross linked within keiretsu. Japan was able to escape foreign investments and to avoid imports in the sectors where local production was enough for the domestic demand. Government spending was based on government income or on domestic savings, with almost no foreign funding. Thus, the huge governmental debt is not a problem yet.
This autonomous surge made Japan the second world economic power behind the USA. This lasted 40 years, but Japan is now ranked fourth when GDP is computed at Purchasing Power Parity. It is interesting to analyse how, since the 1990s, there have been here, some points of resistance and there, points of rising dependence. This may be exemplified in nowadays outstanding manufacturing sectors as Motor vehicles and Smartphones, questioning the different dimensions of autonomy like the ones quoted above.