The Making of Modern Japan

Power, Crisis, and the Promise of Transformation


In The Making of Modern Japan, Myles Carroll offers a sweeping account of post-war Japanese political economy, exploring the transition from the post-war boom to the crisis of today and the connections between these seemingly discrete periods.

Carroll explores the multifarious international and domestic political, economic, social and cultural conditions that fortified Japan’s post-war hegemonic order and enabled decades of prosperity and stability. Yet since the 1990s, a host of political, economic, social and cultural changes has left this same hegemonic order out of step with the realities of the contemporary world, a contradiction that has led to three decades of crisis in Japanese society. Can Japan make the bold changes required to reverse its decline?

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Myles Carroll is Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Core Research at Ochanomizu University, with a Ph.D. in Political Science (2020) from York University. He has published many articles on social reproduction and political economy in post-war Japan


1. Introduction
 Analytical approach
 Outline of the argument
 Outline of chapters

2. Lineages of Japanese political economy
 Creative conservatism and the developmental state: Japan’s post-war boom
 Institutional approaches to the study of Japanese politics
 The long decline: Theorizing crisis in Heisei Japan
 The welfare state and social reproduction in post-war Japan

3. Towards a Gramscian understanding of Japanese political economy
 Historical materialist methodology
 Hegemony and hegemonic order
 Social reproduction
 Conditions for hegemonic order
 Historic bloc
 Explaining change: Conjunctural and organic
 Organic crisis
 World order, forms of state, social forces
 Relations of force
 Caesarism, passive revolution and trasformismo
 Political ecology
 Towards a Gramscian feminist approach to the Japanese post-war order

4. The post-war hegemonic order
 The post-war hegemonic order
 Conditions of post-war hegemonic order
  Geopolitics: The Yoshida Doctrine and the US-Japan Security Treaty (Anpo)
  Global political economy: The Bretton Woods System
  The electoral and party system: The rise of LDP dominance
  The state form: The rise of bureaucracy-driven governance
  Production and capital: Japanese developmentalism and the keiretsu
  Production and labour: Enterprise unionism and lifetime employment
  Production and the petit bourgeoisie: Clientelism and the old middle class
  Gender and the family: Extended families and the gender division of labour
  Demography and welfare: Young society, small welfare state
  Nation and ideology: The pacifist nationalism of the post-war era
  Environment and national resources: Cheap oil
 The post-war Japanese historic bloc

5. Contradictions and transitions of the Shōwa era
 Structural changes to world order
  The Nixon shocks
  The oil shocks
  American trade frictions and the Plaza Accord
 Structural demographic changes
  The beginning of an aging society
  The decline of extended families
  The rise of women in the workforce
 Political changes
 Institutional changes
  The heyday of the kōenkai
  The rise of factions and the PARC
  Institutional changes and continuities in Japanese business relations
  Lifetime employment and the dual system
  Clientelism and the construction state
 Implications of these changes for hegemonic order
  Economic implications
  Political implications
  Social implications

6. The organic crisis of the Heisei era
 Historical background to the crisis
  1989-1993: Two electoral shocks
  1993-1996: Coalition governments, political reform
  1996-2001: LDP’s return to power, administrative and financial reform
  2001-2006: Rise of Koizumi, postal privatization
  2006-2009: LDP impasse
  2009-2012: Rise and fall of the DPJ
 Conditions of the crisis
  Geopolitics: Security Alliance in a post-Cold War world
  Global political economy: Japan in a global neoliberal era
  The electoral and party system: Crisis, reform, and the end of LDP rule
  The state form: Institutional decay and administrative reform
  Production and capital: The Americanization of Japanese capitalism?
  Production and labour: Deregulation and the rise of the working poor
  Production and the petit bourgeoisie: End of the pork-barrel system?
  Gender and the family: The end of the male breadwinner model and shōshika
  Demography and welfare: The rise of the ‘pension state’
  Nation and ideology: ‘Normal country’ or tan’itsu minzoku?
  Political ecology: Climate change, the nuclear turn and 3/11
 Implications of the crisis
  Summary of the economic accumulation crisis
  Summary of the political legitimation crisis
  Summary of the social reproduction crisis

7. Caesarism, passive revolution and the return of the LDP under Abe
 Abe’s political comeback
 Breaking the deadlock: The Caesarism of “Abenomics”
  Breaking the deadlock through expansionary Keynesian policy
  Breaking the deadlock through neoliberal economic reform
  Breaking the deadlock through welfare state expansion
  Implications of Caesarism under Abe
 The real Abe? Passive revolution, militarism and soft authoritarianism
  Asserting control over the LDP
  Passive revolution in administrative reform
  Passive revolution in domestic security policy
  Abe’s passive revolution
 Consequences of Abe’s reign for the hegemonic order
  Capital accumulation
  Political legitimation
  Social reproduction

8. Whither post-Abe Japan? Four scenarios for the future
 The neo-conservative option
  Relations of force behind neo-conservatism
  The neo-conservative solution to organic crisis
  Challenges and contradictions of neo-conservatism
 The neo-liberal path
  Relations of force behind neo-liberalism
  The neo-liberal solution to organic crisis
  Challenges and contradictions of neo-liberalism
 Back to the future? Neo-communitarianism
  Relations of force behind neo-liberalism
  The neo-liberal solution to organic crisis
  Challenges and contradictions of neo-liberalism
 Counter-hegemony and a democratic socialist future
  Relations of force behind democratic socialism
  The democratic socialist solution to organic crisis
  Challenges and contradictions of democratic socialism

9. Conclusion
 Contradictions for hegemonic order: Political legitimation
 Contradictions for hegemonic order: Capital accumulation
 Contradictions for hegemonic order: Social reproduction
 Overarching theoretical implications of the argument


Anyone interested in post-war Japanese politics and history and critical social scientists concerned with questions of power, hegemony and crisis in advanced industrial societies.
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