Nothing New in the (North) East? Interpreting the Rhetoric and Reality of Japanese Corporate Governance

Luke Nottage
Public Access Documents

As Japan emerges from a lost decade of economic stagnation, attention is also focusing on its corporate governance system. Shareholders are gaining ground vis–vis other stakeholders. This is also evident in a plethora of legislative reforms culminating in the consolidated Company Law of 2005, leading some to proclaim the Americanisation of Japanese Law. Part I of this paper outlines two pairs of views. It confirms significant but gradual transformation towards a more market-driven system, involving some modes of change paralleled elsewhere. In assessing change more broadly, Part II urges care in selecting the temporal timeframe and countries to compare, balancing blackletter law and wider socio-economic context, disclosing normative preferences, and focusing on processes as well as outcomes.