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International Inequality in the Age of Globalization: Japanese Economic Ascent and the Restructuring of the Capitalist World-Economy
Journal of World-Systems Research (2002)
  • Paul Ciccantell
  • Stephen G Bunker
Abstract

Th is paper shows how Japanese fi rms and

the Japanese state constructed a development

model based on the steel industry as a generative

sector that drove Japan’s economic ascent in

the world-historical context of U.S. hegemony.

We make three arguments in this paper. First,

there is a new model of capital accumulation

that does create new forms of social inequality

by redistributing costs and benefi ts in very

diff erent ways than earlier models. Second,

Japanese fi rms and the Japanese state created

this new model of capital accumulation and

social inequality via mechanisms including joint

ventures, long term contracts, and other forms

of international trade and investment, not U.S.-

based transnational corporations, as is usually

assumed. Th ird, world-systems theory reconstructed

through the lens of the new historical

materialism explains this restructuring of the

capitalist world-economy as the outcome of

Japan’s economic ascent over the last fi fty years.

Further, we argue that this new model of capital

accumulation has had similar impacts on

redistributing the costs and benefi ts of development

between core and peripheral regions of

the capitalist world-economy in a wide range of

global industries.

Th ese strategies created a tightly linked set

of technological and organizational innovations

to overcome the natural and social obstacles

to Japanese development, dramatically increase

Japan’s international economic competitiveness

by lowering production costs in all sectors of

the economy, turn Japan into the world’s largest

exporter of manufactured products, restructure

a range of global industries, and recreate the

world-system hierarchy in support of Japanese

development. In particular, organizational innovations

in the use of long term contracts and

joint ventures in raw materials industries to

foster global excess capacity and lower rents to

resource extracting fi rms and states reallocated

the costs of providing the material building

blocks of Japanese development to the states and

fi rms of its new raw materials periphery. Th is

competitive advantage drove Japanese capital

accumulation and economic ascent, and simultaneously

drove underdevelopment in Japan’s

periphery.

Th ese Japanese innovations became key

elements of globalization as U.S. and European

transnational corporations and states sought to

compete with Japan. Joint ventures, long-term

contracts, and other forms of interfi rm cooperation

have replaced vertically integrated foreign

direct investment, the earlier U.S. model

of capital accumulation and international economic

linkage, as the model for global industries.

abstract

Disciplines
Publication Date
2002
Citation Information
Paul Ciccantell and Stephen G Bunker. "International Inequality in the Age of Globalization: Japanese Economic Ascent and the Restructuring of the Capitalist World-Economy" Journal of World-Systems Research Vol. 8 Iss. 1 (2002)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/paul_ciccantell/20/