Japan: Why It Works, Why It Doesn’t

Economics in Everyday Life

Edited by James Mak, Shyam Sunder, Shigeyuki Abe, Kazuhiro Igawa

(Honolulu, Hawaii: University of Hawaii Press, 1998. ISBN No. 0-8248-1967-5)

This collection of twenty six essays furnishes concise explanations of everyday Japanese life in simplified economic terms. They begin with such questions as, Do Japanese live better than Americans? Why don’t Japanese workers claim all their overtime? Why don’t Japanese use personal checking accounts? Why do Japanese give and receive so many gifts? The essays are written with non-technical accessible language intended for the undergraduate or advanced placement high school students taking an economics course or studying Japan in a social science course. The general reader will find the book a fascinating compendium of facts on Japanese culture and daily life.

Japan: Why It Works, Why It Doesn’t is a must for those who have acquired more than a casual interest in Japan and for visitors heading to or returning from Japan. The perspectives offered in this book will help readers organize their observations and acquired knowledge into an economic framework, thus giving them a fuller, deeper understanding of Japan.

Every visitor to Japan notices many living and working arrangements that seem unusual–and often are. The authors have made a remarkable effort to explain these anomalies as rational responses to Japanese rules and regulations. Every curious visitor will benefit from, and enjoy, their lively effort. –Allan Meltzer, Carnegie Mellon University