Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. 2019 From A Fourth Turning Perspective - James_Quinn
2.Beware the Young Stocks Bear Market! - Zeal_LLC
3.Safe Havens are Surging. What this Means for Stocks 2019 - Troy_Bombardia
4.Most Popular Financial Markets Analysis of 2018 - Trump and BrExit Chaos Dominate - Nadeem_Walayat
5.January 2019 Financial Markets Analysis and Forecasts - Nadeem_Walayat
6.Silver Price Trend Analysis 2019 - Nadeem_Walayat
7.Why 90% of Traders Lose - Nadeem_Walayat
8.What to do With Your Money in a Stocks Bear Market - Stephen_McBride
9.Stock Market What to Expect in the First 3~5 Months of 2019 - Chris_Vermeulen
10.China, Global Economy has Tipped over: The Surging Dollar and the Rallying Yen - FXCOT
Last 7 days
Does Fed Know Something Gold Investors Do Not Know? - 21st Mar 19
Gold …Some Confirmations to Watch For - 21st Mar 19
UKIP No Longer About BrExit, Becomes BNP 2.0, Muslim Hate Party - 21st Mar 19
A Message to the Gold Bulls: Relying on the CoT Gives You A False Sense of Security - 20th Mar 19
The Secret to Funding a Green New Deal - 20th Mar 19
Vietnam, Part I: Colonialism and National Liberation - 20th Mar 19
Will the Fed Cut its Interest Rate Forecast, Pushing Gold Higher? - 20th Mar 19
Dow Jones Stock Market Topping Pattern - 20th Mar 19
Gold Stocks Outperform Gold but Not Stocks - 20th Mar 19
Here’s What You’re Not Hearing About the US - China Trade War - 20th Mar 19
US Overdosing on Debt - 19th Mar 19
Looking at the Economic Winter Season Ahead - 19th Mar 19
Will the Stock Market Crash Like 1937? - 19th Mar 19
Stock Market VIX Volaility Analysis - 19th Mar 19
FREE Access to Stock and Finanacial Markets Trading Analysis Worth $1229! - 19th Mar 19
US Stock Markets Price Anomaly Setup Continues - 19th Mar 19
Gold Price Confirmation of the Warning - 18th Mar 19
Split Stock Market Warning - 18th Mar 19
Stock Market Trend Analysis 2019 - Video - 18th Mar 19
Best Precious Metals Investment and Trades for 2019 - 18th Mar 19
Hurdles for Gold Stocks - 18th Mar 19
Pento: Coming QE & Low Rates Will Be ‘Rocket Fuel for Gold’ - 18th Mar 19
"This is for Tommy Robinson" Shouts Knife Wielding White Supremacist Terrorist in London - 18th Mar 19
This Is How You Create the Biggest Credit Bubble in History - 17th Mar 19
Crude Oil Bulls - For Whom the Bell Tolls - 17th Mar 19
Gold Mining Stocks Fundamentals - 17th Mar 19
Why Buy a Land Rover - Range Rover vs Huge Tree Branch Falling on its Roof - 17th Mar 19
UKIP Urged to Change Name to BNP 2.0 So BrExit Party Can Fight a 2nd EU Referendum - 17th Mar 19
Tommy Robinson Looks Set to Become New UKIP Leader - 16th Mar 19
Gold Final Warning: Here Are the Stunning Implications of Plunging Gold Price - 16th Mar 19
Towards the End of a Stocks Bull Market, Short term Timing Becomes Difficult - 16th Mar 19
UKIP Brexit Facebook Groups Reveling in the New Zealand Terror Attacks Blaming Muslim Victims - 16th Mar 19
Gold – US Dollar vs US Dollar Index - 16th Mar 19
Islamophobic Hate Preachers Tommy Robinson and Katie Hopkins have Killed UKIP and Brexit - 16th Mar 19
Countdown to The Precious Metals Gold and Silver Breakout Rally - 15th Mar 19
Shale Oil Splutters: Brent on Track for $70 Target $100 in 2020 - 15th Mar 19
Setting up a Business Just Got Easier - 15th Mar 19
Stock Market Elliott Wave Analysis Trend Forercast - Video - 15th Mar 19
Gold Warning - Here Are the Stunning Implications of Plunging Gold Price - Part 1 - 15th Mar 19
UK Weather SHOCK - Trees Dropping Branches onto Cars in Stormy Winds - Sheffield - 15th Mar 19
Best Time to Trade Forex - 15th Mar 19
Why the Green New Deal Will Send Uranium Price Through the Roof - 14th Mar 19
S&P 500's New Medium-Term High, but Will Stock Market Uptrend Continue? - 14th Mar 19
US Conservatism - 14th Mar 19
Gold in the Age of High-speed Electronic Trading - 14th Mar 19
Britain's Demographic Time Bomb Has Gone Off! - 14th Mar 19
Why Walmart Will Crush Amazon - 14th Mar 19
2019 Economic Predictions - 14th Mar 19
Tax Avoidance Bills Sent to Thousands of Workers - 14th Mar 19

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

Stock Market Trend Forecast March to September 2019

The State of Free-market Thinking in Japan?

Economics / Japan Economy Jan 04, 2014 - 02:53 PM GMT



Marc Abela talks with us about the state of Austrian economics and the freedom philosophy in Japan. Abela, a Canadian by birth, has lived in Japan for almost 20 years and has organized the Mises Meeting in recent years, at which Japanese scholars in the Austrian tradition gather to discuss their scholarship. He also organized the recent birthday celebration for Toshio Murata, who introduced Austrian economics to Japan. Abela was one of the founders of the Tokyo Tea Party and continues to be involved with Japanese for Tax Reform and other free-market groups in Japan.

Mises Institute:What is the state of free-market thinking in Japan?

Marc Abela:Professor Hiroyuki Okon, an Austrian School economist here in Japan, once described Japan as a“desert of liberty” and I am forced to admit that is what Japan is today.

Japan suffers the universal results of high taxation and the wide variety of social problems that follow. One of the more recent developments is“tomobataraki,” or the dual income family. No longer is one income enough to make ends meet and so both parents must enter the workforce.

Following in the footsteps of Thatcher, Reagan, and Gorbachev, Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, in the 1980s, attempted to privatize some heavily nationalized industries, such as Japan Airlines, Japan Railways, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone, Japan Tobacco and Salt Corp. In the early 2000s, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi tried, with limited success, to privatize the bloated “National Post Office,” which also behaves like a semi-nationalized “bank”here in Japan. The Western concepts of “liberty” and “freedom,” however, remain unpopular here and the work of both Nakasone and Koizumi are only seen today at best as the acts of drunken doctors who left unnecessary scars on a patient with a common cold.

MI:What effect has the “Lost 20 Years” had in Japan on thinking about the economy?

MA: Japanese people are more and more noticing society is drifting away from sanity, and young people, thanks to the internet and all the new media, are seeking out new ideas. Unfortunately, they have no intellectual and significant sources in which to turn for an honest and reasonable answer in their own language. Also, the simple idea that taxation is at the root of most of the social ills they are now experiencing is viewed as too simplistic an answer for many here to embrace. This is no surprise because children are taught from kindergarten on to memorize and repeat the three supreme tenets of Japan: kyoiku, kinro, and nouzei (education, labor, and taxes).

Japan is celebrating its 2,673th birthday this year. It has a rich history, but one that is dominated by heavenly emperors and autocratic taxing warlords. So the last 20 years with its social and economic woes is more the result of 2,000-plus years of state-managed education and a militaristic mindset, than to just economic mistakes.

Young people today are clearly searching for an answer, but no Japanese source is helping them understand from where the problems stem. And before they are old enough to understand things for themselves, they may wake up already hired and working in some government position.

MI:Although it’s a highly-regulated economy, we are told that Japan enjoys one of the world’s highest standards of living.

MA:The lie is very pervasive today across the globe about how many countries succeed in being “very prosperous together with a very big government and a highly-taxed and regulated economy.” As is the case with Canada and Sweden, Japan has succeeded in achieving a relatively decent economy despitethe very invasive and massive burden imposed by the taxing authorities. Taxes are very high at all levels in Japan. The rate is 50 percent for inheritance and death taxes; corporate taxes hit 40 percent very rapidly for almost all businesses; any decent individual income will put you in the 40 percent bracket; and then you have municipal taxes, prefectural taxes, property, vehicle, liquor, tobacco, gasoline, and others taxes. The list is nearly endless. Numerous and cumbersome government regulations prevent new entries to industry and being able to compete with the archaic corporate mammoths known as“zaibatsu” (Mitsubishi, Mitsui, Sumitomo, Yasuda, and a few others) who control and own most of the industries, and make changes at a glacial pace. In fact, since government regulations are so exceedingly high, it can be argued that most businesses and most industries are defacto “nationalized” and behave like state-owned enterprises.

As is the case in many countries, the numbers provided by the government to the public about the economy are false, and figures such as the GDP, the CPI, and the unemployment measurements are all incorrect or fabricated in order to mask the damage and to pretend things are going well when in fact most Japanese in the private sector are working inhuman hours. This results in a lot of very overworked people, record-breaking debts every year, and record numbers of suicides. On the other hand, those working in the public sector are doing much better, and the public sector enjoys fewer work hours, higher pay, and generous holidays.

MI:We’ve recently heard that Mises’s student, Toshio Murata, is still speaking on Austrian economics in Japan. What has his role been in introducing the Austrian School there?

MA:Ludwig von Mises received one single Japanese student while he was teaching in New York in the 1950s and this student, Toshio Murata, has become a shining beacon of courage and a lighthouse of liberty since his return to Japan. Murata-sensei took on the courageous task of translating Human Actioninto Japanese. In fact, to make the book more accessible to Japanese students and to allow them to communicate easily with foreigners, Murata-sensei ensured that each page of the English version would correspond to the identical page number in the first edition of the Japanese version. In other words, if a Japanese student had a question about something on page 613 of the book, all he had to say was “page 613” and any English speaker would immediately know what the Japanese student was referring to.

Murata-sensei also went on to become the dean of the Yokohama College of Commerce and spent much time promoting the work of Mises and other like-minded intellectuals. But throughout his life he unfortunately faced great resistance (at times directly from his own students) and had to endure much adversity, which obviously limited his reach. Today however (at the age of 90) he still gives yearly lectures where he talks to us about his years with Mises, about his vivid memories of living as a student surrounded by great minds such as Henry Hazlitt and Bettina Greaves, and how it felt to be a Japanese student in the post-WW2 period in New York. Although he had been hand-picked by Mises for a fellowship, some American students back then apparently argued openly against him being granted funds from an “American scholarship” since he was a “Japanese national.”

MI:Although free-market beliefs are not widespread, there does appear to be at least some interest, as we’ve seen new translations coming out of there in recent years.

MA:The Internet revolution and all the new social media, Facebook, YouTube, and Wikipedia, along with the Japanese counterparts, Mixi and 2channel, have allowed for completely new and fresh discussions to be nourished and grow, even if they are anonymous most of the time. As a result of Murata and the Internet, young people in Japan are discovering the work of the Austrian School, largely through the expansive Mises Institute website. Also, thanks in large part to Amazon, an increasing number of Japanese translations are being made available, among them books by Hoppe, Rothbard, Mises, Rockwell, and others.

Marc Abela is the organizer of the Mises Meetings in Japan See Marc Abela's article archives.

You can subscribe to future articles by Marc Abela via this RSS feed.

© 2013 Copyright Ludwig von Mises - All Rights Reserved Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.

© 2005-2019 - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.

Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

6 Critical Money Making Rules