JAPAN SOCIETY OF POLITICAL ECONOMY (JSPE)

The last 5 years have been a very fruitful period for the JSPE. We created the JSPE Prize for Younger Members in 2009 and have awarded 5 JSPE PYMs up to now. We started to publish collected papers in English regularly, the first volume of which was published in December 2012. We created a board of overseas academic advisers to play more active role in promoting Marxian and heterodox economics internationally. We committed actively in the discussion of the East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, and the nuclear disaster.

1. Outline of the JSPE and its aim

The JSPE was founded in 1959. Its purpose has been promotion of academic research on the basic theories together with concrete analyses in the area of political economy, by facilitating cooperation and communication among its members. The membership is about 900. Activities of the JSPE are steered by a board of representatives, who are elected by members’ vote in every third year. The present chief representative of the board is Tetsuji Kawamura (Hosei University).

The JSPE has worked to pursue its purpose mainly in three forms of activities.

Firstly, it holds an annual conference once a year. Usually the conference consists of two plenary sessions one in Japanese and one in English, parallel sessions, a members’ general meeting, and a social party. It serves as a great opportunity for members to meet and communicate with each other on a national scale. In addition to the annual conference, meetings are also held based on the local organizations.

Secondly, the JSPE has published The Political Economy Quarterly since 2004, following The Bulletin of the Japan Society of Political Economy which was published annually from 1961 to 2003. The Political Economy Quarterly includes several reviewed papers which are submitted by members and selected by the editorial board after referees’ judgment, and a few invited papers. The papers are mainly in Japanese with English summary. The editorial board is organized by the board of representatives and appoints suitable referees from members of the JSPE. Every year the first issue of The Political Economy Quarterly contains the papers and a summary of discussions in the plenary sessions of the annual conference.

Thirdly, the JSPE promotes international academic cooperation with political economists all over the world. Beginning in October 2001, the JSPE began inviting a distinguished non-Japanese guest for the annual conference to deliver a keynote presentation and engage in debates. Since then we have invited 11 distinguished scholars, including Robert BOYER (CEPREMAP), Gary DYMSKI (University of California Riverside), Ronald DORE (London School of Economics), Enfu CHENG (Chinese Academy of Social Sciences), Gerard DUMENIL (CNRS), Saskia SASSEN (Columbia University), Costas LAPAVITSAS (SOAS, University of London), James HEINTZ (PERI, University of Massachusetts), Alain LIPIETZ (CNRS), Robert POLLIN (PERI, University of Massachusetts), and Robert ROWTHORN (Cambridge University). We have also organized about 40 parallel sessions in English. We introduced a special category of member, Overseas Academic Advisor in 2011 to play a more active role in promoting political economy and heterodox economics internationally. We invited the above mentioned 11 distinguished economists and Andrew BARSHAY (University of California Berkeley), all of whom have accepted our invitation. We plan to publish a volume of collected papers in English regularly. The first English publication of collected papers from the annual meetings was published by Routledge in 2012. We are now preparing the second volume.

Our main research concerns consist in basic theories and analyses of capitalist economies with their historical contradictory characters. Historical development and functions of socio-economic institutions, systems and structures including the roles of States to form capitalist economies in our age, as well as various models and experiments of socialist economies which intend to overcome the historical limitations of capitalism are common research concerns among members of the JSPE. Such research concerns are largely based on inquiry into the economic law of motion of capitalist economy by Karl MARX, and linked with the growth of Marxian and other political economy in the world. Keynesian and post-Keynesian economics among others also form important aspects of our research concerns in cooperation with reviving political economy in the world. The historical meaning of the recent economic situations with changes in economic policies, and increasing problems in the economic life of working people in the world and in Japan are necessarily central to our research interest.

2. The JSPE English Publication

The first volume of the JSPE collected papers, Crises of Global Economies and the Future of Capitalism: Reviving Marxian Crisis Theory was edited by Kiichiro YAGI, Nobuharu YOKOKAWA (Musashi University), Shinjiro HAGIWARA (Yokohama National University), and Gary DYMSKI was published by Routledge in December 2012. This book represents an encounter between Japanese and non-Japanese scholars, on the common problem of how to understand the current economic situation. The contributors represented here have all participated in the JSPE annual meeting.

The first part of the book considers the mechanisms of the crisis of 2008 and their consequences. Six papers discuss that understanding of Marx’s crisis theory can powerfully serve as a useful framework in the analysis of such a contemporary sub-prime world crisis. Financialization is the common concept of the six papers.

Makoto ITOH (University of Tokyo, Chapter 1) discusses that understanding of MARX’s monetary and crisis theory in the Japanese Uno-school can powerfully serve as a framework in the analysis of the contemporary sub-prime world crisis. He focuses on financial exploitation of workers, which he calls the financialization of labor-power, as a basic cause of the sub-prime crisis. The US sub-prime crisis spread to the world since the global financial market was mobilized to pour idle money into the US’s speculative housing loans. He argues that the Japanese economy was deeply shaken by the subprime loan crisis, since the Japanese economic recovery in 2002-07 mostly depended on the increase in exports, which was strongly damaged by the crisis. The great earthquake, the resultant giant tsunami, and nuclear disaster deepened the structural crises in the Japanese economy. He analyzes them in view of fundamental problems in a capitalist market economy together with their contemporary features.

Tetsuji KAWAMURA (Hosei University, Chapter 2) argues that the postwar corporate structure of the United States revealed its own limits in the late 1960s and that its restructuring and transformation created a new nexus of capital accumulation system. The emergence of this nexus represents an integrated consequence of the globalization of American corporate activity, finance and information and of the neo-liberal transformation of government functions touched off by Reaganomics. He examines American economic cycles in terms of the emergence of this new nexus of a capital accumulation system. He examines the collapse of the institutionally flawed mechanisms that linked the U.S. and global financial systems, and argues that the financial engineering that created securitization gave way to casinoization and has revealed the transitional nature of the current U.S.-centered global regime.

Costas LAPAVITSAS (Chapter 3) focuses on some of the structural dimensions of financialization as key causes of the crisis of 2007-09. He points out three main features of financialization. First, less reliance of large corporations on banks; second, banks shifting their activities toward mediating in open markets and transacting with individuals; third, increasing implication of individuals in the operations of finance. He argues that financialization represents a transformation of capitalist production and finance which is systemic, and that these structural factors ultimately account for the crisis of 2007-9.

Masayoshi TATEBE (Chuo University, Chapter 4) defines surplus capital as money capital not used for productive investment because of the low expected profit rate and wonder about the financial market pursuing financial gain. He argues that surplus capital has been generated since the 1990s and developed to “casino typed financial capital”, which has controlled the destiny of the real economy and led to a crisis.

Shinjiro HAGIWARA (Chapter 5) argues that Keynesian economic policies in the postwar period contained financial crises and stabilized the capitalist economy. He points out following the breakdown of the Keynesian regime the political and economic power of “the great financiers and stock market jobbers” is increasing. He argues Marxian approaches to financial crisis can explain the increasing crises experienced as the neoliberal period dawned, since these conditions are similar to those discussed in MARX’s Capital.

Akira MATSUMOTO (Ritsumeikan University, Chapter 6) investigates why the 2008 crisis looked like a classical economic crisis under the gold standard system with rapid contractions of their economies, falling prices, increasing unemployment, decreasing production, and a slowdown of consumption, although the managed currency system had been adopted. He argues the excessive money capital, born from deficits in the U.S. balance of payments, became a condition for credit creation, producing bubble economy. Price hikes over products’ parity values in a bubble economy are adjusted forcibly during the financial-market collapse, leading to the bankruptcy of many financial institutions.

The second part of the book considers regimes of capitalism. Five papers investigate the historical development of capitalism to define neoliberalism as a specific phase of capitalism. They share the concept of structural crisis which destroys the existing capital accumulation regime and gives rise to a new regime.

Nobuharu YOKOKAWA (Chapter 7) attempts to build a new framework for the political economy of capitalism which consists of the basic theory of capitalism, the intermediate theory of specific types of capitalist world systems, and empirical analysis, integrating Kozo Uno’s three-level analysis of capitalism, Keynesian economics and historical and institutional economics. He introduces a dynamic theory of comparative advantage in order to analyse the historical development of leading industry and the evolution of a capitalist world system. He distinguishes a cyclical crisis that reinforces the self-regulating character of capital accumulation in the established stage of a capitalist world system, a structural crisis that changes leading industries and the capital accumulation regime, and a systemic crisis that changes the hegemony of the capitalist world system. He investigates the postwar capitalist world system and concludes the 2008 crisis is a systemic crisis.

Robert BOYER’s analysis (Chapter 8) uses the methodology and concepts of régulation theory in order to characterize the crisis opened in 2008 as systemic (the failure of a financial organization), structural (the end of the complementarity between the five institutional forms at the origin of the American finance-led accumulation regime), and global (the consequence of large and long lasting external trade and capital flow imbalances). He emphasizes the unprecedented consumer credit-led accumulation regime in the unfolding dynamics. Within this regime, the true extent of financial risk has been more and more masked; so the breakdown of this system has led to the freezing of credit, not the restoration of normal cyclical behavior. Consequently the global system has been thrown into a major structural crisis whose outcome is radically uncertain.

Toshio YAMADA (Nagoya University, Chapter 9) explains the crisis in the context of the Régulation approach; the 2008 crisis is ‘a structural crisis of the finance-led growth regime’. He argues that to situate properly the 2008 crisis in the historical context, we have to investigate the history of capitalist economy in the last two hundred years by using several concepts of the régulation theory: growth regime, régulation mode, and especially structural crisis. He argues that structural crises are not at all exceptional for capitalism, and that capitalism has transformed itself through those great structural crises, giving rise to new configurations in time and space.

Gérard Duménil and Dominique Lévy (Chapter 10) address the overall periodization of capitalism, in which neoliberalism defines a specific phase. They argue that the roots of the crisis must be sought in the features of the new phase of capitalism that arose in the early 1980s, that is, neoliberal globalization. The disequilibria of the U.S. economy and the unwieldy financial-global structure of the neoliberal years ultimately have led to a crisis that will end in the decline of U.S. hegemony. In the discussion of scenarios for the future, they pay particular attention to emerging countries, especally China.

Thomas SEKINE (formerly York University, Chapter 11), building on ideas exposited by Kozo UNO, argues that the global capitalist system has been shifting systematically away from purely capitalist principles since the early 20th century to a post-capitalist economic order. He argues that although Uno was not in a position to spell out the nature of this transitional phase, he quite clearly indicated that a “managed currency system” marked a departure from the regime of capitalism. SEKINE rehabilitates this Uno’s insight, tracing the main features of the post-1914 evolution of the world economy. He concludes that to pump fiat money into circulation to overcome a deflationary spiral and debt deflation after the 2008 crisis, may well be the first decisive step in transition towards “another historical society”.

The third part of the book considers global reconfiguration of capitalism. Five papers emphasize that global imbalance such as macroeconomic imbalance and power imbalance have changed both international and domestic economic structure. They pay special attention to the labor exploitation and the impact of East Asian industrialization on the world economy.

Gary DYMSKI (Chapter 12) shows how Kalecki and Minsky present complementary ideas about the twin problems of labor extraction and financial fragility that have arisen and worsened as the neoliberal era has lengthened. He shows that their ideas about how US business cycles have evolved are accurate for the postwar period up until the 1980s. He argues that beyond that, their ideas about macroeconomic dynamics, which implicitly focus on a national economy perspective, must be adjusted to take into account the impact of two sustained global imbalances: a global macroeconomic imbalance, and global power imbalance. This global imbalance was the root cause of the change in the character and timing of US cyclical fluctuations. When confidence in the “safe harbour” character of US financial and asset markets was shaken by the 2008 crisis, a new period of US macroeconomic stagnation started.

Kang-Kook LEE (Ritsumeikan University, Chapter 13) investigates the role of global imbalances in the buildup to the crisis, and the transformation of these imbalances after the crisis. He investigates neoliberalism in both the US and East Asia as an underlying cause that worsened global imbalances. He emphasizes the importance of concerted efforts in the US and East Asia to bring about a rebalancing of the global economy, and to change the growth strategy in East Asia as well as in the US.

Hitoshi HIRAKAWA (Nagoya University, Chapter 14) examines the shifting role of the East Asian industrialization and its impact on the world economy. He distinguishes three stages of economic development. Traditionally the laborers of developing regions move to advanced regions in search of employment. In the second stage firms move to developing regions in search of low-cost labor and export produced goods to advanced countries. In the third stage firms move toward developing regions in search of markets such as BRICs, which he named “potentially bigger market economies”.

James HEINTZ (Chapter 15) examines how processes of financialization and globalization in capitalist economies affect the structure of employment, using Japan and the U.S. as specific examples. A central thesis of the paper is that common factors emerging during the neoliberal era of globalization have affected labour demand and labour supply and the structure of employment in a range of countries. There are numerous outcomes of these interactions, including higher levels of open unemployment, growth of informal employment, downward pressure on the returns to labour, and a redistribution of risk from capital to labour; but specific employment outcomes are dependent on domestic institutions and structural realities.

Aki ANEHA (Komazawa University, Chapter 16) examines the root of the sub-prime problem from the perspective of household budget and consumer spending. She shows the habit of spending beyond one’s means is due more to stagnant wages, employment instability, and inadequate social support under neoliberalism, rather than to extravagance. She argues that the root of the sub-prime problem lies in overproduction and that consumption-boosting measures based on expanding credit were indispensable in increasing demand and deferring crisis and depression. She emphasizes that the US dollar seigniorage has permitted to defer depression and overcome limitations such as falling real wages.

These essays do not reach one conclusion, but instead provide different angles of vision regarding the global crisis. As such, this volume provides a unique immersion in different approaches to political economy and to the crisis. We hope this book contributes to the resurgence of radical analyses of the political economy, free from the market optimism of main-stream economics.

3. Reports on Annual Conferences of the JSPE from 2008 to 2012

The 56th annual conference of the JSPE was held at Kyushu University on 25-26 October 2008. There were two plenary sessions one in Japanese and one in English. The title of the plenary session in Japanese was “Sub-prime Shock and the Future of Global Capitalism.” Updated papers by Tetsuji KAWAMURA, Masayoshi TATEBE and Aki ANEHA are included in the above mentioned JSPE book Chapter 2, Chapter 4, and Chapter 16 respectively. The title of the plenary session in English was “The Sub-prime Crisis in Historical Perspective: A Regulationist Approach”. Robert BOYER’s updated paper is included in the above JSPE volume Chapter 8. There were 18 parallel sessions (1 in English) with 55 papers. The topics of parallel sessions include: “Contemporary Possibility of MARX’s Capital”, “Post Keynesian Structural Macroeconomics”, “Technology and Information”, “Economic Growth and Economic Systems”, “International Economy and International Division of Labour”, “Mathematical Marxian Economics”, “Wages and Inequality”, “Labour and Welfare in Contemporary European Countries”, “Theoretical and Empirical Analyses of Business Cycle”, “Sub-prime Shock and the Future of Global Capitalism”, “Problems of Shareholder Capitalism”, “ Gender” , and “Asian Economy”.

The 57th annual conference of the JSPE was held at the University of Tokyo on 22-23 November 2009. The JSPE had celebrated its 50th anniversary on 21 November at Hosei University. The Society organized a round table on “Agenda of Political Economy in the Era of Transformation” with Kazuo SHIBAGAKI (University of Tokyo), Koji MORIOKA (Kansai University), Yoshihiko MOTOYAMA (Kyoto University), Tateshi MORI (Teikyo University), Yoshiko KUBA (Tokyo Gakugei University), and Kiichiro YAGI. The title of the plenary session in Japanese was “The World Crisis of 2008 and the Future of Capitalism”. Updated papers by Makoto ITOH and Akira MATSUMOTO are included in the JSPE volume Chapter 1 and Chapter 6 respectively. Tadao KAWAKAMI (Hosei University) argued on “Crisis that comes only once in a hundred years as a catastrophe”. The title of the plenary session in English was “Financialization: What it is and how to analysite”. Costas Lapavitsas’s updated paper is included in the JSPE volume Chapter 3. There were 27 parallel sessions (2 in English) with 76 papers. The topics of parallel sessions include: “Gender and Family”, “Theory of Economic Crisis”, “Mathematical Marxian Economics”, “Theory of Reproduction and Business Cycle”, “History of Economic Theory”, “Institutional Approach”, “World Economy”, “Diversity Approach”, “Gender and Labour”, “Theory of Commodity Circulation”, “Regulationist Analysis of Contemporary Japanese Capitalism”, “Theory of Labour”, “On Marx’s Capital”, “Theory of Value”, “Theory of Reproduction and Employment”, “Japanese Economy”, “Labour and Welfare”, “Credit Uncertainty”, and “East Asian Economy”.

The 58th annual conference of the JSPE was held at Kansai University, Osaka on 23-24 October 2009. The title of the plenary session in Japanese was “The Transformation of the Social Economic System and the Challenges of Political Economy: Can Japan Change?” Seiichi NAGASHIMA (Tokyo Keizai University) argued on “The contradictions of the global accumulation of capital and the ecological socialism”. Michiaki OBATA (University of Tokyo) argued on “Fundamental problems in Marxist economic theory under the rise of the emerging capitalism”. Masashi MORIOKA (Ritsumeikan University) argued on “Past and future of socialism: science, struggle and norm”. The title of the plenary session in English was “The Structure of Employment, Globalization, and Economic Crises: Rethinking Employment Policy for the Current Era”. James HEINTZ’s updated paper is included in the JSPE volume Chapter 15. There were 20 parallel sessions (2 in English) with 50 papers. The topics of parallel sessions include: “The Transformation of the Social Economic System”, “Crisis and Cycle”, “Financial System and American Economy, “Theory of Value and Price”, “Gender”, “Growth and Crisis”, “Corporate Governance”, “Socialism”, “Mathematical Marxian economy”, “Political Economy of Environment”, “Financial Policy”, “Labour Process”, and “Employment and Labour”.

The 59th annual conference of the JSPE was held at Rikkyo University, Tokyo on 17-18 September 2011. The title of the first plenary session in Japanese was “The Great East Japan Earthquake and the Nuclear Disaster”. Yasuo GOTO (Fukushima University), Koji MORIOKA and Kiichiro YAGI organized the session. The title of the second plenary session in Japanese was “The Global Economic Crisis and State: Alternative Approaches for Monetary and Fiscal Policies.” Tokutaro SHIBATA (University of Tokyo) argued on “Dollar liquidity crisis and future of a key currency system”. Koetsu AIZAWA (Saitama University) argued on “Formation and collapse of successive financial bubbles in the globalization era”. Takehiko IKEGAMI (Rikkyo University) argued on “Public finance in economic, social and political crises”. The title of the plenary session in English was “Fears and Hope: the Crisis of the Liberal-Productive Model and its Green Alternative”. Alain LIPIETZ argued on “The crisis of the liberal-productivist model and its green alternative”. There were 21 parallel sessions (4 in English) with 59 papers. The topics of parallel sessions include: “The Great East Japan Earthquake and the Nuclear Disaster”, “Marx’s Capital”, “Finance and Security”, “Asian Economy”, “Socialism and Labour”, “Accumulation of Capital and Income”, “Credit Theory and Financial Instability”, “Global Crisis and Future of Capitalism”, “Global Crisis and Developing Economies”, “Growth and Distribution”, “Service”, “Mathematical Marxian Economy”, “Postwar World and Japanese Capitalism”, “Gender”, and “Political Economy of Environment”.

The 60th annual conference of the JSPE was held on 6-7 October 2012 at Ehime University, Matsuyama. The title of the plenary session in Japanese was “The Great East Japan Earthquake and the Nuclear Disaster, and a Research Agenda for Political Economy”. Kenichi MIYAMOTO (Osaka City University) argued on “The theory of disaster: lessons from the Great East Japan Earthquake”. Fumikazu YOSHIDA (Hokkaido University) argued on “The political economy of the Fukushima nuclear disaster”. Yasuo GOTO argued on “The global occupy movement of 2011: a new beginning of the great transition stage from capitalism to communism in the age of the internet”. The title of the plenary session in English was “Building a green new deal”. Bob POLLIN delivered a lecture titled “Building the green new deal: The U.S.case” by video. There were 22 parallel sessions (3 in English) with 61 papers. The topics of parallel sessions include: “The Great East Japan Earthquake and the Nuclear Disaster”, “Labour and Exploitation”, “Mathematical Marxian Economy”, “Money and Finance”, “Asian Economies in Transition”, “Gender”, “The Global Economic Crisis”, “Commodity, Reproduction and Crisis”, “Labour and Capitalism”, “MEGA”, “Financial Crisis”, “Money and Finance”, and “Globalization and Inequality”.

4. The JSPE Prize for Younger Members

The JSPE selection committee for the 2010 JSPE prize for younger members reviewed 21 nominees and chose Naoki YOSHIHARA (Hitotsubashi University) for the first JSPE PYM: Naoki YOSHIHARA (2008) Roudou Sakushu no Kousei Riron Josetsu (Introduction to Welfare Theory of Labour Exploitation), Tokyo, Iwanami.

The JSPE selection committee for 2011 reviewed 20 nominees and chose YAN Chengnan (Fukushima University) and Masashi SHIMIZU (Senshu University) for the JSPE PYM: YAN Chengnan (2011) Chugoku no Keizai Hatten to Seido Henka (Economic Development and Evolution of the System in China), Kyoto, Kyoto University Press; Masashi SHIMIZU (2009 - 2010) “Shohin Keizai no Busshin Suhaiteki Seikaku wo Megutte (On Fetishism of Commodity Economy)”, Tokyo, Economic Bulletin of Senshu University, 44-1, 44-2, and 44-3.

The JSPE selection committee for 2012 reviewed 20 nominees and chose Hiroaki SASAKI (Kyoto University) and Kiminori HAYASHI for the JSPE PYM: Hiroaki SASAKI (2012) “Cyclical growth in a Goodwin-Kalecki-Marx model”, Springer, Journal of Economics; Kiminori HAYASHI (2011) Gunji Kankyou Mondai no Seiji Keizai Gaku (Political Economy of Military Environment Problems), Tokyo, Nihon Keizai Hyoronsha.

5. The East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, and the Nuclear Disaster

The JSPE express our deep condolences to the victims of the Tohoku-Pacific Ocean Earthquake and the giant tsunami it triggered. We sympathize with those in the disaster area who are still in distress and appreciate the efforts of those engaged in the disaster response, relief, and recovery in that area. Further, we express our deep concern over the ongoing accident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Station, its spreading radioactive contamination, and the flaws in the present system of nuclear power plants that the accident has revealed.

We published a declaration on the Tohoku-Pacific Ocean Earthquake and the accident of Fukushima dai-ichi nuclear power station on April 16, 2011 on our website.

The JSPE organized a Fukushima Symposium with the Japan Association of Economic Geographers, the Japan Association for Regional Economic Studies and the Institute for Fundamental Political Economy on 24-25 March 2013 in Fukushima. The joint declaration reads:

We were unanimous in agreeing that social science has the duty to strive for the sustainability of local livelihoods and the natural environment, and to contribute to the formulation of recovery policies and an economic system that respects residents’ local autonomy and sovereignty over issues affecting their daily life and livelihood. . . Through our two days of discussion, we have recognized the following 3 points as urgent tasks in dealing with the earthquake and nuclear accident: 1) achieving a reconstruction policy based on local residents that safeguards local self-government and autonomy; 2) clarifying responsibility for the nuclear accident and the accompanying radiation, and providing prompt and fair compensation of victims, in particular sparing no expense to safeguard the health of children, on whom the future depends; 3) moving toward a regional policy and environmental/energy policy based on safety of life and livelihood, in particular moving rapidly away from sources of electric power that rely on highly dangerous atomic energy, and engaging with the task of reconstructing the basis of the regional economy that accompanies this shift. . .

(Nobuharu YOKOKAWA, Musashi University)

*This article is reprinted from Information Bulletin of The Union of National Economic Associations in Japan, No.33, 2013.