Simon is a University Lecturer in Finance at Cambridge Judge Business School and is Director of the University of Cambridge Master of Finance (MFin) degree. An economist and former equities head analyst at JPMorgan and Citigroup, he teaches on financial markets and institutions. He has done research on the financing of nuclear power and is now working on Chinese banks. Faculty page
Every country is unique but some are more unique than others. Japan, though quite obviously not located in the geographic western hemisphere, is part of “the west” as a group of rich democracies with advanced economies. Its inclusion is not because it has any historic link to the west, unlike other eastern hemisphere economic success stories like Australia or New Zealand, or even Hong Kong and Singapore. It is the only example of an advanced economy in Asia. Or, to emphasise political science rather than economics, it is the only example so far of true non-western modernity. Other Asian economies are catching up, such as South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and coastal China. But Japan has been in the western economic league for a century and a democracy (with some interruptions) for longer than more recent Asian converts.
But Japan, despite being the world’s third largest economy, is largely ignored in the western media. It plays a modest role in world affairs, though it is the largest giver of foreign aid. Its international cultural impact is now far less than that of South Korea. And when it is mentioned it is largely as a cautionary tale, a story of what could happen to the US or European economies if they fail to overcome the risk of stagnation.
But Japan looks to become quite interesting in the next year, for two reasons, both linked to the recent general election...