1. “Industrialise the cities by impoverishing the countryside. That is how Japan achieved its industrial
revolution.” Critically discuss this statement (remember, you do not need necessarily to agree with
A new one for 2016, make sure to correctly identify the period or periods of Japanese history to which
the question must be alluding.
2. “In explaining the rise and transformation of the Japanese economy, our focus so often is on Meiji and on the
Post-War Period. But to truly understand Japanese economic development, we should not neglect Taisho and
Pre-War Showa.” Critically discuss this statement (remember, you do not need necessarily to agree with it).
Another new one for 2016. One thing to consider, a quick Google Scholar search indicates a high
proportion, even preponderance of books over journal articles. This may be a manifestation of a
tendency to neglect the period, which is exactly what makes the question interesting. But if you find
this also in your searches, make sure you can get access to at least some of those books in plenty of
time, and if not, intensify your search for relevant articles (they are there, we have checked).
3. “The Heisei Recession started in 1992, but in terms of inflation, the growth rate and other key variables, Japan’s
real economic problems began in 1997.” Critically discuss this statement (remember, you do not have to agree
with it).
A new one from 2014, and the answers we’ve seen in past years were good but have yet to fully
exploit its potential. So let’s run it again now in 2016, and remember, don’t just talk about prices and
the growth in output – note the reference to “other key variables” which you should also talk about.
Also note that the only reason these variables are interesting is because they tell us about the
health of the economy as a whole, and its prospects for recovery, so consider and discuss those
issues as well.
4. “Every major industrialised country has had one, or more than one, disastrous banking crisis, usually following
from a period of deregulation and adjustment to free market forces. The difference in Japan is that for far too
long the authorities did nothing about it, even though the crisis of the banks was a major contributor to the depth
of the Heisei Recession”. Critically discuss this statement (remember, you do not have to agree with it).
Another old one, and in previous years this question has often been a massacre, because people
didn’t read the question. Let’s turn that tale of woe around and get it right this time. If you think your
job is to explain the Heisei Recession you’re on the wrong track. The reference to the Heisei
Recession is to identify the particular crisis to which the question refers – we are interested here in
the crisis for Japanese banks of the 1990s, following the collapse of the Bubble Economy. The
question is topical because to this day, Japan has arguably never really emerged from the banking
crisis that followed the Bubble. Here a more than passing reference to the non-Japanese example
would be useful – the closest recent analogy is probably the Savings and Loan (S&L) crisis of in the
US in the 1980s (the current US and global banking disaster is arguably a species all of its own, but
you could use that as a comparator as well – just don’t get lost in the endless discussion that this
could generate). The general point is, all economies have these banking and finance crises from
time to time. The US suffered the S & L crisis of the 1980s, but the banks were rescued and (sort
of) reformed, and the economy moved on. Australia had its own banking crisis in the 1980s, with
huge bad debts and some quite large banks teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. But we got out of
it. Why did Japan’s banking crisis last so long, why does it seem too little was done about it? What
was done about it? Government and Central Bank inaction is an obvious culprit but as always you
don’t necessarily need to agree with the statement in quotes – “critically discuss” means you’re free
to disagree if you feel it is warranted, and can support your position. Now before you go any further,
make sure you know the topic here, note the key words, especially “banks”. This question has been
misinterpreted before, so think carefully about what the question is asking you before you start.
5. “Finally, with Abenomics, we see economist’s advice put into practice, in this case the policy assessment
and recommendations of Paul Krugman”. Critically discuss this statement (remember, you do not have to
agree with it).
Another new one for 2016, and by now a sizeable literature (which you’re free to and very often
should disagree with) has built up around the topic.