In his article, Crawford summarises that many papers dealing with the Japanese economic miracle are highly formulaic, in which historians pick out an aspect of management style or industrial policies are the main factors to Japan’s economic success, and then shape an overreaching argument about it. Crawford debates that authors tend to put too much focus on management innovations while disregarding the important context of trade and industrial polices.
Crawford views that the late 1980’s revisionists, give an effective alternate view to the economic miracle. The revisionist historians argued that economic transformation was due to controversial trade policies and powerful industrial cartels that disregarded the impact and well-being of Japan’s citizens. Although Crawford states that these historians have made valid points notably, the role the Japanese government played in the economic development, he believes that this revisionist all had largely biased negative views on Japan. Crawford argues that as well as governmental involvements, large companies and well-educated workforces also factored into the economic equation.
Crawford puts emphasis on the Keiretsu (Large business groups that connected banks, trading companies and industrialist through stock and established exclusive relationships and is considered as a revamped Zaibatsus) as a contributor to Japanese success because after the war these businesses gained economic success and connections, allowing them to weaken both domestic and foreign opponents. This Keiretsu created an environment of extreme economic competition bolstering industries that focused on international markets with many Kaisha (Japanese companies) going to great lengths to keep up with competitors i.e. both copying and innovation production techniques. Crawford continues to state the importance the government played into the success of the Keiretsu, since they acted as business adjunct giving the Kerietsu advantages such as cheap credits, administrative guidance and tax breaks. Crawford criticises that although the Keriatsu grew rapidly, it came at a price of leaving their employees and the rest of society in low-standards of living.
Crawford also accredits historical factors for Japan’s thriving economy. Since Japan economy was small, it avoid undue international attention, furthermore the rate of growth of Japan was adequate enough to placate appease and abused workforce and their attention to high value sectors in an international market that focuses on volume production.
The article then goes onto the reasons why the 1980’s Japanese recession occurred, blaming traditional Japanese business i.e. Permeant bureaucracy and lifetime employees practices, which once led to the economic miracle, as the factors that need reforming if Japan wishes to continue as a leading market. Crawford ends his reinterpretation of the Japanese miracle stating that it is not Japanese virtues of diligence, thrift, harmony that cause the economic miracle, which many of the first historians were led to believe but rather comes from constricting and stifling, unfavourable business practices that in a modern economy, needs to be reformed.