David Flath (PhD. in economics, UCLA, 1976) is professor of economics, Ritsumeikan University (since 2013). Previous positions include Osaka University, Institute of Social and Economic Research (2009-2013), North Carolina State University, Department of Economics (1976-2008; since 2008, professor emeritus), and temporary positions over the years at various universities in Japan. Author of The Japanese Economy, 3rd ed. (2014), Oxford University Press, and of numerous articles in professional journals. The articles mostly apply microeconomics to the study of business and industry. Some broad themes include cross-shareholding, Japan’s main-bank system, the Japanese distribution system, vertical contracts, government regulation of industry and trade, and incentives for innovation in oligopolistic industries. A current project is to understand the pricing and profitability of the Japanese newspaper industry based on econometric analysis. The aim in all the research is to arrive at convincing explanations for what businesses actually do, Japanese businesses in particular.
The Japanese distribution system has figured prominently in many Japan-US trade disputes, yet its actual effects on Japan's imports still remain the subject of conjecture only. Factors inhibiting foreign direct investment in Japan might actually have raised the costs of marketing foreign products there more significantly than any peculiarities of the Japanese distribution system. The current proposal would develop and estimate econometric models of the effects on import penetration of Japan's recently growing stock of distribution-related inward foreign direct investment. Furthermore it would conduct economic analysis of vertical restraints imposed both by domestic and foreign suppliers in Japan. Finally, it would model foreign suppliers' choice of large stores as distribution outlets for their goods in Japan and measure the effects of relaxation, and now the repeal, of the Large Store Law on import penetration of Japan. The research will culminate in articles presented at conferences and published in academic journals.