Michael Zielenziger is managing editor of thought leadership for Oxford Economics a UK-based economic and research consultancy. For many years he was a foreign and national correspondent for Knight Ridder Newspapers.He is author of Shutting Out the Sun: How Japan Created its own Lost Generation, which he wrote while a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley. He was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize for his writing about China, and was based for many years in Tokyo.
Twelve years after Japan's economic bubble burst why is Japan still mired, unable to resolve its myriad financial difficulties? Why have Japanese leaders been unable to put into place the reforms that they- and most outside analysts - suggest would offer potent solutions? And, more fundamentally, why have the Japanese people been unable or unwilling to demand better? The answer, this project proposes, lies in a fundamental analysis of Japanese social psychology. It intends to explicate the linkages between Japan's unique and intricate mesh of cultural beliefs, social pressures and organizational strictures. to the nation's contemporary political and economic deadlock while analyzing a new strain of social maladies that have only begun to appear in Japan since the collapse of its economic bubble. Drawing explicit contrasts between Japan's unique social psychology and that of neighboring South Korea will also help explain the two nation's dramatically different responses to economic crisis.