May 23, 2011


Miwa, Yoshiro, & J. Mark Ramseyer, The Fable of the Keiretsu: Urban Legends of the Japanese Economy (Chicago & London: U. of Chicago Press, 2006).

Ramseyer, J. Mark, Odd Markets in Japanese History: Law and Economic Growth (New York, New York & Cambridge, England: Cambridge U. Press, 1996) ("In significant part, the history of law in imperial Japan is a history of the way courts enforced claims to scarce resources. More simply, it is a history of property rights. As one court (somewhat sanctimoniously) put it is 1918, 'the inviolability of the right to property is one of the fundamental principles of the Imperial Constitution.' Throughout the period, Japanese courts enforced private claims to property, and labor remained an asset controlled by the laborer himself or herself." Id. at 163. "There are some morals here about writing history: that markets matter in counterintuitive ways; that peasants and women sometimes act more selfishly and resourcefully than bourgeois scholars like to admit; that secondary sources can be wrong. There is a more basic moral too: that writing history without rational-choice theory carries large risks. Most scholars realize that one cannot understand the Tokyo Stock Exchange without that theory. But the importance of the theory goes deeper. Across a wide variety of institutions, across a wide realm of behavior, across a wide expanse of time, across a wide range of relationships--across all of this, people scheme, exchange, calculate, and thing. Rational-choice theory is about some of the things that happen when they do. Id. at 164.).

Ramseyer, J. Mark, Japanese Law: An Economic Approach (Chicago & London: U. of Chicago Press, 1998) ("In this book, we explain explain the basics of Japanese law in a way that we hope you--whether lawyer, law student, or legal scholar--will find clear, amusing, and maybe even annoying. If you read it through, we shall consider it a success. If you turn to the index to solve the legal problem you face, we shall think it a failure." "We offer no essence' of Japanese law in this book. . . We offer no essence, no core, no gist--because there is none. Law is not a coherent system that follows central organizing principles--not here, not in Japan, not even in those classic code countries like Germany and France. Anyone who claims otherwise is either wrong or lying. Law is an unruly, disjointed corpus. It reflects nothing more than the accumulated exigencies of lawmaking by legislatures, courts, and administrative agencies over time." "In Japan, the extant legal system reflects more than a century of lawmaking, During the earliest decades, Japan was an oligarchy. During the latest decades, it has bee a fully functioning democracy. During the decades between, it was sometimes a democracy, sometimes a police state, and sometimes an occupied colony. The law in place today reflects lawmaking during that entire period." Id. at xi-xii.).

Ramseyer, J. Mark, & Eric B. Rasmusen, Measuring Judicial Independence: The Political Economy of Judging in Japan (Chicago & London: U. of Chicago Press, 2003) (From the book jacket: "The Japanese Constitution, like many others, requires that all judges be 'independent in the exercise of their conscience and bound only by this Constitution and its laws.' Consistent with this requirement, Japanese courts have long enjoyed a reputation for vigilant independence--an idea challenged only occasionally and most often anecdotally. But in this book, J. Mark Ramseyer and Eric B. Rasmusen use the latest statistical techniques to examine whether that reputation always holds up to scrutiny--whether, and to what extent, the careers of lower court judges can be manipulated to political advantage." "On the basis of careful econometric analysis of career data for hundreds of judges, Ramseyer and Rasmusen find that Japanese politics do influence judicial careers, discreetly and indirectly: judges who decide politically charged cases in ways favored by the ruling party enjoy better careers after their decisions than might otherwise be expected, while dissenting judges are more likely t find their careers hampered by assignments to less desirable positions." In short, go along to get along.).

Ramseyer, J. Mark, & Frances M. Rosenbluth, The Politics of Oligarchy: Institutional Choice in Imperial Japan (New York, New York, & Cambridge, England: Cambridge U. Press, 1995) ("Neither bank consolidation nor Japan's foreign exchange policies were the result of a bureaucratic plan to achieve rapid economic development. Instead, the Kenseikai/Minseito engineered the bank consolidation policy of 1927 a part of an electoral strategy to cripple its rival Seiyukai by destroying the small bank community on which the Seiyukai relied. Even clearer is the partisan flip-flopping on Japan's foreign exchange regime. By selling anti-inflation policies, the Kenseikai/Minseito raised large campaign contributions with which they competed in elections." "Some scholars have lamented the fact that the major political parties were spending all their resources fighting each other when they had a common enemy that was far worse. While the parties were winning electoral battles against each other, they were losing the greater struggle for ultimate control against the military. As we argued in Chapter 4, however, stable collusion between parties was not for them an individually optimal strategy. Given the institutional framework they had inherited from the oligarchs, the parties behaved exactly as one would expect." Id. at 117. From the book jacket: "After reviewing scores of original documents and secondary literature, Ramseyer and Rosenbluth conclude that the oligarchs were much like the rest of the human race--prone to self-interest and contentiousness. By failing to cooperate, the oligarchs were unable to protect and enlarge political support outside the oligarchy, paradoxically they weakened themselves by enlarging the segment of the population that was sufficiently organized to lobby for political power. Ultimately, it was the oligarchys very inability to agree among themselves on how to rule that prompted them to release the military from civil control--a decision that was to have disastrous consequences for Japan and for the rest of the world.).