To provide jobs in Japan the State embarks on extensive infrastructure projects around the country that employee many times the actual workers needed to do the job. The customer service in this country takes a page from the American 50s. Stores have to employ many times the amount of employee they need. They are not enforced by the government but by the Japanese assumption that its population wants customer service. Yet when an American style Costco opens up they flock to snap up the huge savings due to a reduced employee workforce.
In the countryside to keep the powerful rural vote happy the highly unprofitable agriculture industry is propped up by protective government markets. During the height of the bubble and to a large extent still today Japan’s stock market takes its cues from government policy, the government doesn’t legislate its control they merely speak and industry does what they tell them.
The highly unprofitable whaling industry that is supported by government policy and tax payer money catches whales in the name of research and then sells the meat to government schools. In a summer of 2010 survey 1/6 of public schools serve whale meat. This even though whale meat is largely regarded as toxic.
Japanese health care is totally regulated; everything from bandages to an EKG exam is controlled by the Ministry of Health who has a committee that every few years meet and decide what the price is to be for a doctor to shove his finger up your ass.
Even sport is not untouched by the Japanese government. Sumo, seen as a cornerstone of Japanese culture, is essentially a government ministry. The players are all government employees even though most of the highly ranked players are foreigners. Kotomitsuki Keiji was one of the last highly ranked Japanese players but was kicked out of the sumo association for gambling links.
When the tea party and the right wing speak of the dangers of socialism they only need look at Japan, yet they don’t because Japan is largely a success story. It is one of the largest economies in the world only recently beat by China, a neo-communist state, and America on which it is dependent for exports. It’s health care, one of the cheapest in the world due to total government control, and its population is one of the most healthy. I look at the waste of money spent on make work projects and lament that I have to pay 10x whats sane for a bag of rice because of state market control yet, would Japan truly be better off or would it falter like America is in what Chomsky and Chalmers Johnson call the Decline of the Empire?
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