• Banking and Finance in Historical Perspective
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37. Jahrgang | Jahr 2011 | Heft 2


Aufsatz: Seite 120–136

Leslie Hannah
The Development of Japanese Banking in the 20th Century
Reflections in Western Mirrors
In the west, the history of Japanese finance is still often treated, following Gerschenkron, as a case of a bank-orientated rather than a stock exchange-orientated system. It is debateable whether this was true for most of the 20th century. The governance (by the state, shareholders, market and boards) of 20th century Japanese banks and the evolution of their banking policies had strong Anglo-Saxon components, despite being mainly based on continental European models. While the largest early banks were strongly state-influenced, they were, like the many private banks, governed by internally generated standards and quite market-orientated incentives (similar to German ‘Tantiemen’). Modern scholarship has developed analyses of the alleged post-war Japanese 'main bank' ('Hausbank') system which suggest Japanese 'keiretsu' exceptionalism as a source of economic success, but others suggest that bank governance and policy outcomes were the result of standard capitalist experimentation and variety in which shareholders and managers negotiated many different (but boundedly rational, market-driven, and not entirely perfect) solutions, very much as in the west.