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Japan: Cybercapitalism and the threat of catastrophe

Eisuke Sakikabara, alias Mr Yen, retired last month as Japan's vice finance minister for international affairs. A forthright bureaucrat who kept the market on its toes with his timely comments, his career path was not typical of MoF officials and included a period in academia. A fluent English-speaker, he talked to Steven Irvine shortly after he stepped down. The only thing he wouldn't discuss was the way the yen was heading - something of a paradox given that the currency was formerly his favourite subject.

the centre is moving
from New York to
cyberspace; expect

You have always advocated a Japanese style of capitalism. Have your views been modified as a result of Japan's recent slow growth?

What has happened during the last five to 10 years is a telecommunications and information revolution. I call this new type of capitalism, cybercapitalism. It is driven by new information technology, and is a new sort of capitalism of the late 1990s and 21st century. Obviously Japan has to adapt to that. Sure, Japan should retain what is good about the Japanese model - take, for example, the stability of employment among blue-collar workers. But for those in the information technology sector you need to have more mobility in the labour market. This means that such countries as Japan, France and Germany - which used to have a different kind of capitalism from the Anglo-Saxon variety - are adapting. I have not changed my view that each country has a different style of capitalism, but you obviously have to adapt to change.

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