Establishment of the Dore collection
Jiro Yamaguchi, Director of the Advanced Institute for Law and Politics, Hokkaido University
1. Background to the collection’s establishment
The Hokkaido University Library houses Japan studies books collected by Professor Ronald Dore (one of the leading foreign researchers in the field) that form the Dore collection, which is freely open to domestic and overseas researchers in Japan studies. Born in 1925, Professor Dore is a highly motivated individual who continues to write prolifically (as detailed later). In this sense, he is still active as a researcher, but, from what I heard, he decided to contribute a large volume of books used in his research on Japan to a university library as a collection on the occasion of his settling in Italy. His intention to find a university library to accept the donation was conveyed to Hokkaido University through Professor Alan Macfarlane of Cambridge University (a friend of Hokkaido University Vice-President Kenichi Nakamura), and the Dore collection was established.
Professor Dore’s collection was purchased as a research resource for a grant-in-aid creative scientific research project (funded by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology) called Comparative Research Concerning Changes of Governance in the Age of Globalization, which I organize as a project leader. This initiative is intended to clarify changes in democratic governing systems, relationships between the central government and local governments in a nation-state, and economic/social policies in progressing globalization, aiming to present new strategies for globalization based on the perspectives of civilized societies. Recent books by Professor Dore have conformed to our research objectives.
2. Dore’s Japan studies
It goes without saying that Professor Dore has carried out major verification research on Japanese economic society as well as proposing unique views on the role of Japanese politics. Many people may think Japan studies overseas tend to excessively glamorize and model the Japanese political and economic systems, as some American researchers in the field did during Japan’s economic bubble. This line of discussion instantly fades away with changes in time. On the other hand, when the Japanese economy stagnates and society falls into disarray, discussions critical of Japan point out its delay and distortion in dealing with such conditions, and those who insist on accepting global standards become prominent. The fluctuation seen in discussions of Japan is related to the scale of Japan studies, where a fair amount of data has not yet been accumulated.
From this point of view, Professor Dore’s research is outstanding in its consistency and broad perspective. He has sharply analyzed a range of fields in modern Japanese society, including management and labor relations in Japanese companies, education, rural society, politics and administration. The research was supported by his attachment to the object of study as well as his stance on keeping a distance from the object; avoiding preoccupation and glamorization is a basic rule for researchers, but is not easy to achieve. He adeptly discovers the advantages of the political and economic systems in Japan – a country that has achieved modernization and realized an affluent economy and social stability more quickly than other non-western countries. He also constantly pays attention to what Japan does not have and to what the majority of Japanese society has lost. In addition, his discussions are based on a technique designed to characterize the Japanese-style system through constant comparison with political/economic systems in the United States and European countries. These well-balanced evaluations form the basis of his Japan studies.
3. Recent developments
With new situations including the collapse of the Cold War structure and the development of economic globalization, Professor Dore is working on an initiative to re-evaluate Japan’s unique economic system and security policy and to develop a new model that corresponds to globalization on behalf of the Japanese, who have lost their self-confidence. This is why I described his work as conforming to our grant-in-aid creative scientific research project.
First, regarding the economic system, his recent publication Stock Market Capitalism: Welfare Capitalism discusses the possibility of a return to Japanese-style capitalism as a competing model against the market-centered economics of the United States. To support the discussion, Professor Dore conducted new research on the Japanese-style management system (or corporate governance as it is known today – a long-standing theme of his work), as well as labor relations and the relationships between companies. He also compares global standards and mega-competition (in a rhetorical sense) with the ability of the conventional structure to survive in the real Japanese economy. Additionally, he contrasts the economic systems of Japan and Germany with Anglo-Saxon capitalism, and advocates the rediscovery and reform of the Japanese-style model to be established in contrast to the American model, which represents an economy where a tiny percentage of winners dominate wealth, and the gap between winners and losers widens, thus destabilizing society.
In terms of foreign policy, he proposes the redefinition of Article 9 and new roles for Japan in international society in Koushiyo to ieru Nippon (Japan as a country to speak out, published by the Asahi Shimbun Company) and through articles in newspapers and magazines. On the one hand, he insists that changes in the way of protecting the current constitution are pacifism based on isolationism from the Cold War period, but at the same time suggests that Japan should become a country that can play a significant role in the international community to provide what the rest of the world is really looking for, rather than following an American unipolar global strategy. His argument is different from the idealism proposed by traditional constitutional protectionism, and can be described as an updated version of idealism based on reality. Professor Dore’s proposals are more poignant when we observe the independent actions of the United States after the events of 9/11 and our country’s policy, which is trying to follow such independent action.
Our grant-in-aid creative scientific research is also aimed at studying political/administrative systems in Japan and Western European countries from the angle of how to secure social solidarity against the development of globalization in which the market mechanism is the only principle of societal construction, and how areas that cannot be sated by market forces (e.g., the environment, communities, personal fulfillment, etc.) should be dealt with. In this regard, we aim to develop a new paradigm with social governance for domestic politics and multilateralism for international society as keywords. Professor Dore’s recent discussions bring a number of important insights for our project, and the establishment of the Dore collection will work to tighten the connection between his and our research projects.
4. Striving to become a new base for research
The Dore collection is an important asset not only for Hokkaido University but also for researchers in Japan studies worldwide. For those with study objectives in the social science field of contemporary Japan, the collection will provide a wealth of important materials. In particular, Hokkaido University is expected to become a base for international scholars in Japan studies when they visit the country for research purposes. The establishment of the Dore collection is a significant step that will help Hokkaido University to develop into a core center for global intellectual exchange.
(Yuin Vol. 117, February 2004)