For much of the past half-century, Japan's economic success has stimulated the interest of scholars from around the world. In the last decade, and particularly in the last two years, however, it is Japan's economic difficulties which have attracted the most attention. The very institutions whose efficacy was earlier praised are now often criticised as being the core of Japan's economic problems. This volume brings together the research of many of the world's leading specialists on the Japanese economy to assess how Japan's distinctive economic institutions have operated in the past and how their evolution in the face of changing domestic and international circumstance s will shape the prospects for the Japanese economy in the 21st century. Particular attention is paid to the evolution of Japan's financial system and the changing character of Japanese firm governance, and to the changing role that government and the legal system play in Japan's economy.The authors find among many other important conclusions that far-reaching regulatory reform will be needed so that a new rules-based system allowing greater scope for dispersed private initiative can emerge to restructure and regrow the Japanese economy.