In his Sept. 18 article, “Japan’s harmonious drift,” Guy Sorman attributes the alleged low productivity of the Japanese service industry to the heavy regulation and protection of mom-and- pop shops, despite the fact that deregulation policies put into effect in the past two decades are what have forced mom-and-pop shops to the verge of extinction.
If he visits traditional shopping streets throughout Japan, he will be amazed at the dismal scenes of shuttered shops sitting idle side by side. They have been forced out of business by big supermarkets and shopping malls on the outskirts of cities.
Sorman also claims that the reforms of Junichiro Koizumi were opposed by bureaucrats and the public. Yet, it was well-reported the world over that Koizumi, as prime minister, enjoyed very high popularity. After promoting his pet projects of administrative reform, Koizumi resigned triumphantly.
Now we see big retail chains conducting endless, cutthroat price wars. This is not a boon for the consumers who earn less at the companies that are frantically cutting costs. Deregulation made the Japanese poorer. They earn less and buy less.
If the productivity of the Japanese service industry is as low as Sorman insists, how can the retail giant Uniqlo and Japanese convenience stores flourish in the world arena? Sorman should honestly face the grave facts.