Pragmatic financialisation: the role of the Japanese Post Office

Gary Robinson

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The Japanese Post Office, one of the world’s largest financial institutions, was finally privatised in 2015, marking an appropriate time to examine financialisation in Japan. The literature on financialisation and changes in Japanese capitalism assumes convergence on Anglo-American capitalism with a diminishing of state power. The main argument of this paper is that financialisation is instead a more contingent process. This is put forth through an examination of how this process has been mediated by the Japanese state through the workings of the Japanese Post Office. The state has frequently shaped the direction of financialisation by intervening in the routing of household funds via the postal savings system in order to achieve its objectives in different circumstances, particularly evident in the protracted and contested nature of the post bank’s privatisation. Financialisation is thus not preordained; instead its path is hewn by crisis, catastrophe, demographics and the agency of domestic social actors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-75
JournalNew Political Economy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Japan
  • financialisation
  • post office
  • savings
  • banking
  • privatisation

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