'Deficient in Commercial Morality'?: Japan in Global Debates by Janet Hunter

By Janet Hunter

This enlightening textual content analyses the origins of Western proceedings, conventional within the past due 19th century, that Japan was once characterized on the time via enormously low criteria of 'commercial morality', regardless of a big political and monetary transformation. As Britain industrialised in the course of the 19th century the problem of 'commercial morality' used to be more and more debated. matters approximately criteria of commercial ethics prolonged to different industrialising economies, comparable to the U.S.. Hunter examines the japanese reaction to the fees levelled opposed to Japan during this context, arguing that this used to be formed by way of a realistic acceptance that Japan had little selection yet to evolve itself to Western expectancies if it was once to set up its place within the international economic system. the talk and criticisms, that have been a minimum of partly inspired via worry of eastern festival, are vital within the heritage of considering on enterprise ethics, and are of relevance for brand new industrialising economies as they try to determine themselves in overseas markets.

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Extra info for 'Deficient in Commercial Morality'?: Japan in Global Debates on Business Ethics in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries (Palgrave Studies in Economic History)

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The Economist appears to have been particularly assiduous. 82 The journal remained sceptical of business probity in Latin America well into the twentieth century, claiming that the authorities themselves set an unfortunate example by repudiating contracts whenever it suited them to do so. 83 As late as 1926, the journal was reporting a speech on foreign investment by the Chairman of the British, Foreign and Colonial Company, in which he called for investigation not just of economic conditions in host countries, but of broader social and political conditions: The study must also extend to the scrutiny of the commercial morality of the different peoples in the far-removed corners of the world.

He listed the complaints that were made by local merchants and in consular reports, which made up the usual litany of unpaid debts, unsatisfied claims, unfulfilled contracts, and nullifying of court judgements by local boycotts. However, he also emphasised the need to be cautious about the complaints, since they normally came from those with a vested interest in discouraging direct trade as they dealt through Japanese middlemen. Nevertheless, he made no attempt to deny the validity of the criticisms.

78 However, there is little evidence that most Western commentators were willing to accept the legitimacy of having different moral standards for commercial behaviour in different jurisdictions and different parts of the world. Instead they invariably subscribed to the concept of commercial morality as a set of accepted norms, norms that had grown out of, and been shaped by, the Christian tradition of Western Europe and North America and beliefs about the operation of the market and the benefits of free trade dating back to the early decades of industrialisation.

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