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JFIT conducts, supports and connects research on contemporary Japanese business, innovation, economy, politics, society and health sciences. We invite interdisciplinary and multifaceted approaches, and aim to inform and educate on ongoing Japanese political economy and business policy. We strive to present original, timely, rigorous and policy-relevant research. The current core JFIT research themes can be categorized into four main areas.

Japan’s Business Reinvention and New Innovation Processes

Japan's business has been undergoing two decades of transformation and reinvention. This has largely gone unnoticed because Japan’s new economic strengths are more stealth, such as in leadership in deep-technology, advanced materials and components that anchor many Asian supply chains.

Ulrike Schaede has published a book, "Japan’s Business Reinvention," in June 2020, showing how Japan’s financial markets, private equity and M&A, corporate governance and employment systems, as well as corporate management practices are changing to enable Japan’s leading companies to operate at the technology frontier, including in areas such as digital manufacturing, mobility-as-a-service and system engineering solutions. Updates on her work can also be found at

Related papers and blog entries on this subject can be found here:

Project: Corporate Venture Capital and Open Innovation in Japan

“Open innovation” is Japan’s new business catchphrase. In cooperation with Professor Masato Sasaki from Hitotsubashi University, we are exploring global corporate venture capital (CVC) activities by large Japanese companies. We have built a unique database consisting of CVC investments by Japanese companies and found that 80% of global J-CVC is directed at Silicon Valley, but the returns of these investments remain spotty.

Artificial Intelligence, the Internet-of-Things and the Future of Work

Project: Artificial Intelligence, the Internet-of-Things and the Future of Work: A Comparative, Interdisciplinary Social Science Project for the U.S., Germany and Japan

JFIT is organizing a multi-year, interdisciplinary research between the Max-Planck Institut in Munich, Germany; the German Institute for Japan Studies, Tokyo, Japan; and UC San Diego. Please note our upcoming conference on this topic in April 2018.“

IOT”, “industry 4.0” and “artificial intelligence” (AI) are emerging as the leading themes to describe the emerging technological disruption of production processes, urban design, health sciences, robotics, consumer relations, work relations and many more areas of business and personal life. This project explores the “state of the art” of thinking about the ongoing technological disruption, innovation and national policy responses in different countries. We pursue a high degree of interdisciplinary exchange, and are open to many different lines of inquiry, including but not limited to:

  • What are the new complexities of the man-machine relationship, ongoing societal challenges, and new issues such as job replacement?
  • How are large companies responding to the disruption: what are new business models, corporate strategies, or operations management and human resource practices?
  • How should we think about new regulatory structures and global agreements, e.g. on privacy and cybersecurity, in the health sciences, or for robots and drones?
  • What are the legal, ethical and societal challenges associated with the fast pace of technological change?
  • What is the impact of these developments on innovation and entrepreneurship, including government policies and market responses, such as newly emerging corporate strategies and start-up activities?

Corporate Governance, Financial Markets and Regulation

Project 1: The Decline in Bank-Led Corporate Restructuring in Japan: 1981-2010

Co-authors Takeo Hoshi, Saothsi Koibuchi and Ulrike Schaede have constructed a unique dataset on all major corporate restructuring events in Japan between 1981 and 2010, in order to examine how bank-led rescue operations in Japan have changed over time. They find that the incidence of restructuring by distressed firms has become less frequent after the 1990s. When firms undergo restructuring, they adopt real adjustments in terms of labor, assets and finance, but the intensity of these adjustments has also declined over time. These findings underscore the ongoing changes in Japan’s corporate governance in Japan, in particular in terms of corporate restructuring and the decline in corporate monitoring functions of main banks.

The paper can be downloaded here.

The database will be made available to the public soon.

Project 2: Changing Shareholder Structure and the Rise of the Institutional Investor

In collaboration with Yuri Okina, Ulrike Schaede is exploring the rise of the role of trust banks as shareholders. Are these “Old Japan”-type stable and silent investors, or are they “New Japan”-style return-driven investors that practice exit or voice instead of loyalty? The question matters because a rise in proactive institutional investors would mean the emergence of a market for corporate control, and this would greatly affect the strategic decision-making by large Japanese companies.

Project 3: Trade Credit 

Chim Lau and Ulrike Schaede have looked at trade credit and the role of financial support among trading partners in comparison to the role of the main bank in providing short-term funding. They find that as the role of the main bank has declined, trade credit has also declined, especially for firms in crisis. This suggests that trading partners have not filled the vacuum created by the decline in main bank rescue operations. Their paper, “Of substitutes and complements: trade credit versus bank loans in Japan, 1980–2012” was published in the Review of Quantitative Finance and Accounting in 2019.

The paper can be downloaded here.

Research on San Diego’s Innovation Ecosystem

With the support of Japan’s NEDO, JFIT has produced an in-depth study about San Diego’s IOT innovation ecosystem in 2018. 

The report can be downloaded here (PDF).