Why won’t the Japanese reform their economy?

Although they were probably expecting too much from very limited reforms, there is a general consensus that the Koizumi reforms did more harm than good, and the Koreans have already undone most of the IMF imposed free market reforms without any seeming bad effects for the same reasons. Generally, though, it has to be due to looking at other countries which are apparently doing better like America and China and thinking that they really don’t want to be less like this and more like that.

This is supposed to be a criticism of Japan, but it sounds more like a perfect understanding of why they shouldn’t throw it all away until they truly find a better model to aim for:

“Japan remains deeply committed at a fundamental level to certain pleasant inefficiencies, such as companies that are loyal to employees and do not throw them away like old socks… and subsidies for people living in remote areas” 

“Japan, in short, has fostered a gentle brand of capitalism, so that mercy does indeed seem to ‘droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven,’ as Shakespeare wrote. But Shakespeare never pondered the plight of a country with such a flood of mercy that it cannot restructure its economy. The effort to run a country as if it were a Disney movie is deeply admirable but hopelessly naive, and so Japan today abounds with charm but not much efficiency”

Thunder from the East pages 322, 323 and 324

“Gentle capitalism”, eh? God forbid! Anyone want to point out to the writers that (non-English speaking) Northern Europe not only works the same way, but actually has a welfare state that allows women to continue working and people to consider having kids? Perhaps that being a model that Japan can actually look up to is why Kan has mentioned the vague plan of producing a welfare state. And perhaps having critics such as these who think that Japan should rely on China for all its food by cutting agricultural subsidies and take away the supports that keep people off the minimal benefits that exist makes the Japanese ignore the much more sensible ideas of not supporting big and/ or failing businesses and not ruining the country with yet more concrete