Wealth brings income but so does corporate control

This preview shows page 59 - 61 out of 164 pages.

the War, income inequalities were to follow. Wealth bringsincome, but so does corporate control which was lost. As we sawin the previous chapter, corporate executives are now most oftenemployees and have incomes restricted, as we will see in moredetail in the next chapter.A second major economic change involved extensive landreform ordered by the American Occupation. In rural areas thesechanges had especially beneficial results for peasants andfarmers who received land and support by the government,eliminating the long-standing inequality between rural and urbanareas. Since this time farmers have become relatively well-off inJapan. This makes them a conservative force in politics today,hoping to keep the economic gains they have obtained (and also toprevent redistricting of the political boundaries, which evenafter the new voting districts created in 1994 gives farmersabout twice as much representation than urban people in theJapanese parliament--the Diet).In many ways, most important in reducing income inequalitiesin the Post-War period are restraints on high-income demands bythose in top positions. The feeling of being part of thehomogeneous group (some say the country seems like an extendedkinship system), tend to make them reluctant to ask for bigsalary increases (Vogel 1971:160; Abegglen and Stalk 1985:195;Verba et al. 1987). It is not just corporate executives, however,who have had restraints on wage demands: it was the devastationbrought on by World War II that helped create a feeling of unitythrough common misery, making people self-conscious of excessivewage demands (Kerbo and McKinstry 1995:Chapter 1). It was in thiscontext that the nenko system of setting wages according to ageand need was developed, a situation which did not exist beforethe war (Kalleberg and Lincoln 1988:126). Finally, we must recognize that in societies where peopleare more equal in other ways, and there is little poverty to dodamage to children to begin with, there tends to be a more equalincome distribution because fewer people fall to the bottom dueto neglect. With most children well socialized by parents,educated relatively well in the standardized public schools, andwith few people in minority group status to be discriminatedagainst (as we will see below), especially in the context of astrong economy, more people have a reasonable chance to succeedand achieve decent incomes.Gender InequalitiesRelatively low levels of family income and wealth inequalityin Japan, however, do not mean equality between the sexes--farfrom it. Consider some examples: Only 0.1 percent of Japanesecorporate executives are women; the percentage of female managers(team leaders, section chiefs or department heads) was 1.8
60percent in 1976, 2.5 in 1985, and still only 3.9 percent in 1994(Japan Times International Weekly, August 22, 1994); and of the15 leading industrial societies, Japan has fewer female collegeprofessors than any, with 90 percent male. Even after the 1986law to reduce discrimination against women, 97 percent of thecareer track workers in Japanese companies are men, while 99

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture