Case | HBS Case Collection | November 2009 (Revised June 2012)

Crisis and Reform in Japan's Banking System (A)

by Thierry Porte, Rawi E. Abdelal, Laura Alfaro and Jonathan Schlefer


In 1997, amidst Japan's ongoing financial problems, Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto sought to restructure the financial sector to make it more transparent and globally competitive. He hoped that this effort, dubbed the "Big Bang" after the British financial restructuring a decade earlier, would prove as successful. But the financial problems, which seemed to have abated, looked as if they might be worsening. Thus, Hashimoto had to weigh priorities. Should he focus on long-term restructuring, immediate financial rescue, or both? Might an over-emphasis on long-term restructuring increase the chances that major banks could collapse? And what were the best economic and political strategies in these arenas? As a major developed economy, Japan offers an analog to the problems that faced the United States in its 2008–2009 financial crisis.

Keywords: Financial Crisis; Capital; Banks and Banking; Crisis Management; Business and Government Relations; Banking Industry; Japan;


Porte, Thierry, Rawi E. Abdelal, Laura Alfaro, and Jonathan Schlefer. "Crisis and Reform in Japan's Banking System (A)." Harvard Business School Case 710-036, November 2009. (Revised June 2012.)