The Power to Compete: An Economist and an Entrepreneur on Revitalizing Japan in the Global Economy


Father and son – entrepreneur and economist – search for Japan’s economic cure

The Power to Compete tackles the issues central to the prosperity of Japan – and the world – in search of a cure for the “Japan Disease.” As founder and CEO of Rakuten, one of the world’s largest Internet companies, author Hiroshi Mikitani brings an entrepreneur’s perspective to bear on the country’s economic stagnation. Through a freewheeling and candid conversation with his economist father, Ryoichi Mikitani, the two examine the issues facing Japan, and explore possible roadmaps to revitalization. How can Japan overhaul its economy, education system, immigration, public infrastructure, and hold its own with China? Their ideas include applying business techniques like Key Performance Indicators to fix the economy, using information technology to cut government bureaucracy, and increasing the number of foreign firms with a head office in Japan. Readers gain rare insight into Japan’s future, from both academic and practical perspectives on the inside.

Mikitani argues that Japan’s tendency to shun international frameworks and hide from global realities is the root of the problem, while Mikitani Sr.’s background as an international economist puts the issue in perspective for a well-rounded look at today’s Japan.

  • Examine the causes of Japan’s endless economic stagnation
  • Discover the current efforts underway to enhance Japan’s competitiveness
  • Learn how free market “Abenomics” affected Japan’s economy long-term
  • See Japan’s issues from the perspective of an entrepreneur and an economist

Japan’s malaise is seated in a number of economic, business, political, and cultural issues, and this book doesn’t shy away from hot topics. More than a discussion of economics, this book is a conversation between father and son as they work through opposing perspectives to help their country find The Power to Compete.


Throughout its history, Japan has had a strong sense of its political,economic, and cultural individuality. This pride in the Japanesetradition has been one of the nation’s greatest strengths–and one ofits greatest weaknesses. In a world of connection, collaboration, andrapid exchange, Japan is falling behind. This is the reality readersmust confront in The Power to Compete, a truly one-of-a-kind book with a sensitive approach to the most pressing issues faced by Asia’s island nation.

The authors and protagonists of The Power to Compete are Hiroshi Mikitani, chairman and CEO of one of Japan’s largest Internetcompanies, and his father Ryoichi Mikitani, a leading Japaneseeconomist. In this series of long-form conversations between them, theperspectives of father and son come together to uncover the path forward that will allow Japan to slough off its decades-long stagnation.

Combining hard-hitting analysis with a little light banter, The Power to Compete is an enjoyable read that nonetheless presents important revelations andrecommendations. Mikitani, Sr., who passed away shortly before thepublication of this book, was a Harvard-educated international economist who studied under Nobel Prize winners and made important contributionsto Japanese economic theory. His understanding of Abe-nomics, the freemarket reform plan of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, provides adepth to The Power to Compete that is lacking in many other books on the topic. Mikitani, Jr., on the other hand, has the practicalexperience to know how the Japanese business world will be affected ifthe nation fails to evolve.

Through their conversations,Mikitani, Sr., and Mikitani, Jr., arrive at a series of conclusions that will inspire readers to work on the international stage for Japan’sdevelopment. Summarized concisely at the end of each chapter, theseconclusions range from implementing business strategies like keyperformance indicators to using technological advancements in an effortto reform and modernize childhood education.

The authors of thisbook do not suggest that Japan should change. Instead, they show howJapan can use its historical strengths and strong national identity tocreate an economic platform to return to competitiveness in the globalarena. The Power to Compete is a cross-generational conversationthat should engage a new group of entrepreneurs and officials in theprocess of creating a future for Japan that is both peaceful andprosperous.

Hiroshi Mikitani is the founder, chairman, and CEO of Rakuten, Inc., one of the world’s largest Internet companies.The firm has operations in 28 countries and customers all over theworld.

Ryoichi Mikitani was a leading Japanese economistwho worked and studied at Harvard, Stanford, Yale, and Kobe Universityand made important contributions in his work with the Japan Society forMonetary Economics. Ryoichi was also a prolific and respected author.