Discussion Paper Series 2019 #03: The Japanese Consumer Finance Market and its Institutional Changes since the 1980s


In this article we assert that the joint transformation of public perception about households’ over-indebtedness and financial deregulation had important implication on the government decision to reform the overall consumer credit between 2005 and 2010. On the one hand, the development of collective actions by groups of lawyers to defend borrowers from moneylenders’ abusive practices represents a source of change in the public opinion about over-indebted individuals in a context of long economic stagnation. A systematic press articles’ analysis from 1977 to 2006 shows that the rising number of these collective actions since the early 1990s may have gradually increased the political salience of social issues related to the unsecure loan market. On the other hand, financial deregulation has been a source of change by allowing banks to enter the consumer finance market since the early 2000s. Banks entry on this market transformed the logic of complementarity among traditional consumer credit’s actors (Shinpan, credit card companies and sarakin) in a general context of legal consumers protection’s reinforcement. Thus evolution of the Japanese consumer finance’s regulation is particularly relevant to illustrate forces of institutional change and its consequences.



A later version of this article has been published in Japan Forum, Volume 29, 2017.

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