Japan's Landmark Financial Deregulation: What It Means for the United States

Major financial deregulation is underway in Japan that could have far-reaching implications for U.S.-Japan economic relations. The process has been accelerating since the so-called "Big Bang" announcement by former Prime Minister Hashimoto in November 1996 calling for the realignment of Japan's financial markets to make them comparable to those of Europe and the United States. The reform process includes allowing financial institutions to establish holding companies and enter heretofore prohibited lines of business. It also is expected to open markets to more foreign participation. Along with the Financial Services Agreement under the World Trade Organization and bilateral agreements with the United States on liberalizing Japan's insurance market, these measures are expected to open the management of approximately $10 trillion in personal assets in Japanese financial markets to U.S. banks, brokerage houses, and other financial service companies. The U.S. Treasury has been negotiating with Japan on financial deregulation under the U.S.-Japan Enhanced Initiative on Deregulation and Competition Policy. This report will be updated as events warrant.