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

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  370 ratings  ·  41 reviews
"If you're as interested in Japan as I am, I think you'll find that The Power to Compete is a smart and thought-provoking look at the future of a fascinating country." - Bill Gates, "5 Books to Read This Summer"

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
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published November 10th 2014 by Wiley (first published October 20th 2014)
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Jun 27, 2016 rated it liked it
(Recommended by Bill Gates)

Why is innovation important? Or why price should stay the same, while we continue to innovate?

Long story short, innovation is the major force of economic growth.

Before the economist Joseph Schumpeter came up with this theory, economists believed that the main driver for economic growth was profit—the excess from profit could be reinvested in scaling up the business or could fund new research. However, profits can be easily destroyed in price wars, where the competition
May 17, 2016 rated it it was ok
This book left a lot to be desired given it was on Gates' reading list. Once the main point had been made - Japan's protectionist policies have resulted in it ceding its technological advantages to South Korea and Singapore - the theme was repeated ad infinitum. Although structured as a debate, the conversation between Hiroshi Mikitani, Rakuten's CEO and his economist father ends up with the older man just acquiescing to his son's grandstanding. Apart from making the English language mandatory f ...more
Sep 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fresh perspective at my home town where I was born.

I enjoyed the book. It is very fun to learn about 2 very qualified people from different times ( old & new ) looking at key economic topics about Japan. It is also very interesting, how much the two agree with each other.

I'm going to quote the review from Gates Notes here as it is what drew me to the book, and I hope it does the same for you.


.....Of course Japan is also intensely interesting to a
Adam Bratt
May 07, 2017 rated it liked it
After traveling around Asia as a business consultant, I was curious to learn more about how Japan is setting itself up for future success.

Despite being the 4th largest economy in the world and topping the charts for standard of living... Japan doesn't get much Western recognition these days.

This book attempts to explain parts of that and create a plan for Japan to become innovative again.

Hiroshi makes some amazing points but sandwiches it between a lot of complaining about certain Japanese syst
Ganesh Srinivasan
Sep 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Power to Compete is a great insight into the Japanese economy. The book is presented as a conversation between Hiroshi and Ryoichi Mikitani, thus making it an engaging read. The authors contest the past policies of Japanese policymakers for contributing to Japan's "extremely in-efficient" economy and labour market. They convincingly shed light into why Japan is lagging behind South-Korea, China and Singapore in economic growth. Even as the authors have negative outlook on the current status ...more
Nate Shurilla
Feb 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Mikitani-san has lots of interesting ideas and a big ego, which is partly why he's been so successful. Overall an interesting read with some very good ideas and some mislead by bias. Would recommend to those who have lived and worked in Japan as the details from behind-the-scenes meetings with government were particularly informative.
Did end on a sad note though (not purposefully) with his dad saying what a joy it was to be able to have spent time with his son through these discussions. That alo
Huan Ha
Jul 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book may be interesting for people who “don’t know much” about economics and want to know about the problem of the economy of Japan.

The book is also written in a non-standard way: it is presented in the form of conversations between the two authors instead of the normally writing style. While this style is often used in buddhist and some philosophy books, this is the first time that I see this style in a modern topic like economics.

For someone who are not really in economics, the book pro
Jerome Ydarack
May 19, 2017 rated it did not like it
Some good insights on the structure of some Japanese industries but:
- IT everywhere
- English everywhere (even though they recognise the level in nearby Asia is low and not that much a lingual Franca)
- I don't think they understand why people are interested in Japan. At all.
- on the biographical aspects of it, it's like the worst ever script ever written. I have seen distrustful strangers speak more warmly together.
Hoang Nguyen
Jun 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Around 200 pages, easy reading. Organized into dialogues between Mikitani, founder of Rakuten, and his late father, an economist. The pairs give their perspectives on how Japan becomes super power country in the world, its problems now and how their country should move forward to adapt new global economy.

Asides from economic, the book give some interesting thing about Japan and its corporations. Worth to read.
Masatoshi Nishimura
Sep 09, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: business
It's embarrassing for Japanese people to boast the uniqueness of "Japan, Japan, Japan", when in fact the problems are common throughout the world. Mikitani Hiroshi goes in talking about Japan branding. The branding is a byproduct of great products, and the Japan branding was established by great 20th companies like Toyota, Sony, Nintendo, etc. How much did his company Rakuten contribute to this branding? Zero. Work on your own company before criticizing the system. ...more
Jul 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really like the ideas how to make Japan more competitive, the adoption of English language more broadly is exactly one of those. The discussion about Japanese economy gives you the insides of how typical Japanese companies and society as a whole conceive and do business, which in turn affects the shaping of fiscal & monetary policies. It's really interesting when comparing the Japanese mindset with other countries', as told by a globalized Japanese person. ...more
Fengyang Song
May 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
Majority of the ideas presented in the book are rather insightful and it is certainly worth a read. However, the problem is that the book actually gets repetitive on points which have already been raised earlier into the book.

Of course, not all ideas raised are good but that's fine. Key is the message may easily get lost due to the poor way the book was written.
Try Lee
Aug 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business
Like a conversation between a dad and a son. like a conversation between a professor (Yale University, United States and Kobe University, Japan) and a billionaire (CEO of Rakuten). I like how close of their family.
Jökull Auðunsson
Power of export

An insight into the culture of teamwork and optimism that drives Japanese innovation and exports. Quick read and enjoyable conversation. If they were recounting all those statistics from memory in conversation color me impressed.
Dec 15, 2018 rated it liked it
An insight into the culture of teamwork and optimism that drives Japanese innovation and exports. Quick read and enjoyable conversation. If they were recounting all those statistics from memory in conversation color me impressed.
Federico Piva
May 15, 2020 rated it it was ok
The authors provide few general information on Japan political and ecomonic situation but any supporting data. It's just a conversation between the authors in which their competence and knowledge are not really expressed. A great disappointment ...more
Jamie Roper
Sep 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the way it is set out, you actually feel like part of the conversation between Hiroshi and Ryoichi.
This book gave me a great view on the economic sector and how to succeed in life.
Dec 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Bill Gates said you should read this book. He was right.
As a student of economics, I found that book quite insightful.
Sep 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Macro thought.
Jacob Lehman
Jan 26, 2019 rated it liked it
This was a freebie from work. I thought the combination of appeal to cultural influence and hard investments in infrastructure and education was sensible.
Apoorv  Jagtap
Dec 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Power to Compete: An Economist and an Entrepreneur on Revitalizing Japan in the Global Economy by Hiroshi Mikitani is an interesting take on discussing the political, economic, social and the overall state of Japan in this modern world. The book uses discussion between father and son to which keeps the reader engaged rather than just reading some facts. After reading this book I learned a lot of things about how various factors needs to be considered while making government policies. It was ...more
Sep 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Not a big fan of the scattered dialog format, but this was a good introduction to the various systemic problems in Japan that prevent it from competing on the world stage in the 21st century.
May 29, 2015 rated it liked it
Japan post war economic growth was a miracle with almost two decades of unprecedented growth no other countries achieved within such a short time. There was a time, Japanese products were world leaders. Today their counterpart South Korea has overtaken them in technology like Samsung iPhone. I have been puzzled why since the asset bubble burst in In the 90' Japan seem to suffer a lost decade and unable to adapt to the changes in globalisation. The conversation between the two, an economist and a ...more
Peter Lim
Jan 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a really interesting book for those who wants to know more about Japan's economy in general and how Japan can maintain their competitiveness in this era of globalization. By using discussion format between Ryoichi Mikitani and his son, Hiroshi Mikitani, you can really enjoy the book as thought provoking talks, or you can even consider is as a light reading between a father and a son. Further more, the book driven our thought on how we can improve a country's, not only Japan's economy in ...more
Jason Downey
Jul 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
It was interesting for me to read well informed opinions on Japanese politics and policy from a highly influential Japanese businessman and economist. I felt that Hiroshi Mikitani was talking a bit too passionately at times and ended up sounding uninformed about a variety of issues, but he spoke intelligently more often than not, even when I disagreed with him.
Jun 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Ever wonder what happened to the market dominance of Sony or Panasonic? Very interesting read on the culture and economics of Japan, it's issues and possible solutions by the Chairman of Rakuten and his father, an economics professor. The additional dimension that it essentially captures a conversation between father and son, is at times, quite touching. ...more
Chris Volzer
Jul 04, 2016 rated it it was ok
Not really a fan of this book. The interview-style writing felt clunky and overly formal (I know he addresses this early on, but that doesn't help the fact the entire book is written in this manner). I'm not well versed in Japanese economics, but it does present things in an easily digestible manner. ...more
Yen Ling
Sep 04, 2016 rated it liked it
-Offers an insider's glimpse into reasons behind Japan's persistent economic slump
-Some noteworthy suggestions around economic/social/education reforms.

-Can get repetitive at times, also unnecessarily biographical imho
-Outsider's perspective on other countries' economic/social progress, should be taken with a grain of salt
Quynh Anh
Nov 23, 2016 rated it liked it
The author is very ambitious with all of his ideas. It's good to read the book to understand the Japanese corporate culture, even though it doesn't seem as interesting to me as the Japanese culture in general.
Somehow, I think Mikitani-san should consider the cultural elements of Japan, the US, Germany,... to think how applicable his ideas are to apply those to Japan.
Subhendu Rana
Jun 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
It's really worth reading! This book is all about how Japan can again take-part in globalization with their IT,brands , reducing the strict rules and regulation over private companies ,diminishing lifetime-employment etc etc.
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