Vierteljahrshefte zur Wirtschaftsforschung, 2001, 4
The aim of Japan's comprehensive financial reform program "Financial Big Bang" was to create an internationally competitive financial sector based on three principles: free, fair and global by 2001. Policy makers encountered two challenges: strengthening competitiveness of the financial sector in the long term, and solving structural problems as soon as possible. Five years after implementation of the "Big Bang", the country seems to have made much more headway in its long-term plan than in its short-term goal. The article shows that reform of financial administration designed a modern supervision concept comparable at least with its counterparts in Europe, although its development and implementation is still underway. Further, the article acknowledges that deregulation allowed competition to change the financial sector based on market principles. The entry of foreign and domestic competitors stimulated the introduction of new products and innovative business plans. However, structural problems, in particular the bad loan problem, still remain completely unsolved and therefore hamper completion of the process of reforming the financial system and the economy as a whole. The current government programs to write off bad loans do not promise to solve the structural problems in due time.