- 日本大学経済学部経済科学研究所紀要 (ISSN:03859983)
- vol.15, pp.17-25, 1991-03-20
The role of the market mechanism is now being reappreciated partly as a consequence of the frustration of planned economies. In order that the market mechanism can smoothly function and satisfactory market performance can be realized, it is obviously important to compensate with deliberate policies for the limitation of the market mechanism, which is often referred to as market failure, but it is no less important to take note of the behaviors of and mutual relationships among business enterprises, consumers and the government, who all participate in the market mechanism. If the ultimate objective of economic activities lies in the improvement of people's life, it is reasonable to ascribe the right of final decision on the all option of resources to consumers, who constitute the people of a nation. Viewed the other way around, unless the consumer's choice is ensured, there can be realized no desirable allocation of resources for people. In Japan, as the protection and fostering of entrepreneurs has been given overriding priority under the policy to boost production and promote industry since the Meiji period, the importance of ensuring the consumer's choice, and of consumer policies to make it possible, was little recognized. The frequent occurrence of disastrous victimization of consumers during the phase of high economic growth, however, aroused the awareness of consumers, leading to the development of full-scale consumer policies. The consumer's choice greatly benefits by the liberalization of international trade. It is constrained by various regulatory measures taken by government. For this reason, further liberalization of international trade and deregulation are under way. The Japanese system of consumer policies consists of two main pillars, regulation of business activities on one hand and the enlightenment of and the supply of information to consumers on the other. In the former aspect, more recently, business enterprises are called on to strengthen their own responsibilities. As regards the latter, the essentials of the consumer's choice, in other words the desirable way of consumer life, in the affluent society are being redefined, and the importance of consumer education is emphasized.