Japan is unique among the so-called free-market economies in that over 85 percent of all fishing operations is regulated and controlled by law. This distinguishing characteristic of Japanese fishing operations has led some observers to infer that it may be the most signficant factor in the seemingly "comparative advantage" which Japan enjoys over Western nations in high seas fishing. However, the regulations, as they have developed, are not as rigidly imposed and inflexible as those under a centrally planned economy such as that of the Soviet Union. Nor are the regulations quite as limited—in the economic sense of that term—as in Western nations such as Canada and the United States which impose practically no limits on entry of economic resources into the fisheries. Rather, the regulations are more a blend of these extremes. That is, although subject to close state supervision and controls, private enterprise is the prevailing form of economic organization throughout all sectors of the Japanese fishing industry and, through trade association and union pressure, can influence the nature of the control mechanism and fishery policy in general.
Economic and Legal Aspects of Japanese Fisheries Regulation and Control,
Wash. L. & Rev.
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