On May 1, 2001, nine electric power companies, Hokkaido, Tohoku, Tokyo, Chubu, Hokuriku, Kansai, Chugoku, Shikoku, and Kyushu Electric Power, which were established simultaneously by the reorganization of the electric power industry in 1951, celebrated their fiftieth anniversaries. The purposes of this paper are to evaluate the fifty-year history of the Nine Electric Power Companies System (NEPCS) and to detect its future. NEPCS is characterized by four factors: (1) private management, (2) vertical integration, (3) regional division (nine blocks), and (4) monopoly. It is possible to regard that factors (1), (2), and (3) hold in check the potential disadvantage of factor (4), i.e., high power rates owing to lack of competition, as autonomy of NEPCS. The fifty-year history of NEPCS is divided into three periods by two epoch-making incidents, the first Oil Crisis of 1973-74 and the overall revision of the Electric Power Industry Law (EPIL) of 1995. During the first period (1951-73), the autonomy of NEPCS worked well and an electricity supply at low rates was realized. In the second period (1974-94), however, the autonomy of NEPCS suffered as the disadvantages of monopoly became apparent. And, it is the most important task of the third period (1995-) for the nine electric power companies to reestablish NEPCS's autonomy. The revision of EPIL in 1995 was the starting point of liberalization of the electric power industry in Japan. If the behavior of the electric power companies is too conservative, NEPCS could experience sudden death as a result of unbundling by the liberalization. But, if the companies cope well with the liberalization, two key factors of NEPCS, private management and vertical integration, can survive in the future.
This paper examines the patent management of General Electric Company (GE) in Japan before World War II. It is said that its domination of the incandescent lamp industry, which occurred from 1912 to 1919, was brought about on Tokyo Electric's own initiative. But GE had controlled substantial patents for tungsten filament, which included patents applied for and registered by German companies. From 1916, GE filed a series of suits against newly established Japanese lamp companies, Taisho Denkyu, Dainihon Denkyu, and Kansai Denkyu, which were based on the foreigner-owned lamp patents not controlled by GE. By 1919, GE won the suits and absorbed those companies. Therefore, the Japanese lamp industry was dominated by GE, not by Tokyo Electric. In 1919, GE established International General Electric Co., Inc. (IGEC), and IGEC revised its agreement with Tokyo Electric. The new agreement contained a “proxy application” clause, which provided that Tokyo Electric could apply and register GE'S patents in its own name and on own cost. That is, in the interwar period, GE managed its Japanese patents through Tokyo Electric's managerial function. As similar contracts had already been concluded with British Thomson-Houston and Allgemeine Elektricitäts Gesellschaft, GE had completed an international “proxy application” network. In order to carry out the contracts and patent management through Tokyo Electric, GE had to intensify the patent management function of Tokyo Electric. In 1921, J.R. Geary, charged with GE business in Japan, directed Tokyo Electric to establish a patent management department. The Patent Department started “proxy applications” in 1922. Moreover, in order to strengthen the department, Geary recruited Rinji Fujii, former engineer at the Japanese Patent Office, and put him in charge of the department in 1924. With this the functional transfer from GE to Tokyo Electric was completed.
The purpose of this paper is to clarify the function and performance of joint action (cartelization) to reduce excess capacity in the Japanese petrochemical industry, which was based on the Temporary Measures Law for the Structural Adjustment of Specific Industries, enacted in 1983. In this paper, we would like to propound a view that the cartel approach can make industrial adjustment smooth by showing the structure of dealing with excess capacity on joint action, and the contribution it makes to promoting productivity. We would also like to consider the conditions for supporting this adjustment style. The main conclusions of this paper are the following four points: First, joint action made it possible to escape from a “prisoner's dilemma” in reducing excess capacity. This led to concentration of production, reduction of depreciation cost, and relative stabilization of prices. Second, this joint action required security: a relaxation of the criteria of facilities disposal, such as a lowering of the accomplishment rate, adoption of a best-share style, and trading of capacity limits. Third, the capacity share basically determined the share of disposal, but in proportion to the rate of operation the burden of disposal was reduced. Economic loss in pro-rata style was avoided to some extent. Fourth, and last, there was a difference in the explanatory factor for the facilities disposal rate between the cartel and the non-cartel group. Similarly, there was a difference in their respective disposal rates. In the cartel group (ethylene, LDPE, HDPE), on the one hand, the rate of operation mainly determined the disposal rate. In the non-cartel (PP, EO, SM), on the other hand, the capacity share was the main determining factor. We confirmed statistically that the disposal rate of the cartel group was higher than that of the non-cartel group.