Report on the first workshop, Unit 2-b
Date/Time: Saturday, June 19, 1999
Place: Meiji University
Distribution Systems in Iran: Conditions and Results of Substantiative Research
by IWASAKI, Yoko (Institute of Developing Economies)
In previous research on the economy of Iran, the economic life of the common people has been difficult to grasp because it has always been concentrated on the publicly controlled petroleum industry. However, it is possible to analyze the relationship between the production structure and the distribution structure with emphasis on distribution in Iran by clarifying the process that a particular product goes through from production to consumption. This not only sheds light on the real economic life of the Iranians; it also allows us to employ economic methods to the study of the aforementioned distribution system in Iran (mainly focused on bazaars) which is usually only approached sociologically or anthropologically.
When viewed along with the other two field studies that the reporter has conducted [(1) research on "middleman" companies who make purchases for Iranian textile companies when they import machinery and parts or thread, dye and other raw materials from abroad, and (2) research on the role of wholesalers in the Teheran apparel industry], the results show several points in common.
The first of these points is that the cost of business expenses has an effect on the background of each distribution system. The second is that basically, demand is high for these goods and this is likely to result in a market wherein sellers and producers are in a position of strength relative to buyers. As a result, we see that in Iran, the two poles of the distribution system, production and consumption, are not as closely connected as would be ideal.
On the other hand, it is important to note that we see these same types of distribution structures and markets not only in Iran, but also in many countries and regions with different linguistic, cultural and historical backgrounds such as Taiwan and South Korea. The importance to the field of Iranian Area Studies of learning from experiences in other geographical areas and of freeing ourselves from the viewpoint that "Iran is unique" is apparent.
Focus on the UMNO
by TORII, Takashi (Meiji University)
The report given by TORII, Takashi (Meiji University) entitled, "From Financial and Economic Crisis to Political Change in Malaysia" detailed the process initiated by the Asian currency crisis which began in Thailand, on to the political crisis in Malaysia which pitted Mahatir against Anwar. The report also explored the political and economic significance of each of the opposing viewpoints. It was stated that it is important to understand what caused the disruption that put an end to the smooth compatibility between their former roles. The actual points of contention between these two men, which are thought to include treatment of income distribution and poverty, as well as how industrialization, including that of farming villages, should take place were also discussed.
The discussion thereafter focused on (regardless of whether Anwar's "clear ideas" were considered clear or not) how Malaysians felt about the conflicts accompanying the improvement of their economic status, and about the actions of Mahatir who has been accused of cronyism and overreaction. In addition, the relationship between the two major policies of raising the status of Malays and the process of Islamization was also discussed.
(Report by SHIMIZU, Manabu)