Accounting, Economics, and Law: A Convivium
Ed. by Avi-Yonah, Reuven S. / Biondi, Yuri / Sunder, Shyam
The Case for Economic and Accounting Dualism: Towards Reconciling the Japanese Accounting System with the Global Trend of Fair Value Accounting
Over the last thirty years in particular, a number of papers have examined various issues concerning the Japanese accounting system. However, previous research has largely ignored the importance of Japanese contextual factors. As such, the objective of this paper is to develop a holistic theoretical contextual framework for examining the Japanized process of convergence, which aims at integrating the Japanese-specific accounting system with the Anglo-American model, thereby achieving de facto (actual) convergence. This framework includes three heterogeneous genealogies, namely, Accounting Monism, Economic Monism, and Economic and Accounting Dualism, and four contextual dimensions, including legal, historical, political, and economic environments. The results show that because Japan has both globalized large-scale capital markets and well-organized related infrastructures, which include financial systems, governance structures, related laws, auditing standards, and standards-setting bodies, it would be futile to adopt International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) without reforming these and related facilities and resources. The findings also show that Economic and Accounting Dualism aims at reconciling heterogeneous concepts in accounting practices, such as future and past measurement attributes, asset-liability and revenue-expense based income, ex ante and ex post income calculation, and information providing role and reconciliation role of financial reporting. Excessive emphasis on Economic Monism and fair value disregards the fact that Japan is undergoing a prolonged, complex, and controversial process for aligning its entire accounting system with IFRS. Importantly, the partial suspension of fair value measurement and the swing-back towards historical cost measurement caused by the recent global financial crisis revealed that fair value is not unconditionally fair. We suggest that social, historical, political, and economic factors cannot be ignored in this rush towards global convergence of financial reporting. We further argue that accounting research can be enhanced by examining the contextual factors in which the uniqueness of accounting system is embedded.
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