Gerald L. Curtis :: Japan, like every other
modern industrialized country, needs to have competent individuals working
in the government, and these are the people that we call bureaucrats.
Now, one of the things that is characteristic of the Japanese political
system, and that has been characteristic of Japanese politics
going back for more than a hundred years, is that the bureaucracy
in Japan is considered by Japanese to be a place where the country’s
best and the brightest, or the elite goes.
So, unlike some other countries, where bureaucrats do not have a great
deal of social prestige and becoming a civil servant is not considered
to be necessarily the most successful career that one could aspire
to, in Japan becoming a member of the Ministry of Finance or a member
of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, becoming a bureaucrat
in the elite track — that is that group of senior bureaucrats in
the Japanese government — has traditionally been a very prestigious
In Japan, bureaucrats are drawn from those people who pass the most
difficult exams, who are graduates of the best universities in the country.