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RELATED TOPIC:
THE EMPEROR

RELATED TOPIC:
THE PRIME MINISTER

RELATED TOPIC:
THE JAPANESE DIET (PARLIAMENT)

RELATED TOPIC:
INTEREST GROUPS IN JAPANESE POLITICS

RELATED TOPIC:
ELECTION LAWS

RELATED TOPIC:
THE ELECTORAL SYSTEM

 
THE GOVERNMENT OF MODERN JAPAN:
THE JAPANESE BUREAUCRACY

The Myth of "Japan, Inc."

[Note: This video clip has been damaged and has no audio. Please refer to the transcript below for content.]

Gerald L. Curtis :: One of the sources of bureaucratic power in Japan is that there is a very high morale among bureaucrats that derives from the fact that so many of them come out of such a common background, of being graduates of the same department of the same school, and that they have an obligation to serve the nation that actually goes back to a tradition that’s more than a hundred years old.

But at the same time, there’s a great deal of conflict between these bureaucrats and politicians, who believe that they’re the ones who have the responsibility for making policy and that bureaucrats have an obligation to do what they want and to do what will help them get reelected, and not to do simply what bureaucrats think is in the national interest.

So while it may appear in one sense that there is a kind of "Japan, Inc." — in which bureaucrats and politicians and leaders of the business community are all closely tied to each other through similar school ties and similar backgrounds in many different respects — there’s also a great deal of conflict between politicians and bureaucrats, between state and society in Japan, that results from the differences in their sense of what is in the national interest and what’s in their own personal interest.

So the Japanese political system, like political systems elsewhere, is characterized both by consensus among major groups who share political power, and by competition among those groups.

And in Japan that competition leaves the bureaucrats in a somewhat stronger position than is surely the case in the United States and than is the case in many other countries, with exceptions perhaps being France and some other countries that have a strong bureaucratic tradition. So in the Japanese political system, deciding what to do to make sure that bureaucrats do what the elected representatives of the people decide needs to be done, and to restructure the system so that politicians have the ability to make those kinds of major decisions and are not entirely dependent on the bureaucracy, is a major issue of political reform.