Gerald L. Curtis :: The leadership style
that we see employed by most Japanese prime ministers is a consequence
not simply of institutional factors, namely that he is not an independently
elected leader of the country as the American president is, for example.
But, because this is a style of leadership with which Japanese feel very
comfortable and which tends to characterize leadership in Japan in many
different aspects of social life — whether it be as leader
of a company, as president of a company, as leader of a political party,
as head of one group or another — the emphasis on the need to build
consensus and to involve a larger group of people in making decisions
is something that has an enduring quality to it in the Japanese context.
Now one can quickly think of exceptions to this rule — of the
powerful dominating Japanese business man, of the strong and charismatic
Japanese political leader. Such people of course exist, just as consensus-oriented,
group-oriented politicians exist in the United States and in other Western
countries as well. But, as a general characteristic, one can say that, in Japan,
political leadership, particularly prime ministerial leadership, has not been as
strong or as individually focused as is true in other countries.