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Home > Books & Journals > Journal Abstracts Last Updated: 14:22 03/09/2007
Journal Abstracts #80: March 10, 2003

Social Science Japan Journal

Journal Name: Social Science Japan Journal: October 1999, Vol. 2, No. 2

Print ISSN: 1369-1465, Online ISSN: 1468-2680


An introduction to this issue's special topic: political and administrative reform in Japan (pp155-156)
SR Reed

Administrative reform as policy change and policy non-change (pp 157-176)
JC Campbell (Political Science, University of Michigan, USA)
efforts are quite popular but rarely have much effect. Post-war Japan is no exception. For decades, attention focused on restraining the number of civil servants across all government agencies, a 'balanced' approach that was attractive because it was easy to implement. The administrative reform campaign of the early 1980s had an exceptional impact partly because Rincho was able to play a powerful 'policy sponsorship' role. Despite the ironic tone of much writing about that period, many policy areas did not see significant reform. Since then, however, there has been a lot of talk but little real action on administrative reform, partly owing to lack of focus - too many ideas and too much energy.

Political reform in Japan: combining scientific and historical analysis (pp177-193)
SR Reed (Faculty of Policy Studies, Chuo University, Japan)
Japan changed its electoral system in 1994. Political reform that changes an electoral system seems 'irrational' and is therefore hard to explain. I attempt to combine historical and scientific approaches to the explanation of rare events such as political reform, arguing that political reform in Japan was caused by the interaction of three related historical processes: (1) fluctuating public disgust with corruption; (2) the continuing search by opposition parties for a way to defeat the ruling Liberal Democrats; and (3) continuing power struggles within the ruling party. I use a chemistry metaphor to argue that political reform finally resulted from the fortuitous combination of the proper types and amounts of each of the necessary ingredients.

Administrative reform and the politics of budgetary retrenchment in Japan (pp195-213)
T Suzuki (Department of Political Science, Ohio University, USA)
Entering the 1980s, Japan's budget deficit ranked among the highest in the circle of advanced industrial democracies. However, by the end of the decade, the government was able to entirely eliminate its use of deficit-financing bonds. This article explores the political dynamics that account for this puzzling and dramatic change. Focusing on the interests and interactions of the societal actors and political parties that comprise Japan's ruling coalition, I argue that this abrupt change is primarily attributable to the manner in which the fiscal crisis led to the unraveling of the decade-old compromise among coalition members in support of deficit-financing. However, the movement begun in the early 1980s to eliminate deficit-financing did not reflect a return of the budget-making powers of the Ministry of Finance, as is commonly argued, but instead represented a realignment of the relative strength and policy preferences of members of Japan's ruling coalition.

Evaluating administrative reform: an insiders report (pp215-228)
T Masujima
Editor's Note. In this report, Professor Masujima provides an insider's look at the issues and trends involved in the past two decades of administrative reform in Japan. Born in Tokyo in 1936, Masujima graduated from the Tokyo University Law Department in 1959, entering the Administrative Management Agency (Gyosei Kan'richo, later Somucho) in the same year. He moved up through the ranks of the civil service and was appointed Director-General of the Administrative Management Bureau in 1990. He served in this capacity through 1993, and thus was directly responsible for administrative reform under the Kaifu, Hosokawa, Hata and Murayama administrations. His long and distinguished career in the government makes him uniquely placed to tell this story, which serves as the backdrop for more theoretical articles in this special issue. As Director-General, Masujima was in charge of the secretariat for The Provincial Council for Promotion of Administrative Reform during both its deliberative and much of its implementation stages. He has been directly involved in administrative reform at the highest level longer than any other Japanese public servant. During his career, he was largely responsible for drafting four major pieces of legislation: (1) the personnel reduction plan (implemented under the Total Staff Number Act) which was begun in 1986 and has been regularly renewed thereafter; (2) a major revision of the National Government Organization Law, which promotes flexibility in bureaucratic structures; (3) the Privacy (Personal Data Protection) Act, which regulates the use of computerized data concerning individuals; and (4) the Administrative Procedures Act, which promotes procedural fairness, transparency and standardization across bureaucratic agencies.
In 1995, Masujima retired from the bureaucracy to become a professor in the Faculty of Policy Studies at Chuo University. He has published several articles and a major book on the subject of administration reform, Gyosei Kaikaku no Shiten (Perspectives on Administrative Reform), 1996. He has also edited an English-language volume with Ouchi Minoru (The Management and Reform of Japanese Government, 1995). We are pleased to include his insider's report in this special issue of SSJJ.

Testing techno-globalism in ministry of international trade and industry R&D consortia (pp229-248)
GP Corning (Department of Political Science, Santa Clara University, USA)
In 1989, Japan's Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) opened all its R&D consortia to foreign participation on more liberal terms than those offered by publicly sponsored consortia in the USA and the European Union. MITI calls this policy 'techno-globalism'. This article assesses MITI's techno-globalism with case studies of the ministry's two most controversial international consortia - the Real World Computing Program and the Intelligent Manufacturing systems Initiative. The article argues that MITI learned from mistakes made in research consortia during the 1980s and is adapting to its diminished leverage over Japanese firms with consortia that offer greater flexibility in organization and research goals. The article also examines the structure of contemporary consortia in terms of techno-nationalism. It contends that Richard Samuels' notion of techno-national ideology fails to capture the nuances across MITI's international consortia which cover a range of technologies and forms of collaboration. These programs are not the efficient mechanisms for indigenizing foreign technologies that techno-national ideology suggests. Moreover, internationalization is not simply a token gesture. MITI has limited itself to a strategy of international co-operation across all programs - not just ones where Japan trails the state-of-the-art.

Protecting producers from consumer protection: the politics of products liability reform in Japan (pp249-266)
PL Maclachlan (Department of Asian Studies, University of Texas, USA)
This article explores the processes and political origins of the new products liability regime and the impact of that regime on both consumers and producers in Japan. I show that, while the 1994 Products Liability Act is a significant step forward for consumer protection and an intriguing example of convergence between Japanese tort law and international norms, the Act has been weakened as an instrument of consumer protection by business interests and bureaucrats who control many of the non-statutory redress and discovery mechanisms that were either reformed or introduced after the law was enacted. I explain this apparent compromise between international trends and domestic political imperatives with reference to the role of consumer-related ideas and domestic power configurations within Japan's distinctive consumer protection policy-making system.

Review essay. In the language of the occupier: recent work on the Japanese period in the Philippines (pp267-272)
S Nakano

Social Science Japan Journal (1999)
Copyright ©1999 Oxford University Press

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