The Direction of Contemporary Japanese Politics

Since the 1990s, the structure of Japanese politics has undergone a major transformation through reforms in systems related to elections, government ministries and agencies, and the cabinet. At the same time, there has been considerable confusion in the political realm, as typified in recent years by the revolving door for the nation’s prime ministers, who are replaced on a more or less annual basis. In this series of articles, ten experts active on the political frontlines will offer their respective views on where the direction Japanese politics is headed.

The Pressures of Change: The Office of Prime Minister in the United Kingdom and JapanTakayasu Kensuke

Although Japan and the United Kingdom both use a parliamentary system, the position of the prime minister differs significantly. As the role of the Japanese prime minister becomes increasingly important, political scientist Takayasu Kensuke looks at the weaknesses of the present system through a comparison with the situation in the United Kingdom.

The Role of the Kantei in Making PolicyMakihara Izuru

The Prime Minister’s Official Residence, known as the Kantei, can be thought of as Japan’s answer to the White House: it serves as both home and headquarters to the nation’s chief executive, and its name is a metonym for that top government office. But until relatively recently, a powerful bureaucracy and a tradition of decentralized decision making, added to the inherent constraints of Japan’s parliamentary system, had reduced the Kantei to little more than an onlooker in the actual policymaking process. Makihara Izuru traces the development of “Kantei leadership,” from the dawn of the LDP’s hegemony in 1955 to the present.

Behind Japan’s Political TurmoilMachidori Satoshi

Japan’s political landscape has remained in a state of turbulence since the 1990s. We are now on our eighth prime minister in this century alone. What factors have brought about this situation? Machidori Satoshi provides the first in a series of pieces by leading Japanese political scholars presenting a comprehensive overview of the nation’s politics today.

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