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Noda Yoshihiko
Japan in Pursuit of Westminster DemocracyTakenaka Harukata

Since the 1990s Japan has undertaken a raft of political reforms designed to foster more efficient and effective government. Takenaka Harukata assesses the outcome of these institutional changes, the lingering obstacles to majoritarian democracy in Japan, and the implications for policymaking under the second Abe cabinet.

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.

The Winding Road to DecentralizationKitamura Wataru

Reforms aimed at decentralizing government in Japan stretch back almost two decades. But decentralization so far has taken a winding course, due to the changing political environment and conflicting interests. The political scientist Kitamura Wataru traces this ongoing shift toward greater regional autonomy.

Why Noda Decided to Call an ElectionTakenaka Harukata

On November 16 Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko dissolved the House of Representatives; a general election will be held on December 16. Many readers may wonder why he took that step at this time. After all, public support for Noda’s cabinet and his Democratic Party of Japan is languishing at a very low level. Opinion polls conducted by the major newspapers shortly before the announcement show that th…

Nobel Selection, Noda RejectionShiraishi Takashi

Yamanaka Shin’ya, a professor at Kyoto University, has been selected as one of the recipients of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent, a finding that holds tremendous promise for the development of regenerative medicine. This is splendid news, and I extend my heartfelt congratulations to Professor Yamanaka. …

Consumption Tax Bill Repercussions Have Just BegunGotō Kenji

As we all know, the last phase of deliberations over the consumption tax bill took place on August 8, at a meeting between Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko of the Democratic Party of Japan and Tanigaki Sadakazu, leader of the opposition Liberal Democratic Party.(*1) It was then that Noda promised Tanigaki that he would dissolve the lower house and call a general election “soon,” persuading Tanigaki t…

Noda’s Policy MuddlesShiraishi Takashi

On September 26 Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko delivered an address to the United Nations General Assembly in which he called for use of the International Court of Justice for the settlement of territorial and maritime disputes. With the conflicts between Japan and China over the Senkaku Islands and between Japan and South Korea over Takeshima in mind, the prime minister declared that it is unaccep…

Gearing Up for the General ElectionMasuzoe Yōichi

Setting aside their political differences, the Liberal Democratic Party, the New Kōmeitō Party, and the Democratic Party of Japan joined together to pass a bill in the Diet for a comprehensive reform of the taxation and social security systems. Leading up to this, Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko promised LDP President Tanigaki Sadakazu(*1) that he would dissolve the Diet to hold a snap general ele…

Japanese-Korean Relations at a Turning Point: Evolution Transcending FrictionKimiya Tadashi

Relations between Japan and South Korea have been plagued by repeated incidents of friction, especially those involving a territorial dispute and the so-called comfort women. But the bilateral ties are simultaneously undergoing a structural transformation. This article explores the options for building a strategic relationship that benefits both sides.

Enduring a Chill in Ties with South KoreaShiraishi Takashi

In October 1998, on the occasion of a visit to Japan by South Korea’s President Kim Dae-jung, he and Japan’s Prime Minister Obuchi Keizō issued a joint statement titled “A New Japan–Republic of Korea Partnership towards the Twenty-first Century,” which included the following passages: The two leaders conducted an overall review of past relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea, reaffirmed…

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