Looking for Leadership: The Dilemma of Political Leadership in Japan

Ryo Sahashi and James Gannon, eds.

Democratic leaders around the world are finding it increasingly difficult to exercise strong leadership and maintain public support. However, there is nowhere that this has proven to be as challenging of a task as Japan, which has seen its top leaders change more often over the past 25 years than any other major country in the world. The current prime minister has strived to put an end to this pattern, but can he buck this historical trend? More fundamentally, why do Japan’s prime ministers find it so difficult to project strong leadership, or even stay in office? And what are the ramifications for Japan’s partners and for the world? This volume, authored by contributors who straddle the scholarly and policymaking worlds in Japan, explores the obstacles facing Japan as it looks for greater leadership and explains why this matters for the rest of the world.

This report was the product of a JCIE project on Political Leadership in Japan and its Future Trajectory




1. Introduction: Looking for Leadership
James Gannon and Ryo Sahashi

Domestic Governance and Political Leadership in Japan

2. The Evolution of Japan’s “Leadership Deficit”
Yuichi Hosoya
3. The Frequent Turnover of Japanese Prime Ministers: Still a Long Way to a Westminster Model
Harukata Takenaka
4. Party Politics and Leadership Change in Japan: The Prime Ministerial Relay
Takao Ochi
5. What Went Wrong under the DPJ?
Yuka Uchida Ando

Political Leadership and Foreign Policy

6. The DPJ Government’s Failed Foreign Policy: A Case of Politician-Led Government Gone Wrong
Ryo Sahashi
7. Political Leadership in Japan and Japanese Foreign Policy: Lessons from the DPJ Governments
Satoru Mori


8. Japan’s Way Forward: The Prospects for Political Leadership and the International Implications
James Gannon and Ryo Sahashi

9. Appendix
  Prime Ministers of Japan
  About the Contributors

Copyright © 2015 Japan Center for International Exchange. All Rights Reserved.
ISBN 9784889071429; 180 pages; paper