Policymaking in Japan

Gerald L. Curtis, ed.
August 2002

The struggle between politicians and bureaucrats for control over public policy decision making is an important feature of politics in all advanced democratic political systems. It has a particular intensity in Japan, especially now with the bureaucracy under attack for its policy failures and its resistance to reform and with the political party system going through a period of fundamental change. Japan is the midst of the search for a new framework for policymaking, a search that involves not only the relationship between politicians and bureaucrats but that between the Prime Minister’s Office and the governing party organizations, the role of Diet members, and the issue of staff support for politicians, parties, and the prime minister and cabinet.

Following an overview written by volume editor Gerald L. Curtis, this volume offers the perspective of six politicians from the Liberal Democratic, Democratic, and New Komeito parties who represent a new generation of politicians in Japan attempting to design a new architecture for policymaking. Each of them discusses the role that politicians play in the policy process from the perspective of a specific substantive policy issue. Two chapters, one by a member of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and another by a Democratic Party member, offer differing perspectives on banking system reform. Also included are chapters by LDP politicians on education and information technology, one by a Democratic Party politician on reform of the governments huge public works programs, and another by a member of the New Komeito on revision of the Commercial Code. Together these chapters provide important analysis of several critical issues confronting the Japanese political economy today and insights into the Japanese debate about the role politicians do and should play in policymaking.

This publication was the result of a study on the “Future of Governance and the Role of Politicians,” which was carried out as part of the Global ThinkNet Fellows program.


1. Politicians and Bureaucrats: What’s Wrong and What Needs to Be Done
Gerald L. Curtis, Burgess Professor of Political Science, Columbia University; Visiting Professor, Graduate Institute for Policy Studies
Sasaki Takeshi, President, University of Tokyo
2. The Successful Handling of the Financial Crisis
Nemoto Takumi, Member of the House of Representatives [Liberal Democratic Party]
3. The Finance Diet of 1998
Furukawa Motohisa, Member of the House of Representatives [Democratic Party]
4. Information Technology: New Policy Issues and the Role of Politicians
Ito Tatsuya, Member of the House of Representatives [Liberal Democratic Party]
5. Toward a Fundamental Review of Public Works
Maehara Seiji, Member of the House of Representatives [Liberal Democratic Party]
6. New Policy Challenges in Education
Hase Hiroshi, Member of the House of Representatives [Liberal Democratic Party]
7. Reform of Corporate Legislation
Ueda Isamu, Member of the House of Representatives [New Komeito Party]
8. Index
Copyright © 2002 Japan Center for International Exchange. All Rights Reserved.
ISBN 4-88907-062-1; 148 pages; paper