In the latter-half of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century, Japan underwent two major shifts in political control. In the 1910s, the power of the oligarchy was eclipsed by that of a larger group of professional politicians; in the 1930s, the focus of power shifted again, this time to a set of independent military leaders. In this book, Ramseyer and Rosenbluth examine a key question of modern Japanese politics: why the Meiji oligarchs were unable to design institutions capable of protecting their power. The authors question why the oligarchs chose the political institutions they did, and what the consequences of those choices were for Japan's political competition, economic development, and diplomatic relations. Indeed, they argue, it was the oligarchs' very inability to agree among themselves on how to rule that prompted them to cut the military loose from civilian control - a decision that was to have disastrous consequences not only for Japan but for the rest of the world.
• Written by two prominent scholars of Japanese history and politics • This book challenges the statist/culturist conventional wisdom and attempts to explain the emergence of institutions •Applies rational-choice theory to institutional and political change in Japan, and develops theory of regime change from oligarchy to democracy
List of tables and figure; Series editors' preface; Acknowledgements; 1. Introduction; 2. The collapse of oligarchy: failed attempts at cartel-maintenance; 3. Concession or facade: the Meiji constitution; 4. Electoral rules and party competition: the struggle for political survival; 5. The bureaucracy: who ruled whom?; 6. The courts: who monitored whom?; 7. The military: master of its own fate; 8. Financial politics; 9. Railroad politics; 10. Cotton politics; 11. Conclusion: institutions and political control; Notes; References; Index.