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Bureaucracy in Japan

  • T. J. Pempel (a1)

Japan, the first Asian country to enter the ranks of the industrialized democracies, provides an excellent case study of a non-Western, but highly modern, national bureaucracy. As such, it provides a useful, informative, but culturally different, country for comparative purposes, whether with the United States specifically or with other industrialized democracies more generally.

—Because of the central role that the Japanese bureaucracy has played in planning and implementing so many of the major changes in Japan, it is a good example of bureaucracy as planner and agent of change.

—Because the Japanese bureaucracy has been so closely linked to political leadership, it provides an important contrast to countries where bureaucrats and politicians are presumed to have rather separate and antagonistic roles.

—Because Japan has selfconsciously limited the size of its governmental bureaucracy, the Japanese case provides an excellent counter-case to presumptions that bureaucratic expansion is inevitable. Japan instead offers a most important case of systematic downscaling of bureaucracy.

—Because the Japanese bureaucracy has gone through several conscious historical reformulations, including explicit imitation of the Prussian model, and systematic reformulation by American bureaucrats, it is an excellent case for examining the interaction of competing bureaucratic traditions.

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Inoki, Masamichi. 1964. “The Civil Bureaucracy: Japan,” in Ward, Robert and Rustow, Dankwart, Political Modernization in Japan and Turkey. Princeton: Princeton University Press, pp. 283300. A fine overview of the prewar Japanese bureaucracy in a developmental context.
Johnson, Chalmers. 1975. “Japan: Who Governs?: An Essay on Official Bureaucracy,” Journal of Japanese Studies. 2, 1, pp. 128. An examination of the relative policymaking and other influences of bureaucrats and other political actors.
Johnson, Chalmers. 1982. MITI and the Japanese Miracle. Stanford: Stanford University Press. An exceptionally detailed study of a single agency and its role in national economic development.
Kumon, Shimpei. 1984. “Japan Faces Its Future,” Journal of Japanese Studies 10, 1, pp. 143166. An examination of the administrative reform efforts of the early 1980s.
Pempel, T. J. 1984. “Organizing for Efficiency: The Higher Civil Service in Japan,” in Suleiman, Ezra (ed.) Parliaments and Parliamentarians in Democratic Politics. London: Holmes and Meier, pp. 72106.
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PS: Political Science & Politics
  • ISSN: 1049-0965
  • EISSN: 1537-5935
  • URL: /core/journals/ps-political-science-and-politics
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