Chapter 2: Empirical models of government structures and international adjustments
In this chapter, the generalized normative analysis in the previous chapter meets related empirical models of Japanese politics. Recall that normative analysis suggests that neither a decentralized nor a centralized government can provide an optimal structural architecture for all conceivable cases. That is, there is an irrevocable dilemma between the two structural architectures. Thus, leadership needs to choose the appropriate authority allocation scheme according to the prevailing international order to define the problem of policy adjustment in relation to the state’s institution. In contemporary Japan, the government centralization thesis has gained favor. Many elected officials, analysts, and pundits invariably argue that Japan should centralize the existing decentralized structure and establish strong political leadership capable of performing at least three roles: (1) readjustment of public policy domains to the emerging global order; (2) inter-ministerial task coordination for comprehensive liberalization and regulatory reform; and (3) the elimination of rent-seeking politics. The reformists argue that failure to fulfill these three roles has contributed to the underperformance of the Japanese economy for the last two decades. This normative argument has been put into practice since the early 1990s when Japan undertook political and administrative reforms to reinforce the leadership’s policy authority in attempts to promote policy readaptation, inter-ministerial coordination, and rent elimination.
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