Globalization and the Politics of Institutional Reform in Japan
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Globalization and the Politics of Institutional Reform in Japan

Motoshi Suzuki

Globalization and the Politics of Institutional Reform in Japan illuminates Japan’s contemporary and historical struggle to adjust policy and the institutional architecture of government to an evolving global order. This focused and scholarly study identifies that key to this difficulty is a structural tendency towards central political command, which reduces the country’s capacity to follow a more subtle allocation of authority that ensures political leadership remains robust and non-dictatorial. The author argues that it is essential for a globalizing state to incorporate opposition parties and transgovernmental networks into policy-making processes. Providing an in-depth analysis of the theories of institutional change, this book introduces readers to a wealth of perspectives and counterarguments concerning analysis of political decision-making and policy adjustment on both the national and international scale.
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Chapter 2: Empirical models of government structures and international adjustments

Motoshi Suzuki


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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