Asia Program

Japanese Political Reform: Progress in Process

Shin'ichi Kitaoka, Robert Pekkanen, Richard J. Samuels, Verena Blechinger-Talcott, Michio Muramatsu, and Junko Kato

The six contributors to this Special Report are cautiously optimistic about the future of Japanese political reform. Sudden transformation is unlikely, but such factors as generational change and the slow cumulative impact of electoral and bureaucratic reforms are gradually contributing to a more open and innovative system.These essays focus not on the electorate, but on the leaders—politicians and bureaucrats—and how their choices are shaped by education, age, foreign pressure, American example, and the decade-old electoral system to which they are still adapting. The expansion of civil society and shifting perceptions of “leadership” are also highlighted as important developments of the 1990s.

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