Scholars often use the term "structural corruption" when discussing modern Japan's political system--a system that forces politicians to exchange favors with businessmen in return for funds to finance their political careers. Scholars argue that the origins of corruption can be found in the "iron triangles" formed by politicians, bureaucrats, and businessmen during the postwar era or during the Pacific War years. In this examination of malfeasance in Japanese public office, Richard Mitchell systematically surveys political bribery in Japan's historical and cultural contexts from antiquity to the early 1900s. Mitchell's narrative serially considers scandals involving courtiers in the ancient imperial government, corruption among the shogun's samurai officials, and political bribery among bureaucrats and party politicians in the mid-nineteenth century. Mitchell concludes that bribery was as ubiquitous in premodern Japan as it has been in recent times. Focusing on the period since 1868, Mitchell discusses in fascinating detail changes in political bribery in the wake of suffrage expansion, estimates of the enormous amount of campaign money needed to win a Diet seat in both the prewar and postwar periods, and the low conviction rate of suspected takers of bribes. Here is a highly readable and reliable survey of an important yet largely neglected topic in English-language studies of Japanese political history.
Subjects: Political Science, History
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