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Japan Transformed

Japan Transformed: Political Change and Economic Restructuring

Frances McCall Rosenbluth
Michael F. Thies
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: STU - Student edition
Pages: 280
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7t6fr
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  • Book Info
    Japan Transformed
    Book Description:

    With little domestic fanfare and even less attention internationally, Japan has been reinventing itself since the 1990s, dramatically changing its political economy, from one managed by regulations to one with a neoliberal orientation. Rebuilding from the economic misfortunes of its recent past, the country retains a formidable economy and its political system is healthier than at any time in its history.Japan Transformedexplores the historical, political, and economic forces that led to the country's recent evolution, and looks at the consequences for Japan's citizens and global neighbors.

    The book examines Japanese history, illustrating the country's multiple transformations over the centuries, and then focuses on the critical and inexorable advance of economic globalization. It describes how global economic integration and urbanization destabilized Japan's postwar policy coalition, undercut the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's ability to buy votes, and paved the way for new electoral rules that emphasized competing visions of the public good. In contrast to the previous system that pitted candidates from the same party against each other, the new rules tether policymaking to the vast swath of voters in the middle of the political spectrum. Regardless of ruling party, Japan's politics, economics, and foreign policy are on a neoliberal path.

    Japan Transformedcombines broad context and comparative analysis to provide an accurate understanding of Japan's past, present, and future.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-3509-6
    Subjects: Political Science, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Tables and Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. Abbreviations and Stylistic Conventions
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  7. CHAPTER 1 Why Study Japanese Political Economy?
    (pp. 1-14)

    Japan limped into the twenty-first century with an economy in deep malaise. Following the collapse of the Tokyo stock and real estate markets that began in 1990, the Japanese economy failed to regain its stride, languishing at near-zero growth for a decade and a half. Saddled with a large fiscal deficit, the government was hard pressed to stimulate the economy in the wake of the 2008–2009 financial tsunami originating in New York.¹ The prolonged slump that had been called “Japan’s lost decade” began to look more like a chronic affliction.

    Despite appearances, Japan is not an economic has-been on...

  8. CHAPTER 2 Japanese History and Culture
    (pp. 15-31)

    Tourists visiting a country for the first time can be overwhelmed by cultural differences, large and small. To an American setting foot on Japanese soil, the cars drive on the wrong side of the road; mass transport and street commerce seem somehow to be highly sterile and automated, and yet nearly chaotic owing to the sheer number of people moving about; and strangers seem at once extremely polite and emotionally remote. The social choreography that organizes human life, ordinarily invisible and taken for granted, is unnervingly unfamiliar. It is often when visiting another country that people become aware for the...

  9. CHAPTER 3 Japan’s Political Experiments
    (pp. 32-52)

    From a country wracked by chronic civil war in the medieval period, Japan lurched to a static autocracy from 1600 to 1868 and then to a constitutional monarchy that evolved toward democracy in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. A military coup in 1932 brought a halt to democratic reforms until American-led occupation forces set about installing a peaceful democracy in the aftermath of World War II. The period from roughly 1853 to 1952 was another century of turmoil that began and ended with both foreign intrusion and selective reinvention of what it meant to be Japanese.

    Japan’s prewar...

  10. CHAPTER 4 The Old Japanese Politics, 1955–1993
    (pp. 53-71)

    The first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of postwar Japan is surely its economic “miracle” that stretched from 1960 through 1990, and the decade and a half of economic stagnation that followed. But a close second might be the political dominance of the Liberal Democratic Party, which spanned roughly the same period. From 1955, when the party formed, through 1993, when it split and lost its parliamentary majority, the story of Japanese politics was, more or less, the story of the LDP. Just how did the party stay on top for so long, and why did it...

  11. CHAPTER 5 Japan’s Postwar Political Economy
    (pp. 72-94)

    The Japanese economy grew at a stunning rate in the postwar years, achieving a tenfold expansion of nominal GDP between 1965 and 1990. Japan went from a country laid waste in World War II to one that appeared poised to rule the world economy. Tokyo was awash in money. Eight of the world’s top ten banks, measured by loan assets, were Japanese, and Japanese companies were on an extended buying spree around the world, not only to set up production plants overseas, but also for luxury destinations such as five-star golf courses and Rockefeller Center in New York City. Tokyo...

  12. CHAPTER 6 Japan’s New Politics
    (pp. 95-122)

    Koizumi Junichiro would have been an interesting politician to watch in any democracy. But in Japan, he was a mold-breaker. As prime minister from 2001 to 2006, he achieved celebrity status at home and abroad for all the ways that he defied the stereotype of a staid Japanese politician. He had a preference for rolled-up sleeves in lieu of suit and tie, sported a mane of wavy hair, was an unabashed fan of all things “Elvis,” and was the first divorcé to achieve the premiership. His adoring fan base greeted his public appearances screaming his name or his self-chosen nickname,...

  13. CHAPTER 7 Japan’s New Political Economy
    (pp. 123-154)

    Japan’s electoral reform of 1994 brings in its wake two major shifts in policy orientation. The changed rules motivate politicians to aim policies toward the interests and preferences of the median voter, creating a more responsive political system than Japan’s first postwar regime. At the same time, the new system introduces a neoliberal policy bias that has increased income inequality across society and insecurity for large numbers of voters. Although the global financial crisis of 2008–2009 pushed governments around the world, including Japan’s, toward temporary fiscal expansion, the center of gravity in Japanese politics has moved from pork-barrel politics...

  14. CHAPTER 8 Japan’s Place in the World
    (pp. 155-173)

    The theme of this book is that Japan’s old policy equilibrium was upset in the 1980s and early 1990s by the forces of globalization. The political coalitions that sustained LDP power were split asunder when export markets were threatened with protectionism, and the interests of big business diverged from those of farmers and small firms in the nontradable sectors. The LDP did its best to shore up this coalition for a time, but ultimately required political reform and policy reform to construct a new support coalition.

    The foreign policy challenges that Japan has faced since 1989, from the collapse of...

  15. CHAPTER 9 Conclusions
    (pp. 174-185)

    Deep changes are under way in Japan’s political economy, prompted by a reorganization of the dominant economic interests in Japan and underwritten by new rules of political competition. But in another sense, Japan is the very embodiment of stability, for these changes have not called into question the legitimacy of democracy itself. In contrast to the violent coup that brought an end to Japanese legislative politics in 1932, it is now unthinkable that Japan would succumb to a military overthrow or that the LDP would react to electoral loss by bringing in the tanks. The fact that Japanese democracy routinely...

  16. EPILOGUE The 2009 General Election and the LDP’s Fall from Power
    (pp. 186-192)

    On Sunday, August 30, 2009, the Democratic Party of Japan won a dramatic victory, capturing 308 of the 480 seats in the House of Representatives and leaving the LDP in the dust with 119 seats. For the first time in postwar history, a party other than the LDP holds a legislative majority in the House of Representatives. The media and political pundits, at home and abroad, competed with one another for appropriately grand phrasing: “electoral tsunami,”¹ “landslide,”² “historic,”³ the “rise of a new era,”⁴ “a seismic shift in Japanese political culture.”⁵

    The election certainly was historic and important. But if...

  17. APPENDIX 1. Japanese Electoral Systems, 1947–Present
    (pp. 193-194)
  18. APPENDIX 2. Election Results, House of Representatives, 1986–2005
    (pp. 195-200)
  19. APPENDIX 3. Election Results, House of Councillors, 1986–2007
    (pp. 201-206)
  20. Bibliography
    (pp. 207-232)
  21. Index
    (pp. 233-243)