Reformen im politökonomischen System Japans
Issue editors: Edzard Janssen & Daniel Dirks
Edzard Janssen, Daniel Dirks
Einleitung: Politökonomische Reformen und politökonomischer Wandel in Japan
Reformfieber (gyōkaku fība) oder Opportunismus? Zur Diskussion über die Verwaltungsreform in Japan [Reform Fever (gyōkaku fība) or Opportunism? The Debate on Administrative Reform in Japan]
Stimulated by the discussion about the balance of power between bureaucrats and politicians in the Japanese political system, the article analyzes administrative reform projects in Japan between 1981-1995. After summarizing the current theoretical approaches regarding the role of bureaucrats in Japanese politics, the process of administrative reform under the LDP and the following reform-minded cabinets is outlined. Also, alternative reform proposals from sources outside the ruling government are considered. The analysis focusses on the motivations behind the various initiatives for administrative reform and on their subsequent results. It is argued that during the reign of the LDP - with the zoku giin and party committees like the Policy Affairs Research Council (Seichōkai) as affiliated focus specialist groups - there was little need for any administrative reform as a means to curtail the role of the bureaucracy. Therefore, administrative reform initiatives under LDP cabinets were primarily economically motivated, or could be attributed to the eagerness of single politicians to improve their personal image and to external pressure (gaiatsu). Special emphasis is placed on the question whether attitudes towards and within the bureaucracy have changed after the fall of the one-party dominance by the LDP and whether this has had any effect on the process of administrative reform. It is suggested that even though the new ruling coalitions following the long-time LDP leadership have exhibited a strong ambition to restructure and to politicize the bureaucracy, they have generally lacked the superior experience and the knowledge of the LDP. Therefore, these governments have depended strongly on the support and cooperation of this very same bureaucracy, which proved an obstacle for any drastic change.
Das Wahlsystem als Reformobjekt - Das Beispiel des Erneuerungsversuches der Regierung Kaifu [The Election System as an Object of Reform. The Example of the Kaifu Government's Attempt at Renewal]
Whenever political reform has dominated the Japanese national agenda, the electoral system of the House of Representatives moved into the limelight. Kaifu Toshiki was the third prime minister attempting to reform the combination of multi-member districts and non-transferable single entry ballots, which many have blamed for the type of money-politics that appears to have fostered corruption and a decay of democratic principles. The article examines not only the relationship between the electoral system on the one hand and political misdemeanor on the other, but also analyzes the intraparty power struggles that eventually squashed Kaifu´s initiative and put an end to his tenure.
Naohiko Jinno, Andrew DeWit
Trench Warfare on the Tax Fields: Bureaucratic Politics and Fiscal Decentralization in Japan
Decentralization is a motherhood issue in Japan, with anyone opposed to it risking the public image of an antediluvian and anti-democratic centralist. But little if any decentralization has occurred, particularly on the tax front. We argue that one major reason for this state of affairs is an entrenched network of institutions that blocks the expansion of the locally determined tax base and politicians who lack sufficient incentives to reform the system. Our analysis thus explores the fiscal interests of the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Finance, and how these interests have manifested themselves in recent episodes of tax reform. The cases we discuss are the inter-ministerial fights over the Land-Value Tax and Local Consumption Tax.
Japanese Policymaking for the International Space Station
This article briefly addresses the strengths and weaknesses of policy network analysis as a means to understanding Japanese policymaking for the international space station project. In doing so, it raises the question of whether and how policy networks function across national borders. Hypotheses based on policy network analysis, the literature on epistemic communities and two-level theory are proposed. The case study finds that the highly integrated space policy community in Japan, drawing on its web of public-private and US-Japan resource dependencies, was able to push Japanese participation in the project in a direction which served its interests.
In the 1980s privatization programs became a widely applied economic measure worldwide. In Japan as well, three large public corporations JNR (Japanese National Railways), NTT (Nippon Telegraph and Telecommunication) and JTS (Japan Tobacco and Salt) were privatized, the former in 1987, the others in 1985. The privatization was part of a public financial restructuring and administrative reform, mainly aimed at eradicating inefficiencies in the public sector and at reducing national debt. The privatization of the Japanese National Railways, however, went beyond these objectives by serving a political goal as well, namely the weakening of the radical railway unions. Therefore, an analysis of the railway privatization process is not only of interest from an economic perspective but also from the point of view of existing power structures inside the Japanese society. The article provides the historical, political, economical and institutional frameworks necessary to demonstrate the interactive relationship between the JNR-privatization process and its relevant forces within the Japanese society.
The Japanese labor market has been undergoing continuous structural readjustments due to longer term economic and more short term, cyclical influencing factors. Two current examples for such changes are the growing number of working women and the rapid aging of the population. Structural readjustments in this sense are to be understood as a change in traditional "lifelong" employment practices, a rise in the number of white collar workers, a more widespread use of temporary work contracts, a revision of seniority-related remuneration schemes, or a growing influx of foreign workers. These issues are each discussed in more detail in the paper. It is hypothesized that the recent rise in the number of unemployed may continue unabatedly unless necessary macroeconomic countermeasures be taken, notably a more pronounced effort to further deregulate the Japanese economy. In addition, a range of specific labor market policies to alleviate current economic restructuring-induced pressures and to allow for an improved integration of female and elderly employees into the active workforce are suggested.
The article addresses the recent structural change in the Japanese science and technology system. Based on the observation that the period of Japan´s technological catch-up with the Western industrialized countries has come to an end, it is assumed that the technological system of the country now has to undergo a fundamental reform towards more independent knowledge creation and innovation in order to maintain and advance the long-term competitiveness of its industrial sector. An institutional analysis of the Japanese innovation system leads to the following results: First, the R&D investment of the private sector is on a very high level. The reorientation of private R&D towards the strengthening of basic research and the formation of specialized human capital, however, is at an intermediate stage, only. Second, the public investment in R&D, traditionally small in Japan, has been significantly increased in recent years. Nevertheless, the relative level of public spending in R&D is still much lower than in the U.S. and in Western Europe. Third, Japan´s education and university system is providing the economy with a generally well-educated population but does not place high priority on the formation of creativity and on the education of highly specialized scientists and technicians. Recently, however, a number of reforms in the university system is indicating a strategic policy change. Fourth, while the structure of the labor and capital markets has traditionally supported a low degree of skill specialization and a concentration of resources in large companies, a gradual change towards higher incentives for specialized skills and for innovative small and medium enterprises is now becoming apparent. The article concludes that while there is a strategic reorientation in almost all parts of the Japanese innovation system, this must be considered as merely the beginning of a long-term restructuring process.
Binnenhandelspolitik, ein Stiefkind japanischer Wirtschaftspolitik? Konzepte, Maßnahmen, Hintergründe und Akteure der Politik für den Handel [Governmental Policies toward Retailing in Japan. Concepts, Measures, Background and Actors ]
Policy relevant studies in the field of Japanese distribution are far less numerous compared to the vast amount of such studies on the formation of Japan´s industrial policy. An outline covering the development of Japanese governmental policies for the retail sector over the past 50 years reveals a clear gap between goals stated and measures taken. While the modernization of the distribution system has been a continuos theme, actual measures have focussed mainly on the protection of small and medium sized businesses. Seen as a whole, Japanese policies for the retail sector are critizised as inconsistent, devoid of theoretical foundations and principles. These characteristics are mainly due to the vast diversity of interest groups influencing the formation of policies for the retail sector, exceeding comparable groups active in other sectors. The set of actors and their position has not been stable, however. Conflicts of interest do not only arise between small and big businesses but also between ministries, established companies and newcomers, operators of supermarkets and department stores, and within political parties. Over time, the power of small businesses and their related interest groups has been waning, while the influence of interest groups that are demanding more profound change is growing. In the wake of a stagnant manufacturing sector, a more prominent place for the distribution sector in the economy is being envisioned for the future. To help realize these expectations, a more consistent policy is needed, however.
Since the beginning of the 1990s, Japan has been witnessing one of its most severe, post-war recessions following a long period of strong and putatively sustainable growth rates. Common approaches to an understanding of the management and organization of Japanese companies appear to have implicitly been basing their models on an assumption of such continuous growth. Consequently, these models strongly emphasize the stable, even static nature of the Japanese firm as environmental variables could be assumed to change in a predictable, upward mode only. However, the current economic crisis has begun to reveal a number of endemic problems related to the Japanese-style management system. Two issues pertaining to the strategic behavior of Japanese companies and to their peculiar personnel remuneration schemes are discussed in more detail. The examples suggest that this model, renown for its global competitiveness, has an observable propensity to produce its own internal conflicts and contradictions. While it is thus becoming increasingly difficult to conceptualize the Japanese business model devoid of any historical contingencies, alternative ways for studying different management systems are suggested.
Between 1986 and 1992 the stock market in Japan underwent an asset inflation that has been dubbed the bubble, resulting in a rapid value deflation since. These swift and quantitatively impressive developments have led to the popular view that misleading expansionary monetary policy in conjunction with arrogant speculators and profit-oriented city banks have been this bubble's principal cause. This paper shows that, in fact, the opposite is true. Due to international agreements monetary policy was expansionary in 1986, but not in any exceptional manner. Rather, banks and investors have exhibited a high degree of rational behavior. Banks have been emphasizing creditworthiness when lending against collateral, and investors have been seeking profits in a burgeoning market. In the absence of any irrational action, there has instead been a change in the structure of the financial system, resulting in a flawed macro-economic outcome of the calculations of individual banks and investors. After the liberalization and opening-up of bank-dominated financial markets in the 1980's, highly leveraged but nevertheless sound and creditworthy firms began to demand new and cheaper sources of capital, thereby by-passing the costly monitoring and screening procedures of the banks. On the other hand, formerly credit-rationed and now deregulated banks, facing new competitors entering their markets, attempted to expand their loan portfolios. In their search for new yet creditworthy borrowers and investment opportunities, they extended loans against real estate-tied collateral. Thus, the bubble mechanism was set off. However, while it is perfectly rational to concentrate on risk-free loans at a micro-economic level, a risk-reduction of overall investment is impossible at the level of the macro-economic system. Hence, the real estate bubble was bound to burst.
Financial liberalization in Japan has both advantages as well as disadvantages. Critics point to rising market risks and a weakening of monetary control. The study discusses these arguments in detail by looking at the various aspects of liberalisation and by comparing theoretical justifications for financial market regulation with a focus on models of conflict and cooperation, market failure, and institutions and regimes, respectively. In conclusion, all three models can to a certain extent help explain regulation issues in Japan. Furthermore, actual deregulation effects are considered. The analysis reveals that, clearly, the potential for conflict in Japan has risen. Also, there are growing signs of market failure and a risk increase. Thirdly, informal policy influence has widened, adding considerably to these dangers by further reducing market transparency as well as by limiting the central bank´s scope for risk containment and monetary control.
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Wolfram Manzenreiter: Leisure in Contemporary Japan: An Annotated Bibliography and List of Books and Articles. Wien: Institut für Japanologie Universität Wien 1995. (Beiträge zur Japanologie; Bd. 33). 178 S., öS 200,-