Since the end of the Yasuhiro Nakasone Administration (1982–87), commentators specializing in Japanese politics have regarded weak government, characterized by the frequent change of prime ministers, as a significant challenge in Japanese politics. In response to this, a strong government mobilized by politicians’ leadership finally emerged in the form of the LDP Abe Administration. Although it is a product of several political and administrative reforms since the 1990s, it prompts new questions: is it really working well and precisely what we expected? Has Japan departed from the traditional model defined by weak government and strong civil servants?
In this seminar, Professor Tanaka will argue that the political neutrality of civil servants has been significantly undermined, while the discretional power of politicians has dominated political arenas beyond expectation. This set of transformations has led to the impaired quality of public policy-making, with evidence and evaluation being disregarded. It has also created an administration in which the Prime Minister’s Office enjoys unusual discretionary approaches in adopting its policy projects at will, with the National Diet acting as an agent rather than a principal, which could significantly undermine Japan’s established polity as a democracy.
Hideki Tanaka is Professor at the Graduate School of Global Governance, Meiji University. After graduating from Tokyo Institute of Technology, he joined the Ministry of Finance where he worked across the Cabinet Office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry of Health and Welfare. Hideki has also worked as a researcher at Australian National University and Hitotsubashi University. Since joining Meiji University, Hideaki has explored the changing nature of Japanese politics and its governing system, including the 2009 government change and the subsequent Democratic Party of Japan administration. His research interests cover a range of issues in public policy and administration, including the civil service system, public finance and management, executive politics, and social policy. Some key English publications are: The Democratic Party of Japan in Power: Challenges and Failures (co-author, 2017,); Policy Analysis in Japan (co-author, 2015); and Policy-Making Process and Relationships between Politicians and Bureaucrats in Japan (2014).
Patrick Diamond is Senior Lecturer in Public Policy at Queen Mary, University of London. He is currently a Visiting Fellow at Kellogg College, University of Oxford and an Associate Member of Nuffield College. He was previously Research Fellow in the Department of Politics, University of Manchester, and Gwilym Gibbon Fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford. He was a local councillor in the London Borough of Southwark, Vice-Chair of the think-tank Policy Network and a member of the Advisory Board of the Social Market Foundation. Patrick held a number of senior posts in British central government between 2000 and 2010, and was formally Head of Policy Planning in 10 Downing Street. Patrick has contributed op-ed articles to numerous newspapers including the: Financial Times, Guardian, Independent and the Wall Street Journal. He comments regularly on numerous national media outlets, and has given interviews on the Today programme, the Westminster Hour and Newsnight. He also contributes to European newspapers and journals.
Masahiro Mogaki is a Lecturer at the International Centre, Keio University, Japan. After working in key posts in Japan’s civil service, including the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunication, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he attained a PhD in Politics at the University of Sheffield. His PhD focused on the transformation of the Japanese state in ICT regulation and antimonopoly regulation after the 1980s. Masahiro’s current research is about regulation and governance in emerging regulatory sectors. His research interests include: public policy and administration, governance study, regulation and governance and executive politics. In his research he draws on his previous experiences as a civil servant. Some key publications are: The evolving power of the core executive: a case study of Japan’s ICT regulation after the 1980s (2015) and Understanding governance in contemporary Japan: Transformation and the regulatory state. (2018).