Gradual Institutional Change in Japan
Kantei Leadership under the Abe Administration
This book analyses institutional reforms implemented by Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzō, under his second administration from 2012 to 2020. Also examined is the evolution in the role of such actors in Japanese politics as bureaucrats, Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) factions, and backbenchers of the ruling party.
Chapters offer multi-dimensional explanations for the preconditions of successful gradual institutional change in political systems, characterized by relatively strong veto players, rigid governmental structures, and numerous unofficial decision-making rules. It is argued that enhancement of the prime minister’s position was implemented through the creative use of pre-existing policy venues, coupled with minor institutional changes in decision-making bodies. Using three illustrated case studies, it is demonstrated how the prime minister managed to centralize the decision-making process: a result of strategic appointment of ministers, empowerment of the Cabinet Secretariat and also taking advantage of wider advisory organs, largely circumventing deliberations on key policies in the ruling party. Seemingly minor changes thus manifested in a major redefinition of decision-making patterns: a result of the long-term perspective of the Abe administration.
Gradual Institutional Change in Japan: Kantei Leadership under the Abe Administration will be useful for students seeking to understand the process of successful gradual institutional change and for scholars of Japanese studies and political science.
Table of Contents
1. Prime Ministerial Leadership in Japan 2. Remaining in Power 3. Reforming Governmental Institutions 4. Reforming the LDP 5. Abenomics 6. Postponement of the VAT Hike 7. Revision of Interpretation of Article 9 of the Constitution
Karol Zakowski is Associate Professor at the University of Lodz. He specializes in the politics and foreign policy of Japan. His recent books include Decision-Making Reform in Japan: The DPJ’s Failed Attempt at a Politician-Led Government (2015) and Japan’s Foreign Policy Making (2018).