Tanaka Kakuei Corruption Chalmers Johnson, Essay

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This was because of some of the reforms that he introduced for corporations, for public spending, environmental protection and transportation sectors. Since powerful LDP members had vested interests in these sectors, they did not approve of all the reforms and hence were wary of Koizumi and his brand of politics.

Economic problems

The articles about Koizumi and Abe suggest that Japan suffers from serious economic problems that the political system cannot resolve. Why not? What are the political obstacles to changing Japanese politics? How does it relate to the Johnson reading?

Japan has had enormous economic success over the decades but lately its problems are negating the effects of earlier successes. I cannot agree with the opinion that economic problems cannot be solved through political means. Even though other factors do play in, it is the political system that determines the path economy will take. By political system, we mean the influential people in the system who can direct economy. They can definitely help direct Japan to the path of success again. However for that to happen, Japan will need to take a serious look at the causes of its economic decline. Johnson's work on Japan and Tanaka scandal showed that corruption is a major problem in the country because of its dependence on money. The government needs money to carry out major developmental projects and to facilitate economic activity but it may often find itself dependent on huge corporations as was the case with Tanaka. Since big corporations are a good source of money needed by the government, corruption is always likely. Japan needs to work on this problem. It has to find legitimate ways to earn income for its various projects and even if this involves corporations, the deals should be legal and transparent.

Another major problem is people's lack of concern for the economy. Japanese people are no longer interested in the stagnant economy because they have found private
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means of advancement. They know they can take good financial decisions for themselves and their families without having to worry about country's economy and hence this has aggravated the problem for Japan.

What do the Koizumi and Abe stories say about the state of democracy in Japan? Would you say that democracy in Japan is any weaker or stronger than it is in the U.S. Why or why not?

Democracy is still in its infancy in Japan. The reason we say this is because while there is a democratic process of election, the party system is still very traditional and basically unresponsive to democracy. LDP is divided into various factions and doesn't behave like one party. Powerful members have formed their own factions and each one is trying to outdo the others within the party. This is indeed highly damaging to the democratic system. Japan's democracy is certainly weaker than U.S. democracy. The reason for this is that while Japan is still elitist in its party formation and two-party rule doesn't really work very well there, U.S. has a very developed party system. There is less elitism and everyone gets a chance to progress regardless of their financial or social position. This has allowed many people from all walks of life to participate in the political system. The same is not true for Japan where only powerful and elite class enjoys access to positions of power.

United States has a very well developed party system as well which means the two parties work like units instead of parts of a unit. Democratic Party and Republic Party form the very core of U.S. democratic system. The party members choose to work as a unit and no factions within parties exist. In Japan however it's all about factions which tend to weaken the party system. Thus democracy in Japan has a long way to go.

References

Tomohito Shinoda. Koizumi Diplomacy: Japan's Kantei Approach to Foreign and Defense Affairs University of Washington Press (April 15, 2007)

Chalmers A. Johnson. Japan: Who Governs?: The Rise of the Developmental State W.W. Norton & Company (March 1995)

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References

Tomohito Shinoda. Koizumi Diplomacy: Japan's Kantei Approach to Foreign and Defense Affairs University of Washington Press (April 15, 2007)

Chalmers A. Johnson. Japan: Who Governs?: The Rise of the Developmental State W.W. Norton & Company (March 1995)

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