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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien
January 18, 2018

Politicians and Bureaucrats in Contemporary Japan: New Twists on a Tumultuous Relationship

In a state’s political system, the bureaucracy plays a pivotal role, as the efficiency of the government’s policies and the realization of the democratic principle are at stake. Since the 1990s, Japanese bureaucracy has been the target of growing criticism blaming it for administrative failures and an excess of autonomy from elected political power. In response to this criticism, a number of reforms inspired by the New Public Management movement were implemented at the beginning of the 21st century, such as the reorganisation of the ministries and the introduction of new recruitment and promotion methods.

After a brief review of these reforms, we will analyse how decision-making processes have changed in practice and how political-administrative relations during the last fifteen years have evolved.