This book provides a comprehensive guide to the state and politics in Japan at the start of the twenty-first century. In it, Ian Neary asks if the state in Japan is in any important sense different from states in western societies. He seeks to answer this question through an examination of the historical process that created the modern state, a description of the main institutions and actors in contemporary political life and an analysis of four important areas of policy-making.
In Japan, as elsewhere in East Asia where the ‘developmental state' has played a key political and economic role, civil society has been the product of, not the precondition to, the development of capitalist society and the modern state. Neary explores the formation of the modern Japanese state and shows that, though it established the foundations of industrial growth, it left little or no room for the formation of groups that make up civil society elsewhere. The book then focuses on the political parties of both left and right, characteristics of the electoral systems and the political and bureaucratic structures at national and local levels. Individual chapters on foreign and defence policy, industrial policy, welfare provision and human rights consider the interaction between state and non-state actors in specific policy contexts.
Assuming no prior knowledge of Japan or politics, this textbook will be essential reading for students of political science and international relations as well as anyone seeking an introduction to government in Japan today.