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Governance for a Sustainable Future

The State of the Art in Japan

  • Book
  • © 2023


  • Clarifies the philosophical, moral, and analytical perspectives for creating a sustainable future
  • Is based on an in-depth analysis with a comparative perspective of governance in Japan
  • Exposes the difficulties and their causes that frustrate humanity’s efforts for enhancing future-oriented governance

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About this book

Although the expression “responsibility to future generations” is firmly established in public and political vocabulary, its operational meaning and practice are inadequately understood and yet to be systematically evaluated. Moreover, the term has not been successfully translated into viable ethical and theoretical concepts that can guide public policies and actions. How can the modes of governance and established policy priorities become compatible with the well-being of future generations? The primary objective of this book is to identify the conditions of and obstacles to governance for a sustainable future, or future-regarding governance. Governance concerns steering a society over extended periods of time, not responding to particular policy issues. The ideas and strategies proposed by contributors in this book to establish future-regarding governance are based on the theoretical and empirical analyses of the major long-term problems facing advanced democracies in general, and Japan in particular. Japan is an interesting case indeed. Relatively poor climate policy, rapidly decreasing birth rate, aging population, extensive public debt, prolonged economic recession, healthcare and pension systems that urgently require redesigning, hollowing-out of industries and subsequent loss of jobs, deteriorating infrastructures, increasing nuclear waste, and intensifying social polarization have caused a decline in people’s trust in the government and democratic processes. Currently, Japanese citizens are widely circulating their doubts about the social system’s sustainability. 

This book comprises two parts. In Part I, authors from various disciplinary backgrounds examine the idea of governance for a sustainable future from theoretical perspectives. This part discusses issues associated with future-regarding governance that are wicked in nature, such as the philosophical/ethical foundation on which to base the idea of governance for a sustainable future, major impediments to the development of future-regarding governance, and the modes of thinking and action required by leaders and citizens to realize such governance. Chapters in Part II largely focus on the state of long-term governance in Japan. This part uses empirical and in-depth analyses with cross-sectoral and cross-national policy perspectives to identify the state of future-regarding governance in various policy fields and major sectors or organizations mainly in Japan, while also examining strategies and measures to improve their performance. From this perspective, Western democracies and weak democratic regimes elsewhere will be provided with valuable lessons to avoid fatal policy mistakes, thereby improving future-oriented governance worldwide. By combining theoretical discussions on far-reaching issues and empirical analyses of Japanese cases, the book will shed a new light on governance for a sustainable future.


Table of contents (17 chapters)

Editors and Affiliations

  • Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies, Kyoto University, Sakyo-ku, Japan

    Yukio Adachi

  • Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies, Kyoto University, Sakyo-ku, Japan

    Makoto Usami

About the editors

Yukio Adachi, Professor Emeritus at Kyoto University, is one of the founding fathers of the Public Policy Studies Association, Japan (PPSAJ), which was given birth to in June 1996. He started his academic career as a student of political philosophy, having shifted his research interest into modes of thinking required of policy professionals, via intensive study of the theories and practices of deliberations and debates. His ‘intellectual’ mentors are John Passmore, Stephen Toulmin, and Yehezkel Dror. He has published extensively over a wide range of theoretical and ethics-related issues facing policy professionals, among which are, to mention just a few, how to deal with complexities, uncertainties, and ideological conflicts among key policy actors, how it is possible to make responsibility to future generations and ecosystem a ‘living ethics’ to be substantiated by public policies, and how to improve their capacity for context-specific policy design. 

Makoto Usami is Professor of Philosophy and Public Policy at Kyoto University, Vice-Dean of the Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies, and Councilor of the university. His areas of specialty are the philosophy of law and moral and political philosophy. He has published extensively on distributive justice, climate justice, global justice, intergenerational justice, and transitional justice. He is the author of four books and more than seventy journal articles and book chapters written in English or Japanese, while also coauthoring two textbooks and editing seven anthologies as well as one special issue of international journal.

Bibliographic Information

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