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Politics, Culture, and Democratic Reform in Japan

  • John P. Horgan

Abstract

Certain indices serve as benchmarks for democracy. All but a tiny fringe of the Japanese people embrace the ideal of democracy and feel that they have a working democracy. Under universal suffrage of those over 20, elections are held by secret ballot to choose and change governments. Participation has been high until recently. Balloting is fair, however much the electoral system itself has needed revision. Governments reflect the nation’s priorities.1 They have brought freedom, peace, prosperity and prestige to the people. The Japanese have created a high level of resource distribution, which has fostered an open society where “If we work hard, our lives will improve accordingly.”2 The Constitution protects civil rights including free speech and assembly, enforced by a legal system, that has its singular accents. For instance, there are no political prisoners, however legal maneuvering allows for “unconvicted detention,” which keeps extremists out of society long enough to dilute their effectiveness.3 There is no official censorship. Mass media includes television critique, public debate, and one of the world’s most prolific publication industries.4 The nation has a highly trained, professional, and apolitical civil service, obedient to the nation’s economic and political welfare, although it embodies the contradiction of a free economy managed by Mandarin bureaucrats. Interest groups have wide interaction in the policy process including public-private deliberation councils called shingikai.

Keywords

Prime Minister York Time Electoral System Liberal Democratic Party Political Reform 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

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© Marco Rimanelli 1999

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  • John P. Horgan

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