Reformfieber (gyōkaku fība) oder Opportunismus? Zur Diskussion über die Verwaltungsreform in Japan

Stimulated by the discussion about the balance of power between bureaucrats and politicians in the Japanese political system, the article analyzes administrative reform projects in Japan between 1981-1995. After summarizing the current theoretical approaches regarding the role of bureaucrats in Japanese politics, the process of administrative reform under the LDP and the following reform-minded cabinets is outlined. Also, alternative reform proposals from sources outside the ruling government are considered. The analysis focusses on the motivations behind the various initiatives for administrative reform and on their subsequent results. It is argued that during the reign of the LDP – with the zoku giin and party committees like the Policy Affairs Research Council (Seichōkai) as affiliated focus specialist groups – there was little need for any administrative reform as a means to curtail the role of the bureaucracy. Therefore, administrative reform initiatives under LDP cabinets were primarily economically motivated, or could be attributed to the eagerness of single politicians to improve their personal image and to external pressure (gaiatsu). Special emphasis is placed on the question whether attitudes towards and within the bureaucracy have changed after the fall of the one-party dominance by the LDP and whether this has had any effect on the process of administrative reform. It is suggested that even though the new ruling coalitions following the long-time LDP leadership have exhibited a strong ambition to restructure and to politicize the bureaucracy, they have generally lacked the superior experience and the knowledge of the LDP. Therefore, these governments have depended strongly on the support and cooperation of this very same bureaucracy, which proved an obstacle for any drastic change.


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