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Japan. “The Japanese Version”. List three things that called your attention/surprised you about the Japanese while watching the documentary… Why these ? Using the ideas presented in Lane’s book, discuss:

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Japan l.jpg

Japan


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“The Japanese Version”

  • List three things that called your attention/surprised you about the Japanese while watching the documentary… Why these?

  • Using the ideas presented in Lane’s book, discuss:

    • What is/are the theoretical and methodological perspective/s from which this documentary seems to be conceived?

    • What does an approach like the one displayed in the film add to the study of institutions? Which one is more relevant to understand politics in other societies?


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Japan

  • Second world industrial power (after the US)

  • Stable but new democracy (after WWII)

  • No military power

  • Liberal and modern, but Non-Western

  • Being an island, it has enjoyed relative isolation (≈ the UK) yet for a long time it has been influenced by China (ex: written language), Europe and the United States (Twice)

  • Unique and mysterious?


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Japan: a racist society?

  • Highly homogeneous population

  • Overcrowding—Limits to immigration

  • Exoticizing otherness (ex: Japanese perceptions on Americans)  Yet, who does not exoticize the Other?


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Ancient-history

  • 6th century:

    • One clan centralizes power over many (warrior) tribes, and imposes emperor Jimmu.

    • Confucianism and Buddhism arrive from China, and superimpose to the local Shinto faith--syncreticism.

  • Development of a traditional feudal society (with lords, samurai—hereditary warriors, continuos wars, serfs)

  • 7th-8th centuries: establishment of a centralized bureaucratic monarchy (Emperor appointed public officers… Confucian idea of “government by merit”)

  • 12th century: (hereditary) Shoguns (feudal system)

  • Aislationism: in the 17th century, Christianity was forbidden, and Japanese ships were forbidden to leave Japan


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Freeing Trade

  • In 1853, American Commodore Perry brought to Japan a message from the U.S. President asking the Japanese to open the country to foreign trade

    • The Japanese were forced to sign a treaty on trade...

    • And many other treaties from that on (on how to treat foreigners legally, as well as on tariffs)


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  • The imposition of trade by the Americans led to internal political instability and the overthrow of the Tokugawa Dynasty of shoguns (1603-1867/8)

  • Meiji restoration

    (samurai oligarchs)


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From Empire to Dictatorship to Liberal Democracy

  • 1868-1911 Meiji Period

  • 1889 Imperial (Meiji) Constitution

    • Monarchy based on divine right, powerful executive and weak legislature (Diet)

    • The Emperor and the samurai concentrated power and chose the Prime Minister

  • (Victorious) wars with China (1894/5) and Russia (1904/5): Japan acquired Taiwan and a part of Manchuria. Korea was incorporated in 1910, and the military gained power and prestige

    • From WWI, Japan emerges as an economic power and participates in the Versailles Treaty and the League of Nations


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From Empire to Dictatorship to Liberal Democracy

Taisho (Great Righteousness) Democracy:

  • 1918: A commoner from the Constitutional Party (created in the 1880s) is elected as Prime Minister Towards Democratization?

  • 1925, universal (male) suffrage and democratization of the lower house

    • Intense political activity during the 1920s

  • But… rise of militarism during the 1930s

    • A consequence of the economic crisis? Puppet civilian government—Expansionism—WAR (1937 with China)

  • Confirmation of Emperor Hirohito’s sovereignty  Showa period (nationalism)

  • 1940, Alliance with Italy and Germany. Dissolution of political parties


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Japan & WWII

  • December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbour

  • August 1945, use of atomic bombs by the US

  • Japanese surrender and accept Postdam’s conditions

  • US occupation of Japan


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From Empire to Dictatorship to Liberal Democracy

  • 1947 McArthur Constitution (Gral. McArthur, head of the occupation forces). Emperor Hirohito stays in power, yet he renounces “divinity” and the rest of the nobility is abolished

  • 1940s Organization of parties (Liberal, Socialist)

  • Beginning of the economic reorganization of the country—State intervention (price control, reforms) 1950: recession ends

  • 1950s:

    • 1952 San Francisco Treaty (US military bases on Japan) turns Japan into an American ally.

    • 1955 Beginning of the conservative hegemony (emphasis on economic growth and redistribution)

    • Strong debates between parties on the right and the left about the role and future of Japan (riots)


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The Japanese “miracle.”

  • 9% annual economic growth from 1955 to 1973 (and 4-5% afterwards).

  • In 1970, Japan was the 3rd economy in the world.

  • Secrets:

    • State planning (“Take off” MITI). Corporate/gvt. Ties

    • Long term investments (and expected gains)

    • Technology

    • Good conditions for workers/consumers

    • Skilled workforce


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The Japanese “miracle”

  • Despite the 1973 Oil crisis, growth continues

    • (late 70s) From electronics to a “Knowledge economy”. Scholarly theorizations on

      • Post-Fordism or

      • Toyotism

  • Declining role of MITI

  • 1987 Peak of the “miracle”

  • 1988-92- Financial Crisis (“Bubble” economy)


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The Government

  • Constitutional monarchy (male Emperor)

  • Emperor Akihito (1989) Heisei Era (Peace Attained). Years of the eras frame the calendar

  • Unitary State (47 prefectures)

  • Parliamentary democracy (Prime Minister/Cabinet)

    • (=The United Kingdom?)

      (but)

  • Written Constitution: the MacArthur Constitution consecrates the people as the sovereign


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Art. 9 Japanese Constitution

  • Japan renounced to use military power (in fact, Japan has a strong military)


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Political Parties

  • Oirigin: Samurai struggles (of those excluded from power) during the 19th century

  • 1898 Constitutional party

  • 1940 Party (self) dissolution

  • 1945-55 Multi-party system

  • 1955 (two Socialist fractions unite, and the Conservative form the Liberal Democratic Party)

  • 1955-1993 “One-party dominant system”

  • 1993 New electoral system


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Liberal Democratic Party’s Hegemony

  • From 1945-55: multi-party system

  • From 1955 to 1993, the LDP won every general election. One-party-dominant-system.

  • 1970s Frequent changes in cabinet, PM resignation, factions.

    • Late 80s early 90s: Economic Recession

  • LDP dominance ends in 1993, yet it returns in 1994 leading diff. coalitions (liberal/leftist)… One PM every year


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1993 New Coalition (Morihiro Hosokawa)Electoral Law

  • Lower House: 500 representatives, 300 elected through SMD and 200 (reduced to 180 in 2000) through proportional representation

    • Each voter casts two ballots

      • Preferred candidate in the SMD

      • Preferred party

  • Upper House (2000 law): 253 (?)

  • SNTV (single member non transferable vote)


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Japan Politics Today

  • Unstable party system (continous formation and disintegration of parties—TV)

  • 2001—Popular and charismatic Junichiro Koizumi became prime minister. Reform promises… resulted in little concrete change, and the economic crisis continues. Japanese society has changed in the last decade, and it is not clear how to return to growth.

  • Uncertainty about the international role/s Japan may have to play

  • Increasing disillusionment from politics

  • Corruption


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The Executive

  • Prime Minister (Junichiro Koizumi) (elected by the lower House but appointed by the Emperor) may submit bills in the name of the cabinet

  • Member of the majority, or representing a coalition.

  • Commander-in-chief of the defense forces

  • Can be removed by votes of no confidence

  • Cabinet (most of its members come from the Diet ≈ UK)


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Legislative

  • The Diet (highest organ of government, created in 1889) Kokkai

    • House of Councillors (252? 247?, 6 year-term, renewal of the half every three years). Combines SMD & PR

    • House of Representatives (480, 4-year-term). 300 seats are distributed by through SMD, and 200 through PR, the rest through PR (11 “blocks”). It has the greater power. Can be dissolved (generally every 2 or 3 years). “General elections.” Each voter casts 2 votes

    • (≈ German system)

      The members of both houses are elected democratically through suffrage (diff. With the UK and Germany)


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The Judiciary (Unitary System)

  • Supreme Court (appointed by the cabinet—its head ceremonially “appointed” by the Emperor. It is subjected to the people’s approval in the next election) has the power of judicial review

  • 8 High courts

  • 50 District Courts

  • 50 Family Courts

  • Summary Courts


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Source: McNelly, Theodore, “The Government of Japan,”Intro. To Comparative Gvt.

Diet

Election

Dissolution

Legislation

Des. Prime Minister/ No Confidence

Review legislation

People

(sovereign)

Administration

Review

Cabinet

Supreme

Court

Appointment of judges

Administration of justice


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The State Bureaucracy

  • Prestigious bureaucratic careers (enhanced by the Confucian tradition)

  • Insulation

  • Cabinet members tend to be career politicians (and leading politicians frequently come from bureaucratic careers)

  • Links to corporations


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Importance of Consensus

  • Deliberation councils linked to interest groups within the community informally intervene in the legislative process (prepare bills)

  • Link Syllabus class on Post-war Japan


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