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Understanding governance in contemporary Japan

Transformation and the regulatory state

Masahiro Mogaki

This book explores the transformation of the Japanese state in response to a variety of challenges by focusing on two case studies: Information and Communications Technology (ICT) regulation and anti-monopoly regulation after the 1980s, which experienced a disjuncture and significant transformation during the period, with particularistic approaches embracing competition. The case studies set up the state as the key locus of power, in contrast to pluralist and rational choice schools, which regard the state as insignificant. The analytical framework is drawn from key theories of governance and the state including the concepts of the core executive and the regulatory state. The book explores the extent to which there is asymmetric dominance on the part of Japan’s core executive through an examination of recent developments in the Japanese regulatory tradition since the 1980s. It concludes that the transformation of the Japanese state in the two case studies can be characterised as Japanese regulatory state development, with a view that the state at a macro level is the key locus of power. This book explores the transformation of the state and governance in a Japanese context and presents itself as an example of the new governance school addressing the state, its transformation, and the governance of the political arena in Japanese politics and beyond, setting out a challenge to the established body of pluralist and rational choice literature on Japanese politics.

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Introduction

Transformation, governance and the state in the Japanese context

Masahiro Mogaki

This chapter sets out the significance of state transformation in Japan after the 1980s. In response to the change of society and the resulting challenge of governance, the Japanese state has been transformed with the change of power at the core, like its counterparts elsewhere. As the process can be regarded as the reconstitution of the state, focusing on the state at a macro level, an approach that challenges the previously dominant approaches of pluralist and rational choice, is key to addressing this question. This book adopts an elitist account, locating power at the centre of the state, with the view that the central state is the key locus which is afforded particular and asymmetric resources that allow it to act as the dominant actor in influencing and steering society.

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Piecemeal transformation

Anti-monopoly regulation

Masahiro Mogaki

This chapter engages with another case study, Japan’s anti-monopoly regulation after the 1980s, noting the response of the state to the specific challenges it presented. First, the chapter discloses how anti-monopoly regulation emerged and developed in Japan. The review starts with the establishment of the Fair Trade Commission, Japan (JFTC) in 1947, and pays attention to the period after the Structural Impediments Initiative (SII) between 1989 and 1990. How the core executive actors and structures related to them transformed their power and roles is explored in the following section. This chapter explores how the Japanese state has responded to the challenges of governance in anti-monopoly regulation.

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Masahiro Mogaki

The JFTC’s independence is unusual within Japan’s political tradition. As demonstrated in the 1977 Anti-monopoly Act (AMA) amendment, the commission’s independence emerged as a notable element characterising policy-making in anti-monopoly regulation. The prioritisation of the sector after the 1990s gradually changed the conditions surrounding and shaping anti-monopoly regulation. This change had the potential to reframe the JFTC and the sector including the commission’s independence and state capacity within the sector. Prompted by the above observations, this chapter examines the JFTC’s independence and state capacity within the sector. It first pinpoints the independent characteristics of the JFTC. What follows is an assessment of the impact of transformation through an analysis of the capacity of the state in anti-monopoly regulation. The third section pulls together the points raised in both the previous chapter and this chapter and considers the nature of state transformation in anti-monopoly regulation after the 1980s.

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Masahiro Mogaki

This chapter sets up an analytical framework on governance to explore the key theme by observing how the core executive has adapted to change and how the regulatory state has developed. It first considers the concept of the core executive as key to explaining the system of governance and analysing the transformation of the Japanese state. The chapter then focuses on the concept of the regulatory state and governance, aiming to analyse the relationship between the state and society. The following two sections pay specific attention to regulatory development in the UK and New Zealand as examples of the regulatory state under different political traditions. The final section pulls the elements of this chapter together, heeding the political tradition of Japan and beyond.

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Masahiro Mogaki

This chapter presents a case study of Japan’s ICT regulation after the 1980s. It first reviews the development of Japan’s ICT sector, starting from telecommunications liberalisation in 1985. This review is followed by an exploration of power relations between key actors including those within the core executive. Paying attention to how power relations have changed among core executive actors, the third section explores how the core executive in the ICT sector has transformed its internal power relations by exploring key actors – Cabinet ministers, party politicians outside the Cabinet and civil servants – and structures within the core executive. Two core issues emerge in the analysis: first, the relationship between Cabinet ministers and party politicians outside the Cabinet including those in the ruling party; and secondly, the partisan confrontation between the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ).

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Masahiro Mogaki

This chapter examines the specific characteristics of Japan’s ICT regulation after the 1980s. The chapter first considers the impact of state transformation through the institutional characteristic of the ICT regulator as a ministry and the lack of an independent regulator. The impact of the collective view and power relations among the state actors regarding issues such as regulatory organisations exemplifies the development of state transformation. The second section looks into the capacity of the state in ICT regulation and its transformation. The last section considers the nature of Japan’s state transformation in ICT regulation after the 1980s, pulling together the analysis hitherto.

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Masahiro Mogaki

This chapter undertakes a systematic analysis of the outcomes of the two case studies, drawing together the findings from the four empirical chapters. The analysis shapes the foundation on which this book sets out its core argument. The chapter first considers the nature of regulatory development in the two chosen sectors. Next there is an analysis of changing power and the core executive. The next two sections analyse specific examples that demonstrate the dominance of the core executive within the case studies: the sequence of shaping regulators and the state capacity of the Japanese regulatory state. This set of analyses is followed by an examination of the extent to which the core theme of this monograph has been corroborated.

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Governance in Japan

The implications of the research

Masahiro Mogaki

This chapter reviews recent political developments, paying attention to the two regulatory sectors and setting out the implications of this research and the subsequent political development under the re-emergent LDP-led Coalition government. The chapter first reviews developments under the LDP’s Abe administration since 2012. This is followed by arguments drawn from the case studies. The chapter first argues that the reconstitution of the Japanese state is the key characteristic of regulation and governance in Japan. Second, it highlights the significance of three points – accountability, independent implementation and frequent rule changes in response to circumstantial changes – within regulatory development, and characterises the cases of Japan, the UK and New Zealand within this framework. The chapter then pulls these elements together and reveals the nature of governance in Japan, offering implications for practitioners.