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North Castle Books

Japan's Dysfunctional Democracy: The Liberal Democratic Party and Structural Corruption
Authored by: Roger W. Bowen

Cloth ISBN: 978-0-7656-1102-4 Paper ISBN: 978-0-7656-1103-1
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USD: $58.95 USD: $34.95
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Available to all countries
Information: 152pp. Index.
Publication Date: March 2003.  


Description: This is a short, readable, and incisive study of the corrosive effects of corruption on one of the world's major liberal democracies. It explores the disconnect between democratic rules and undemocratic practices in Japan since the Second World War, with special attention to corrupt practices of various prime ministers.

The author shows that while public awareness of political corruption is widespread, the public's sense of its own power to change the situation is weak or nonexistent. He makes clear that declining voting rates, alienation from politics, cynicism about power holders, and criticism of democracy itself are among the outcomes produced by Japan's dysfunctional democracy.

Selected Contents:

1. Introduction
2. Choosing Prime Ministers
3. Japan's Dysfunctional Prime Minister
4. Back to the Future
5. The Constitution and Democracy
6. Bureaucracy-Dominated Iron Triangle
7. Forward from Basics
Conclusion: Shigata Ga Nai Society

Comment(s): "Roger Bowen has taken us on a journey covering Japan's postwar political and economic history that defines a dysfunctional democracy where the faith and confidence of the people are profoundly challenged. The corrupt power of money in politics and the lack of principled commitment to a liberal Constitution have caused a large majority of the Japanese to lose confidence in their democratic system. There are profound lessons for Japan, and America as well, in the reading of this powerful, well-written book by this eminent college president and cultural leader." -- Ambassador William J. vanden Heuvel, Chairman of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute

"Roger Bowen's timing is impeccable. Just as the Bush administration said that it planned to occupy Iraq and democratize it based on America's 'success' in Japan, Bowen shows that 'Japan's democracy does not work very well and has not worked as designed since the end of World War II.' Bowen's conclusion is important since he writes from a position sympathetic to Japan's plight. He acknowledges that after the 2000 election, American democracy doesn't look much better, but Japan's Dysfunctional Democracy is a shrewd, convincing documentation of Japan's serious political weaknesses." -- Chalmers Johnson, author of Japan: Who Governs?

Review(s): "...a very interesting study of the postwar Japanese leadership and the LDP. Highly recommended. All levels." -- Choice

"...a good overview of the dark side of Japan's democratic order. ... this book is worthwhile reading for university students, policy makers, businesspeople and prospective reformers who want to understand the hidden forces that make Japan's political system work the way it does." -- Pacific Affairs, Vol.77, No.4

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