Education About Asia: Online Archives

The Logic of Japanese Politics: Leaders, Institutions, and the Limits of Change

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Reviewed by David M. Potter

The 1990s were a trying decade for Japanese politicians and the public. It was a trying decade for scholars of Japanese politics, too. They struggled to come to grips with changes that had seemingly undone four decades of political stability, and with it the certainties that framed the teaching and research on the subject. Standing at a remove of five years from the 1994 electoral reforms that mark a watershed in postwar Japanese politics, Gerald Curtis’s book is a welcome overview of what has changed in the government and what has not. His prognosis of future developments in policy and politics, incremental change that may fail to address structural problems in the economy and government, rings true to any scholar who has recently visited Japan.


1. See, for example, Stephen Reed, Making Common Sense of Japan. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1993.

2. Bradley Richardson and Scott Flanagan, Politics in Japan. Boston and Toronto: Little, Brown, and Co., 1984.

3. Gerald Curtis, The Japanese Way of Politics. New York: Columbia University Press, 1988.

4. J. A. A. Stockwin, Governing Japan: Divided Politics in a Major Economy, 3rd ed. London: Blackwell Publishers, 1998.