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Democratic Reform in Japan: Assessing the Impact

Sherry L. Martin and Gill Steel, editors
Democratic Reform in Japan: Assessing the Impact
ISBN: 978-1-58826-581-4
2008/253 pages/LC: 2007043332
A related title: Money Politics in Japan: New Rules, Old Practices by Matthew Carlson.

"This book is required reading for those interested in contemporary Japan."—Dennis P. Patterson, Journal of East Asian Studies

“An invaluable resource for understanding change and stagnancy in mature democracies.... Provides empirically nuanced, theoretically informed analyses of some of the central issues in Japanese politics today.... Essential reading for scholars and students of Japanese politics and democratic institutions alike."—Erin Chung, Pacific Affairs

"An outstanding interim report on the recent political transformation of Japan.... Although the subject matter is a moving target, the authors have analyzed the changes under way with admirable clarity.... An invaluable tool for anyone seeking to make sense of Japan’s rapidly changing political landscape."—Gregory J. Kasza, Japanese Journal of Political Science

"The contributors do not offer easy answers and instead provide nuanced arguments about the tradeoffs of democratic reforms.... A must read for all students of contemporary Japanese politics."—Mary Alice Haddad, Wesleyan University


Widespread dissatisfaction in Japan in the 1990s set the stage for numerous political reforms aimed at enhancing representation and accountability. But have these reforms in fact improved the quality of Japanese democracy? Through the lens of this question, the authors explore contemporary Japanese politics at the national, local, and grassroots levels. Their systematic analysis of when and how citizens attempt to create and use new opportunities to articulate political interests offers insights not only on the current state of Japanese democracy, but also on the dynamics of political behavior over all.


Sherry L. Martin is assistant professor of government at Cornell University. Gill Steel is assistant professor in the Department of Social Psychology at the University of Tokyo.


  • Introduction—the Editors.
  • Reforming the Liberal Democratic Party—E.S. Krauss and R. Pekkanen.
  • Campaign Behavior: The Limits to Change—D. Dabney.
  • Diet Members and Seat Inheritance: Keeping It in the Family—N. Taniguchi.
  • Policy Preferences and Party Platforms: What Voters Want vs. What Voters Get—G. Steel.
  • Reforming the Bureaucracy—E. Kawabata.
  • Keeping Women in Their Place: Penetrating Male-dominated Urban and Rural Assemblies—S.L. Martin.
  • Prefectural Politics: Party and Electoral Stagnation—R.J. Weiner.
  • The Potential and Limits of Antiparty Electoral Movements in Local Politics—R.M. LeBlanc.
  • Civil Society and Democracy: Reforming Nonprofit Organization Law—Y. Kawato and R. Pekkanen.
  • Contemporary Japanese Democracy—the Editors.