Media and Politics in Japan

University of Hawaii Press
Free sample

Japan is one of the most media-saturated societies in the world. The circulations of its "big five" national newspapers dwarf those of any major American newspaper. NHK, its public service broadcasting agency, is second only to the BBC in size. And it has a full range of commercial television stations, high-brow and low-brow magazines (from widely read intellectual journals to the ubiquitous manga, or adult comic books), and a large antimainstream media and mini-media. Japanese elites, surveys show, rate the mass media as the most influential group in Japanese society. But what role do they play in political life? Whose interests do the media serve? As Japan's critics often hold, are they mainly servants of the state? Or are they watchdogs on behalf of the public, as the media themselves claim and as suggested by their role in uncovering late eighties and early nineties political scandals and in triggering political change in the summer of 1993? And what effects do the media have on the political beliefs and behavior of ordinary Japanese people?
These questions, central for interpreting the media's role in any industrial society, are the focus of this collection of essays by leading political scientists, sociologists, social psychologists, and journalists. Japan's unique kisha (press) club system, its powerful media business organizations, the uses of the media by Japan's wily bureaucrats, and the role of the media in everything from political scandals to shaping public opinion, are among the many subjects of this insightful and provocative book.
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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Hawaii Press
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Published on
Dec 31, 1996
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Pages
389
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ISBN
9780824817619
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / International Relations / General
Social Science / General
Social Science / Media Studies
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This content is DRM protected.
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Based on a series of case studies of globally distributed media and their reception in different parts of the world, Imagining the Global reflects on what contemporary global culture can teach us about transnational cultural dynamics in the 21st century. A focused multisited cultural analysis that reflects on the symbiotic relationship between the local, the national, and the global, it also explores how individuals’ consumption of global media shapes their imagination of both faraway places and their own local lives. Chosen for their continuing influence, historical relationships, and different geopolitical positions, the case sites of France, Japan, and the United States provide opportunities to move beyond common dichotomies between East and West, or United States and “the rest.” From a theoretical point of view, Imagining the Global endeavors to answer the question of how one locale can help us understand another locale. Drawing from a wealth of primary sources—several years of fieldwork; extensive participant observation; more than 80 formal interviews with some 160 media consumers (and occasionally producers) in France, Japan, and the United States; and analyses of media in different languages—author Fabienne Darling-Wolf considers how global culture intersects with other significant identity factors, including gender, race, class, and geography. Imagining the Global investigates who gets to participate in and who gets excluded from global media representation, as well as how and why the distinction matters.
It is a notable irony that as democracy replaces other forms of governing throughout the world, citizens of the most established and prosperous democracies (the United States and Canada, Western European nations, and Japan) increasingly report dissatisfaction and frustration with their governments. Here, some of the most influential political scientists at work today examine why this is so in a volume unique in both its publication of original data and its conclusion that low public confidence in democratic leaders and institutions is a function of actual performance, changing expectations, and the role of information.

The culmination of research projects directed by Robert Putnam through the Trilateral Commission and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, these papers present new data that allow more direct comparisons across national borders and more detailed pictures of trends within countries than previously possible. They show that citizen disaffection in the Trilateral democracies is not the result of frayed social fabric, economic insecurity, the end of the Cold War, or public cynicism. Rather, the contributors conclude, the trouble lies with governments and politics themselves. The sources of the problem include governments' diminished capacity to act in an interdependent world and a decline in institutional performance, in combination with new public expectations and uses of information that have altered the criteria by which people judge their governments.


Although the authors diverge in approach, ideological affinity, and interpretation, they adhere to a unified framework and confine themselves to the last quarter of the twentieth century. This focus--together with the wealth of original research results and the uniform strength of the individual chapters--sets the volume above other efforts to address the important and increasingly international question of public dissatisfaction with democratic governance. This book will have obvious appeal for a broad audience of political scientists, politicians, policy wonks, and that still sizable group of politically minded citizens on both sides of the Atlantic and Pacific.

Widely recognized both in America and Japan for his insider knowledge and penetrating analyses of Japanese politics, Gerald Curtis is the political analyst best positioned to explore the complexities of the Japanese political scene today. Curtis has personally known most of the key players in Japanese politics for more than thirty years, and he draws on their candid comments to provide invaluable and graphic insights into the world of Japanese politics. By relating the behavior of Japanese political leaders to the institutions within which they must operate, Curtis makes sense out of what others have regarded as enigmatic or illogical. He utilizes his skills as a scholar and his knowledge of the inner workings of the Japanese political system to highlight the commonalities of Japanese and Western political practices while at the same time explaining what sets Japan apart.

Curtis rejects the notion that cultural distinctiveness and consensus are the defining elements of Japan's political decision making, emphasizing instead the competition among and the profound influence of individuals operating within particular institutional contexts on the development of Japan's politics. The discussions featured here—as they survey both the detailed events and the broad structures shaping the mercurial Japanese political scene of the 1990s—draw on extensive conversations with virtually all of the decade's political leaders and focus on the interactions among specific politicians as they struggle for political power.

The Logic of Japanese Politics covers such important political developments as

the Liberal Democratic Party's egress from power in 1993, after reigning for nearly four decades, and their crushing defeat in the "voters' revolt" of the 1998 upper-house election;

the formation of the 1993 seven party coalition government led by prime minister Morihiro Hosokawa and its collapse eight months later;

the historic electoral reform of 1994 which replaced the electoral system operative since the adoption of universal manhood suffrage in 1925; and

the decline of machine politics and the rise of the mutohaso—the floating, nonparty voter.

Scrutinizing and interpreting a complex and changing political system, this multi-layered chronicle reveals the dynamics of democracy at work—Japanese-style. In the process, The Logic of Japanese Politics not only offers a fascinating picture of Japanese politics and politicians but also provides a framework for understanding Japan's attempts to surmount its present problems, and helps readers gain insight into Japan's future.

After holding power continuously from its inception in 1955 (with the exception of a ten-month hiatus in 1993–1994), Japan's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) lost control of the national government decisively in September 2009. Despite its defeat, the LDP remains the most successful political party in a democracy in the post–World War II period. In The Rise and Fall of Japan's LDP, Ellis S. Krauss and Robert J. Pekkanen shed light on the puzzle of the LDP's long dominance and abrupt defeat. Several questions about institutional change in party politics are at the core of their investigation: What incentives do different electoral systems provide? How do politicians adapt to new incentives? How much does structure determine behavior, and how much opportunity does structure give politicians to influence outcomes? How adaptable are established political organizations?

The electoral system Japan established in 1955 resulted in a half-century of "one-party democracy." But as Krauss and Pekkanen detail, sweeping political reforms in 1994 changed voting rules and other key elements of the electoral system. Both the LDP and its adversaries had to adapt to a new system that gave citizens two votes: one for a party and one for a candidate. Under the leadership of the charismatic Koizumi Junichiro, the LDP managed to maintain its majority in the Japanese Diet, but his successors lost popular support as opposing parties learned how to operate in the new electoral environment. Drawing on the insights of historical institutionalism, Krauss and Pekkanen explain how Japanese politics functioned before and after the 1994 reform and why the persistence of party institutions (factions, PARC, koenkai) and the transformed role of party leadership contributed both to the LDP's success at remaining in power for fifteen years after the reforms and to its eventual downfall. In an epilogue, the authors assess the LDP's prospects in the near and medium term.

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