Language: 日本語 English

Gerald Curtis

Gerald Curtis

Research Category

Japanese politics, comparative political parties

Area of Interest

Japanese politics, comparative political parties, institutional analysis

Recent Thoughts

I have been thinking about how the behavior of individual political leaders affects the performance of “reformed”political institutions. Reforms to enhance prime ministerial leadership (kantei shudou), such as creating the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy or the system of Deputy Ministers, have played out very differently under Koizumi, Abe, and now Fukuda. Reforms no doubt have consequences but they are not necessarily what the reformers anticipated. The adoption of a predominantly single member district election system is a good example of that. Moreover, reform of one institution can have the unfortunate effect of weakening other institutions and creating new problems. Prime ministerial leadership has perhaps been strengthened but a tradition of party politics that goes back to the Taisho period has been dangerously and perhaps fatally weakened. Whether it is possible to conceptualize and theorize about the complex interactions between institutional structures and the people who populate them and the inevitable unanticipated consequences of reform is something of considerable interest to me.  So too is the effect of the collapse of what I have described as informal mechanisms of elite coordination on Japan’s political economy, and in a broader sense on  Japanese society. Some of my thoughts on that subject, written in Japanese for a general audience, are included in my recently published book Seiji to sanma (“Politics and Sanma—45 years of living with Japan”).



Recent/Ongoing Works


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