Friday, October 30, 2015


It is one of my favorite prescient quotes in the Japanese political science literature:
"One of the most important conclusions to come out of the case of Japan is that the standards of a poor leader vary greatly by institutional and political context. A good leader in one such context may be a poor leader in another, but the reverse is also true. Miyazawa or Mori are good examples. Had they governed Japan 15 or 20 years before at the height of LDP dominance and not in the transition period of demands for reform with a different relationship with the media and the prime minister, they might not have done as badly. Kishi in power 35 years later with a center-left in opposition would have not had to violate democratic norms to get the Treaty passed. On the other hand, Koizumi would not have been as successful 15 or 20 years before. A contrary case is Abe. Had he governed in a top-down cabinet government with a united parliamentary party, he might have appointed better people to his cabinet and been able to indulge his passion for foreign affairs."

- Krauss, Ellis S., and Robert Pekkanen. "9. Profiles in discourage: prime ministerial leadership in post-war Japan." Poor Leadership and Bad Governance: Reassessing Presidents and Prime Ministers in North America, Europe and Japan (2012): 173.
Indulge his passion for foreign affairs... (Link)

On the other hand, the statement on Kishi may still be too hopeful. Kishi's grandson had some difficult getting his security bills through the Diet unscathed, even with a center-left opposition and full coalition majorities in place and already on board.

As for Abe's passion, it was the subject of discussion of Timothy Langley and my second-to-last Tokyo on Fire session, recorded two weeks ago and released on October 19. (Link to Video)

Later - For the record, Krauss and Pekkanen submitted the manuscript with the above conjecture as regards an alternate universe Abe Shinzo in October 2011 -- well before Abe reemerged from his own private political Siberia to seek the presidency of the LDP for a second time.

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