Japanese Democracy

Dennis R Redmond dredmond at OREGON.UOREGON.EDU
Wed Jul 15 18:00:18 PDT 1998

On Wed, 15 Jul 1998, Brad De Long wrote:

> But don't you feel that there was something... very wrong in the way the
> post-WWII Japanese political system worked out?

As compared with what, those shining moments of democracy, the glory days of McCarthyism or Stalin's 1947-48 Eastern European purges and recurrent Zhdanovism? It's a question of what you have to build with. Japan in 1945 was way underdeveloped and impoverished compared to, say, Switzerland or West Germany; half the population lived in rural regions, etc. The LDP was basically the party of peasant industrialization, in that sense; something like it was inevitable in a situation where state-sponsored export-platform accumulation was foisted on Japan by historical circumstances. Monopoly capitalisms need monopoly politics to function properly, just like national capitalisms needed national political systems. There are interesting parallels to the postwar Italian developmental state, which did whatever it wanted regardless of which political faction was in power, as well as the Taiwanese Nationalists (some would also say, the present-day Chinese Communists).

-- Dennis

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