Political Reform in Japan: Leadership Looming Large

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Political Reform in Japan argues that the quality of political leadership is the crucial determinant of whether parties in positions of dominance, like the Liberal Democratic Party in Japan, pass or reject policies such as electoral system and campaign finance reforms that could harm the party's future electoral chances. By comparing successful reform drives led by Miki Takeo, Ozawa Ichiro and Koizumi Junichiro with unsuccessful reform efforts pursued by Kaifu Toshiki, Miyazawa Kiichi and Kono Yonhei, Alisia Gaunder forces a reconsideration of the structure versus agency debate in political science, and of the conventional wisdom on Japanese politics that consensus decision-making norms and factional power balancing produce little in the way of political leadership.