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Japan - Acknowledgments


The authors of the 1992 edition wish to acknowledge their use and adaptation of information from various chapters in the 1983 edition of Japan: A Country Study, edited by Frederica M. Bunge. The authors are also indebted to a number of individuals and organizations who gave their time and special knowledge of Japanese affairs to provide research data and perspective. Among those who gave generous and timely help were Warren M. Tsuneishi, chief of the Asian Division, Library of Congress, who commented on the completed manuscript. Also instrumental in providing timely and useful data were Shojo Honda and other staff members of the Japanese Section of the Asian Division.

Others who provided insight and research materials to the authors were Haruyuki Furukawa of the Japanese National Diet staff and Colonel Isao Mukunoki of the Japanese Embassy in Washington. Yoriyoshi Naito of the Asahi Shimbun and Rikuo Sato of the Mainichi Newspapers, both in Washington, were extremely helpful in providing photographs for use in the book.

Various members of the staff of the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress assisted in the preparation of the book. David P. Cabitto prepared the artwork for the cover illustration and coordinated the production of all the graphics. Tim Merrill reviewed the maps and geographical references in the book. Alberta J. King provided research and word-processing assistance for sections of the book and contributed to the final proofreading. Janie L. Gilchrist provided word-processing assistance on parts of the book, and Barbara Edgerton and Izella Watson performed final word processing for the completed manuscript. Sandra W. Meditz made helpful suggestions during her review of all parts of the book and coordinated work with Ralph K. Benesch, who oversees the Country Studies/Area Handbook Program for the Department of the Army. Marilyn L. Majeska managed editing and production of the book, with assistance from Andrea T. Merrill and Martha E. Hopkins.

Other Library of Congress staff who assisted with the preparation of the book were Ewen Allison and Carol Winfree, both of the Congressional Research Service, who provided research assistance and word-processing support, respectively, for Chapter 7. Malinda B. Neale of the Library of Congress Composing Unit prepared camera-ready copy, under the direction of Peggy F. Pixley.

The authors also want to thank other individuals who contributed to the preparation of the manuscript: Marcie D. Rinka of John Carroll University for word-processing support for Chapter 2; Greenhorne and O'Mara for preparation of the map drafts; Reiko I. Seekins and Marti Ittner, who designed the illustrations on the title pages of Chapter 1 and Chapters 2 through 8, respectively; and Wayne Horne for his graphics support. Additionally, special thanks go to Ann H. Covalt edited the manuscript; Catherine Schwartzstein, who performed the final prepublication editorial review; and Joan C. Cook, who prepared the index.

The authors also are especially grateful to those individuals and organizations who donated photographs and artwork for the illustrations used in the book, many of which are original work not previously published. They are acknowledged in the illustration captions.

Finally, the editors of the 1994 updated electronic version of the book wish to thank Yoko Akiba of the Japanese Section, Asian Division, Library of Congress, who was extremely helpful in providing access to statistical data and other current information. Andrea T. Merrill of the Federal Research Division edited the updated tables and conducted a thorough and expeditious review of the revised edition.


Japan - Preface


This electronic edition is a revision of the fifth edition of Japan: A Country Study, published in 1992. It provides updated information on one of the most economically powerful nations in the world in a period of significant economic change. Although much of what was reported in 1992 has remained the same in regard to traditional behavior and organizational dynamics, world events have continued to shape Japanese domestic and international policies. Improved relations with virtually all countries of the Asia-Pacific region, democracy movements in Eastern Europe, the demise of the Soviet Union, volatile changes in the Middle East, peacekeeping ventures in the post-Cold War world, economic uncertainty throughout the world, competition for international markets, high-technology developments, and the whole panoply of Japanese relations with its major business and security partner, the United States, have all affected Japan as it moves toward a new century.

The aim of the authors of the revised edition of Japan: A Country Study has been to analyze Japanese society with respect to its ancient traditions and postwar transformation. Both its long historical and societal evolution and its emergence in the second half of the twentieth century as a major actor on the international political and economic scene are considered in depth.

The Hepburn system of romanization is used for Japanese personal names, which generally appear in standard order, with the family name first. In cases of certain well-known historical figures, such as Tokugawa Ieyasu (Ieyasu), or members of famous families, such as the Fujiwara, the individual is referred to by the given name. The spelling of place-names follows usage of the United States Board on Geographic Names. The pinyin system of romanization is used for most Chinese names and terms.

Users of this book are encouraged to consult the chapter bibliographies at the end of the book. Selected specialized bibliographies have been listed in the Bibliography for those wishing to do further reading and research. Additionally, users may wish to use other bibliographies, such as the Japan Foundation's Catalogue of Books in English on Japan, 1945-81 (Tokyo, 1986) and An Introductory Bibliography for Japanese Studies (4 vols., Tokyo, 1975-82), which covers Japanese-language materials; the Association for Asian Studies' Bibliography of Asian Studies (Ann Arbor, annual) and Frank Joseph Shulman's Japan (World Bibliography Series, 103; Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, 1989), both of which include entries in English, Japanese, and other languages; and the Kokusai Bunka Shinkokai's K.B.S. Bibliography of Standard Reference Books for Japanese Studies (Tokyo, semiannual editions), a comprehensive listing of Japanese-language materials. Other useful bibliographies of Japanese-language sources are John W. Hall's Japanese History: A Guide to Japanese Reference and Research Materials (1954) and Naomi Fukuda's Japanese History: A Guide to Survey Histories (1984-86), both of which were published by the Center for Japanese Studies at the University of Michigan.


Japan - History


"NOTHING SIMILAR MAY be found in foreign lands," wrote Kitabatake Chikafusa when he described Japan in his fourteenthcentury Jinno sh t ki (Chronicle of the Direct Descent of the Divine Sovereigns). Although Japan's culture developed late in Asian terms and was much influenced by China and later the West, its history, like its art and literature, is special among world civilizations. As some scholars have argued, these outside influences may have "corrupted" Japanese traditions, yet once absorbed they also enriched and strengthened the nation, forming part of a vibrant and unique culture.

Early in Japan's history, society was controlled by a ruling elite of powerful clans. The most powerful emerged as a kingly line and later as the imperial family in Yamato (modern Nara Prefecture or possibly in northern Kyushu) in the third century A.D., claiming descent from the gods who created Japan. An imperial court and government, shaped by Chinese political and social institutions, was established. Often, powerful court families effected a hereditary regency, having established control over the emperor. The highly developed culture attained between the eighth and the twelfth centuries was followed by a long period of anarchy and civil war, and a feudal society developed in which military overlords ran the government on behalf of the emperor, his court, and the regent. Although the Yamato court continued control of the throne, in practice a succession of dynastic military regimes ruled the now-decentralized country. In the late sixteenth century, Japan began a process of reunification followed by a period of great stability and peace, in which contact with the outside world was limited and tightly controlled by the government.

Confronted by the West--inopportunely during the economically troubled late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries--Japan emerged gradually as a modern, industrial power, exhibiting some democratic institutions by the end of World War I. Beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, phenomenal social upheaval, accompanied by political, military, and economic successes, led to an overabundance of nationalist pride and extremist solutions, and to even faster modernization. Representative government was finally replaced by increasingly authoritarian regimes, which propelled Japan into World War II. After the cataclysm of nuclear war, Japan rebuilt itself based on a new and earnest desire for peaceful development, becoming an economic superpower in the second half of the twentieth century.




Mythological Origins

The literature of Shinto employs much mythology to describe the supposed historical origins of Japan. According to the creation story found in the Kojiki (Record of Ancient Matters, dating from A.D. 712) and the Nihongi or Nihon shoki (Chronicle of Japan, from A.D. 720), the Japanese islands were created by the gods, two of whom--the male Izanagi and the female Izanami--descended from heaven to carry out the task. They also brought into being other kami (deities or supernatural forces), such as those influencing the sea, rivers, wind, woods, and mountains. Two of these deities, the Sun Goddess, Amaterasu Omikami, and her brother, the Storm God, Susano-o, warred against each other, with Amaterasu emerging victorious.

Subsequently Amaterasu sent her grandson, Ninigi, to rule over the sacred islands. Ninigi took with him what became the three imperial regalia--a curved jewel (magatama), a mirror, and a "sword of gathered clouds"--and ruled over the island of Kyushu. Ninigi's great-grandson, Jimmu, recognized as the first human emperor of Japan, set out to conquer Yamato. On the main island of Honshu, according to tradition he established the unbroken line of imperial descent from the Sun Goddess and founded the Land of the Rising Sun in 660 B.C.


Japan - Ancient Cultures


On the basis of archaeological finds, it has been postulated that hominid activity in Japan may date as early as 200,000 B.C., when the islands were connected to the Asian mainland. Although some scholars doubt this early date for habitation, most agree that by around 40,000 B.C. glaciation had reconnected the islands with the mainland. Based on archaeological evidence, they also agree that by between 35,000 and 30,000 B.C. Homo sapiens had migrated to the islands from eastern and southeastern Asia and had well-established patterns of hunting and gathering and stone toolmaking . Stone tools, inhabitation sites, and human fossils from this period have been found throughout all the islands of Japan.

More stable living patterns gave rise by around 10,000 B.C. to a Neolithic or, as some scholars argue, Mesolithic culture. Possibly distant ancestors of the Ainu aboriginal people of modern Japan, members of the heterogeneous Jomon culture (ca. 10,000-300 B.C.) left the clearest archaeological record. By 3,000 B.C., the Jomon people were making clay figures and vessels decorated with patterns made by impressing the wet clay with braided or unbraided cord and sticks (jomon means "patterns of plaited cord") with a growing sophistication. These people also used chipped stone tools, traps, and bows and were hunters, gatherers, and skillful coastal and deep-water fishermen. They practiced a rudimentary form of agriculture and lived in caves and later in groups of either temporary shallow pit dwellings or above-ground houses, leaving rich kitchen middens for modern anthropological study.

By the late Jomon period, a dramatic shift had taken place according to archaeological studies. Incipient cultivation had evolved into sophisticated rice-paddy farming and government control. Many other elements of Japanese culture also may date from this period and reflect a mingled migration from the northern Asian continent and the southern Pacific areas. Among these elements are Shinto mythology, marriage customs, architectural styles, and technological developments, such as lacquerware, textiles, metalworking, and glass making.

The next cultural period, the Yayoi (named after the section of Tokyo where archaeological investigations uncovered its traces) flourished between about 300 B.C. and A.D. 250 from southern Kyushu to northern Honshu. The earliest of these people, who are thought to have migrated from Korea to northern Kyushu and intermixed with the Jomon, also used chipped stone tools. Although the pottery of the Yayoi was more technologically advanced--produced on a potter's wheel--it was more simply decorated than Jomon ware. The Yayoi made bronze ceremonial nonfunctional bells, mirrors, and weapons and, by the first century A.D., iron agricultural tools and weapons. As the population increased and society became more complex, they wove cloth, lived in permanent farming villages, constructed buildings of wood and stone, accumulated wealth through landownership and the storage of grain, and developed distinct social classes. Their irrigated, wet-rice culture was similar to that of central and south China, requiring heavy inputs of human labor, which led to the development and eventual growth of a highly sedentary, agrarian society. Unlike China, which had to undertake massive public works and water-control projects, leading to a highly centralized government, Japan had abundant water. In Japan, then, local political and social developments were relatively more important than the activities of the central authority and a stratified society.

The earliest written records about Japan are from Chinese sources from this period. Wa (the Japanese pronunciation of an early Chinese name for Japan) was first mentioned in A.D. 57. Early Chinese historians described Wa as a land of hundreds of scattered tribal communities, not the unified land with a 700-year tradition as laid out in the Nihongi, which puts the foundation of Japan at 660 B.C. Third-century Chinese sources reported that the Wa people lived on raw vegetables, rice, and fish served on bamboo and wooden trays, had vassal-master relations, collected taxes, had provincial granaries and markets, clapped their hands in worship (something still done in Shinto shrines), had violent succession struggles, built earthen grave mounds, and observed mourning. Himiko, a female ruler of an early political federation known as Yamatai, flourished during the third century. While Himiko reigned as spiritual leader, her younger brother carried out affairs of state, which included diplomatic relations with the court of the Chinese Wei Dynasty (A.D. 220-65).




The Kofun period (ca. A.D. 250-ca. 600) takes its name, which means old tomb (kofun) from the culture's rich funerary rituals and distinctive earthen mounds. The mounds contained large stone burial chambers, many of which were shaped like keyholes and some of which were surrounded by moats. By the late Kofun period, the distinctive burial chambers, originally used by the ruling elite, also were built for commoners.

During the Kofun period, a highly aristocratic society with militaristic rulers developed. Its horse-riding warriors wore armor, carried swords and other weapons, and used advanced military methods like those of Northeast Asia. Evidence of these advances is seen in funerary figures (called haniwa; literally, clay rings), found in thousands of kofun scattered throughout Japan. The most important of the haniwa were found in southern Honshu--especially the Kinai Region around Nara--and northern Kyushu. Haniwa grave offerings were made in numerous forms, such as horses, chickens, birds, fans, fish, houses, weapons, shields, sunshades, pillows, and male and female humans. Another funerary piece, the magatama, became one of the symbols of the power of the imperial house.

The Kofun period was a critical stage in Japan's evolution toward a more cohesive and recognized state. This society was most developed in the Kinai Region and the easternmost part of the Inland Sea (Seto Naikai), and its armies established a foothold on the southern tip of <"http://worldfacts.us/Korea-South.htm">Korea. Japan's rulers of the time even petitioned the Chinese court for confirmation of royal titles; the Chinese, in turn, recognized Japanese military control over parts of the Korean Peninsula.

The Yamato polity, which emerged by the late fifth century, was distinguished by powerful great clans or extended families, including their dependents. Each clan was headed by a patriarch who performed sacred rites to the clan's kami to ensure the long-term welfare of the clan. Clan members were the aristocracy, and the kingly line that controlled the Yamato court was at its pinnacle.

More exchange occurred between Japan and the continent of Asia late in the Kofun period. Buddhism was introduced from Korea, probably in A.D. 538, exposing Japan to a new body of religious doctrine. The Soga, a Japanese court family that rose to prominence with the accession of the Emperor Kimmei about A.D. 531, favored the adoption of Buddhism and of governmental and cultural models based on Chinese Confucianism. But some at the Yamato court--such as the Nakatomi family, which was responsible for performing Shinto rituals at court, and the Mononobe, a military clan--were set on maintaining their prerogatives and resisted the alien religious influence of Buddhism. The Soga introduced Chinese-modeled fiscal policies, established the first national treasury, and considered the Korean Peninsula a trade route rather than an object of territorial expansion. Acrimony continued between the Soga and the Nakatomi and Mononobe clans for more than a century, during which the Soga temporarily emerged ascendant.

The Kofun period is seen as ending by around A.D. 600, when the use of elaborate kofun by the Yamato and other elite fell out of use because of prevailing new Buddhist beliefs, which put greater emphasis on the transience of human life. Commoners and the elite in outlying regions, however, continued to use kofun until the late seventh century, and simpler but distinctive tombs continued in use throughout the following period.

The Yamato state evolved still further during the Asuka period, which is named after the Asuka region, south of modern Nara, the site of numerous temporary imperial capitals established during the period. The Asuka period is known for its significant artistic, social, and political transformations, which had their origins in the late Kofun period.

The Yamato court, concentrated in the Asuka region, exercised power over clans in Kyushu and Honshu, bestowing titles, some hereditary, on clan chieftains. The Yamato name became synonymous with all of Japan as the Yamato rulers suppressed the clans and acquired agricultural lands. Based on Chinese models (including the adoption of the Chinese written language), they developed a central administration and an imperial court attended by subordinate clan chieftains but with no permanent capital. By the mid-seventh century, the agricultural lands had grown to a substantial public domain, subject to central policy. The basic administrative unit was the county, and society was organized into occupation groups. Most people were farmers; other were fishers, weavers, potters, artisans, armorers, and ritual specialists.

The Soga had intermarried with the imperial family, and by A.D. 587 Soga Umako, the Soga chieftain, was powerful enough to install his nephew as emperor and later to assassinate him and replace him with the Empress Suiko (r. A.D. 593-628). Suiko, the first of eight sovereign empresses, was merely a figurehead for Umako and Prince Regent Shotoku Taishi (A.D. 574-622). Shotoku, recognized as a great intellectual of this period of reform, was a devout Buddhist, well read in Chinese literature. He was influenced by Confucian principles, including the Mandate of Heaven, which suggested that the sovereign ruled at the will of a supreme force. Under Shotoku's direction, Confucian models of rank and etiquette were adopted, and his Seventeen Article Constitution (Kenpo jushichiju) prescribed ways to bring harmony to a society chaotic in Confucian terms. In addition, Shotoku adopted the Chinese calendar, developed a system of highways, built numerous Buddhist temples, had court chronicles compiled, sent students to <"../china/index.html"> China to study Buddhism and Confucianism, and established formal diplomatic relations with China.

Numerous official missions of envoys, priests, and students were sent to China in the seventh century. Some remained twenty years or more; many of those who returned became prominent reformers. In a move greatly resented by the Chinese, Shotoku sought equality with the Chinese emperor by sending official correspondence addressed "From the Son of Heaven in the Land of the Rising Sun to the Son of Heaven of the Land of the Setting Sun." Shotoku's bold step set a precedent: Japan never again accepted a subordinate status in its relations with China. Although the missions continued the transformation of Japan through Chinese influences, the Korean influence on Japan declined despite the close connections that had existed during the early Kofun period.

About twenty years after the deaths of Shotoku (in A.D. 622), Soga Umako (in A.D. 626), and Empress Suiko (in A.D. 628), court intrigues over succession and the threat of a Chinese invasion led to a palace coup against the Soga oppression in A.D. 645. The revolt was led by Prince Naka and Nakatomi Kamatari, who seized control of the court from the Soga family and introduced the Taika Reform.

Although it did not constitute a legal code, the Taika Reform (Taika means great change) mandated a series of reforms that established the ritsuryo system of social, fiscal, and administrative mechanisms of the seventh to tenth centuries. Ritsu was a code of penal laws, while ry was an administrative code. Combined, the two terms came to describe a system of patrimonial rule based on an elaborate legal code that emerged from the Taika Reform.

The Taika Reform, influenced by Chinese practices, started with land redistribution, aimed at ending the existing landholding system of the great clans and their control over domains and occupational groups. What were once called "private lands and private people" became "public lands and public people," as the court now sought to assert its control over all of Japan and to make the people direct subjects of the throne. Land was no longer hereditary but reverted to the state at the death of the owner. Taxes were levied on harvests and on silk, cotton, cloth, thread, and other products. A corvée (labor) tax was established for military conscription and building public works. The hereditary titles of clan chieftains were abolished, and three ministries were established to advise the throne (the minister of the left, the minister of the right, and the minister of the center, or the chancellor). The country was divided into provinces headed by governors appointed by the court, and the provinces were further divided into districts and villages.

Naka assumed the position of minister of the center, and Kamatari was granted a new family name--Fujiwara--in recognition of his great service to the imperial family. Fujiwara Kamatari became the first in a long line of court aristocrats. Another, long- lasting change was the use of the name Nihon, or sometimes Dai Nippon (Great Japan) in diplomatic documents and chronicles. Following the reigns of Naka's uncle and mother, Naka assumed the throne as Emperor Tenji in 662, taking the additional title tenno (heavenly sovereign). This new title was intended to improve the Yamato clan's image and to emphasize the divine origins of the imperial family in the hope of keeping it above political frays, such as those precipitated by the Soga clan. Within the imperial family, however, power struggles continued as the emperor's brother and son vied for the throne. The brother, who later reigned as Emperor Temmu, consolidated Tenji's reforms and state power in the imperial court.

The ritsuryo system was codified in several stages. The mi Code, named after the provincial site of Emperor Tenji's court, was completed in about A.D. 668. Further codification took place with the promulgation by Empress Jito in 689 of the Asuka- Kiyomihara Code, named for the location of the late Emperor Temmu's court. The ritsuryo system was further consolidated and codified in 701 under the Taiho Ritsuryo (Great Treasure Code or Taiho Code), which, except for a few modifications and being relegated to primarily ceremonial functions, remained in force until 1868. The Taiho Code provided for Confucian-model penal provisions (light rather than harsh punishments) and Chinese-style central administration through the Department of Rites, which was devoted to Shinto and court rituals, and the Department of State, with its eight ministries (for central administration, ceremonies, civil affairs, the imperial household, justice, military affairs, people's affairs, and the treasury). A Chinese-style civil service examination system based on the Confucian classics was also adopted. Tradition circumvented the system, however, as aristocratic birth continued to be the main qualification for higher position. The Taiho Code did not address the selection of the sovereign. Several empresses reigned from the fifth to the eighth centuries, but after 770 succession was restricted to males, usually from father to son, although sometimes from ruler to brother or uncle.




Economic, Social, and Administrative Developments

Before the Taiho Code was established, the capital was customarily moved after the death of an emperor because of the ancient belief that a place of death was polluted. Reforms and bureaucratization of government led to the establishment of a permanent imperial capital at Heijokyo, or Nara, in A.D. 710. The capital at Nara, which gave its name to the new period (710-94), was styled after the grand Chinese Tang Dynasty (618-907) capital at Chang'an and was the first truly urban center in Japan. It soon had a population of 200,000, representing nearly 4 percent of the country's population, and some 10,000 people worked in government jobs.

Economic and administrative activity increased during the Nara period. Roads linked Nara to provincial capitals, and taxes were collected more efficiently and routinely. Coins were minted, if not widely used. Outside the Nara area, however, there was little commercial activity, and in the provinces the old Shotoku land reform systems declined. By the mid-eighth century, shoen (landed estates), one of the most important economic institutions in medieval Japan, began to rise as a result of the search for a more manageable form of landholding. Local administration gradually became more self-sufficient, while the breakdown of the old land distribution system and the rise of taxes led to the loss or abandonment of land by many people who became the "wave people," or ronin. Some of these formerly "public people" were privately employed by large landholders, and "public lands" increasingly reverted to the shoen.

Factional fighting at the imperial court continued throughout the Nara period. Imperial family members, leading court families, such as the Fujiwara, and Buddhist priests all contended for influence. In the late Nara period, financial burdens on the state increased, and the court began dismissing nonessential officials. In 792 universal conscription was abandoned, and district heads were allowed to establish private militia forces for local police work. Decentralization of authority became the rule despite the reforms of the Nara period. Eventually, to return control to imperial hands, the capital was moved in 784 to Nagaoka and in 794 to Heiankyo (Capital of Peace and Tranquillity), or Heian, about twenty-six kilometers north of Nara. By the late eleventh century, the city was popularly called Kyoto (Capital City), the name it has had every since.


Japan - The Establishment of Buddhism


Some of Japan's literary monuments were written during the Nara period, including the Kojiki and Nihongi, the first national histories compiled in 712 and 720, respectively; the Man'yoshu (Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves), an anthology of poems; and the Kaifuso (Fond Recollections of Poetry), an anthology written in Chinese by Japanese emperors and princes. Another major cultural development of the era was the permanent establishment of Buddhism in Japan. Buddhism had been introduced in the sixth century but had a mixed reception until the Nara period, when it was heartily embraced by Emperor Shomu. Shomu and his Fujiwara consort were fervent Buddhists and actively promoted the spread of Buddhism, making it the "guardian of the state" and strengthening Japanese institutions through still further Chinese acculturation. During Shomu's reign, the Todaiji (Great East Temple) was built, and within it was placed the Buddha Dainichi (Great Sun Buddha), a sixteen-meter-high, gilt-bronze statue. This Buddha was identified with the Sun Goddess, and from this point on, a gradual syncretism of Buddhism and Shinto ensued. Shomu declared himself the "Servant of the Three Treasures" of Buddhism: the Buddha, the law or teachings of Buddhism, and the Buddhist community.

Although these efforts stopped short of making Buddhism the state religion, Nara Buddhism heightened the status of the imperial family. Buddhist influence at court increased under the two reigns of Shomu's daughter. As Empress Koken (r. 749-58) she brought many Buddhist priests into court. Koken abdicated in 758 on the advice of her cousin, Fujiwara Nakamaro. When the retired empress came to favor a Buddhist faith healer named Dokyo, Nakamaro rose up in arms in 764 but was quickly crushed. Koken charged the ruling emperor with colluding with Nakamaro and had him deposed. Koken reascended the throne as Empress Shotoku (r. 764-770). The empress commissioned the printing of 1 million prayer charms--the Hyakumanto dharani--many examples of which survive. The small scrolls, dating from 770, are among the earliest printed works in the world. Shotoku had the charms printed to placate the Buddhist clergy. She may even have wanted to make Dokyo emperor, but she died before she could act. Her actions shocked Nara society and led to the exclusion of women from imperial succession and the removal of Buddhist priests from positions of political authority.

Despite such machinations, Buddhism began to spread throughout Japan during the ensuing Heian period (794-1185), primarily through two major esoteric sects, Tendai (Heavenly Terrace) and Shingon (True Word). Tendai originated in China and is based on the Lotus Sutra, one of the most important sutras of Mahayana Buddhism. Shingon is an indigenous sect with close affiliations to original Indian, Tibetan, and Chinese Buddhist thought founded by Kukai (also called Kobo Daishi). Kukai greatly impressed the emperors who succeeded Emperor Kammu (782-806), and also generations of Japanese, not only with his holiness but also with his poetry, calligraphy, painting, and sculpture. Kammu himself was a notable patron of the otherworldly Tendai sect, which rose to great power over the ensuing centuries. A close relationship developed between the Tendai monastery complex on Mount Hiei and the imperial court in its new capital at the foot of the mountain. As a result, Tendai emphasized great reverence for the emperor and the nation.


Japan - The Fujiwara Regency


When Kammu moved the capital to Heian (Kyoto), which remained the imperial capital for the next 1,000 years, he did so not only to strengthen imperial authority but also to improve his seat of government geopolitically. Kyoto had good river access to the sea and could be reached by land routes from the eastern provinces. The early Heian period (794-967) continued Nara culture; the Heian capital was patterned on the Chinese capital at Chang'an, as was Nara, but on a larger scale. Despite the decline of the Taika-Taih reforms, imperial government was vigorous during the early Heian period. Indeed, Kammu's avoidance of drastic reform decreased the intensity of political struggles, and he became recognized as one of Japan's most forceful emperors.

Although Kammu had abandoned universal conscription in 792, he still waged major military offensives to subjugate the Emishi, possible descendants of the displaced Jomon, living in northern and eastern Japan. After making temporary gains in 794, in 797 Kammu appointed a new commander under the title seii taishogun (barbarian-subduing generalissimo; often referred to as shogun). By 801 the shogun had defeated the Emishi and had extended the imperial domains to the eastern end of Honshu. Imperial control over the provinces was tenuous at best, however. In the ninth and tenth centuries, much authority was lost to the great families, who disregarded the Chinese-style land and tax systems imposed by the government in Kyoto. Stability came to Heian Japan, but, even though succession was ensured for the imperial family through heredity, power again concentrated in the hands of one noble family, the Fujiwara.

Following Kammu's death in 806 and a succession struggle among his sons, two new offices were established in an effort to adjust the Taika-Taiho administrative structure. Through the new Emperor's Private Office, the emperor could issue administrative edicts more directly and with more self-assurance than before. The new Metropolitan Police Board replaced the largely ceremonial imperial guard units. While these two offices strengthened the emperor's position temporarily, soon they and other Chinese-style structures were bypassed in the developing state. Chinese influence effectively ended with the last imperial-sanctioned mission to China in 838. Tang China was in a state of decline, and Chinese Buddhists were severely persecuted, undermining Japanese respect for Chinese institutions. Japan began to turn inward.

As the Soga had taken control of the throne in the sixth century, the Fujiwara by the ninth century had intermarried with the imperial family, and one of their members was the first head of the Emperor's Private Office. Another Fujiwara became regent for his grandson, then a minor emperor, and yet another was appointed kanpaku (regent for an adult emperor). Toward the end of the ninth century, several emperors tried, but failed, to check the Fujiwara. For a time, however, during the reign of Emperor Daigo (897-930), the Fujiwara regency was suspended as he ruled directly.

Nevertheless, the Fujiwara were not demoted by Daigo but actually became stronger during his reign. Central control of Japan had continued to decline, and the Fujiwara, along with other great families and religious foundations, acquired ever larger shoen and greater wealth during the early tenth century. By the early Heian period, the shoen had obtained legal status, and the large religious establishments sought clear titles in perpetuity, waiver of taxes, and immunity from government inspection of the shoen they held. Those people who worked the land found it advantageous to transfer title to shoen holders in return for a share of the harvest. People and lands were increasingly beyond central control and taxation, a de facto return to conditions before the Taika Reform.

Within decades of Daigo's death, the Fujiwara had absolute control over the court. By the year 1000, Fujiwara Michinaga was able to enthrone and dethrone emperors at will. Little authority was left for traditional officialdom, and government affairs were handled through the Fujiwara family's private administration. The Fujiwara had become what historian George B. Sansom has called "hereditary dictators."

Despite their usurpation of imperial authority, the Fujiwara presided over a period of cultural and artistic flowering at the imperial court and among the aristocracy. There was great interest in graceful poetry and vernacular literature. Japanese writing had long depended on Chinese ideograms (kanji), but these were now supplemented by kana, two types of phonetic Japanese script: katakana, a mnemonic device using parts of Chinese ideograms; and hiragana, a cursive form of katakana writing and an art form in itself. Hiragana gave written expression to the spoken word and, with it, to the rise in Japan's famous vernacular literature, much of it written by court women who had not been trained in Chinese as had their male counterparts. Three late tenth-century and early eleventh-century women presented their views of life and romance at the Heian court in Kagero nikki (The Gossamer Years) by "the mother of Michitsuna," Makura no soshi (The Pillow Book) by Sei Shonagon, and Genji monogatari (Tale of Genji)--the world's first novel--by Murasaki Shikibu. Indigenous art also flourished under the Fujiwara after centuries of imitating Chinese forms. Vividly colored yamato-e (Japanese style) paintings of court life and stories about temples and shrines became common in the mid- and late Heian periods, setting patterns for Japanese art to this day.

As culture flourished, so did decentralization. Whereas the first phase of shoen development in the early Heian period had seen the opening of new lands and the granting of the use of lands to aristocrats and religious institutions, the second phase saw the growth of patrimonial "house governments," as in the old clan system. (In fact, the form of the old clan system had remained largely intact within the great old centralized government.) New institutions were now needed in the face of social, economic, and political changes. The Taiho Code lapsed, its institutions relegated to ceremonial functions. Family administrations now became public institutions. As the most powerful family, the Fujiwara governed Japan and determined the general affairs of state, such as succession to the throne. Family and state affairs were thoroughly intermixed, a pattern followed among other families, monasteries, and even the imperial family. Land management became the primary occupation of the aristocracy, not so much because direct control by the imperial family or central government had declined but more from strong family solidarity and a lack of a sense of Japan as a single nation.


Japan - The Rise of the Military Class


Under the early courts, when military conscription had been centrally controlled, military affairs had been taken out of the hands of the provincial aristocracy. But as the system broke down after 792, local power holders again became the primary source of military strength. Shoen holders had access to manpower and, as they obtained improved military technology (such as new training methods, more powerful bows, armor, horses, and superior swords) and faced worsening local conditions in the ninth century, military service became part of shoen life. Not only the shoen but also civil and religious institutions formed private guard units to protect themselves. Gradually, the provincial upper class was transformed into a new military elite based on the ideals of the bushi (warrior) or samurai (literally, one who serves).

Bushi interests were diverse, cutting across old power structures to form new associations in the tenth century. Mutual interests, family connections, and kinship were consolidated in military groups that became part of family administration. In time, large regional military families formed around members of the court aristocracy who had become prominent provincial figures. These military families gained prestige from connections to the imperial court and court-granted military titles and access to manpower. The Fujiwara, Taira, and Minamoto were among the most prominent families supported by the new military class.

Decline in food production, growth of the population, and competition for resources among the great families all led to the gradual decline of Fujiwara power and gave rise to military disturbances in the mid-tenth and eleventh centuries. Members of the Fujiwara, Taira, and Minamoto families--all of whom had descended from the imperial family--attacked one another, claimed control over vast tracts of conquered land, set up rival regimes, and generally broke the peace of the Land of the Rising Sun.

The Fujiwara controlled the throne until the reign of Emperor Go-Sanjo (1068-73), the first emperor not born of a Fujiwara mother since the ninth century. Go-Sanjo, determined to restore imperial control through strong personal rule, implemented reforms to curb Fujiwara influence. He also established an office to compile and validate estate records with the aim of reasserting central control. Many shoen were not properly certified, and large landholders, like the Fujiwara, felt threatened with the loss of their lands. Go-Sanjo also established the Incho, or Office of the Cloistered Emperor, which was held by a succession of emperors who abdicated to devote themselves to behind-the-scenes governance, or insei (cloistered government).

The Incho filled the void left by the decline of Fujiwara power. Rather than being banished, the Fujiwara were mostly retained in their old positions of civil dictator and minister of the center while being bypassed in decision making. In time, many of the Fujiwara were replaced, mostly by members of the rising Minamoto family. While the Fujiwara fell into disputes among themselves and formed northern and southern factions, the insei system allowed the paternal line of the imperial family to gain influence over the throne. The period from 1086 to 1156 was the age of supremacy of the Incho and of the rise of the military class throughout the country. Military might rather than civil authority dominated the government.

A struggle for succession in the mid-twelfth century gave the Fujiwara an opportunity to regain their former power. Fujiwara Yorinaga sided with the retired emperor in a violent battle in 1158 against the heir apparent, who was supported by the Taira and Minamoto. In the end, the Fujiwara were destroyed, the old system of government supplanted, and the insei system left powerless as bushi took control of court affairs, marking a turning point in Japanese history. Within a year, the Taira and Minamoto clashed, and a twenty-year period of Taira ascendancy began. The Taira were seduced by court life and ignored problems in the provinces. Finally, Minamoto Yoritomo (1147-99) rose from his headquarters at Kamakura (in the Kanto region, southwest of modern Tokyo) to defeat the Taira, and with them the child emperor they controlled, in the Genpei War (1180-85).




The Bakufu and the Hojo Regency

The Kamakura period (1185-1333) marks the transition to the Japanese "medieval" era, a nearly 700-year period in which the emperor, the court, and the traditional central government were left intact but were largely relegated to ceremonial functions. Civil, military, and judicial matters were controlled by the bushi class, the most powerful of whom was the de facto national ruler. The term feudalism is generally used to describe this period, being accepted by scholars as applicable to medieval Japan as well as to medieval Europe. Both had land-based economies, vestiges of a previously centralized state, and a concentration of advanced military technologies in the hands of a specialized fighting class. Lords required the loyal services of vassals, who were rewarded with fiefs of their own. The fief holders exercised local military rule and public power related to the holding of land. This period in Japan differed from the old shoen system in its pervasive military emphasis.

Once Minamoto Yoritomo had consolidated his power, he established a new government at his family home in Kamakura. He called his government a bakufu (tent government), but because he was given the title seii taishogun by the emperor, the government is often referred to in Western literature as the shogunate. Yoritomo followed the Fujiwara form of house government and had an administrative board, a board of retainers, and a board of inquiry. After confiscating Taira estates in central and western Japan, he had the imperial court appoint stewards for the estates and constables for the provinces. As shogun, Yoritomo was both the steward and the constable general. The Kamakura bakufu was not a national regime, however, and although it controlled large tracts of land, there was strong resistance to the stewards. The regime continued warfare against the Fujiwara in the north, but never brought either the north or the west under complete military control. The old court resided in Kyoto, continuing to hold the land over which it had jurisdiction, while newly organized military families were attracted to Kamakura.

Despite a strong beginning, Yoritomo failed to consolidate the leadership of his family on a lasting basis. Intrafamily contention had long existed within the Minamoto, although Yoritomo had eliminated most serious challengers to his authority. When he died suddenly in 1199, his son Yoriie became shogun and nominal head of the Minamoto, but Yoriie was unable to control the other eastern bushi families. By the early thirteenth century, a regency had been established for the shogun by his maternal grandparents-- members of the Hojo family, a branch of the Taira that had allied itself with the Minamoto in 1180. Under the Hojo, the bakufu became powerless, and the shogun, often a member of the Fujiwara family or even an imperial prince, was merely a figurehead.

With the protector of the emperor a figurehead himself, strains emerged between Kyoto and Kamakura, and in 1221 a war--the Jokyu Incident--broke out between the cloistered emperor and the H j regent. The Hojo forces easily won the war, and the imperial court was brought under direct bakufu control. The shogun's constables gained greater civil powers, and the court was obliged to seek Kamakura's approval for all of its actions. Although deprived of political power, the court was allowed to retain extensive estates with which to sustain the imperial splendor the bakufu needed to help sanction its rule.

Several significant administrative achievements were made during the Hojo regency. In 1225 the Council of State was established, providing opportunities for other military lords to exercise judicial and legislative authority at Kamakura. The H j regent presided over the council, which was a successful form of collective leadership. The adoption of Japan's first military code of law--the Joei Code--in 1232 reflected the profound transition from court to militarized society. While legal practices in Kyoto were still based on 500-year-old Confucian principles, the Joei Code was a highly legalistic document that stressed the duties of stewards and constables, provided means for settling land disputes, and established rules governing inheritances. It was clear and concise, stipulated punishments for violators of its conditions, and remained in effect for the next 635 years.

As might be expected, the literature of the time reflected the unsettled nature of the period. The Hojoki (An Account of My Hut) describes the turmoil of the period in terms of the Buddhist concepts of impermanence and the vanity of human projects. The Heike monogatari (Tale of the Heike) narrated the rise and fall of the Taira (also known as the Heike), replete with tales of wars and samurai deeds. A second literary mainstream was the continuation of anthologies of poetry in the Shin kokinshu wakashu (New Collection of Ancient and Modern Times), of which twenty volumes were produced between 1201 and 1205.


Japan - The Flourishing of Buddhism


In the time of disunity and violence, deepening pessimism increased the appeal of the search for salvation. Kamakura was the age of the great popularization of Buddhism. Two new sects, Jodo (Pure Land) and Zen (Meditation), dominated the period. The old Heian sects had been quite esoteric and appealed more to the intellectuals than to the masses. The Mount Hiei monasteries had become politically powerful but appealed primarily to those capable of systematic study of the sect's teachings. This situation gave rise to the Jodo sect, based on unconditional faith and devotion and prayer to Amida Buddha. Zen rejected all temporal and scriptural authority, stressing moral character rather than intellectual attainments, an emphasis that appealed to the military class. Growing numbers of the military class turned to Zen masters, regarded as embodiments of truth.


Japan - Mongol Invasions


The repulsions of two Mongol invasions were momentous events in Japanese history. Japanese relations with China had been terminated in the mid-ninth century after the deterioration of late Tang China and the turning inward of the Heian court. Some commercial contacts were maintained with southern China in later centuries, but Japanese pirates made the open seas dangerous. At a time when the bakufu had little interest in foreign affairs and ignored communications from China and Koryo (as Korea was then known), news arrived in 1268 of a new Mongol regime in Beijing. Its leader, Khubilai Khan, demanded that the Japanese pay tribute to the new Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368) and threatened reprisals if they failed to do so. Unused to such threats, Kyoto raised the diplomatic counter of Japan's divine origin, rejected the Mongol demands, dismissed the Korean messengers, and started defensive preparations. After further unsuccessful entreaties, the first Mongol invasion took place in 1274. More than 600 ships carried a combined Mongol, Chinese, and Korean force of 23,000 troops armed with catapults, combustible missiles, and bows and arrows. In fighting, these soldiers grouped in close cavalry formations against samurai, who were accustomed to one-on-one combat. Local Japanese forces at Hakata, on northern Kyushu, defended against the superior mainland force, which, after one day of fighting was decimated by the onslaught of a sudden typhoon. Khubilai realized that nature, not military incompetence, had been the cause of his forces' failure so, in 1281, he launched a second invasion. Seven weeks of fighting took place in northwestern Kyushu before another typhoon struck, again destroying the Mongol fleet.

Although Shinto priests attributed the two defeats of the Mongols to a "divine wind" (kamikaze), a sign of heaven's special protection of Japan, the invasion left a deep impression on the bakufu leaders. Long-standing fears of the Chinese threat to Japan were reinforced, and the Korean Peninsula became regarded as "an arrow pointed at the heart of Japan." The Japanese victory, however, gave the bushi a sense of fighting superiority that remained with Japan's soldiers until 1945. The victory also convinced the bushi of the value of the bakufu form of government.

The Mongol war had been a drain on the economy, and new taxes had to be levied to maintain defensive preparations for the future. The invasions also caused disaffection among those who expected recompense for their help in defeating the Mongols. There were no lands or other rewards to be given, however, and such disaffection, combined with overextension and the increasing defense costs, led to a decline of the Kamakura bakufu. Additionally, inheritances had divided family properties, and landowners increasingly had to turn to moneylenders for support. Roving bands of ronin further threatened the stability of the bakufu.


Japan - Civil War


The Hojo reacted to the ensuing chaos by trying to place more power among the various great family clans. To further weaken the Kyoto court, the bakufu decided to allow two contending imperial lines--known as the Southern Court or junior line and the Northern Court or senior line--to alternate on the throne. The method worked for several successions until a member of the Southern Court ascended to the throne as Emperor Go-Daigo (r. 1318- 39). Go-Daigo wanted to overthrow the bakufu, and he openly defied Kamakura by naming his own son his heir. In 1331 the bakufu exiled Go-Daigo, but loyalist forces rebelled. They were aided by Ashikaga Takauji (1305-58), a constable who turned against Kamakura when dispatched to put down Go-Daigo's rebellion. At the same time, another eastern chieftain rebelled against the bakufu, which quickly disintegrated, and the Hojo were defeated.

In the swell of victory, Go-Daigo endeavored to restore imperial authority and tenth-century Confucian practices. This period of reform, known as the Kemmu Restoration (1333-36), aimed at strengthening the position of the emperor and reasserting the primacy of the court nobles over the bushi. The reality, however, was that the forces who had arisen against Kamakura had been set on defeating the Hojo, not on supporting the emperor. Ashikaga Takauji finally sided with the Northern Court in a civil war against the Southern Court represented by Go-Daigo. The long War Between the Courts lasted from 1336 to 1392. Early in the conflict, Go-Daigo was driven from Kyoto, and the Northern Court contender was installed by Ashikaga, who became the new shogun.


Japan - Ashikaga Bakufu


The ensuing period of Ashikaga rule (1336-1573) was called Muromachi for the district in which its headquarters were in Kyoto after 1378. What distinguished the Ashikaga bakufu from that of Kamakura was that, whereas Kamakura had existed in equilibrium with the Kyoto court, Ashikaga took over the remnants of the imperial government. Nevertheless, the Ashikaga bakufu was not as strong as the Kamakura had been and was greatly preoccupied by the civil war. Not until the rule of Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (as third shogun, 1368-94, and chancellor, 1394-1408) did a semblance of order emerge.

Yoshimitsu allowed the constables, who had had limited powers during the Kamakura period, to become strong regional rulers, later called daimyo (from dai, meaning great, and myoden, meanng named lands). In time, a balance of power evolved between the shogun and the daimyo; the three most prominent daimyo families rotated as deputies to the shogun at Kyoto. Yoshimitsu was finally successful in reunifying the Northern Court and the Southern Court in 1392, but, despite his promise of greater balance between the imperial lines, the Northern Court maintained control over the throne thereafter. The line of shoguns gradually weakened after Yoshimitsu and increasingly lost power to the daimyo and other regional strongmen. The shogun's decisions about imperial succession became meaningless, and the daimyo backed their own candidates. In time, the Ashikaga family had its own succession problems, resulting finally in the Onin War (1467-77), which left Kyoto devastated and effectively ended the national authority of the bakufu. The power vacuum that ensued launched a century of anarchy.


Japan - Economic and Cultural Developments


Contact with Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) China was renewed during the Muromachi period after the Chinese sought support in suppressing Japanese pirates, or wako, who controlled the seas and pillaged coastal areas of China. Wanting to improve relations with China and to rid Japan of the wako threat, Yoshimitsu accepted a relationship with the Chinese that was to last for half a century. Japanese wood, sulfur, copper ore, swords, and folding fans were traded for Chinese silk, porcelain, books, and coins, in what the Chinese considered tribute but the Japanese saw as profitable trade.

During the time of the Ashikaga bakufu, a new national culture, called Muromachi culture, emerged from the bakufu headquarters in Kyoto to reach all levels of society. Zen Buddhism played a large role in spreading not only religious but also artistic influences, especially those derived from Chinese painting of the Chinese Song (960-1279), Yuan, and Ming dynasties. The proximity of the imperial court and the bakufu resulted in a commingling of imperial family members, courtiers, daimyo, samurai, and Zen priests. Art of all kinds--architecture, literature, No drama, comedy, poetry, the tea ceremony, landscape gardening, and flower arranging--all flourished during Muromachi times.

There also was renewed interest in Shinto, which had quietly coexisted with Buddhism during the centuries of the latter's predominance. In fact, Shinto, which lacked its own scriptures and had few prayers, as a result of syncretic practices begun in the Nara period, had widely adopted Shingon Buddhist rituals. Between the eighth and fourteenth centuries, was nearly totally absorbed by Buddhism and became known as Ryobu Shinto (Dual Shinto). The Mongol invasions in the late thirteenth century, however, had evoked a national consciousness of the role of the kamikaze in defeating the enemy. Less than fifty years later (1339-43), Kitabatake Chikafusa (1293-1354), the chief commander of the Southern Court forces, wrote the Jinno sh t ki (Chronicle of the Direct Descent of the Divine Sovereigns). This chronicle emphasized the importance of maintaining the divine descent of the imperial line from Amaterasu to the current emperor, a condition that gave Japan a special national polity (kokutai). Besides reenforcing the concept of the emperor as a deity, the Jinno sh t ki provided a Shinto view of history, which stressed the divine nature of all Japanese and the country's spiritual supremacy over China and India. As a result, a change gradually occurred in the balance between the dual Buddhist-Shinto religious practice. Between the fourteenth and seventeenth centuries, Shinto reemerged as the primary belief system, developed its own philosophy and scripture (based on Confucian and Buddhist canons), and became a powerful nationalistic force.


Japan - Provincial Wars and Foreign Contacts


The Onin War led to serious political fragmentation and obliteration of domains: a great struggle for land and power ensued among bushi chieftains until the mid-sixteenth century. Peasants rose against their landlords and samurai against their overlords as central control virtually ceased. The imperial house was left impoverished, and the bakufu was controlled by contending chieftains in Kyoto. The provincial domains that emerged after the Onin War were smaller and easier to control. Many new small daimyo arose from among the samurai who had overthrown their great overlords. Border defenses were improved, and wellfortified castle towns were built to protect the newly opened domains, for which land surveys were made, roads built, and mines opened. New house laws provided practical means of administration, stressing duties and rules of behavior. Emphasis was put on success in war, estate management, and finance. Threatening alliances were guarded against through strict marriage rules. Aristocratic society was overwhelmingly military in character. The rest of society was controlled in a system of vassalage. The shoen were obliterated, and court nobles and absentee landlords were dispossessed. The new daimyo directly controlled the land, keeping the peasantry in permanent serfdom in exchange for protection.

Most wars of the period were short and localized, although they occurred throughout Japan. By 1500 the entire country was engulfed in civil wars. Rather than disrupting the local economies, however, the frequent movement of armies stimulated the growth of transportation and communications, which in turn provided additional revenues from customs and tolls. To avoid such fees, commerce shifted to the central region, which no daimyo had been able to control, and to the Inland Sea. Economic developments and the desire to protect trade achievements brought about the establishment of merchant and artisan guilds.

By the end of the Muromachi period, the first Europeans had arrived. The Portuguese landed in southern Kyushu in 1543 and within two years were making regular port calls. The Spanish arrived in 1587, followed by the Dutch in 1609. The Japanese began to attempt studies of European civilization in depth, and new opportunities were presented for the economy, along with serious political challenges. European firearms, fabrics, glassware, clocks, tobacco, and other Western innovations were traded for Japanese gold and silver. Significant wealth was accumulated through trade, and lesser daimyo, especially in Kyushu, greatly increased their power. Provincial wars were made more deadly with the introduction of firearms, such as muskets and cannons, and greater use of infantry.

Christianity had an impact on Japan, largely through the efforts of the Jesuits, led first by Saint Francis Xavier (1506- 52), who arrived in Kagoshima in southern Kyushu in 1549. Both daimyo and merchants seeking better trade arrangements as well as peasants were among the converts. By 1560 Kyoto had become another major area of missionary activity in Japan. In 1568 the port of Nagasaki, in northwestern Kyushu, was established by a Christian daimyo and was turned over to Jesuit administration in 1579. By 1582 there were as many as 150,000 converts (2 percent of the population) and 200 churches. But bakufu tolerance for this alien influence diminished as the country became more unified and the openness of the period decreased. Proscriptions against Christianity began in 1587 and outright persecutions in 1597. Although foreign trade was still encouraged, it was closely regulated, and by 1640 the exclusion and suppression of Christianity had become national policy.




Between 1560 and 1600, powerful military leaders arose to defeat the warring daimyo and unify Japan. Three major figures dominated the period in succession: Oda Nobunaga (1534-82), Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-98), and Tokugawa Ieyasu (1542-1616), each of whom emerged as a major overlord with large military forces under his command. As their power increased, they looked to the imperial court in <"http://worldfacts.us/Japan-Kyoto.htm"> Kyoto for sanction. In 1568 Nobunaga, who had defeated another overlord's attempt to attack Kyoto in 1560, marched on the capital, gained the support of the emperor, and installed his own candidate in the succession struggle for shogun. Backed by military force, Nobunaga was able to control the bakufu.

Initial resistance to Nobunaga in the Kyoto region came from the Buddhist monks, rival daimyo, and hostile merchants. Surrounded by his enemies, Nobunaga struck first at the secular power of the militant Tendai Buddhists, destroying their monastic center at Mount Hiei near Kyoto and killing thousands of monks in 1571. By 1573 he had defeated the local daimyo, banished the last Ashikaga shogun, and ushered in what historians call the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1573-1600), named after the castles of Nobunaga and Hideyoshi. Having taken these major steps toward reunification, Nobunaga then built a seven-story castle surrounded by stone walls at Azuchi on the shore of Lake Biwa. The castle was able to withstand firearms and became a symbol of the age of reunification. Nobunaga's power increased as he enfeoffed the conquered daimyo, broke down the barriers to free commerce, and drew the humbled religious communities and merchants into his military structure. He secured control of about one-third of the provinces through the use of large-scale warfare, and he institutionalized administrative practices, such as systematic village organization, tax collection, and standardized measurements. At the same time, other daimyo, both those that Nobunaga had conquered and those beyond his control, built their own heavily fortified castles and modernized their garrisons. In 1577 Nobunaga dispatched his chief general, Hideyoshi, to conquer twelve western Honshu provinces. The war was a protracted affair, and in 1582, when Nobunaga led an army to assist Hideyoshi, he was assassinated.

After destroying the forces responsible for Nobunaga's death, Hideyoshi was rewarded with a joint guardianship of Nobunaga's heir, who was a minor. By 1584 Hideyoshi had eliminated the three other guardians, taken complete control of Kyoto, and become the undisputed successor of his late overlord. A commoner by birth and without a surname, Hideyoshi was adopted by the Fujiwara family, given the surname Toyotomi, and granted the title kanpaku, representing civil and military control of all Japan. By the following year, he had secured alliances with three of the nine major daimyo coalitions and continued the war of reunification in Shikoku and northern Kyushu. In 1590, with an army of 200,000 troops, Hideyoshi defeated his last formidable rival, who controlled the Kanto region of eastern Honshu. The remaining contending daimyo capitulated, and the military reunification of Japan was complete.

All of Japan was controlled by the dictatorial Hideyoshi either directly or through his sworn vassals, and a new national government structure had evolved: a country unified under one daimyo alliance but still decentralized. The basis of the power structure was again the distribution of territory. A new unit of land measurement and assessment--the koku--was instituted. One koku was equivalent to about 180 liters of rice; daimyo were by definition those who held lands capable of producing 10,000 koku or more of rice. Hideyoshi personally controlled 2 million of the 18.5 million koku total national assessment (taken in 1598). Tokugawa Ieyasu, a powerful central Honshu daimyo (not completely under Hideyoshi's control), held 2.5 million koku.

Despite Hideyoshi's tremendous strength and the fear in which he was held, his position was far from secure. He attempted to rearrange the daimyo holdings to his advantage by, for example, reassigning the Tokugawa family to the conquered Kanto region and surrounding their new territory with more trusted vassals. He also adopted a hostage system for daimyo wives and heirs at his castle town at Osaka and used marriage alliances to enforce feudal bonds. He imposed the koku system and land surveys to reassess the entire nation. In 1590 Hideyoshi declared an end to any further class mobility or change in social status, reinforcing the class distinctions between cultivators and bushi (only the latter could bear arms). He provided for an orderly succession in 1591 by taking the title taiko, or retired kanpaku, turning the regency over to his son Hideyori. Only toward the end of his life did Hideyoshi try to formalize the balance of power by establishing certain administrative bodies: the five-member Board of Regents (one of them Ieyasu), sworn to keep peace and support the Toyotomi, the five-member Board of House Administrators for routine policy and administrative matters, and the three-member Board of Mediators, who were charged with keeping peace between the first two boards.

Momoyama art (1573-1615), named after the hill on which Hideyoshi built his castle at Fushima, south of Kyoto, flourished during this period. It was a period of interest in the outside world, the development of large urban centers, and the rise of the merchant and leisure classes. Ornate castle architecture and interiors adorned with painted screens embellished with gold leaf reflected daimyo power and wealth. Depictions of the "southern barbarians"--Europeans--were exotic and popular.

In 1577 Hideyoshi had seized <"http://worldfacts.us/Japan-Nagasaki.htm">Nagasaki, Japan's major point of contact with the outside world. He took control of the various trade associations and tried to regulate all overseas activities. Although <"../china/index.html"> China rebuffed his efforts to secure trade concessions, Hideyoshi succeeded in sending commercial missions to present-day Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand. He was suspicious of Christianity, however, as potentially subversive to daimyo loyalties and he had some missionaries crucified.

Hideyoshi's major ambition was to conquer China, and in 1592, with an army of 200,000 troops, he invaded <"http://worldfacts.us/Korea-South.htm">Korea, then a Chinese vassal state. His armies quickly overran the peninsula before losing momentum in the face of a combined Korean-Chinese force. During peace talks, Hideyoshi demanded a division of Korea, freetrade status, and a Chinese princess as consort for the emperor. The equality with China sought by Japan was rebuffed by the Chinese, and peace efforts ended. In 1597 a second invasion was begun, but it abruptly ended with Hideyoshi's death in 1598.




Rule of Shogun and Daimyo

An evolution had taken place in the centuries from the time of the Kamakura bakufu, which existed in equilibrium with the imperial court, to the Tokugawa, when the bushi became the unchallenged rulers in what historian Edwin O. Reischauer called a "centralized feudal" form of government. Instrumental in the rise of the new bakufu was Tokugawa Ieyasu, the main beneficiary of the achievements of Nobunaga and Hideyoshi. Already powerful, Ieyasu profited by his transfer to the rich Kanto area. He maintained 2.5 million koku of land, had a new headquarters at Edo, a strategically situated castle town (the future Tokyo), and had an additional 2 million koku of land and thirtyeight vassals under his control. After Hideyoshi's death, Ieyasu moved quickly to seize control from the Toyotomi family.

Ieyasu's victory over the western daimyo at the Battle of Sekigahara (1600) gave him virtual control of all Japan. He rapidly abolished numerous enemy daimyo houses, reduced others, such as that of the Toyotomi, and redistributed the spoils of war to his family and allies. Ieyasu still failed to achieve complete control of the western daimyo, but his assumption of the title of shogun helped consolidate the alliance system. After further strengthening his power base, Ieyasu was confident enough to install his son Hidetada (1579-1632) as shogun and himself as retired shogun in 1605. The Toyotomi were still a significant threat, and Ieyasu devoted the next decade to their eradication. In 1615 the Toyotomi stronghold at Osaka was destroyed by the Tokugawa army.

The Tokugawa (or Edo) period brought 200 years of stability to Japan. The political system evolved into what historians call bakuhan, a combination of the terms bakufu and han (domains) to describe the government and society of the period. In the bakuhan, the shogun had national authority and the daimyo had regional authority, a new unity in the feudal structure, which had an increasingly large bureaucracy to administer the mixture of centralized and decentralized authorities. The Tokugawa became more powerful during their first century of rule: land redistribution gave them nearly 7 million koku, control of the most important cities, and a land assessment system reaping great revenues.

The feudal hierarchy was completed by the various classes of daimyo. Closest to the Tokugawa house were the shinpan, or "related houses." They were twenty-three daimyo on the borders of Tokugawa lands, daimyo all directly related to Ieyasu. The shinpan held mostly honorary titles and advisory posts in the bakufu. The second class of the hierarchy were the fudai, or "house daimyo," rewarded with lands close to the Tokugawa holdings for their faithful service. By the eighteenth century, 145 fudai controlled such smaller han, the greatest assessed at 250,000 koku. Members of the fudai class staffed most of the major bakufu offices. Ninety-seven han formed the third group, the tozama (outside vassals), former opponents or new allies. The tozama were located mostly on the peripheries of the archipelago and collectively controlled nearly 10 million koku of productive land. Because the tozama were least trusted of the daimyo, they were the most cautiously managed and generously treated, although they were excluded from central government positions.

The Tokugawa not only consolidated their control over a reunified Japan, they also had unprecedented power over the emperor, the court, all daimyo, and the religious orders. The emperor was held up as the ultimate source of political sanction for the shogun, who ostensibly was the vassal of the imperial family. The Tokugawa helped the imperial family recapture its old glory by rebuilding its palaces and granting it new lands. To ensure a close tie between the imperial clan and the Tokugawa family, Ieyasu's granddaughter was made an imperial consort in 1619.

A code of laws was established to regulate the daimyo houses. The code encompassed private conduct, marriage, dress, and types of weapons and numbers of troops allowed; required alternateyear residence at Edo; prohibited the construction of ocean-going ships; proscribed Christianity; and stipulated that bakufu regulations were the national law. Although the daimyo were not taxed per se, they were regularly levied for contributions for military and logistical support and for such public works projects as castles, roads, bridges, and palaces. The various regulations and levies not only strengthened the Tokugawa but also depleted the wealth of the daimyo, thus weakening their threat to the central administration. The han, once military-centered domains, became mere local administrative units. The daimyo did have full administrative control over their territory and their complex systems of retainers, bureaucrats, and commoners. Loyalty was exacted from religious foundations, already greatly weakened by Nobunaga and Hideyoshi, through a variety of control mechanisms.


Japan - Seclusion and Social Control


Like Hideyoshi, Ieyasu encouraged foreign trade but also was suspicious of outsiders. He wanted to make Edo a major port, but once he learned that the Europeans favored ports in Kyushu and that China had rejected his plans for official trade, he moved to control existing trade and allowed only certain ports to handle specific kinds of commodities.

The "Christian problem" was, in effect, a problem controlling both the Christian daimyo in Kyushu and trade with the Europeans. By 1612 the shogun's retainers and residents of Tokugawa lands had been ordered to foreswear Christianity. More restrictions came in 1616 (the restriction of foreign trade to Nagasaki and Hirado, an island northwest of Kyushu), 1622 (the execution of 120 missionaries and converts), 1624 (the expulsion of the Spanish), and 1629 (the execution of thousands of Christians). Finally, in 1635 an edict prohibited any Japanese from traveling outside Japan or, if someone left, from ever returning. In 1636 the Portuguese were restricted to Deshima, a man-made islet--and thus, not true Japanese soil--in Nagasaki's harbor.

The Shimabara Rebellion of 1637-38, in which discontented Christian samurai and peasants rebelled against the bakufu-- and Edo called in Dutch ships to bombard the rebel stronghold-- marked the end of the Christian movement. Soon thereafter, the Portuguese were permanently expelled, members of the Portuguese diplomatic mission were executed, all subjects were ordered to register at a Buddhist or Shinto temple, and the Dutch and Chinese were restricted, respectively, to Deshima and to a special quarter in Nagasaki. Besides small trade of some outer daimyo with Korea and the Ryukyu Islands, to the southwest of Japan's main islands, by 1641 foreign contacts were limited to Nagasaki.

Japanese society of the Tokugawa period was influenced by Confucian principles of social order. At the top of the hierarchy, but removed from political power, were the imperial court families at Kyoto. The real political power holders were the samurai, followed by the rest of society. In descending hierarchical order, they consisted of farmers, who were organized into villages, artisans, and merchants. Urban dwellers, often well-to-do merchants, were known as chonin (townspeople) and were confined to special districts. The individual had no legal rights in Tokugawa Japan. The family was the smallest legal entity, and the maintenance of family status and privileges was of great importance at all levels of society.


Japan - Decline of the Tokugawa


The Tokugawa did not eventually collapse simply because of intrinsic failures. Foreign intrusions helped to precipitate a complex political struggle between the bakufu and a coalition of its critics. The continuity of the anti-bakufu movement in the mid-nineteenth century would finally bring down the Tokugawa. From the outset, the Tokugawa attempted to restrict families' accumulation of wealth and fostered a "back to the soil" policy, in which the farmer, the ultimate producer, was the ideal person in society. Despite these efforts to restrict wealth, and partly because of the extraordinary period of peace, the standard of living for urban and rural dwellers alike grew significantly during the Tokugawa period. Better means of crop production, transportation, housing, food, and entertainment were all available, as was more leisure time, at least for urban dwellers. The literacy rate was high for a preindustrial society, and cultural values were redefined and widely imparted throughout the samurai and chonin classes. Despite the reappearance of guilds, economic activities went well beyond the restrictive nature of the guilds, and commerce spread and a money economy developed. Although government heavily restricted the merchants and viewed them as unproductive and usurious members of society, the samurai, who gradually became separated from their rural ties, depended greatly on the merchants and artisans for consumer goods, artistic interests, and loans. In this way, a subtle subversion of the warrior class by the chonin took place.

A struggle arose in the face of political limitations that the shogun imposed on the entrepreneurial class. The government ideal of an agrarian society failed to square with the reality of commercial distribution. A huge government bureaucracy had evolved, which now stagnated because of its discrepancy with a new and evolving social order. Compounding the situation, the population increased significantly during the first half of the Tokugawa period. Although the magnitude and growth rates are uncertain, there were at least 26 million commoners and about 4 million members of samurai families and their attendants when the first nationwide census was taken in 1721. Drought, followed by crop shortages and starvation, resulted in twenty great famines between 1675 and 1837. Peasant unrest grew, and by the late eighteenth century, mass protests over taxes and food shortages had become commonplace. Newly landless families became tenant farmers, while the displaced rural poor moved into the cities. As the fortunes of previously well-to-do families declined, others moved in to accumulate land, and a new, wealthy farming class emerged. Those people who benefited were able to diversify production and to hire laborers, while others were left discontented. Many samurai fell on hard times and were forced into handicraft production and wage jobs for merchants.

Western intrusions were on the increase in the early nineteenth century. Russian warships and traders encroached on Karafuto (called Sakhalin under Russian and Soviet control) and on the Kuril Islands, the southernmost of which are considered by the Japanese as the northern islands of Hokkaido. A British warship entered Nagasaki Harbor searching for enemy Dutch ships in 1808, and other warships and whalers were seen in Japanese waters with increasing frequency in the 1810s and 1820s. Whalers and trading ships from the United States also arrived on Japan's shores. Although the Japanese made some minor concessions and allowed some landings, they largely attempted to keep all foreigners out, sometimes using force. Rangaku became crucial not only in understanding the foreign "barbarians" but also in using the knowledge gained from the West to fend them off.

By the 1830s, there was a general sense of crisis. Famines and natural disasters hit hard, and unrest led to a peasant uprising against officials and merchants in Osaka in 1837. Although it lasted only a day, the uprising made a dramatic impression. Remedies came in the form of traditional solutions that sought to reform moral decay rather than address institutional problems. The shogun's advisers pushed for a return to the martial spirit, more restrictions on foreign trade and contacts, suppression of Rangaku, censorship of literature, and elimination of "luxury" in the government and samurai class. Others sought the overthrow of the Tokugawa and espoused the political doctrine of sonno-joi (revere the emperor, expel the barbarians), which called for unity under imperial rule and opposed foreign intrusions. The bakufu persevered for the time being amidst growing concerns over Western successes in establishing colonial enclaves in China following the Opium War of 1839-42. More reforms were ordered, especially in the economic sector, to strengthen Japan against the Western threat.

Japan turned down a demand from the United States, which was greatly expanding its own presence in the Asia-Pacific region, to establish diplomatic relations when Commodore James Biddle appeared in Edo Bay with two warships in July 1846. However, when Commodore Matthew C. Perry's four-ship squadron appeared in Edo Bay in July 1853, the bakufu was thrown into turmoil. The chairman of the senior councillors, Abe Masahiro (1819-57), was responsible for dealing with the Americans. Having no precedent to manage this threat to national security, Abe tried to balance the desires of the senior councillors to compromise with the foreigners, of the emperor who wanted to keep the foreigners out, and of the daimyo who wanted to go to war. Lacking consensus, Abe decided to compromise by accepting Perry's demands for opening Japan to foreign trade while also making military preparations. In March 1854, the Treaty of Peace and Amity (or Treaty of Kanagawa) opened two ports to American ships seeking provisions, guaranteed good treatment to shipwrecked American sailors, and allowed a United States consul to take up residence in Shimoda, a seaport on the Izu Peninsula, southwest of Edo. A commercial treaty, opening still more areas to American trade, was forced on the bakufu five years later.

The resulting damage to the bakufu was significant. Debate over government policy was unusual and had engendered public criticism of the bakufu. In the hope of enlisting the support of new allies, Abe, to the consternation of the fudai, had consulted with the shinpan and tozama daimyo, further undermining the already weakened bakufu. In the Ansei Reform (1854-56), Abe then tried to strengthen the regime by ordering Dutch warships and armaments from the Netherlands and building new port defenses. In 1855 a naval training school with Dutch instructors was set up at Nagasaki, and a Western-style military school was established at Edo; by the next year, the government was translating Western books. Opposition to Abe increased within fudai circles, which opposed opening bakufu councils to tozama daimyo, and he was replaced in 1855 as chairman of the senior councillors by Hotta Masayoshi (1810-64).

At the head of the dissident faction was Tokugawa Nariaki, who had long embraced a militant loyalty to the emperor along with antiforeign sentiments, and who had been put in charge of national defense in 1854. The Mito school--based on neo-Confucian and Shinto principles--had as its goal the restoration of the imperial institution, the turning back of the West, and the founding of a world empire under the divine Yamato Dynasty.

In the final years of the Tokugawa, foreign contacts increased as more concessions were granted. The new treaty with the United States in 1859 allowed more ports to be opened to diplomatic representatives, unsupervised trade at four additional ports, and foreign residences in Osaka and Edo. It also embodied the concept of extraterritoriality (foreigners were subject to the laws of their own countries but not to Japanese law). Hotta lost the support of key daimyo, and when Tokugawa Nariaki opposed the new treaty, Hotta sought imperial sanction. The court officials, perceiving the weakness of the bakufu, rejected Hotta's request and thus suddenly embroiled Kyoto and the emperor in Japan's internal politics for the first time in many centuries. When the shogun died without an heir, Nariaki appealed to the court for support of his own son, Tokugawa Yoshinobu (or Keiki), for shogun, a candidate favored by the shinpan and tozama daimyo. The fudai won the power struggle, however, installing Tokugawa Yoshitomi, arresting Nariaki and Keiki, executing Yoshida Shoin (1830-59, a leading sonno-joi intellectual who had opposed the American treaty and plotted a revolution against the bakufu), and signing treaties with the United States and five other nations, thus ending more than 200 years of exclusion.

The strong measures the bakufu took to reassert its dominance were not enough. Revering the emperor as a symbol of unity, extremists wrought violence and death against the bakufu and han authorities and foreigners. Foreign naval retaliation led to still another concessionary commercial treaty in 1865, but Yoshitomi was unable to enforce the Western treaties. A bakufu army was defeated when it was sent to crush dissent in Satsuma and Choshu han in 1866. Finally, in 1867, the emperor died and was succeeded by his minor son Mutsuhito; Keiki reluctantly became head of the Tokugawa house and shogun. He tried to reorganize the government under the emperor while preserving the shogun's leadership role. Fearing the growing power of the Satsuma and Choshu daimyo, other daimyo called for returning the shogun's political power to the emperor and a council of daimyo chaired by the former Tokugawa shogun. Keiki accepted the plan in late 1867 and resigned, announcing an "imperial restoration." The Satsuma, Choshu, and other han leaders and radical courtiers, however, rebelled, seized the imperial palace, and announced their own restoration on January 3, 1868. The bakufu was abolished, Keiki was reduced to the ranks of the common daimyo, and the Tokugawa army gave up without a fight (although other Tokugawa forces fought until November 1868, and bakufu naval forces continued to hold out for another six months).




The Meiji Restoration

Those people who wanted to end Tokugawa rule did not envision a new government or a new society; they merely sought the transfer of power from Edo to Kyoto while retaining all their feudal prerogatives. Instead, a profound change took place. The emperor emerged as a national symbol of unity in the midst of reforms that were much more radical than had been envisioned.

The first reform was the promulgation of the Charter Oath in 1868, a general statement of the aims of the Meiji leaders to boost morale and win financial support for the new government. Its five provisions consisted of establishment of deliberative assemblies, involvement of all classes in carrying out state affairs, freedom of social and occupational mobility, replacement of "evil customs" with the "just laws of nature," and an international search for knowledge to strengthen the foundations of imperial rule. Implicit in the Charter Oath was an end to exclusive political rule by the bakufu and a move toward more democratic participation in government. To implement the Charter Oath, an eleven-article constitution was drawn up. Besides providing for a new Council of State, legislative bodies, and systems of ranks for nobles and officials, it limited office tenure to four years, allowed public balloting, provided for a new taxation system, and ordered new local administrative rules.

The Meiji government assured the foreign powers that it would abide by the old treaties negotiated by the bakufu and announced that it would act in accordance with international law. Mutsuhito, who was to reign until 1912, selected a new reign title- -Meiji, or Enlightened Rule--to mark the beginning of a new era in Japanese history. To further dramatize the new order, the capital was relocated from Kyoto, where it had been situated since 794, to Tokyo (Eastern Capital), the new name for Edo. In a move critical for the consolidation of the new regime, most daimyo voluntarily surrendered their land and census records to the emperor, symbolizing that the land and people were under the emperor's jurisdiction. Confirmed in their hereditary positions, the daimyo became governors, and the central government assumed their administrative expenses and paid samurai stipends. The han were replaced with prefectures in 1871, and authority continued to flow to the national government. Officials from the favored former han, such as Satsuma, Choshu, Tosa, and Hizen, staffed the new ministries. Formerly out-of-favor court nobles and lower-ranking but more radical samurai replaced bakufu appointees, daimyo, and old court nobles as a new ruling class appeared.

Inasmuch as the Meiji Restoration had sought to return the emperor to a preeminent position, efforts were made to establish a Shinto-oriented state much like the state of 1,000 years earlier. An Office of Shinto Worship was established, ranking even above the Council of State in importance. The kokutai ideas of the Mito school were embraced, and the divine ancestry of the imperial house was emphasized. The government supported Shinto teachers, a small but important move. Although the Office of Shinto Worship was demoted in 1872, by 1877 the Home Ministry controlled all Shinto shrines and certain Shinto sects were given state recognition. Shinto was at last released from Buddhist administration and its properties restored. Although Buddhism suffered from state sponsorship of Shinto, it had its own resurgence. Christianity was also legalized, and Confucianism remained an important ethical doctrine. Increasingly, however, Japanese thinkers identified with Western ideology and methods.

The Meiji oligarchy, as the new ruling class is known to historians, was a privileged clique that exercised imperial power, sometimes despotically. The members of this class were adherents of kokugaku and believed they were the creators of a new order as grand as that established by Japan's original founders. Two of the major figures of this group were Okubo Toshimichi (1832-78), son of a Satsuma retainer, and Satsuma samurai Saigo Takamori (1827-77), who had joined forces with Choshu, Tosa, and Hizen to overthrow the Tokugawa. Okubo became minister of finance and Saigo a field marshal; both were imperial councillors. Kido Koin (1833- 77), a native of Choshu, student of Yoshida Shoin, and coconspirator with Okubo and Saigo, became minister of education and chairman of the Governors' Conference and pushed for constitutional government. Also prominent were Iwakura Tomomi (1825-83), a Kyoto native who had opposed the Tokugawa and was to become the first ambassador to the United States, and Okuma Shigenobu (1838-1922), of Hizen, a student of Rangaku, Chinese, and English, who held various ministerial portfolios, eventually becoming prime minister in 1898.

To accomplish the new order's goals, the Meiji oligarchy set out to abolish the Tokugawa class system through a series of economic and social reforms. Bakufu revenues had depended on taxes on Tokugawa and other daimyo lands, loans from wealthy peasants and urban merchants, limited customs fees, and reluctantly accepted foreign loans. To provide revenue and develop a sound infrastructure, the new government financed harbor improvements, lighthouses, machinery imports, schools, overseas study for students, salaries for foreign teachers and advisers, modernization of the army and navy, railroads and telegraph networks, and foreign diplomatic missions.

Difficult economic times, manifested by increasing incidents of agrarian rioting, led to calls for social reforms. In addition to the old high rents, taxes, and interest rates, the average citizen was faced with cash payments for new taxes, military conscription, and tuition charges for compulsory education. The people needed more time for productive pursuits while correcting social abuses of the past. To achieve these reforms, the old Tokugawa class system of samurai, farmer, artisan, and merchant was abolished by 1871, and, even though old prejudices and status consciousness continued, all were theoretically equal before the law. Actually helping to perpetuate social distinctions, the government named new social divisions: the former daimyo became nobility, the samurai became gentry, and all others became commoners. Daimyo and samurai pensions were paid off in lump sums, and the samurai later lost their exclusive claim to military positions. Former samurai found new pursuits as bureaucrats, teachers, army officers, police officials, journalists, scholars, colonists in the northern parts of Japan, bankers, and businessmen. These occupations helped stem some of the discontent this large group felt; some profited immensely, but many were not successful and provided significant opposition in the ensuing years.

Additionally, between 1871 and 1873, a series of land and tax laws were enacted as the basis for modern fiscal policy. Private ownership was legalized, deeds were issued, and lands were assessed at fair market value with taxes paid in cash rather than in kind as in pre-Meiji days and at slightly lower rates.

Undeterred by opposition, the Meiji leaders continued to modernize the nation through government-sponsored telegraph cable links to all major Japanese cities and the Asian mainland and construction of railroads, shipyards, munitions factories, mines, textile manufacturing facilities, factories, and experimental agriculture stations. Much concerned about national security, the leaders made significant efforts at military modernization, which included establishing a small standing army, a large reserve system, and compulsory militia service for all men. Foreign military systems were studied, foreign advisers were brought in, and Japanese cadets sent abroad to European and United States military and naval schools.


Japan - Foreign Relations


The Meiji leaders also modernized foreign policy, an important step in making Japan a full member of the international community. The traditional East Asia worldview was based not on an international society of national units but on cultural distinctions and tributary relationships. Monks, scholars, and artists, rather than professional diplomatic envoys, had generally served as the conveyors of foreign policy. Foreign relations were related more to the sovereign's desires than to the public interest. For Japan to emerge from the feudal period, it had to avoid the fate of other Asian countries by establishing genuine national independence and equality. The Meiji oligarchy was aware of Western progress, and "learning missions" were sent abroad to absorb as much of it as possible. One such mission, led by Iwakura, Kido, and Okubo and containing forty-eight members in total, spent two years (1871-73) touring the United States and Europe, studying government institutions, courts, prison systems, schools, the import-export business, factories, shipyards, glass plants, mines, and other enterprises. Upon returning, mission members called for domestic reforms that would help Japan catch up with the West. The revision of unequal treaties forced on Japan became a top priority. The returned envoys also sketched a new vision for a modernized Japan's leadership role in Asia, but they realized that this role required that Japan develop its national strength, cultivate nationalism among the population, and carefully craft policies toward potential enemies. No longer could Westerners be seen as "barbarians," for example. In time, Japan formed a corps of professional diplomats.

Although he never assumed a government post, another influential Meiji period figure was Fukuzawa Yukichi (1835-1901). He was a prolific writer on many subjects, the founder of schools and a newspaper, and, above all, an educator bent on impressing his fellow Japanese with the merits of Westernization.

Japan was shortly to test its new world outlook. Disputes with China over sovereignty of the Ryukyu Islands, with Russia over sovereignty of the Kuril Islands and Sakhalin, and with Korea over the Korean court's refusal to recognize the new Meiji government and its envoys were all settled diplomatically between 1874 and 1876. Military threats had been made in the Chinese and Korean disputes, and it seemed to many that Japan would soon use military means to achieve its goals.


Japan - Opposition to the Meiji Oligarchy


The 1873 Korean crisis resulted in the resignation of militaryexpedition proponents Saigo and Councillor of State Eto Shimpei (1834-74). Eto, the founder of various patriotic organizations, conspired with other discontented elements to start an armed insurrection against government troops in Saga, the capital of his native prefecture in Kyushu in 1874. Charged with suppressing the revolt, Okubo swiftly crushed Eto, who had appealed unsuccessfully to Saigo for help. Three years later, the last major armed uprising--but the most serious challenge to the Meiji government-- took shape in the Satsuma Rebellion, this time with Saigo playing an active role. The Saga Rebellion and other agrarian and samurai uprisings mounted in protest to the Meiji reforms had been easily put down by the army. Satsuma's former samurai were numerous, however, and they had a long tradition of opposition to central authority. Saigo, with some reluctance and only after more widespread dissatisfaction with the Meiji reforms, raised a rebellion in 1877. Both sides fought well, but the modern weaponry and better financing of the government forces ended the Satsuma Rebellion. Although he was defeated and committed suicide, Saigo was not branded a traitor and became a heroic figure in Japanese history. The suppression of the Satsuma Rebellion marked the end of serious threats to the Meiji regime but was sobering to the oligarchy. The fight drained the national treasury, led to serious inflation, and forced land values--and badly needed taxes--down. Most important, calls for reform were renewed.


Japan - The Development of Representative Government


The major institutional accomplishment after the Satsuma Rebellion was the start of the trend toward developing representative government. People who had been forced out or left out of the governing apparatus after the Meiji Restoration had witnessed or heard of the success of representative institutions in other countries of the world and applied greater pressure for a voice in government.

A major proponent of representative government was Itagaki Taisuke (1837-1919), a powerful leader of Tosa forces who had resigned from his Council of State position over the Korean affair in 1873. Itagaki sought peaceful rather than rebellious means to gain a voice in government. He started a school and a movement aimed at establishing a constitutional monarchy and a legislative assembly. Itagaki and others wrote the Tosa Memorial in 1874 criticizing the unbridled power of the oligarchy and calling for the immediate establishment of representative government. Dissatisfied with the pace of reform after having rejoined the Council of State in 1875, Itagaki organized his followers and other democratic proponents into the nationwide Aikokusha (Society of Patriots) to push for representative government in 1878. In 1881, in an action for which he is best known, Itagaki helped found the Jiyuto (Liberal Party), which favored French political doctrines. In 1882 Okuma established the Rikken Kaishinto (Constitutional Progressive Party), which called for a British-style constitutional democracy. In response, government bureaucrats, local government officials, and other conservatives established the Rikken Teiseito (Imperial Rule Party), a progovernment party, in 1882. Numerous political demonstrations followed, some of them violent, resulting in further government restrictions. The restrictions hindered the political parties and led to divisiveness within and among them. The Jiyuto, which had opposed the Kaishinto, was disbanded in 1884, and Okuma resigned as Kaishinto president.

Government leaders, long preoccupied with violent threats to stability and the serious leadership split over the Korean affair, generally agreed that constitutional government should someday be established. Kido had favored a constitutional form of government since before 1874, and several proposals that provided for constitutional guarantees had been drafted. The oligarchy, however, while acknowledging the realities of political pressure, was determined to keep control. Thus, modest steps were taken. The Osaka Conference in 1875 resulted in the reorganization of government with an independent judiciary and an appointed Council of Elders (Genronin) tasked with reviewing proposals for a legislature. The emperor declared that "constitutional government shall be established in gradual stages" as he ordered the Council of Elders to draft a constitution. Three years later, the Conference of Prefectural Governors established elected prefectural assemblies. Although limited in their authority, these assemblies represented a move in the direction of representative government at the national level, and by 1880 assemblies also had been formed in villages and towns. In 1880 delegates from twenty-four prefectures held a national convention to establish the Kokkai Kisei Domei (League for Establishing a National Assembly).

Although the government was not opposed to parliamentary rule, confronted with the drive for "people's rights," it continued to try to control the political situation. New laws in 1875 prohibited press criticism of the government or discussion of national laws. The Public Assembly Law (1880) severely limited public gatherings by disallowing attendance by civil servants and requiring police permission for all meetings. Within the ruling circle, however, and despite the conservative approach of the leadership, Okuma continued as a lone advocate of British-style government, a government with political parties and a cabinet organized by the majority party, answerable to the national assembly. He called for elections to be held by 1882 and for a national assembly to be convened by 1883; in doing so, he precipitated a political crisis that ended with an 1881 imperial rescript declaring the establishment of a national assembly in 1890 and dismissing Okuma.

Rejecting the British model, Iwakura and other conservatives borrowed heavily from the Prussian constitutional system. One of the Meiji oligarchy, Ito Hirobumi (1841-1909), a Choshu native long involved in government affairs, was charged with drafting Japan's constitution. He led a Constitutional Study Mission abroad in 1882, spending most of his time in Germany. He rejected the United States Constitution as "too liberal" and the British system as too unwieldy and having a parliament with too much control over the monarchy; the French and Spanish models were rejected as tending toward despotism.

On It 's return, one of the first acts of the government was to establish new ranks for the nobility. Five hundred persons from the old court nobility, former daimyo, and samurai who had provided valuable service to the emperor were organized in five ranks: prince, marquis, count, viscount, and baron. Ito was put in charge of the new Bureau for Investigation of Constitutional Systems in 1884, and the Council of State was replaced in 1885 with a cabinet headed by Ito as prime minister. The positions of chancellor, minister of the left, and minister of the right, which had existed since the seventh century as advisory positions to the emperor, were all abolished. In their place, the Privy Council was established in 1888 to evaluate the forthcoming constitution and to advise the emperor. To further strengthen the authority of the state, the Supreme War Council was established under the leadership of Yamagata Aritomo (1838-1922), a Choshu native who has been credited with the founding of the modern Japanese army and was to become the first constitutional prime minister. The Supreme War Council developed a German-style general staff system with a chief of staff who had direct access to the emperor and who could operate independently of the army minister and civilian officials.

When finally granted by the emperor as a sign of his sharing his authority and giving rights and liberties to his subjects, the 1889 Constitution of the Empire of Japan (the Meiji Constitution) provided for the Imperial Diet (Teikoku Gikai), composed of a popularly elected House of Representatives with a very limited franchise of male citizens who paid ¥15 in national taxes, about 1 percent of the population; the House of Peers, composed of nobility and imperial appointees; and a cabinet responsible to the emperor and independent of the legislature. The Diet could approve government legislation and initiate laws, make representations to the government, and submit petitions to the emperor. Nevertheless, in spite of these institutional changes, sovereignty still resided in the emperor on the basis of his divine ancestry. The new constitution specified a form of government that was still authoritarian in character, with the emperor holding the ultimate power and only minimal concessions made to popular rights and parliamentary mechanisms. Party participation was recognized as part of the political process. The Meiji Constitution was to last as the fundamental law until 1947.

The first national election was held in 1890, and 300 members were elected to the House of Representatives. The Jiyuto and Kaishinto parties had been revived in anticipation of the election and together won more than half of the seats. The House of Representatives soon became the arena for disputes between the politicians and the government bureaucracy over large issues, such as the budget, the ambiguity of the constitution on the Diet's authority, and the desire of the Diet to interpret the "will of the emperor" versus the oligarchy's position that the cabinet and administration should "transcend" all conflicting political forces. The main leverage the Diet had was in its approval or disapproval of the budget, and it successfully wielded its authority henceforth.

In the early years of constitutional government, the strengths and weaknesses of the Meiji Constitution were revealed. A small clique of Satsuma and Choshu elite continued to rule Japan, becoming institutionalized as an extraconstitutional body of genro (elder statesmen). Collectively, the genro made decisions reserved for the emperor, and the genro, not the emperor, controlled the government politically. Throughout the period, however, political problems were usually solved through compromise, and political parties gradually increased their power over the government and held an ever larger role in the political process as a result.

Between 1891 and 1895, Ito served as prime minister with a cabinet composed mostly of genro who wanted to establish a government party to control the House of Representatives. Although not fully realized, the trend toward party politics was well established.


Japan - Modernization and Industrialization


Japan emerged from the Tokugawa-Meiji transition as the first Asian industrialized nation. Domestic commercial activities and limited foreign trade had met the demands for material culture in the Tokugawa period, but the modernized Meiji era had radically different requirements. From the onset, the Meiji rulers embraced the concept of a market economy and adopted British and North American forms of free enterprise capitalism. The private sector-- in a nation blessed with an abundance of aggressive entrepreneurs-- welcomed such change.

Economic reforms included a unified modern currency based on the yen, banking, commercial and tax laws, stock exchanges, and a communications network. Establishment of a modern institutional framework conducive to an advanced capitalist economy took time but was completed by the 1890s. By this time, the government had largely relinquished direct control of the modernization process, primarily for budgetary reasons. Many of the former daimyo, whose pensions had been paid in a lump sum, benefited greatly through investments they made in emerging industries. Those who had been informally involved in foreign trade before the Meiji Restoration also flourished. Old bakufu-serving firms that clung to their traditional ways failed in the new business environment.

The government was initially involved in economic modernization, providing a number of "model factories" to facilitate the transition to the modern period. After the first twenty years of the Meiji period, the industrial economy expanded rapidly until about 1920 with inputs of advanced Western technology and large private investments. Stimulated by wars and through cautious economic planning, Japan emerged from World War I as a major industrial nation.


Japan - Overseas Expansion


Historically, Japan's main foreign preoccupation has been China. The Korean Peninsula, a strategically located feature critical to the defense of the Japanese archipelago, greatly occupied Japan's attention in the nineteenth century. Earlier tension over Korea had been settled temporarily through the Treaty of Kanghwa in 1876, which opened Korean ports to Japan, and through the Tianjin Convention in 1885, which provided for the removal from Korea of both Chinese and Japanese troops sent to support contending factions in the Korean court. In effect, the convention had made Korea a co-protectorate of Beijing and Tokyo at a time when Russian, British, and United States interests in the peninsula also were on the increase. A crisis was precipitated in 1894 when a leading pro-Japanese Korean political figure was assassinated in Shanghai with Chinese complicity. Prowar elements in Japan called for a punitive expedition, which the cabinet resisted. With assistance from several Japanese nationalistic societies, the illegal Tonghak (Eastern Learning) nationalistic religious movement in Korea staged a rebellion that was crushed by Chinese troops. Japan responded with force and quickly defeated China in the First Sino-Japanese War (1894-95). After nine months of fighting, a cease-fire was called and peace talks were held. The victor's demands were such that a Japanese protectorate over China seemed in the offing, but an assassination attempt on Li Hongzhang, China's envoy to the peace talks, embarrassed Japan, which then quickly agreed to an armistice. The Treaty of Shimonoseki accomplished several things: recognition of Korean independence; cessation of Korean tribute to China; a 200 million tael (Chinese ounces of silver, the equivalent in 1895 of US$150 million) indemnity to Korea from China; cession of Taiwan, the Penghu Islands, and the Liaodong Peninsula (the southern part of Manchuria) to Japan; and opening of Chang Jiang (Yangtze River) ports to Japanese trade. It also assured Japanese rights to engage in industrial enterprises in China.

Having their own imperialist designs on China and fearing China's impending disintegration, Russia, Germany, and France jointly objected to Japanese control of Liaodong. Threatened with a tripartite naval maneuver in Korean waters, Japan decided to give back Liaodong in return for a larger indemnity from China. Russia moved to fill the void by securing from China a twenty-five-year lease of Dalian (Dairen in Japanese, also known as Port Arthur) and rights to the South Manchurian Railway Company, a semioffical Japanese company, to construct a railroad. Russia also wanted to lease more Manchurian territory, and, although Japan was loath to confront Russia over this issue, it did move to use Korea as a bargaining point: Japan would recognize Russian leaseholds in southern Manchuria if Russia would leave Korean affairs to Japan. The Russians only agreed not to impede the work of Japanese advisers in Korea, but Japan was able to use diplomatic initiatives to keep Russia from leasing Korean territory in 1899. At the same time, Japan was able to wrest a concession from China that the coastal areas of Fujian Province, across the strait from Taiwan, were within Japan's sphere of influence and could not be leased to other powers. In 1900 Japanese forces participated in suppressing the Boxer Uprising, exacting still more indemnity from China.

Japan then succeeded in attracting a Western ally to its cause. Japan and Britain, both of whom wanted to keep Russia out of Manchuria, signed the Treaty of Alliance in 1902, which was in effect until in 1921 when the two signed the Four Power Treaty on Insular Possessions, which took effect in 1923. The British recognized Japanese interests in Korea and assured Japan they would remain neutral in case of a Russo-Japanese war but would become more actively involved if another power (probably an allusion to France) entered the war as a Russian ally. In the face of this joint threat, Russia became more conciliatory toward Japan and agreed to withdraw its troops from Manchuria in 1903. The new balance of power in Korea favored Japan and allowed Britain to concentrate its interests elsewhere in Asia. Hence, Tokyo moved to gain influence over Korean banks, opened its own financial institutions in Korea, and began constructing railroads and obstructing Russian and French undertakings on the peninsula.

When Russia failed to withdraw its troops from Manchuria by an appointed date, Japan issued a protest. Russia replied that it would agree to a partition of Korea at the thirty-ninth parallel, with a Japanese sphere to the south and a neutral zone to the north. But Manchuria was to be outside Japan's sphere, and Russia would not guarantee the evacuation of its troops. Despite the urging of caution by most genro, Japan's hardliners issued an ultimatum to Russia, which showed no signs of further compromise. War broke out in February 1904 with Japanese surprise attacks on Russian warships at Dalian and Chemulpo (in Korea, now called Inch'on). Despite tremendous loss of life on both sides, the Japanese won a series of land battles and then decisively defeated Russia's Baltic Sea Fleet (renamed the Second Pacific Squadron) at the Battle of Tsushima in May 1905. At an American-mediated peace conference in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Russia acknowledged Japan's paramount interests in Korea and agreed to avoid "military measures" in Manchuria and Korea. Both sides agreed to evacuate Manchuria, except for the Guandong Territory (a leasehold on the Liaodong Peninsula) and restore the occupied areas to China. Russia transferred its lease on Dalian and adjacent territories and railroads to Japan, ceded the southern half of Sakhalin to Japan, and granted Japan fishing rights in the Sea of Okhotsk and the Bering Sea.

Japanese nationalism intensified after the Russo-Japanese War, and a new phase of continental expansion began after 1905. Politically and economically, Korea became a protectorate of Japan and in 1910 was formally annexed as a part of the empire. By means of the South Manchurian Railway, Japanese entrepreneurs vigorously exploited Manchuria. By 1907 Russia had entered into a treaty arrangement with Japan whereby both sides recognized the other's sphere of influence in Manchuria.


Japan - Political Rivalries


After the bitter political rivalries between the inception of the Diet in 1890 and 1894, when the nation was unified for the war effort against China, there followed five years of unity, unusual cooperation, and coalition cabinets. From 1900 to 1912, the Diet and the cabinet cooperated even more directly, with political parties playing larger roles. Throughout the entire period, the old Meiji oligarchy retained ultimate control but steadily yielded power to the opposition parties. The two major figures of the period were Yamagata Aritomo, whose long tenure (1868-1922) as a military and civil leader, including two terms as prime minister, was characterized by his intimidation of rivals and resistance to democratic procedures, and It , who was a compromiser and, although overruled by the genro, wanted to establish a government party to control the House during his first term. When Ito returned as prime minister in 1898, he again pushed for a government party, but when Yamagata and others refused, Ito resigned. With no willing successor among the genro, the Kenseito (Constitutional Party) was invited to form a cabinet under the leadership of Okuma and Itagaki, a major achievement in the opposition parties' competition with the genro. This success was short-lived: the Kenseito split into two parties, the Kenseito led by Itagaki and the Kensei Honto (Real Constitutional Party) led by Okuma, and the cabinet ended after only four months. Yamagata then returned as prime minister with the backing of the military and the bureaucracy. Despite broad support of his views on limiting constitutional government, Yamagata formed an alliance with Kenseito. Reforms of electoral laws, an expansion of the House to 369 members, and provisions for secret ballots won Diet support for Yamagata's budgets and tax increases. He continued to use imperial ordinances, however, to keep the parties from fully participating in the bureaucracy and to strengthen the already independent position of the military. When Yamagata failed to offer more compromises to the Kenseito, the alliance ended in 1900, beginning a new phase of political development.

Ito and a protégé, Saionji Kimmochi (1849-1940), finally succeeded in forming a progovernment party--the Seiyokai (Association of Friends of Constitutional Government)--in September 1900, and a month later Ito became prime minister of the first Seiyokai cabinet. The Seiyokai held the majority of seats in the House, but Yamagata's conservative allies had the greatest influence in the House of Peers, forcing Ito to seek imperial intervention. Tiring of political infighting, Ito resigned in 1901. Thereafter, the prime ministership alternated between Yamagata's protégé, Katsura Taro (1847-1913; prime minister 1901-5 and 1908- 11), and Saionji (prime minister 1905-8 and 1911-12). The alternating of political power was an indication of the two sides' ability to cooperate and share power and helped foster the continued development of party politics.

The Meiji era ended with the death of the emperor in 1912 and the accession of Crown Prince Yoshihito as emperor of the Taish period (Great Righteousness, 1912-26). The end of the Meiji era was marked by huge government domestic and overseas investments and defense programs, nearly exhausted credit, and a lack of foreign exchange to pay debts. The beginning of the Taisho era was marked by a political crisis that interrupted the earlier politics of compromise. When Saionji tried to cut the military budget, the army minister resigned, bringing down the Seiyokai cabinet. Both Yamagata and Saionji refused to resume office, and the genro were unable to find a solution. Public outrage over the military manipulation of the cabinet and the recall of Katsura for a third term led to still more demands for an end to genro politics. Despite old guard opposition, the conservative forces formed a party of their own in 1913, the Rikken Doshikai (Constitutional Association of Friends), a party that won a majority in the House over the Seiyokai in late 1914.


Japan - World War I


Seizing the opportunity of Berlin's distraction with the European War and wanting to expand its sphere of influence in China, Japan declared war on Germany in August 1914 and quickly occupied German-leased territories in China's Shandong Province and the Mariana, Caroline, and Marshall islands in the Pacific. With its Western allies heavily involved in the war in Europe, Japan sought further to consolidate its position in China by presenting the Twenty-One Demands to China in January 1915. Besides expanding its control over the German holdings, Manchuria, and Inner Mongolia, Japan also sought joint ownership of a major mining and metallurgical complex in central China, prohibitions on China's ceding or leasing any coastal areas to a third power, and miscellaneous other political, economic, and military controls, which, if achieved, would have reduced China to a Japanese protectorate. In the face of slow negotiations with the Chinese government, widespread anti-Japanese sentiments in China, and international condemnation, Japan withdrew the final group of demands, and treaties were signed in May 1915.

Japan's hegemony in northern China and other parts of Asia was facilitated through other international agreements. One with Russia in 1916 helped further secure Japan's influence in Manchuria and Inner Mongolia, and agreements with France, Britain, and the United States in 1917 recognized Japan's territorial gains in China and the Pacific. The Nishihara Loans (named after Nishihara Kamezo, Tokyo's representative in Beijing) of 1917 and 1918, while aiding the Chinese government, put China still deeper into Japan's debt. Toward the end of the war, Japan increasingly filled orders for its European allies' needed war matériel, thus helping to diversify the country's industry, increase its exports, and transform Japan from a debtor to a creditor nation for the first time.

Japan's power in Asia grew with the demise of the tsarist regime in Russia and the disorder the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution left in Siberia. Wanting to seize the opportunity, the Japanese army planned to occupy Siberia as far west as Lake Baykal. To do so, Japan had to negotiate an agreement with China allowing the transit of Japanese troops through Chinese territory. Although the force was scaled back to avoid antagonizing the United States, more than 70,000 Japanese troops joined the much smaller units of the Allied Expeditionary Force sent to Siberia in 1918.

The year 1919 saw Japan sitting among the "Big Five" powers at the Versailles Peace Conference. Tokyo was granted a permanent seat on the Council of the League of Nations, and the peace treaty confirmed the transfer to Japan of Germany's rights in Shandong, a provision that led to anti-Japanese riots and a mass political movement throughout China. Similarly, Germany's former Pacific islands were put under a Japanese mandate. Despite its small role in World War I (and the Western powers' rejection of its bid for a racial equality clause in the peace treaty), Japan emerged as a major actor in international politics at the close of the war.




Two-Party System

The two-party political system that had been developing in Japan since the turn of the century finally came of age after World War I. This period has sometimes been called that of "Taish Democracy," after the reign title of the emperor. In 1918 Hara Takashi (1856-1921), a protégé of Saionji and a major influence in the prewar Seiyokai cabinets, had become the first commoner to serve as prime minister. He took advantage of long-standing relationships he had throughout the government, won the support of the surviving genro and the House of Peers, and brought into his cabinet as army minister Tanaka Giichi (1864-1929), who had a greater appreciation of favorable civil-military relations than his predecessors. Nevertheless, major problems confronted Hara: inflation, the need to adjust the Japanese economy to postwar circumstances, the influx of foreign ideas, and an emerging labor movement. Prewar solutions were applied by the cabinet to these postwar problems, and little was done to reform the government. Hara worked to ensure a Seiyokai majority through time-tested methods, such as new election laws and electoral redistricting, and embarked on major government-funded public works programs.

The public grew disillusioned with the growing national debt and the new election laws, which retained the old minimum tax qualifications for voters. Calls were raised for universal suffrage and the dismantling of the old political party network. Students, university professors, and journalists, bolstered by labor unions and inspired by a variety of democratic, socialist, communist, anarchist, and other Western schools of thought, mounted large but orderly public demonstrations in favor of universal male suffrage in 1919 and 1920. New elections brought still another Seiyokai majority, but barely so. In the political milieu of the day, there was a proliferation of new parties, including socialist and communist parties.

In the midst of this political ferment, Hara was assassinated by a disenchanted railroad worker in 1921. Hara was followed by a succession of nonparty prime ministers and coalition cabinets. Fear of a broader electorate, left-wing power, and the growing social change engendered by the influx of Western popular culture together led to the passage of the Peace Preservation Law (1925), which forbade any change in the political structure or the abolition of private property.

Unstable coalitions and divisiveness in the Diet led the Kenseikai (Constitutional Government Association) and the Seiy Honto (True Seiyokai) to merge as the Rikken Minseito (Constitutional Democratic Party) in 1927. The Rikken Minseito platform was committed to the parliamentary system, democratic politics, and world peace. Thereafter, until 1932, the Seiyokai and the Rikken Minseito alternated in power.

Despite the political realignments and hope for more orderly government, domestic economic crises plagued whichever party held power. Fiscal austerity programs and appeals for public support of such conservative government policies as the Peace Preservation Law--including reminders of the moral obligation to make sacrifices for the emperor and the state--were attempted as solutions. Although the world depression of the late 1920s and early 1930s had minimal effects on Japan--indeed, Japanese exports grew substantially during this period--there was a sense of rising discontent that was heightened with the assassination of Rikken Minseito prime minister Hamaguchi Osachi (1870-1931) in 1931.

The events flowing from the Meiji Restoration in 1868 had seen not only the fulfillment of many domestic and foreign economic and political objectives--without Japan's first suffering the colonial fate of other Asian nations--but also a new intellectual ferment, in a time when there was interest worldwide in socialism and an urban proletariat was developing. Universal male suffrage, social welfare, workers' rights, and nonviolent protest were ideals of the early leftist movement. Government suppression of leftist activities, however, led to more radical leftist action and even more suppression, resulting in the dissolution of the Japan Socialist Party (Nihon Shakaito), only a year after its 1906 founding, and in the general failure of the socialist movement.

The victory of the Bolsheviks in Russia in 1917 and their hopes for a world revolution led to the establishment of the Comintern (a contraction of Communist International, the organization founded in Moscow in 1919 to coordinate the world communist movement). The Comintern realized the importance of Japan in achieving successful revolution in East Asia and actively worked to form the Japan Communist Party (Nihon Kyosanto), which was founded in July 1922. The announced goals of the Japan Communist Party in 1923 were an end to feudalism, abolition of the monarchy, recognition of the Soviet Union, and withdrawal of Japanese troops from Siberia, Sakhalin, China, Korea, and Taiwan. A brutal suppression of the party followed. Radicals responded with an assassination attempt on Prince Regent Hirohito. The 1925 Peace Preservation Law was a direct response to the "dangerous thoughts" perpetrated by communist elements in Japan.

The liberalization of election laws, also in 1925, benefited communist candidates even though the Japan Communist Party itself was banned. A new Peace Preservation Law in 1928, however, further impeded communist efforts by banning the parties they had infiltrated. The police apparatus of the day was ubiquitous and quite thorough in attempting to control the socialist movement. By 1926 the Japan Communist Party had been forced underground, by the summer of 1929 the party leadership had been virtually destroyed, and by 1933 the party had largely disintegrated.


Japan - Diplomacy


Emerging Chinese nationalism, the victory of the communists in Russia, and the growing presence of the United States in East Asia all worked against Japan's postwar foreign policy interests. The four-year Siberian expedition and activities in China, combined with big domestic spending programs, had depleted Japan's wartime earnings. Only through more competitive business practices, supported by further economic development and industrial modernization, all accommodated by the growth of the zaibatsu (wealth groups), could Japan hope to become predominant in Asia. The United States, long a source of many imported goods and loans needed for development, was seen as becoming a major impediment to this goal because of its policies of containing Japanese imperialism.

An international turning point in military diplomacy was the Washington Conference of 1921-22, which produced a series of agreements that effected a new order in the Pacific region. Japan's economic problems made a naval buildup nearly impossible and, realizing the need to compete with the United States on an economic rather than a military basis, rapprochement became inevitable. Japan adopted a more neutral attitude toward the civil war in China, dropped efforts to expand its hegemony into China proper, and joined the United States, Britain, and France in encouraging Chinese self-development.

In the Four Power Treaty on Insular Possessions (December 13, 1921), Japan, the United States, Britain, and France agreed to recognize the status quo in the Pacific, and Japan and Britain agreed to terminate formally their Treaty of Alliance. The Five Power Naval Disarmament Treaty (February 6, 1922) established an international capital ship ratio (5, 5, 3, 1.75, and 1.75, respectively, for the United States, Britain, Japan, France, and Italy) and limited the size and armaments of capital ships already built or under construction. In a move that gave the Japanese Imperial Navy greater freedom in the Pacific, Washington and London agreed not to build any new military bases between Singapore and Hawaii.

The goal of the Nine Power Treaty (February 6, 1922), signed by Belgium, China, the Netherlands, and Portugal, along with the original five powers, was the prevention of war in the Pacific. The signatories agreed to respect China's independence and integrity, not to interfere in Chinese attempts to establish a stable government, to refrain from seeking special privileges in China or threatening the positions of other nations there, to support a policy of equal opportunity for commerce and industry of all nations in China, and to reexamine extraterritoriality and tariff autonomy policies. Japan also agreed to withdraw its troops from Shandong, relinquishing all but purely economic rights there, and to evacuate its troops from Siberia.

In 1928 Japan joined fourteen other nations in signing the Kellogg-Briand Pact, which denounced "recourse to war for the solution of international controversies." Thus, when Japan invaded Manchuria only three years later, its pretext was the defense of its nationals and economic interests there. The London Naval Conference in 1930 came at a time of economic recession in Japan, and the Japanese government was amenable to further, cost-saving naval reductions. Although Prime Minister Hamaguchi Osachi had civilian support, he bypassed the Naval General Staff and approved the signing of the London Naval Treaty. Hamaguchi's success was pyrrhic: ultranationalists called the treaty a national surrender, and navy and army officials girded themselves for defense of their budgets. Hamaguchi himself died from wounds suffered in an assassination attempt in November 1930, and the treaty, with its complex formula for ship tonnage and numbers aimed at restricting the naval arms race, had loopholes that made it ineffective by 1938.


Japan - The Rise of the Militarists


Ultranationalism was characteristic of right-wing politicians and conservative military men since the inception of the Meiji Restoration, contributing greatly to the prowar politics of the 1870s. Disenchanted former samurai had established patriotic societies and intelligence-gathering organizations, such as the Gen'yosha (Black Ocean Society, founded in 1881) and its later offshoot, the Kokuryukai (Black Dragon Society, or Amur River Society, founded in 1901). These groups became active in domestic and foreign politics, helped foment prowar sentiments, and supported ultranationalist causes through the end of World War II. After Japan's victories over China and Russia, the ultranationalists concentrated on domestic issues and perceived domestic threats, such as socialism and communism.

After World War I and the intellectual ferment of the period, nationalist societies became numerous but had a minority voice during the era of two-party democratic politics. Diverse and angry groups called for nationalization of all wealth above a fixed minimal amount and for armed overseas expansion. The emperor was highly revered by these groups, and when Hirohito was enthroned in 1927, initiating the Showa period (Bright Harmony, 1926-89), there were calls for a "Showa Restoration" and a revival of Shinto. Emperor-centered neo-Shintoism, or State Shinto, which had long been developing, came to fruition in the 1930s and 1940s. It glorified the emperor and traditional Japanese virtues to the exclusion of Western influences, which were perceived as greedy, individualistic, bourgeois, and assertive. The ideals of the Japanese family-state and self-sacrifice in service of the nation were given a missionary interpretation and were thought by their ultranationalist proponents to be applicable to the modern world.

The 1930s were a decade of fear in Japan, characterized by the resurgence of right-wing patriotism, the weakening of democratic forces, domestic terrorist violence (including an assassination attempt on the emperor in 1932), and stepped-up military aggression abroad. A prelude to this state of affairs was Tanaka Giichi's term as prime minister from 1927 to 1929. Twice he sent troops to China to obstruct Chiang Kai-shek's unification campaign. In June 1928, adventurist officers of the Guandong Army, the Imperial Japanese Army unit stationed in Manchuria, embarked an unauthorized initiatives to protect Japanese interests, including the assassination of a former ally, Manchurian warlord Zhang Zuolin. The perpetrators hoped the Chinese would be prompted to take military action, forcing the Guandong Army to retaliate. The Japanese high command and the Chinese, however, both refused to mobilize. The incident turned out to be a striking example of unchecked terrorism. Even though press censorship kept the Japanese public from knowing about these events, they led to the downfall of Tanaka and set the stage for a similar plot, the Manchurian Incident, in 1931.

A secret society founded by army officers seeking to establish a military dictatorship--the Sakurakai (Cherry Society, the cherry blossom being emblematic of self-sacrifice)--plotted to attack the Diet and political party headquarters, assassinate the prime minister, and declare martial law under a "Showa Restoration" government led by the army minister. Although the army canceled its coup plans (to have been carried out in March 1931), no reprisals were taken and terrorist activity was again tacitly condoned.

The Manchurian Incident of September 1931 did not fail, and it set the stage for the eventual military takeover of the Japanese government. Guandong Army conspirators blew up a few meters of South Manchurian Railway Company track near Mukden (now Shenyang), blamed it on Chinese saboteurs, and used the event as an excuse to seize Mukden. One month later, in Tokyo, military figures plotted the October Incident, which was aimed at setting up a national socialist state. The plot failed, but again the news was suppressed and the military perpetrators were not punished. Japanese forces attacked Shanghai in January 1932 on the pretext of Chinese resistance in Manchuria. Finding stiff Chinese resistance in Shanghai, the Japanese waged a three-month undeclared war there before a truce was reached in March 1932. Several days later, Manchukuo was established. Manchukuo was a Japanese puppet state headed by the last Chinese emperor, Puyi, as chief executive and later emperor. The civilian government in Tokyo was powerless to prevent these military happenings. Instead of being condemned, the Guandong Army's actions enjoyed popular support back home. International reactions were extremely negative, however. Japan withdrew from the League of Nations, and the United States became increasingly hostile.

The Japanese system of party government finally met its demise with the May 15th Incident in 1932, when a group of junior naval officers and army cadets assassinated Prime Minister Inukai Tsuyoshi (1855-1932). Although the assassins were put on trial and sentenced to fifteen years' imprisonment, they were seen popularly as having acted out of patriotism. Inukai's successors, military men chosen by Saionji, the last surviving genro, recognized Manchukuo and generally approved the army's actions in securing Manchuria as an industrial base, an area for Japanese emigration, and a staging ground for war with the Soviet Union. Various army factions contended for power amid increasing suppression of dissent and more assassinations. In the February 26th Incident of 1936, about 1,500 troops went on a rampage of assassination against the current and former prime ministers and other cabinet members, and even Saionji and members of the imperial court. The revolt was put down by other military units, and its leaders were executed after secret trials. Despite public dismay over these events and the discredit they brought to numerous military figures, Japan's civilian leadership capitulated to the army's demands in the hope of ending domestic violence. Increases were seen in defense budgets, naval construction (Japan announced it would no longer accede to the London Naval Treaty), and patriotic indoctrination as Japan moved toward a wartime footing.

In November 1936, the Anti-Comintern Pact, an agreement to exchange information and collaborate in preventing communist activities, was signed by Japan and Germany (Italy joined a year later). War was launched against China after the Marco Polo Bridge Incident of July 7, 1937, in which an allegedly unplanned clash took place near Beiping (as Beijing was then called) between Chinese and Japanese troops and quickly escalated into full-scale warfare. The Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-45) ensued, and relations with the United States, Britain, and the Soviet Union deteriorated. The increased military activities in China--and the Japanese idea of establishing "Mengukuo" in Inner Mongolia and the Mongolian People's Republic--soon led to a major clash over rival Mongolia-Manchukuo border claims. When Japanese troops invaded eastern Mongolia, a ground and air battle with a joint Soviet- Mongolian army took place between May and September 1939 at the Battle of Halhin Gol. The Japanese were severely defeated, sustaining as many as 80,000 casualties, and thereafter Japan concentrated its war efforts on its southward drive in China and Southeast Asia, a strategy that helped propel Japan ever closer to war with the United States and Britain and their allies.

Under the prime ministership of Konoe Fumimaro (1891-1945)--the last head of the famous Fujiwara house--the government was streamlined and given absolute power over the nation's assets. In 1940, the 2,600th anniversary of the founding of Japan, according to tradition, Konoe's cabinet called for the establishment of a "Greater East Asia Coprosperity Sphere," a concept building on Konoe's 1938 call for a "New Order in Greater East Asia," encompassing Japan, Manchukuo, China, and Southeast Asia. The Greater East Asia Coprosperity Sphere was to integrate Asia politically and economically--under Japanese leadership--against Western domination and was developed in recognition of the changing geopolitical situation emerging in 1940. (In 1942 the Greater East Asia Ministry was established, and in 1943 the Greater East Asia Conference was held in Tokyo.) Also in 1940, political parties were ordered to dissolve, and the Imperial Rule Assistance Association, comprising members of all former parties, was established to transmit government orders throughout society. In September 1940, Japan joined the Axis alliance with Germany and Italy when it signed the Tripartite Pact, a military agreement to redivide the world that was directed primarily against the United States.

There had been a long-standing and deep-seated antagonism between Japan and the United States since the first decade of the twentieth century. Each perceived the other as a military threat, and trade rivalry was carried on in earnest. The Japanese greatly resented the racial discrimination perpetuated by United States immigration laws, and the Americans became increasingly wary of Japan's interference in the self-determination of other peoples. Japan's military expansionism and quest for national self- sufficiency eventually led the United States in 1940 to embargo war supplies, abrogate a long-standing commercial treaty, and put greater restrictions on the export of critical commodities. These American tactics, rather than forcing Japan to a standstill, made Japan more desperate. After signing the Japanese-Soviet Neutrality Pact in April 1941, and while still actively making war plans against the United States, Japan participated in diplomatic negotiations with Washington aimed at achieving a peaceful settlement. Washington was concerned about Japan's role in the Tripartite Pact and demanded the withdrawal of Japanese troops from China and Southeast Asia. Japan countered that it would not use force unless "a country not yet involved in the European war" (that is, the United States) attacked Germany or Italy. Further, Japan demanded that the United States and Britain not interfere with a Japanese settlement in China (a pro-Japanese puppet government had been set up in Nanjing in 1940). Because certain Japanese military leaders were working at cross-purposes with officials seeking a peaceful settlement (including Konoe, other civilians, and some military figures), talks were deadlocked. On October 15, 1941, army minister Tojo Hideki (1884-1948) declared the negotiations ended. Konoe resigned and was replaced by Tojo. After the final United States rejection of Japan's terms of negotiation, on December 1, 1941, the Imperial Conference (an ad hoc meeting convened--and then only rarely--in the presence of the emperor) ratified the decision to embark on a war of "self-defense and self-preservation" and to attack the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor.




After initial naval and battlefield successes and a tremendous overextension of its resources in the war (known to Japan as the Greater East Asia War, to the <"http://worldfacts.us/US.htm"> United States as the Pacific War) against a quickly mobilizing United States and Allied war effort, Japan was unable to sustain "Greater East Asia". As early as 1943, Konoe led a peace movement, and Tojo was forced from office in July 1944. His successors sought peace mediation (Sweden and the Soviet Union were approached for help in such a process), but the enemy offered only unconditional surrender. After the detonation of atomic bombs over <"http://worldfacts.us/Japan-Hiroshima.htm"> Hiroshima and <"http://worldfacts.us/Japan-Nagasaki.htm"> Nagasaki on August 6 and 8, 1945, respectively, the emperor asked that the Japanese people bring peace to Japan by "enduring the unendurable and suffering what is insufferable" by surrendering to the Allied powers. The documents of surrender were signed on board the U.S.S. Missouri in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945. The terms of surrender included the occupation of Japan by Allied military forces, assurances that Japan would never again go to war, restriction of Japanese sovereignty to the four main islands "and such minor islands as may be determined," and surrender of Japan's colonial holdings.

A period of demilitarization and democratization followed in Japan (1945-47). Under the direction of General Douglas MacArthur, the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP), Japan's army and navy ministries were abolished, munitions and military equipment were destroyed, and war industries were converted to civilian uses. War crimes trials found 4,200 Japanese officials guilty; 700 were executed, and 186,000 other public figures were purged. State Shinto was disestablished, and on January 1, 1946, Emperor Hirohito repudiated his divinity. MacArthur pushed the government to amend the 1889 Meiji Constitution, and on May 3, 1947, the new Japanese constitution (often called the "MacArthur Constitution") came into force (see <>The Postwar Constitution). Constitutional reforms were accompanied by economic reforms, including agricultural land redistribution, reestablishment of trade unions, and severe proscriptions on zaibatsu (see <>Patterns of Development).

The relatively rapid stabilization of Japan led to a relaxation of SCAP purges and press censorship. Quick economic recovery was encouraged, restrictions on former zaibatsu members eventually were lifted, and foreign trade was allowed. Finally, in September 1951 fifty-one nations met in San Francisco to reach a peace accord with Japan. China, India, and the Soviet Union participated in the conference but did not sign the treaty, formally known as the Treaty of Peace. Japan renounced its claims to Korea, Taiwan, Penghu, the Kuril Islands, southern Sakhalin, islands it had gained by League of Nations mandate, South China Sea islands, and Antarctic territory, while agreeing to settle disputes peacefully according to the United Nations Charter. Japan's rights to defend itself and to enter into collective security arrangements were acknowledged. The 1952 ratification of the Japan-United States Mutual Security Assistance Pact also ensured a strong defense for Japan and a large postwar role in Asia for the United States (see <>Relations with the United States).




Political Developments

Political parties had begun to revive almost immediately after the occupation began. Left-wing organizations, such as the Japan Socialist Party and the Japan Communist Party, quickly reestablished themselves, as did various conservative parties. The old Seiyokai and Rikken Minseito came back as, respectively, the Liberal Party (Nihon Jiyuto) and the Japan Progressive Party (Nihon Shimpoto). The first postwar elections were held in 1946 (women were given the franchise for the first time), and the Liberal Party's vice president, Yoshida Shigeru (1878-1967), became prime minister. For the 1947 elections, anti-Yoshida forces left the Liberal Party and joined forces with the Progressive Party to establish the new Democratic Party (Minshuto). This divisiveness in conservative ranks gave a plurality to the Japan Socialist Party, which was allowed to form a cabinet, which lasted less than a year. Thereafter, the socialist party steadily declined in its electoral successes. After a short period of Democratic Party administration, Yoshida returned in late 1948 and continued to serve as prime minister until 1954.

Even before Japan regained full sovereignty, the government had rehabilitated nearly 80,000 people who had been purged, many of whom returned to their former political and government positions. A debate over limitations on military spending and the sovereignty of the emperor ensued, contributing to the great reduction in the Liberal Party's majority in the first postoccupation elections (October 1952). After several reorganizations of the armed forces, in 1954 the Self-Defense Forces were established under a civilian director. Cold War realities and the hot war in nearby Korea also contributed significantly to the United States-influenced economic redevelopment, the suppression of communism, and the discouragement of organized labor in Japan during this period.

Continual fragmentation of parties and a succession of minority governments led conservative forces to merge the Liberal Party (Jiyuto) with the Japan Democratic Party (Nihon Minshuto), an offshoot of the earlier Democratic Party, to form the Liberal Democratic Party (Jiyu-Minshuto; LDP) in November 1955. This party continuously held power from 1955 through 1993, when it was replaced by a new minority government. LDP leadership was drawn from the elite who had seen Japan through the defeat and occupation; it attracted former bureaucrats, local politicians, businessmen, journalists, other professionals, farmers, and university graduates. In October 1955, socialist groups reunited under the Japan Socialist Party, which emerged as the second most powerful political force. It was followed closely in popularity by the Komeito (Clean Government Party), founded in 1964 as the political arm of the Soka Gakkai (Value Creation Society), a lay organization of the Buddhist sect Nichiren Shoshu. The Komeito emphasized traditional Japanese beliefs and attracted urban laborers, former rural residents, and many women. Like the Japan Socialist Party, it favored the gradual modification and dissolution of the JapanUnited States Mutual Security Assistance Pact.


Japan - Foreign Affairs


Japan's biggest postwar political crisis took place in 1960 over the revision of the Japan-United States Mutual Security Assistance Pact. As the new Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security was concluded, which renewed the United States role as military protector of Japan, massive street protests and political upheaval occurred, and the cabinet resigned a month after the Diet's ratification of the treaty. Thereafter, political turmoil subsided. Japanese views of the United States, after years of mass protests over nuclear armaments and the mutual defense pact, improved by 1972, with the reversion of United States-occupied Okinawa to Japanese sovereignty and the winding down of the Second Indochina War (1954-75).

Japan had reestablished relations with the Republic of China after World War II, and cordial relations were maintained with the nationalist government when it was exiled to Taiwan, a policy that won Japan the enmity of the People's Republic of China, which was established in 1949. After the general warming of relations between China and Western countries, especially the United States, which shocked Japan with its sudden rapprochement with Beijing in 1971, Tokyo established relations with Beijing in 1972. Close cooperation in the economic sphere followed.

Japan's relations with the Soviet Union continued to be problematic long after the war. The main object of dispute was the Soviet occupation of what Japan calls its Northern Territories, the two most southerly islands in the Kurils (Etorofu and Kunashiri) and Shikotan and the Habomai Islands (northeast of Hokkaido), which were seized by the Soviet Union in the closing days of World War II.


Japan - Economic Achievements and the Liberal Democratic Party


Throughout the postwar period, Japan's economy continued to boom, with results far outstripping expectations. Japan rapidly caught up with the West in foreign trade, gross national product (GNP), and general quality of life. These achievements were underscored by the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games and the Osaka International Exposition (Expo '70) world's fair in 1970.

The high economic growth and political tranquillity of the midto late 1960s were tempered by the quadrupling of oil prices by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in 1973. Almost completely dependent on imports for petroleum, Japan experienced its first recession since World War II.

Despite its wealth and central position in the world economy, Japan has had little or no influence in global politics for much of the postwar period. Under the prime ministership of Tanaka Kakuei (1972-74), Japan took a stronger but still low-key stance by steadily increasing its defense spending and easing trade frictions with the United States. Tanaka's administration was also characterized by high-level talks with United States, Soviet, and Chinese leaders, if with mixed results. His visits to Indonesia and Thailand prompted riots, a manifestation of long-standing antiJapanese sentiments. Tanaka was forced to resign in 1974 because of his alleged connection to financial scandals and, in the face of charges of involvement in the Lockheed bribery scandal, he was arrested and jailed briefly in 1976.

By the late 1970s, the Komeito and the Democratic Socialist Party had come to accept the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security, and the Democratic Socialist Party even came to support a small defense buildup. The Japan Socialist Party, too, was forced to abandon its once strict antimilitary stance. The United States kept up pressure on Japan to increase its defense spending above 1 percent of its GNP, engendering much debate in the Diet, with most opposition coming not from minority parties or public opinion but from budget-conscious officials in the Ministry of Finance.

The fractious politics of the LDP hindered consensus in the Diet in the late 1970s. The sudden death of Prime Minister Ohira Masayoshi just before the June 1980 elections, however, brought out a sympathy vote for the party and gave the new prime minister, Suzuki Zenko, a working majority. Suzuki was soon swept up in a controversy over the publication of a textbook that appeared to many of Japan's former enemies as a whitewash of Japanese aggression in World War II. This incident, and serious fiscal problems, caused the Suzuki cabinet, composed of numerous LDP factions, to fall.

Nakasone Yasuhiro, a conservative backed by the still-powerful Tanaka and Suzuki factions who once served as director general of the Defense Agency, became prime minister in November 1982. Several cordial visits between Nakasone and United States president Ronald Reagan were aimed at improving relations between their countries. Nakasone's more strident position on Japanese defense issues made him popular with some United States officials but not, generally, in Japan or among Asian neighbors. Although his characterization of Japan as an "unsinkable aircraft carrier," his noting the "common destiny" of Japan and the United States, and his calling for revisions to Article 9 of the Constitution (which renounced war as the sovereign right of the nation), among other prorearmament statements, produced negative reactions at home and abroad, a gradual acceptance emerged of the Self-Defense Forces and the mutual security treaty with the United States in the mid-1980s.

Another serious problem was Japan's growing trade surplus, which reached record heights during Nakasone's first term. The United States pressured Japan to remedy the imbalance, demanding that Tokyo raise the value of the yen and open its markets further to facilitate more imports from the United States. Because the Japanese government aids and protects its key industries, it was accused of creating an unfair competitive advantage. Tokyo agreed to try to resolve these problems but generally defended its industrial policies and made concessions on its trade restrictions very reluctantly.

In November 1984, Nakasone was chosen for a second term as LDP president. His cabinet received an unusually high rating, a 50 percent favorable response in polling during his first term, while opposition parties reached a new low in popular support. As he moved into his second term, Nakasone thus held a strong position in the Diet and the nation. Despite being found guilty of bribery in 1983, Tanaka in the early to mid-1980s remained a power behind the scenes through his control of the party's informal apparatus, and he continued as an influential adviser to the more internationally minded Nakasone. The end of Nakasone's tenure as prime minister in October 1987 (his second two-year term had been extended for one year) was a momentous point in modern Japanese history. Just fifteen months before Nakasone's retirement, the LDP unexpectedly had won its largest majority ever in the House of Representatives by securing 304 out of the 512 seats. Despite the solid conservative majority, the government was faced with growing crises. Land prices were rapidly increasing, inflation increased at the highest rate since 1975, unemployment reached a record high at 3.2 percent, bankruptcies were rife, and there was political rancor over LDP-proposed tax reform. In the summer of 1987, economic indicators showed signs of recovery, but on October 20, 1987, the same day Nakasone officially named his successor, Takeshita Noboru, the Tokyo Stock Market crashed. Japan's economy and its political system had reached a watershed in their postwar development that would continue to play out into the 1990s.


Japan - Geography


Composition, Topography, and Drainage

The mountainous islands of the Japanese Archipelago form a crescent off the eastern coast of Asia. They are separated from the mainland by the Sea of Japan, which historically served as a protective barrier. Japan's insular nature, together with the compactness of its main territory and the cultural homogeneity of its people, enabled the nation to remain free of outside domination until its defeat in World War II. The country consists of four principal islands: Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu; more than 3,000 adjacent islands and islets, including Oshima in the Nampo chain; and more than 200 other smaller islands, including those of the Amami, Okinawa, and Sakishima chains of the Ryukyu Islands. The national territory also includes the small Bonin Islands (called Ogasawara by the Japanese), Iwo Jima, and the Volcano Islands (Kazan Retto), stretching some 1,100 kilometers from the main islands. A territorial dispute with the Soviet Union, dating from the end of World War II, over the two southernmost of the Kuril Islands, Etorofu and Kunashiri, and the smaller Shikotan and Habomai Islands northeast of Hokkaido remained a sensitive spot in Japanese-Russian relations as the mid-1990s approached. Excluding disputed territory, the archipelago covers about 377,000 square kilometers. No point in Japan is more than 150 kilometers from the sea.

The four major islands are separated by narrow straits and form a natural entity. The Ryukyu Islands curve 970 kilometers southward from Kyushu.

The distance between Japan and the Korean Peninsula, the nearest point on the Asian continent, is about 200 kilometers at the Korea Strait. Japan has always been linked with the continent through trade routes, stretching in the north toward Siberia, in the west through the Tsushima Islands to the Korean Peninsula, and in the south to the ports on the south China coast.

The Japanese islands are the summits of mountain ridges uplifted near the outer edge of the continental shelf. About 75 percent of Japan's area is mountainous, and scattered plains and intermontane basins (in which the population is concentrated) cover only about 25 percent. A long chain of mountains runs down the middle of the archipelago, dividing it into two halves, the "face," fronting on the Pacific Ocean, and the "back," toward the Sea of Japan. On the Pacific side are steep mountains 1,500 to 3,000 meters high, with deep valleys and gorges. Central Japan is marked by the convergence of the three mountain chains--the Hida, Kiso, and Akaishi mountains--that form the Japanese Alps (Nihon Arupusu), several of whose peaks are higher than 3,000 meters. The highest point in the Japanese Alps is Kitadake at 3,192 meters. The highest point in the country is Mount Fuji (Fujisan, also called Fujiyama in the West but not in Japan), a volcano dormant since 1707 that rises to 3,776 meters above sea level in Shizuoka Prefecture. On the Sea of Japan side are plateaus and low mountain districts, with altitudes of 500 to 1,500 meters.

None of the populated plains or mountain basins is extensive in area. The largest, the Kanto Plain, where Tokyo is situated, covers only 13,000 square kilometers. Other important plains are the Nobi Plain surrounding Nagoya, the Kinki Plain in the Osaka-Kyoto area, the Sendai Plain around the city of Sendai in northeastern Honshu, and the Ishikari Plain on Hokkaido. Many of these plains are along the coast, and their areas have been increased by reclamation throughout recorded history.

The small amount of habitable land prompted significant human modification of the terrain over many centuries. Land was reclaimed from the sea and from river deltas by building dikes and drainage, and rice paddies were built on terraces carved into mountainsides. The process continued in the modern period with extension of shorelines and building of artificial islands for industrial and port development, such as Port Island in Kobe and the new Kansai International Airport in Osaka Bay. Hills and even mountains have been razed to provide flat areas for housing.

Rivers are generally steep and swift, and few are suitable for navigation except in their lower reaches. Most rivers are fewer than 300 kilometers in length, but their rapid flow from the mountains provides a valuable, renewable resource: hydroelectric power generation. Japan's hydroelectric power potential has been exploited almost to capacity. Seasonal variations in flow have led to extensive development of flood control measures. Most of the rivers are very short. The longest, the Shinano, which winds through Nagano Prefecture to Niigata Prefecture and flows into the Sea of Japan, is only 367 kilometers long. The largest freshwater lake is Lake Biwa, northeast of Kyoto.

Extensive coastal shipping, especially around the Inland Sea (Seto Naikai), compensates for the lack of navigable rivers. The Pacific coastline south of Tokyo is characterized by long, narrow, gradually shallowing inlets produced by sedimentation, which has created many natural harbors. The Pacific coastline north of Tokyo, the coast of Hokkaido, and the Sea of Japan coast are generally unindented, with few natural harbors.

Geographic Regions

The country's forty-seven prefectures are grouped into eight regions frequently used as statistical units in government documents. The islands of Hokkaido, Shikoku, and Kyushu each form a region, and the main island of Honshu is divided into five regions.

<>Ryukyu Islands


Japan - Hokkaido


Hokkaido, about 83,500 square kilometers in area, constitutes more than 20 percent of Japan's land area. Like the other main islands, Hokkaido is generally mountainous, but its mountains are lower than in other parts of Japan; many have leveled summits, and hills predominate. Valleys cut through the terrain, and communications are comparatively easy. Hokkaido was long looked upon as a remote frontier area and until the second half of the nineteenth century was left largely to the indigenous Ainu. The Ainu number fewer than 20,000, and they are being rapidly assimilated into the main Japanese population. Since the movement of modern technology and development into the area in the late nineteenth century, Hokkaido has been considered the major center of Japanese agriculture, forestry, fishing, and mining. Hokkaido, with about 90 percent of Japan's pastureland, produces the same proportion of its dairy products. Manufacturing industry played a smaller role compared with the other regions.

Hokkaido's environmental quality and rural character were altered by industrial and residential development in the 1980s, with developments such as the completion of the Seikan Tunnel linking Hokkaido and Honshu. Hokkaido is both an important agricultural center and a growing industrial area, with most industrial development near Sapporo, the prefectural capital.


Japan - Tohoku


The northeastern part of Honshu, called Tohoku (literally, "the northeast"), includes six prefectures. Tohoku, like most of Japan, is hilly or mountainous. Its initial historical settlement occurred between the seventh and ninth centuries A.D., well after Japanese civilization and culture had become firmly established in central and southwestern Japan. Although iron, steel, cement, chemical, pulp, and petroleum-refining industries began developing in the 1960s, Tohoku was traditionally considered the granary of Japan because it supplied Sendai and the Tokyo-Yokohama market with rice and other farm commodities. Tohoku provided 20 percent of the nation's rice crop. The climate, however, is harsher than in other parts of Honshu and permits only one crop a year on paddy land.

The inland location of many of the region's lowlands has led to a concentration of much of the population there. Coupled with coastlines that do not favor port development, this settlement pattern resulted in a much greater than usual dependence on land and railroad transportation. Low points in the central mountain range fortunately make communications between lowlands on either side of the range moderately easy. Tourism became a major industry in the Tohoku region, with points of interest including the islands of Matsushima Bay, Lake Towada, the Rikuchu Coastline National Park, and the Bandai-Asahi National Park.


Japan - Kanto


The Kanto ("east of the barrier") region encompasses seven prefectures around Tokyo on the Kanto Plain. The plain itself, however, makes up only slightly more than 40 percent of the region. The rest consists of the hills and mountains that border it except on the seaward side. Once the heartland of feudal power, the Kanto became the center of modern development. Within the Tokyo-Yokohama metropolitan area, the Kanto houses not only Japan's seat of government but also the largest group of universities and cultural institutions, the greatest population, and a large industrial zone. Although most of the Kanto Plain is used for residential, commercial, or industrial construction, it is still farmed. Rice is the principal crop, although the zone around Tokyo and Yokohama has been landscaped to grow garden produce for the metropolitan market.

The Kanto region is the most highly developed, urbanized, and industrialized part of Japan. Tokyo and Yokohama form a single industrial complex with a concentration of light and heavy industry along Tokyo Bay. Smaller cities, farther away from the coast, house substantial light industry. The average population density reached 1,192 persons per square kilometer in 1991.


Japan - Chubu


The Chubu, or central, region encompasses nine prefectures in the midland of Japan, west of the Kanto region. The region is the widest part of Honshu and is characterized by high, rugged mountains. The Japanese Alps divide the country into the sunnier Pacific side, known as the front of Japan, or Omote-Nihon, and the colder Sea of Japan side, or Ura-Nihon, the back of Japan. The region comprises three distinct districts: Hokuriku, a coastal strip on the Sea of Japan that is a major wet-rice producing area; Tosan, or the Central Highlands; and Tokai, or the eastern seaboard, a narrow corridor along the Pacific Coast.

Hokuriku lies west of the massive mountains that occupy the central Chubu region. The district has a very heavy snowfall and strong winds. Its turbulent rivers are the source of abundant hydroelectric power. Niigata Prefecture is the site of domestic gas and oil production. Industrial development is extensive, especially in the cities of Niigata and Toyama. Fukui and Kanazawa also have large manufacturing industries. Hokuriku developed largely independently of other regions, mainly because it remained relatively isolated from the major industrial and cultural centers on the Pacific Coast. Because port facilities are limited and road transport hampered by heavy winter snows, the district relied largely on railroad transportation.

The Tosan district is an area of complex and high rugged mountains--often called the roof of Japan--that include the Japanese Alps. The population is chiefly concentrated in six elevated basins connected by narrow valleys. Tosan was long a main silk-producing area, although output declined after World War II. Much of the labor formerly required in silk production was absorbed by the district's diversified manufacturing industry, which included precision instruments, machinery, textiles, food processing, and other light manufacturing.

The Tokai district, bordering the Pacific Ocean, is a narrow corridor interrupted in places by mountains that descend into the sea. Since the Tokugawa period (1600-1867), this corridor has been important in linking Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. One of old Japan's most famous roads, the Tokaido, ran through it connecting Edo (Tokyo, since 1868) and Kyoto, the old imperial capital; in the twentieth century, it became the route of new super-express highways and high-speed railroad lines.

A number of small alluvial plains are found in the corridor section. A mild climate, favorable location relative to the great metropolitan complexes, and availability of fast transportation have made them truck-gardening centers for out-of-season vegetables. Upland areas of rolling hills are extensively given over to the growing of mandarin oranges and tea. The corridor also has a number of important small industrial centers. The western part of Tokai includes the Nobi Plain, where rice was grown by the seventh century A.D. Nagoya, facing Ise Bay, is a center for heavy industry, including iron and steel and machinery manufacturing.


Japan - Kinki


The Kinki region lies to the west of Tokai and consists of seven prefectures forming a comparatively narrow area of Honshu, stretching from the Sea of Japan on the north to the Pacific Ocean on the south. It includes Japan's second largest industrialcommercial complex, centered on Osaka and Kobe, and the two former capital cities of Nara and Kyoto, seats of the imperial family from the early eighth century A.D. until the Meiji Restoration in 1868. The area is rich in imperial and cultural history and attracts many Japanese and foreign tourists.

The Osaka Plain is the site of Osaka, Kobe, and a number of intermediate-sized industrial cities, which together form the Hanshin commercial-industrial complex. Since the 1980s, the suburbs of Osaka have been given over to farming, including vegetables, dairy farming, poultry raising, and rice cultivation. These areas were progressively reduced as the cities expanded and residential areas, including numerous so-called "new cities," were built, such as the developments north of Osaka resulting from the Osaka International Exposition (Expo '70) world's fair.


Japan - Chugoku


The Chugoku region, occupying the western end of Honshu, encompasses five prefectures. It is characterized by irregular rolling hills and limited plain areas and is divided into two distinct parts by mountains running east and west through its center. The northern, somewhat narrower, district is known as San'in, or "shady side of the mountain," and the southern district is known as San'y , or "sunny side," because of the marked differences in climate. The whole Inland Sea region, including San'yo, underwent rapid development in the late twentieth century. The city of Hiroshima, rebuilt after being destroyed by the atomic bomb in 1945, is an industrial metropolis of more than 1 million people. Overfishing and pollution reduced the productivity of the Inland Sea fishing grounds, and the area concentrated on heavy industry. San'in, however, is less industrialized and relies on agriculture.


Japan - Shikoku


The Shikoku region--comprising the entire island of Shikoku-- covers about 18,800 square kilometers and consists of four prefectures. It is connected to Honshu by ferry and air and, since 1988, by the Seto- Ohashi bridge network. Until completion of the bridges, the region was isolated from the rest of Japan, and the freer movement between Honshu and Shikoku is expected to promote economic development on both sides of the bridges.

Mountains running east and west divide Shikoku into a narrow northern subregion, fronting on the Inland Sea, and a southern part facing the Pacific Ocean. Most of the population lives in the north, and all but one of the island's few larger cites are located there. Industry is moderately well developed and includes the processing of ores from the important Besshi copper mine. Land is used intensively. Wide alluvial areas, especially in the eastern part of the zone, are planted with rice and subsequently are double cropped with winter wheat and barley. Fruit is grown throughout the northern area in great variety, including citrus fruits, persimmons, peaches, and grapes.

The larger southern area of Shikoku is mountainous and sparsely populated. The only significant lowland is a small alluvial plain at Kochi, a prefectural capital. The area's mild winters stimulated some truck farming, specializing in growing out-of-season vegetables under plastic covering. Two crops of rice can be cultivated annually in the southern area. The pulp and paper industry took advantage of the abundant forests and hydroelectric power.


Japan - Kyushu


Kyushu, meaning "nine provinces" (from its ancient administrative structure), is the southernmost of the main islands and in modern times comprises seven prefectures. It was the stepping stone to Honshu for early migrants from the Korean Peninsula and a channel for the spread of ideas from the Asian mainland. Kyushu lies at the western end of the Inland Sea. Its northern extremity is only about 1.6 kilometers from Honshu, and the two islands are connected by the Kammon Bridge and by three tunnels, including one for the Japan Railways Group's Shinkansen (bullet train). The region is divided not only geographically but also economically by the Kyushu Mountains, which run diagonally across the middle of the island. The north, including the Kitakyushu industrial region, became increasingly urbanized and industrialized after World War II, while the agricultural south became relatively poorer. The hilly northwestern part of the island has extensive coal deposits, the second largest in Japan, which formed the basis for a large iron and steel industry. An extensive lowland area in the northwest between Kumamoto and Saga is an important farming district.

The climate of Kyushu is generally warm and humid, and the cultivation of vegetables and fruits is supplemented by cattle raising. The cities of Kitakyushu and Sasebo are noted for iron and steel production, and Nagasaki is noted for manufacturing. Nagasaki is a city of historical and cultural importance, a center for Chinese and Western influences from the sixteenth century on, and the only port open to foreign ships during most of the Tokugawa period. Like Hiroshima, it also was rebuilt after being devastated by an atomic bomb attack in 1945.


Japan - Ryukyu Islands


The Ryukyu Islands include more than 200 islands and islets-- some little more than coral outcrops--of which less than half are populated. They extend in a chain generally southwestward from the Tokara Strait, which separates them from the outlying islands of Kyushu, to within 120 kilometers of Taiwan. The Ryukyus are considered part of the Ryushu region but historically have been quite distinctively separate from the rest of the region.

The islands are the tops of mountain ranges along the outer edge of the continental shelf. They are generally hilly or mountainous, with active volcanos occurring mainly in the northern part of the archipelago. Okinawa is the largest and economically the most important of the Ryukyus. There is little industry, and the economy relies heavily on tourism. Northern Okinawa is quite rugged and forested, while the southern part consists of rolling hills. Although agriculture and fishing remained the occupations of most of the population in the Ryukyus, the region experienced considerable industrial expansion during the period of United States occupation from 1945 to 1972.


Japan - Climate


Japan is generally a rainy country with high humidity. Because of its wide range of latitude, Japan has a variety of climates, with a range often compared to that of the east coast of North America, from Nova Scotia to Georgia. Tokyo is at about 36 north latitude, comparable to that of Tehran, Athens, or Los Angeles. The generally humid, temperate climate exhibits marked seasonal variation celebrated in art and literature, as well as regional variations ranging from cool in Hokkaido to subtropical in Kyushu. Climate also varies with altitude and with location on the Pacific Ocean or on the Sea of Japan. Northern Japan has warm summers but long, cold winters with heavy snow. Central Japan has hot, humid summers and short winters, and southwestern Japan has long, hot, humid summers and mild winters.

Two primary factors influence Japan's climate: a location near the Asian continent and the existence of major oceanic currents. The climate from June to September is marked by hot, wet weather brought by tropical airflows from the Pacific Ocean and Southeast Asia. These airflows are full of moisture and deposit substantial amounts of rain when they reach land. There is a marked rainy season, beginning in early June and continuing for about a month. It is followed by hot, sticky weather. Five or six typhoons pass over or near Japan every year from early August to early September, sometimes resulting in significant damage. Annual precipitation, which averages between 100 and 200 centimeters, is concentrated in the period between June and September. In fact, 70 to 80 percent of the annual precipitation falls during this period. In winter, a high-pressure area develops over Siberia, and a low-pressure area develops over the northern Pacific Ocean. The result is a flow of cold air eastward across Japan that brings freezing temperatures and heavy snowfalls to the central mountain ranges facing the Sea of Japan, but clear skies to areas fronting on the Pacific.

Two major ocean currents affect this climatic pattern: the warm Kuroshio Current (Black Current; also known as the Japan Current); and the cold Oyashio Current (Parent Current; also known as the Okhotsk Current). The Kuroshio Current flows northward on the Pacific side of Japan and warms areas as far north as Tokyo; a small branch, the Tsushima Current, flows up the Sea of Japan side. The Oyashio Current, which abounds in plankton beneficial to coldwater fish, flows southward along the northern Pacific, cooling adjacent coastal areas. The meeting point of these currents at 36 north latitude is a bountiful fishing ground.


Japan - Earthquakes


Ten percent of the world's active volcanos--forty in the early 1990s (another 148 were dormant)--are found in Japan, which lies in a zone of extreme crustal instability. As many as 1,500 earthquakes are recorded yearly, and magnitudes of four to six on the Richter scale are not uncommon. Minor tremors occur almost daily in one part of the country or another, causing slight shaking of buildings. Major earthquakes occur infrequently; the most famous in the twentieth century was the great Kanto earthquake of 1923, in which 130,000 people died. Undersea earthquakes also expose the Japanese coastline to danger from tsunami, tidal wave.

Japan has become a world leader in research on causes and prediction of earthquakes. The development of advanced technology has permitted the construction of skyscrapers even in earthquakeprone areas. Extensive civil defense efforts focus on training in protection against earthquakes, in particular against accompanying fire, which represents the greatest danger.


Japan - Pollution


As Japan changed from an agricultural society to an urbanized industrial power, much of its natural beauty was destroyed and defaced by overcrowding and industrial development. However, as the world's leading importer of both exhaustible and renewable natural resources and the second largest consumer of fossil fuels, Japan came to realize that it had a major international responsibility to conserve and protect the environment. By 1990 Japan had some of the world's strictest environmental protection regulations.

These regulations were the consequence of a number of wellpublicized environmental disasters. Cadmium poisoning from industrial waste in Toyama Prefecture was discovered to be the cause of the extremely painful itai-itai disease (itai-itai means ouch-ouch), which causes severe pain in the back and joints, contributes to brittle bones that fracture easily, and brings about degeneration of the kidneys. Recovery of cadmium effluent halted the spread of the disease, and no new cases have been recorded since 1946. In the 1960s, hundreds of inhabitants of Minamata City in Kumamoto Prefecture contracted "Minamata disease," a degeneration of the central nervous system caused by eating mercury-poisoned seafood from Minamata Bay (nearly 1,300 cases of Minamata disease had been diagnosed by 1979). In Yokkaichi, a port in Mie Prefecture, air pollution caused by sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide emissions led to a rapid increase in the number of people suffering from asthma and bronchitis. In urban areas, photochemical smog from automotive and industrial exhaust fumes also contributed to the rise in respiratory problems. In the early 1970s, chronic arsenic poisoning attributed to dust from local arsenic mines (since shut down) was experienced in Shimane and Miyazaki prefectures. The incidence of polychlorobiphenyl (PCB) poisoning, caused by polluted cooking oil and food, particularly seafood, was also problematic.

Grass-roots pressure groups were formed in the 1960s and 1970s as a response to increasing environmental problems. These groups were independent of formal political parties and focused on single, usually local, environmental issues. Such citizens' movements were reminiscent of earlier citizen protests in the 1890s. As a result of this pressure, Japan began in the early 1970s to combat pollution on an official governmental level, with the establishment of the Environmental Agency. Although the agency lacked strong public influence and political power, it established effective regulations to curb pollution from photochemical smog through strict automotive emissions standards. It also worked to reduce noise from trains and airplanes, to remove mining, forestry, and tourist debris left on mountainsides and in national forests, and to monitor noise and air pollutant levels in major cities.

Groups also pressured the government and industry for a system of compensation for pollution victims. A series of lawsuits in the early 1970s established that corporations were responsible for damage cause by their products or activities. The Pollution Health Damage Compensation Law of 1973 provides industry funds for victims. Compensation, however, was slow, and awards were small, but the establishment of a government fund helped industry diffuse public outrage. In 1984 it was reported that Japan had more than 85,000 recognized victims of environmental pollution, with an estimated rate of increase of 6 percent a year. The regulations aimed at business were not enough to solve Japan's environmental problems, according to the Environment Agency's 1989 White Paper on the Environment, although public awareness and interest had grown and a number of civic and public interest groups had been established to combat pollution. Fewer public interest groups were engaged in the environmental debate than in antinuclear issues, and the peak of public interest in the environment occurred in the 1970s and early 1980s.

Japan had still not addressed worldwide environmental issues adequately. Japanese whaling continued in the early 1990s to be the object of international protest, and Japanese corporate involvement in the deforestation of Southeast Asia created concern among domestic and international groups.

The late 1980s saw the beginnings of change. In a 1984 public opinion poll conducted by the government, Japanese citizens had indicated less concern for environmental problems than their European counterparts. In the same year, the Environmental Agency had issued its first white paper calling for greater participation by Japan's public and private sectors in protecting the global environment. That challenge was repeated in the 1989 study. When citizens were asked in 1989 if they thought environmental problems had improved compared with the past, nearly 41 percent thought things had improved, 31 percent thought that they had stayed the same, and nearly 21 percent thought that they had worsened. Some 75 percent of those surveyed expressed concern about endangered species, shrinkage of rain forests, expansion of deserts, destruction of the ozone layer, acid rain, and increased water and air pollution in developing countries. Most believed that Japan, alone or in cooperation with other industrialized countries, had the responsibility to solve environmental problems. Although environmental public interest groups were not as numerous or active as they had been in the 1970s, the increased awareness of global environmental issues is likely to result in increased grass-roots activism.

Since the 1960s, Japan has made slow but significant progress in combating environmental problems. Efforts made in the late 1980s created a base of technology and concern that was expected to help the Japanese face the environmental issues of the 1990s.


Japan - The Society


JAPAN IS KNOWN throughout the world for its economic successes, yet Japanese society remains an enigma to many outside its borders. Those people who stress the nation's uniqueness, including many Japanese, often overlook the common human traits that make crosscultural communication possible and rewarding. Those who stress Japan's convergence with the West miss the deeper differences that have allowed Japan to chart its own path through the unknowns of the postindustrial period.

Geography and climate do not determine social organization or values, but they do set parameters for human action. Leaders of this island nation historically have exerted close political control over their people and have limited foreign influence to degrees not possible elsewhere. Mountainous terrain and wet-rice agriculture fostered--but did not ensure--attitudes of cooperation within the social unit and a sense of separateness from the outside.

Extending nearly 3,800 kilometers from northeast to southwest, Japan has a generally mild, temperate climate with a rich variety of local habitats. This expansiveness resulted in regional variations in culture and economic development historically, but these differences decreased in importance (or were relegated to tourist attractions) in the twentieth century. With 77 percent of the population living in urban areas and a large majority of farm families earning most of their income from nonfarm labor, regional and rural-urban differences in life-style are minimal. The large and stable national population, with low fertility and mortality rates, is aging rapidly.

Japanese society underwent great social changes after 1945. Families became smaller, women increasingly participated in paid labor, and urban life replaced the rural community as the common environment in which children were raised and human interaction took place. The changes brought new problems, such as industrial pollution, the entrance examination "hell," and social anomie. The government responded with new policies, and ordinary citizens utilized traditional customs to give meaning to the present. Japanese cities in the late twentieth century are convenient and safe. Surface prosperity masks an unequal distribution of wealth and discrimination against those perceived to be "different." Films, television, nightlife, and comic books (manga), sometimes garish and violent, offer an escape from the pressures of contemporary life. Categorization of social problems as medical syndromes tends to focus attention on personal-problem solving and away from societal-level causes, such as poverty, gender roles, or the lack of assistance in caring for ill elderly relatives.

The pace and rhythm of life in Japan should seem familiar to Westerners. Yet the Japanese approach them with a worldview eclectically derived from a variety of religious and secular traditions, emphasizing human relations. Many Japanese are willing to delay rewards, to put forth their best efforts for their teams, and to avoid open conflict. The outside world is an arena of intense competition. Family, neighborhood, and workplace represent ever-widening circles of social relations to which individuals adjust and through which they grow as human beings.

Japan, with the world's second largest gross national product (GNP) and seventh largest population, played an increasingly important part in world affairs. As the government embarked on a policy of internationalization, individual Japanese creatively combined elements from their own history with foreign influences and new inventions as they adapted to the postindustrial world.


Japan - Population


With a population estimated at 124.7 million in July 1993, Japan is three times more densely populated than Europe as a whole and twelve times more densely populated than the United States. The population has more than tripled since 1872, when it stood at 34.8 million. Beginning in the 1950s, the birth rate declined, however, and by 1993 the rate of natural increase was 0.32 percent, the lowest in the world outside Europe. Both the density and the age structure of Japan's population are likely to influence the country's future.

Population Density

Japan had an average of 327 persons per square kilometer in 1990, high compared with China (119) or the United States (twentyseven ), but lower than in some other Asian countries, such as the Republic of Korea (South Korea), which had 432 people per square kilometer.

Japan's population density has helped promote extremely high land prices. Between 1955 and 1989, land prices in the six largest cities increased 15,456 percent. Urban land prices generally increased 40 percent from 1980 to 1987; in the six largest cities, the price of land doubled over that period. For many families, this trend put housing in central cities out of reach. The result was lengthy commutes for many workers; daily commutes of up to two hours each way are not uncommon in the Tokyo area. Despite the large amount of forested land in Japan, parks in cities are smaller and scarcer than in major European or United States cities, which average ten times the amount of parkland per inhabitant. However, despite the high cost of urban housing, more people are likely to move back into central city areas, especially as the price of transportation and commuting time increases. National and regional governments devote resources to making regional cities and rural areas more attractive by developing transportation networks, social services, industry, and education institutions in attempts to decentralize settlement and improve the quality of life. Nevertheless, major cities, especially Tokyo, remain attractive to young people seeking education and jobs.

<>Age Structure
<>Foreign Residents
<>Hisabetsu Buraku

Updated population figures for Japan.


Japan - Age Structure


Like other postindustrial countries, Japan faces the problems associated with an aging population. In 1989, only 11.6 percent of the population was sixty-five years or older, but projections were that 25.6 percent would be in that age category by 2030. That shift will make Japan one of the world's most elderly societies, and the change will have taken place in a shorter span of time than in any other country.

This aging of the population was brought about by a combination of low fertility and high life expectancies. In 1993 the fertility rate was estimated at 10.3 per 1,000 population, and the average number of children born to a woman over her lifetime has been fewer than two since the late 1970s (the average number was estimated at 1.5 in 1993). Family planning was nearly universal, with condoms and legal abortions the main forms of birth control. A number of factors contributed to the trend toward small families: late marriage, increased participation of women in the labor force, small living spaces, and the high costs of children's education. Life expectancies at birth, 76.4 years for males and 82.2 years for women in 1993, were the highest in the world. (The expected life span at the end of World War II, for both males and females, was fifty years.) The mortality rate in 1993 was estimated at 7.2 per 1,000 population. The leading causes of death are cancer, heart disease, and cerebrovascular disease, a pattern common to postindustrial societies.

Public policy, the media, and discussions with private citizens revealed a high level of concern for the implications of one in four persons in Japan being sixty-five or older. By 2025 the dependency ratio (the ratio of people under fifteen years plus those sixty-five and older to those aged fifteen to sixty-five, indicating in a general way the ratio of the dependent population to the working population) was expected to be two dependents for every three workers. The aging of the population was already becoming evident in the aging of the labor force and the shortage of young workers in the late 1980s, with potential impacts on employment practices, wages and benefits, and the roles of women in the labor force. The increasing proportion of elderly people in the population also had a major impact on government spending. As recently as the early 1970s, social expenditures amounted to only about 6 percent of Japan's national income. In 1992 that portion of the national budget was 18 percent, and it was expected that by 2025, 27 percent of national income would be spent on social welfare.

In addition, the median age of the elderly population was rising in the late 1980s. The proportion of people aged seventy-five to eighty-five was expected to increase from 6 percent in 1985 to 15 percent in 2025. Because the incidence of chronic disease increases with age, the healthcare and pension systems, too, are expected to come under severe strain. The government in the mid-1980s began to reevaluate the relative burdens of government and the private sector in health care and pensions, and it established policies to control government costs in these programs. Recognizing the lower probability that an elderly person will be residing with an adult child and the higher probability of any daughter or daughter-in-law's participation in the paid labor force, the government encouraged establishment of nursing homes, day-care facilities for the elderly, and home health programs. Longer life spans are altering relations between spouses and across generations, creating new government responsibilities, and changing virtually all aspects of social life.



Japan - Migration


Between 6 million and 7 million people moved their residences each year during the 1980s. About 50 percent of these moves were within the same prefecture; the others were relocations from one prefecture to another. During Japan's economic development in the twentieth century, and especially during the 1950s and 1960s, migration was characterized by urbanization as people from rural areas in increasing numbers moved to the larger metropolitan areas in search of better jobs and education. Out-migration from rural prefectures continued in the late 1980s, but more slowly than in previous decades.

In the 1980s, government policy provided support for new urban development away from the large cities, particularly Tokyo, and assisted regional cities to attract young people to live and work there. Regional cities offered familiarity to those from nearby areas, lower costs of living, shorter commutes, and, in general, a more relaxed life-style then could be had in larger cities. Young people continued to move to large cities, however, to attend universities and find work, but some returned to regional cities (a pattern known as U-turn) or to their prefecture of origin (a pattern known as J-turn).

Government statistics show that in the 1980s significant numbers of people left the largest cities (Tokyo and Osaka). In 1988 more than 500,000 people left Tokyo, which experienced a net loss through migration of nearly 73,000 for the year. Osaka had a net loss of nearly 36,000 in the same year. However, the prefectures showing the highest net growth are located near the major urban centers, such as Saitama, Chiba, Ibaraki, and Kanazawa around Tokyo, and Hyogo, Nara, and Shiga near Osaka and Kyoto. This pattern suggests a process of suburbanization, people moving away from the cities for affordable housing but still commuting there for work and recreation, rather than a true decentralization.

Japanese economic success has led to an increase in certain types of external migration. In 1990 about 11 million Japanese went abroad. More than 80 percent of these people traveled as tourists, especially visiting other parts of Asia and North America. However, about 663,100 Japanese were living abroad, approximately 75,000 of whom had permanent foreign residency, more than six times the number who had that status in 1975. More than 200,000 Japanese went abroad in 1990 for extended periods of study, research, or business assignments. As the government and private corporations have stressed internationalization, greater numbers of individuals have been directly affected, decreasing Japan's historically claimed insularity. Despite the benefits of experiencing life abroad, individuals who have lived outside of Japan for extended periods often faced problems of discrimination upon their return because others might no longer consider them fully Japanese. By the late 1980s, these problems, particularly the bullying of returnee children in the schools, had become a major public issue both in Japan and in Japanese communities abroad.



Japan - Minorities


Japanese society, with its ideology of homogeneity, has traditionally been intolerant of ethnic and other differences. People identified as different might be considered "polluted"--the category applied historically to the outcasts of Japan, particularly the hisabetsu buraku, "discriminated communities," often called burakumin, a term some find offensive--and thus not suitable as marriage partners or employees. Men or women of mixed ancestry, those with family histories of certain diseases, and atomic bomb survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and their descendants, foreigners, and members of minority groups faced discrimination in a variety of forms.



Japan - Foreign Residents


If Japanese society is reluctant to readmit returnees, it is even less willing to accept as full members of society those people who are not ethnic Japanese. In 1991 there were 1.2 million foreign residents in Japan, less than 1 percent of Japan's population (if illegal aliens were counted, the number of foreigners might be several times higher than the quoted figure). Of this number, 693,100 (about 57 percent) were Koreans and 171,100 (some 14 percent) were Chinese. Many of these people were descendants of those brought to Japan during Japan's occupation of Taiwan (1895- 1945) and Korea (1905-45) to work at unskilled jobs, such as coal mining. Because Japanese citizenship was based on the nationality of the parent rather than on the place of birth, subsequent generations were not automatically Japanese and had to be naturalized to claim citizenship, despite being born and educated in Japan and speaking only Japanese, as was the case with most Koreans in Japan. Until the late 1980s, people applying for citizenship were expected to use only the Japanese renderings of their names and, even as citizens, continued to face discrimination in education, employment, and marriage. Thus, few chose naturalization, and they faced legal restrictions as foreigners, as well as extreme social prejudice.

All non-Japanese are required by law to register with the government and carry alien registration cards. From the early 1980s, a civil disobedience movement encouraged refusal of the fingerprinting that accompanied registration every five years. Those people who opposed fingerprinting argued that it was discriminatory because the only Japanese who were fingerprinted were criminals. The courts upheld fingerprinting, but the law was changed so that fingerprinting was done once rather than with each renewal of the registration. Some Koreans, often with the support of either South Korea or the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea), attempted to educate their children in the Korean language, history, and culture and to instill pride in their Korean heritage. Most Koreans in Japan, however, have never been to the Korean Peninsula and do not speak Korean. Many are caught in a vicious cycle of poverty and discrimination in a society that emphasizes Japan's homogeneity and cultural uniqueness. Other Asians, too, whether students or permanent residents, face prejudice and a strong "we-they" distinction. Europeans and North Americans might be treated with greater hospitality but nonetheless find it difficult to become full members of Japanese society. Public awareness of the place of foreigners (gaijin) in Japanese society was heightened in the late 1980s in debates over the acceptance of Vietnamese and Chinese refugees and the importing of Filipino brides for rural farmers.



Japan - Hisabetsu Buraku


Despite Japan's claim of homogeneity, two Japanese minority groups can be identified. The largest is known as the hisabetsu buraku, "discriminated communities," descendants of premodern outcast hereditary occupational groups, such as butchers, leatherworkers, and certain entertainers. Discrimination against these occupational groups arose historically because of Buddhist prohibitions against killing and Shinto notions of pollution, as well as governmental attempts at social control. During the Tokugawa period, such people were required to live in special buraku and, like the rest of the population, were bound by sumptuary laws based on the inheritance of social class. The Meiji government abolished must derogatory names applied to these discriminated communities in 1871, but the new laws had little effect on the social discrimination faced by the former outcasts and their descendants. The laws, however, did eliminate the economic monopoly they had over certain occupations.

Although members of these discriminated communities are physically indistinguishable from other Japanese, they often live in urban ghettoes or in the traditional special hamlets in rural areas. Some attempt to pass as ordinary Japanese, but the checks on family background that are often part of marriage arrangements and employment applications make this difficult. Estimates of their number range from 2 million to 4 million, or about 2 to 3 percent of the national population.

Ordinary Japanese claimed that membership in these discriminated communities can be surmised from the location of the family home, occupation, dialect, or mannerisms and, despite legal equality, continued to discriminate against people they surmised to be members of this group. Past and current discrimination had resulted in lower educational attainment and socioeconomic status among hisabetsu buraku than among the majority of Japanese. Movements with objectives ranging from "liberation" to encouraging integration have tried over the years to change this situation. As early as 1922, leaders of the hisabetsu buraku organized a movement, the Levelers Association of Japan (Suiheisha), to advance their rights. After World War II, the National Committee for Burakumin Liberation was founded, changing its name to the Burakumin Liberation League in the 1950s. The league, with the support of the socialist and communist parties, pressured the government into making important concessions in the late 1960s and 1970s. One concession was the passing of the Special Measures Law for Assimilation Projects, which provided financial aid for the discriminated communities. Another was the closing of nineteenthcentury family registers, kept by the Ministry of Justice for all Japanese, which revealed the outcaste origins of families and individuals. These records could now be consulted only in legal cases, making it more difficult to identify or discriminate against members of the group. Even into the early 1990s, however, discussion of the liberation of these discriminated communities, or even their existence, was taboo in public discussion. In the late 1970s, the Sayama incident, which involved a murder conviction of a member of the discriminated communities based on circumstantial evidence, focused public attention on the problems of the group. In the 1980s, some educators and local governments, particularly in areas with relatively large hisabetsu buraku populations, began special education programs, which they hoped would encourage greater educational and economic success for young members of the group and decrease the discrimination they faced.



Japan - Ainu


The second largest minority group among Japanese citizens is the Ainu, who are thought to be related to the Tungusic, Altaic, and Uralic peoples of Siberia. Historically, the Ainu (Ainu means human in the Ainu language) were an indigenous hunting and gathering population who occupied most of northern Honshu as late as the Nara period (A.D. 710-94). As Japanese settlement expanded, the Ainu were pushed northward, until by the Meiji period they were confined by the government to a small area in Hokkaido, in a manner similar to the placing of native Americans on reservations. Characterized as remnants of a primitive circumpolar culture, the fewer than 20,000 Ainu in 1990 were considered racially distinct and thus not fully Japanese. Disease and a low birth rate had severely diminished their numbers over the past two centuries, and intermarriage had brought about an almost completely mixed population.

Although no longer in daily use, the Ainu language is preserved in epics, songs, and stories transmitted orally over succeeding generations. Distinctive rhythmic music and dances and some Ainu festivals and crafts are preserved, but mainly in order to take advantage of tourism.





Contemporary Japan is a secular society. Creating harmonious relations with others through reciprocity and the fulfillment of social obligations is more significant for most Japanese than an individual's relationship to a transcendent God. Harmony, order, and self-development are three of the most important values that underlie Japanese social interaction. Basic ideas about self and the nature of human society are drawn from several religious and philosophical traditions. Religious practice, too, emphasizes the maintenance of harmonious relations with others (both spiritual beings and other humans) and the fulfillment of social obligations as a member of a family and a community.


Empathy and Human Relations

In Japanese mythology, the gods display human emotions, such as love and anger. In these stories, behavior that results in positive relations with others is rewarded, and empathy, identifying oneself with another, is highly valued. By contrast, those actions that are antisocial, or that harm others, are condemned. Hurtful behavior is punished in the myths by ostracizing the offender.

No society can exist that tolerates significant antisocial behavior in the long term, but Japan is among the societies that most strongly rely on social rather than supernatural sanctions and emphasize the benefits of harmony. Japanese children learn from their earliest days that human fulfillment comes from close association with others. Children learn early to recognize that they are part of an interdependent society, beginning in the family and later extending to larger groups such as neighborhood, school, community, and workplace. Dependence on others is a natural part of the human condition; it is viewed negatively only when the social obligations it creates are too onerous to fulfill.

In interpersonal relationships, most Japanese tend to avoid open competition and confrontation. Working with others requires self-control, but it carries the rewards of pride in contributing to the group, emotional security, and social identity. Wa, the notion of harmony within a group, requires an attitude of cooperation and a recognition of social roles. If each individual in the group understands personal obligations and empathizes with the situations of others, then the group as a whole benefits. Success can come only if all put forth their best individual efforts. Decisions are often made only after consulting with everyone in the group. Consensus does not imply that there has been universal agreement, but this style of consultative decision making involves each member of the group in an information exchange, reinforces feelings of group identity, and makes implementation of the decision smoother. Cooperation within a group also is often focused on competition between that group and a parallel one, whether the issue is one of educational success or market share. Symbols such as uniforms, names, banners, and songs identify the group as distinct from others both to outsiders and to those within the group. Participation in group activities, whether official or unofficial, is a symbolic statement that an individual wishes to be considered part of the group. Thus, after-work bar hopping provides not only instrumental opportunities for the exchange of information and release of social tensions but also opportunities to express nonverbally a desire for continued affiliation.

Working in a group in Japan requires the development of successful channels of communication, which reinforce group interdependence, and the sense of difference from those who are not members of the group. Yet social interaction beyond that which occurs with individuals with whom one lives and works is a necessity in contemporary society. If the exchange is brief and relatively insignificant, such as buying a newspaper, anonymity will be maintained. But if the relationship is expected to continue over a long period, whether in business, marriage, employment, or neighborhood, great care is likely to be invested in establishing and maintaining good relationships. Such relationships are often begun by using the social networks of a relative, friend, or colleague who can provide an introduction to the desired person or serve as nakodo (go-between). The nakodo most often refers to the person (or people) who negotiates marriage arrangements, including checking each family's background, conveying questions and criticisms, and smoothing out difficulties. But this kind of personal mediation is common in many aspects of Japanese life.

Group membership in Japan provides enjoyment and fulfillment, but it also causes tremendous tension. An ideology of group harmony does not ensure harmony in fact. Japan is an extremely competitive society, yet competition within the group must be suppressed. Minor issues are sometimes dealt with by appeals to higher authority, but they may well smolder unresolved for years. Major problems may be denied, especially to outsiders, but may result in factions or in the fissioning of the group. It is often the individual, however, who bears the burden of these interpersonal tensions. This burden is reflected in high rates of alcohol consumption and of minor, sometimes psychosomatic, illnesses. Many Japanese cope with these stresses by retreating into the private self or by enjoying the escapism offered by much of the popular culture.

The Public Sphere: Order and Status

It is difficult to imagine a Japanese vision of the social order without the influence of Confucianism because prior to the advent of Chinese influence in the sixth century, Japan did not have a stratified society. Confucianism emphasizes harmony among heaven, nature, and human society achieved through each person's accepting his or her social role and contributing to the social order by proper behavior. An often quoted phrase from the Confucian essay "Da Xue" (The Great Learning) explains, "Their persons being cultivated, their families were regulated. Their families being regulated, their states were rightly governed. Their states being rightly governed, the whole kingdom was made tranquil and happy."

This view implies that hierarchy is natural. Relative status differences define nearly all social interaction. Age or seniority, gender, educational attainment, and place of employment are common distinctions that guide interaction. Without some knowledge of the other's background, age and gender may be an individual's only guidelines. A Japanese person may prefer not to interact with a stranger, to avoid potential errors in etiquette. The business cards or calling cards so frequently exchanged in Japan are valuable tools of social interaction because they provide enough information about another person to facilitate normal social exchange. Japan scholar Edwin O. Reischauer noted that whereas Americans often act to minimize status differences, Japanese find it awkward, even unbecoming, when a person does not behave in accordance with status expectations.

The Japanese language is one means of expressing status differences, and it contributes to the assumption that hierarchy is natural. Verb endings regularly express relationships of superiority or inferiority. Japanese has a rich vocabulary of honorific and humble terms that indicate a person's status or may be manipulated to express what the speaker desires the relationship to be. Men and women employ somewhat different speech patterns, with women making greater use of polite forms. Certain words are identified with masculine speech and others with feminine. For example, there are a number of ways to say the pronoun "I," depending on the formality of the occasion, the gender of the speaker, and the relative status of the speaker and listener. As is appropriate in a culture that stresses the value of empathy, one person cannot speak without considering the other.

The term hierarchy implies a ranking of roles and a rigid set of rules, and Japan has its share of bureaucracy. But the kind of hierarchical sense that pervades the whole society is of a different sort, which anthropologist Robert J. Smith calls "diffuse order." For example, in premodern times, local leaders were given a great deal of autonomy in exchange for assuming total responsibility for affairs in their localities. In contemporary Japan also, responsibility is collective and authority diffuse. The person seeming to be in charge is, in reality, bound into the web of group interdependence as tightly as those who appear to be his subordinates. Leadership thus calls not for a forceful personality and sharp decision-making skills but for sensitivity to the feelings of others and skills in mediation. Even in the early 1990s, leaders were expected to assume responsibility for a major problem occurring in or because of their groups by resigning their posts, although they may have had no direct involvement in the situation.

Status in Japan is based on specific relationships between individuals, often relationships of social dependency between those of unequal status. Giri (duty), the sense of obligation to those to whom one is indebted, requires deferential behavior and eventually repayment of the favor, which in turn calls forth future favors. Relations of social dependence thus continue indefinitely, with their very inequality binding individuals to each other. Rules of hierarchy are tempered by the relationship itself. This tempering is known as ninjo (human emotion or compassion). The potential conflict between giri and ninjo has been a frequent theme in Japanese drama and literature. Although young Japanese are less likely to phrase a personal dilemma in those terms, claiming that the concept of giri was old-fashioned, many continue to feel stress in doing what they should when it was not what they want. Social order exists in part because all members of the society are linked in relationships of social dependency, each involved in giving and receiving.

The Private Sphere: Goals and Self

Relative status may be seen as the basis of social organization, and affiliation with others may be considered desirable, but these assumptions by no means negate a concept of self. An ideology of harmony with others does not automatically create a congruence of individual with group or institutional goals.

Anthropologist Brian Moeran distinguishes Japanese attitudes toward individuality and individualism. Individuality, or the uniqueness of a person, is not only tolerated but often is admired if the person is seen as sincere, as acting from the heart. A work of art conveys strength as well as beauty from its "individuality." Individualism, however, is viewed negatively, for it is equated with selfishness, the opposite of the empathy that is so highly valued. While many modern Japanese deny the relevance of the concept of seishin (selfless spiritual strength, as in World War II soldiers), selfishness (especially "selfish mothers," because the behavior of mothers is commonly thought to affect the mental and physical health of children) takes the blame for many social problems of modern society. These problems include ones categorized as psychosomatic medical syndromes, such as kitchen syndrome (dadokoro skokogun), in which formerly meticulous housewives suddenly adopt odd behaviors and complain of aches and pains, nonverbally expressing their frustration with or rejection of the "good wifewise mother" role, or school-refusal syndrome (toko kyohi), in which children complain of somatic problems, such as stomachaches, and thus miss school in an attempt to avoid academic or social failure.

Japan, like all other societies, has conflicts between individual and group. What is different from North American society is not that the Japanese have no sense of self but rather that the self is defined through its interaction with others and not merely through the force of individual personality.

According to Reischauer, "The cooperative, relativistic Japanese is not thought of as the bland product of a social conditioning that has worn off all individualistic corners, but rather as the product of firm inner self-control that has made him master of his . . . anti-social instincts . . . . Social conformity . . . is no sign of weakness but rather the proud, tempered product of inner strength." This mastery is achieved by overcoming hardship, through self-discipline, and through personal striving for a perfection that one knows is not possible but remains a worthy goal. In this view, both the self and society can be improved, and in fact are interrelated because the ideal of selfhood, toward which many Japanese strive, is one in which consideration of others is paramount. Whereas Americans attempt to cultivate a self that is unique, most Japanese place greater emphasis on cultivating "a self that can feel human in the company of others," according to David W. Plath. Maturity means both continuing to care about what others are thinking and feeling confident in one's ability to judge and act effectively, acknowledging social norms while remaining true to self.


Japan - Religion and Philosophical Traditions


The values described in the preceding section are derived from a number of religious and philosophical traditions, both indigenous and foreign. Taken together, these traditions may be considered the Japanese worldview, although the personal beliefs of an individual Japanese may incorporate some aspects and disregard others. The Japanese worldview is eclectic, contrasting with a Western view in which religion is exclusive and defines one's identity. Contemporary Japanese society is highly secular. Cause and effect relations are frequently based in scientific models, and illness and death are explained by modern medical theories. Yet the scientific view is but one of the options from which an individual may draw in interpreting life's experiences.

The Japanese worldview is characterized also by a pragmatic approach to problem solving, in which the technique may be less important than the results. Thus a Japanese who is ill may simultaneously or sequentially seek the assistance of a medical doctor, obtain medication from a person trained in the Chinese herbal tradition, and visit a local shrine. Each of these actions is based on a different belief in causation of the illness: the physician may say that the illness is caused by a bacterial infection; the herbalist regards the body as being out of balance; and the basis of the shrine visit is the belief that the mind must be cleansed to heal the body. In the West, these explanations might be viewed as mutually exclusive, but the Japanese patient may hold all of these views simultaneously without a sense of discord. Similarly, a student studying for university entrance examinations knows that without extraordinary hard work, admission is impossible. Yet the student will probably also visit a special shrine to ask for the help of the spiritual world in ensuring success.

The roots of the Japanese worldview can be traced to several traditions. Shinto, the only indigenous religion of Japan, provided the base. Confucianism, from China, provided concepts of hierarchy, loyalty, and the emperor as the son of heaven. Daoism, also from China, helped give order and sanction to the system of government implied in Shinto. Buddhism brought with it not only its contemplative religious aspects but also a developed culture of art and temples, which had a considerable role in public life. Christianity brought an infusion of Western ideas, particularly those involving social justice and reform

<>New Religions
<>Religious Practice
<>Religion and the State


Japan - Shinto


Shinto (Way of the Gods) is the term used to refer to an assortment of beliefs and practices indigenous to Japan that predate the arrival of Buddhism but that have in turn been influenced by it. The Shinto worldview is of a pantheistic universe of kami, spirits or gods with varying degrees of power.

Although each person is expected to continue existence as a kami after death, Shinto is concerned with this world rather than with the afterlife. This world contains defiling substances, and Shinto ritual often involves mental and physical purification of a person who has come into contact with a pollutant, such as death. Water or salt commonly serve as purifying agents. Some kami are guardian deities for villages, and thus they symbolize the unity of the human community as well as mediating in its relationship with the natural and supernatural worlds.

Japanese legends describe the activities and personalities of the kami. The most well-known legends describe the creation of the human world and trace the origins of the Japanese imperial family to the gods. The latter legend formed the basis of the wide acceptance of the concept of the emperor's divine descent in pre-1940s Japan.

In the fifth and sixth centuries, Shinto came under the influence of Chinese Confucianism and Buddhism. From the former, it borrowed the veneration of ancestors, and from the latter it adopted philosophical ideas and religious rites. Because of the popularity of things Chinese and the ethical and philosophical attraction of Buddhism for the court and the imperial family, Shinto became somewhat less influential than Buddhism for more than a millennium. Many people, however, were adherents to both systems of belief. By the seventeenth century, Shinto began to emerge from Buddhism's shadow through the influence of neo-Confucian rationalism.

The emerging nationalism of the late Tokugawa period combined with the political needs of the Meiji Restoration (1868) oligarchs to reform Shinto into a state religion, and it flourished as such until 1945 under government patronage. Japan's defeat in World War II and the emperor's denial of his divinity brought an end to State Shinto. Sometimes considered synonymous with State Shinto before 1945 was Shrine Shinto (Jinja Shinto), but after the war most Shinto traditions were observed in the home rather than in shrines. Most shrines, which had previously benefited from state sponsorship, were organized into the Association of Shinto Shrines after 1946. Sect Shinto (Kyoha Shinto) consists of more than eighty private religious sects, which conduct services in houses of worship or lecture halls rather than in shrines.

In 1991 there were nearly 80,000 Shinto shrines and 93,000 clergy in Japan. After World War II, the requirement of membership in a shrine parish was revoked, but local shrines still serve as focal points for community identity for many Japanese, and occasional informal or ritual visits are common. Nearly 95 million Japanese citizens profess adherence to some form of Shinto. Some of the Sect Shinto groups are considered new religions.


Japan - Buddhism


Buddhism, which originated in India, was introduced into Japan in the sixth century A.D. from Korea and China. Buddhism introduced ideas into Japanese culture that have become inseparable from the Japanese worldview: the concept of rebirth, ideas of karmic causation, and an emphasis on the unity of experience. It gained the patronage of the ruling class, which supported the building of temples and production of Buddhist art. In the early centuries of Buddhism in Japan, scholarly esoteric sects were popular, and the Buddhist influence was limited mainly to the upper class. From the late Heian period (A.D. 794-1185) through the Kamakura period (1185-1333), Pure Land (Jodo) and Nichiren Shoshu sects, which had much wider appeal, spread throughout all classes of society. These sects stressed experience and faith, promising salvation in a future world. Zen Buddhism, which encourages the attainment of enlightenment through meditation and an austere life-style, had wide appeal among the bushi, or samurai--the warrior class--who had come to have great political power. Under the sponsorship of the ruling military class, Zen had a major impact on Japanese aesthetics. In addition, as Japan scholar Robert N. Bellah has argued, Buddhist sects popular among commoners in the Tokugawa period encouraged values such as hard work and delayed rewards, which, like Protestantism in Europe, helped lay the ideological foundation for Japan's industrial success.

Buddhist funerary and ancestral rites are pervasive in Japan. Although regular attendance at Buddhist temples is rare, partly because many Buddhist sects do not observe community worship, there were in 1991 nearly 75,000 temples and 204,000 clergy. Buddhist as well as Shinto priests marry, and often sons inherit the responsibility for their father's parish at his death. The Nichiren school, based on belief in the Lotus Sutra and its doctrine of universal salvation, was the largest sect in Japan in 1991, with 24,450,257 members. Its wide appeal is based on the broad range of religious and social thought and the lay activities it incorporates.


Japan - Confucianism


Although not practiced as a religion, Confucianism from China has deeply influenced Japanese thought. In essence, Confucianism is the practice of proper forms of conduct, especially in social and familial relationships. It is derived from compilations attributed to the fifth-century B.C. Chinese philosopher Kong Fuzi or Kongzi (Confucius; in Japanese, Koshi). Confucian government was to be a moral government, bureaucratic in form and benevolent toward the ruled. Confucianism also provided a hierarchical system, in which each person was to act according to his or her status to create a harmoniously functioning society and ensure loyalty to the state. The teachings of filial piety and humanity continue to form the foundation for much of social life and ideas about family and nation.

Neo-Confucianism, introduced to Japan in the twelfth century, is an interpretation of nature and society based on metaphysical principles and is influenced by Buddhist and Daoist ideas. In Japan, where it is known as Shushigaku (Shushi School, after the Chinese neo-Confucian scholar Zhu Xi--Shushi in Japanese), it brought the idea that family stability and social responsibility are human obligations. The school used various metaphysical concepts to explain the natural and social order. Shushigaku, in turn, influenced the kokutai (national polity) theory, which emphasized the special national characteristics of Japan.


Japan - Daoism


Daoism (literally, the way) from China has also influenced Japanese thought and has a special affinity for Zen Buddhism. Zen's praise of emptiness, exhortations to act in harmony with nature, and admonitions to avoid discrimination and duality all are parallel in Daoist beliefs. The lunar calendar, the selection of auspicious days for special events, the sitting of buildings, and numerous folk medicine treatments also have origins in Daoism and continue as customs to varying degrees in contemporary Japanese society. Daoism has also influenced native shamanistic traditions and rituals.


Japan - Christianity


Christianity was introduced in the sixteenth century by Portuguese and Spanish Roman Catholic missionaries, but, because it was associated with Western imperialism and considered a threat to Japanese political control, it was banned from the mid-seventeenth century to the mid-nineteenth century. With the reopening of Japan in the mid-1850s, missionaries again arrived. While fewer than 1 million people (less than 1 percent of the population) consider themselves Christian in the early 1990s, Christianity is respected for its contributions to society, particularly in education and social action. There are more than 7,600 places of Christian worship in Japan. In the late 1980s, about 64 percent of all Christians belonged to Protestant churches, about 32 percent to the Roman Catholic Church, and about 4 percent to other Christian denominations.


Japan - New Religions


A number of religious organizations are generally labeled "new religions" (shinko shukyo), although some date back to the early nineteenth century. The largest are Soka Gakkai (Value Creation Society), Rissho Koseikai (Society for the Establishment of Justice and Community for the Rise [of Buddhism]), and Tenrikyo (Religion of Divine Wisdom), with more than 17 million, 6 million, and about 2.5 million members, respectively, in the late 1980s. Both Soka Gakkai and Rissho Koseikai are offshoots of the Nichiren Shoshu sect of Buddhism. Tenrikyo was once considered an offshoot of Sect Shinto but is now regarded as independent of other divisions of Shinto. Some of the larger of these new religions are active internationally as well as in Japan.

No one category can be used to describe all of the new religions. What distinguishes them from popular or folk religions is their claim to an organizational status equivalent to Shinto or Buddhism. Their teachings are diverse, but most syncretize elements of Buddhist, Shinto, Christian, and other beliefs. Most emphasize the dependence of the living on kami, the Buddha or Buddhist figures, or ancestors. Some, such as Tenrikyo, are monotheistic and stress individual salvation. For example, Rissho Koseikai adherents gather in small groups to discuss religious issues and problems of daily life. Most of the new religions provide special support to their adherents through small group meetings and encourage solving problems through ritual and proper behavior. Many stress harmonious relations with others, hard work, and sincerity as the way to a better life.

Most of the new religions were founded by charismatic lay people, often women, who had experienced transforming spiritual episodes and felt called upon to convey these experiences to others. They stressed lay participation, involving small, local, face-to-face groups as well as national organizations. They encouraged direct contact with the supernatural, and some groups practiced faith healing and mutual support techniques. People who joined these groups often did so in response to personal problems, but many found continuing fulfillment through their emphasis on returning to traditional values.


Japan - Religious Practice


Most Japanese participate in rituals and customs derived from several religious traditions. Life cycle events are often marked by visits to a Shinto shrine. The birth of a new baby is celebrated with a formal shrine visit at the age of about one month, as are the third, fifth, and seventh birthdays and the official beginning of adulthood at age twenty. Wedding ceremonies are often performed by Shinto priests, but Christian weddings are also popular. In the early 1980s, more than 8 percent of weddings were held in a shrine or temple, and nearly 4 percent were held in a church. The most popular place for a wedding ceremony--chosen by 41 percent--was a wedding hall.

Funerals are most often performed by Buddhist priests, and Buddhist rites are also common on death day anniversaries of deceased family members. Some Japanese do not perform ancestral ceremonies at all, and some do so rather mechanically and awkwardly. But there have also been changes in these practices, such as more personal and private ceremonies and women honoring their own as well as their husband's ancestors, that make them more meaningful to contemporary participants.

There are two categories of holidays in Japan: matsuri (festivals), which are largely of Shinto origin and relate to the cultivation of rice and the spiritual well-being of the community, and nencho gyo (annual events), mainly of Chinese or Buddhist origin. The matsuri were supplemented during the Heian period with more festivals added and were organized into a formal calendar. In addition to the complementary nature of the different holidays, there were later accretions during the feudal period. Very few matsuri or nencho gyo are national holidays, but they are included in the national calendar of annual events.

Most holidays are secular in nature, but the two most significant for the majority of Japanese--New Year's Day for Shinto believers and Obon (also call Bon Festival) for Buddhists, which marks the end of the ancestors' annual visit to their earthly home- -involve visits to Shinto shrines or Buddhist temples. The New Year's holiday (January 1-3) is marked by the practice of numerous customs and the consumption of special foods. These customs include time for getting together with family and friends, for special television programming, and for visiting Shinto shrines to pray for family blessings in the coming year. Dressing in a kimono, hanging out special decorations, eating noodles on New Year's Eve to show continuity into the new year, and playing a poetry card game are among the more "traditional" practices. During Obon season, in midAugust (or mid-July depending on the locale), bon (spirit altars) are set up in front of Buddhist family altars, which, along with ancestral graves, are cleaned in anticipation of the return of the spirits. As with the New Year's holiday, people living away from their family homes return for visits with relatives. Celebrations include folk dancing and prayers at the Buddhist temple as well as family rituals in the home.

Many Japanese also participate, at least as spectators, in one of the many local matsuri celebrated throughout the country. Matsuri may be sponsored by schools, towns, or other groups but are most often associated with Shinto shrines. As religious festivals, these strike a Western observer as quite commercialized and secular, but the many who plan the events, cook special foods, or carry the floats on their shoulders find renewal of self and of community through participation.


Japan - Religion and the State


Article 20 of the 1947 Constitution states, "Freedom of religion is guaranteed to all. No religious organization shall receive any privileges from the State, nor exercise any political authority". Contemporary religious freedom fits well with the tolerant attitude of most Japanese toward other religious beliefs and practices. Separation of religion and the state, however, is a more difficult issue.

Historically, there was no distinction between a scientific and a religious worldview. In early Japanese history, the ruling class was responsible for performing propitiatory rituals, which later came to be identified as Shinto, and for the introduction and support of Buddhism. Later, religious organization was used by regimes for political purposes, as when the Tokugawa government required each family to be registered as a member of a Buddhist temple for purposes of social control. In the late nineteenth century, rightists created State Shinto, requiring that each family belong to a shrine parish and that the concepts of emperor worship and a national Japanese "family" be taught in the schools.

In the 1980s, the meaning of the separation of state and religion again became controversial. The issue came to a head in 1985 when Prime Minister Nakasone Yasuhiro paid an official visit to Yasukuni Shrine, which honors Japanese war dead, including leaders from the militarist period in the 1930s and 1940s. Supporters of Nakasone's action (mainly on the political right) argued that the visit was to pay homage to patriots; others claimed that the visit was an attempt to revive State Shinto and nationalistic extremism. The visit was protested by China, North Korea, South Korea, and other countries occupied by Japan in the first half of the twentieth century, and domestically by leftists, intellectuals, and the Japanese news media. Similar cases have occurred at local levels, and courts increasingly have been asked to clarify the division between religion and government. Separating religious elements of the Japanese worldview from what is merely "Japanese" is not easy, especially given the ambiguous role of the emperor, whose divinity was denied in 1945 but who continued to perform functions of both state and religion.




From birth, Japanese are recognized as autonomous human beings. However, from the beginning infants are influenced by society's emphasis on social interdependence. In fact, Japanese human development may be seen as a movement toward mastery of an everexpanding circle of social life, beginning with the family, widening to include school and neighborhood as children grow, and incorporating roles as colleague, inferior, and superior. Viewed in this perspective, socialization does not culminate with adolescence, for the individual must learn to be, for example, a section chief, a parent-teacher association member, or a grandparent at various points in life.

Many Westerners ask whether there is a Japanese self that exists apart from identification with a group. The answer lies in the Japanese distinction between uchi (inside) and soto (outside). These terms are relative, and the "we" implied in uchi can refer to the individual, the family, a work group, a company, a neighborhood, or even all of Japan. But it is always defined in opposition to a "they." The context or situation thus calls for some level of definition of self. When an American businessman meets a Japanese counterpart, the Japanese will define himself as a member of a particular company with which the American is doing business. However, if the American makes a cultural mistake, the Japanese is likely to define himself as Japanese as distinguished from a foreigner. The American might go away from his encounter with the belief that the Japanese think of themselves only as members of a group. The same person attending a school event with one of his children might be defined at the level of his family or household. Viewed relaxing at home or playing golf with former classmates, he would perhaps have reached a level of definition more similar to an American concept of self.

From childhood, however, Japanese are taught that this level of self should not be assertive but rather should be considerate of the needs of others; the private emotions, and perhaps the funloving , relaxed side of Japanese individuals are tolerated and even admired as long as these do not interfere with the performance of more public responsibilities. The proper performance of social roles is necessary to the smooth functioning of society. Individuals, aware of private inner selves (and even resistance to the very roles they perform), use a shifting scale of uchi and soto to define themselves in various situations.

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Japan - Family


The family is the earliest locus of social life for an individual, and it provides a model of social organization for most later encounters with the wider world. Yet, as uchi, the Japanese family does not have clear boundaries. At times, it may refer to a nuclear family of parents and unmarried children. On other occasions, it refers to a line of descent, and on still others, it refers to the household as a unit of production or consumption.

A great variety of family forms have existed historically in Japan, from the matrilocal customs of the Heian elite, which are described in Genji monogatari (Tale of Genji), to the extreme patrilineality of the samurai class in the feudal period. Numerous family forms, through which ran a common belief in the existence of the family-household beyond the life of its current members, coexisted particularly in the countryside. Among the upper classes and wealthier merchant and artisan urban households of the Tokugawa period, the chonin, providing for household continuity, and if possible enriching the household's estate, represented duty to one's ancestors and appreciation toward one's parents.

With the promulgation of the Domestic Relations and Inheritance Law in 1898, the Japanese government institutionalized more rigid family controls than most people had known in the feudal period. Individuals were registered in an official family registry. In the early twentieth century, each family was required to conform to the ie (household) system, with a multigenerational household under the legal authority of a household head. In establishing the ie system, the government moved the ideology of family in the opposite direction of trends resulting from urbanization and industrialization. The ie system took as its model for the family the Confucian-influenced pattern of the upper classes of the Tokugawa period. Authority and responsibility for all members of the ie lay legally with the household head. Each generation supplied a male and female adult, with a preference for inheritance by the first son and for patrilocal marriage. When possible, daughters were expected to marry out, and younger sons were expected to establish their own households. Women could not legally own or control property or select spouses. The ie system thus artificially restricted the development of individualism, individual rights, women's rights, and the nuclearization of the family. It formalized patriarchy and emphasized lineal and instrumental, rather than conjugal and emotional ties, within the family.

After World War II, the Allied occupation forces established a new family ideology based on equal rights for women, equal inheritance by all children, and free choice of spouse and career. From the late 1960s, most marriages in Japan have been based on the mutual attraction of the couple and not the arrangement by the parents. Moreover, arranged marriages might begin with an introduction by a relative or family friend, but actual negotiations do not begin until all parties, including the bride and groom, are satisfied with the relationship.

Under the ie system, only a minority of households included three generations at a time because nonsuccessor sons (those who were not heirs) often set up their own household. From 1970 to 1983, the proportion of three-generation households fell from 19 percent to 15 percent of all households, while twogeneration households consisting of a couple and their unmarried children increased only slightly, from 41 percent to 42 percent of all households. The greatest change has been the increase in couple-only households and in elderly single-person households.

Public opinion surveys in the late 1980s seemed to confirm the statistical movement away from the three-generation ie family model. Half of the respondents did not think that the first son had a special role to play in the family, and nearly two-thirds rejected the need for adoption of a son in order to continue the family. Other changes, such as an increase in filial violence and school refusal, suggest a breakdown of strong family authority.

Official statistics, however, indicate that Japanese concepts of family continued to diverge from those in the United States in the 1980s. The divorce rate, although increasing slowly, remained at 1.3 per 1,000 marriages in 1987, low by international standards. Strong gender roles remained the cornerstone of family responsibilities. Most survey respondents said that family life should emphasize parent-child ties over husband-wife relations. Nearly 80 percent of respondents in a 1986 government survey believed that the ancestral home and family grave should be carefully kept and handed on to one's children. More than 60 percent thought it best for elderly parents to live with one of their children. This sense of family as a unit that continues through time is stronger among people who have a livelihood to pass down, such as farmers, merchants, owners of small companies, and physicians, than among urban salary and wage earners. Anthropologist Jane M. Bachnik noted the continued emphasis on continuity in the rural families she studied. Uchi (here, the contemporary family) were considered the living members of an ie, which had no formal existence. Yet, in each generation, there occurred a sorting of members into permanent and temporary members, defining different levels of uchi.

Various family life-styles exist side by side in contemporary Japan. In many urban salaryman families, the husband may commute to work and return late, having little time with his children except for Sundays, a favorite day for family outings. The wife might be a "professional housewife," with nearly total responsibility for raising children, ensuring their careers and marriages, running the household, and managing the family budget. She also has primary responsibility for maintaining social relations with the wider circles of relatives, neighbors, and acquaintances and for managing the family's reputation. Her social life remains separate from that of her husband. It is increasingly likely that in addition to these family responsibilities, she may also have a part-time job or participate in adult education or other community activities. The closest emotional ties within such families are between the mother and children.

In other families, particularly among the self-employed, husband and wife work side by side in a family business. Although gender-based roles are clear cut, they might not be as rigidly distinct as in a household where work and family are more separated. In such families, fathers are more involved in their children's development because they have more opportunity for interacting with them.

As women worked outside of the home with increasing frequency beginning in the 1970s, there was pressure on their husbands to take on more responsibility for housework and child care. Farm families, who depend on nonfarm employment for most of their income, are also developing patterns of interaction different from those of previous generations.


Japan - Neighborhood


Beyond the family, the next group to which children are introduced is the neighborhood. Although the loose, informal groups of children who wandered through villages of the past have no counterpart in contemporary heavily trafficked city streets, neighborhood playgrounds and the grounds of local shrines and temples are sites where young children, accompanied by mothers, begin to learn to get along with others.

Among neighbors, there is great concern for face. In old urban neighborhoods or rural villages, families may have been neighbors for generations and thus expect relationships of assistance and cooperation to continue into the future. In newer company housing, neighbors represent both competition and stress at the workplace, which cannot be expressed. Extra care is taken to maintain proper relations while maximizing family privacy. Participation in neighborhood activities is not mandatory, but nonparticipants might lose face. If a family plans to stay in an area, people feel strong pressures to participate in public projects such as neighborhood cleanups or seasonal festivals. Concern for the family's reputation is real because background checks for marriage and employment might include asking neighbors their opinions about a family. More positively, neighbors become uchi for certain purposes, such as local merchants providing personal services, physicians responding to calls for minor ailments and emergency treatment, and neighbors taking care of children while their mother goes out.

People who work in the neighborhood where they live often have a different attitude from those who spend most of their waking hours at distant workplaces, creating differences in character between the central city and the suburbs. Central city areas, dominated by the old middle class of artisans, merchants, and small business owners, generally have more active neighborhood associations and other local groups, such as merchant associations and shrine associations. The neighborhood association's activities include public sanitation and health, volunteer firefighting, disaster preparedness, crime prevention, information exchange, and recreational activities, particularly for children and the elderly. In new urban or suburban developments, local governments might take a more active role in performing these functions. In neighborhoods with mixtures of new and old middle-class residents, it is people with the time and interest, most likely those with businesses in the area, who are active in neighborhood affairs. The activities of women and children, however, might cut across such class distinctions. The emphasis on good relations with neighbors helps counteract the potential depersonalization of urban living. Working together on community projects, exchanging information, and cooperating in community rituals, such as festivals, helps maintain a sense of community.

The consequences of economic growth are examined more closely by consumers, who by 1980s began to demand higher-quality social services, more libraries and cultural centers, greater access to sports facilities, and more parkland. Attention is increasingly focused on the adverse effects of urban life on families: modern children are seen as more demanding and less disciplined than their forebears, who had experienced war and poverty.

Despite these problems, urban life is much safer and more convenient than in many other countries. In contrast to most industrialized nations, urban crime rates are declining. The streets of Tokyo are safe even at night, and a public campaign is more likely to urge residents to lock their doors than to suggest they install deadbolts. Public transportation is congested but convenient, clean, punctual, and relatively inexpensive. Complaints are heard, however, that railroad station parking lots are too small to accommodate all commuter bicycles. In urban areas, houses are close together; but at the same time, shops are close by, and housewives can easily purchase fresh vegetables and fish daily. Urban life is made more attractive for many by a wide variety of cultural and sports activities, including the symphony orchestra, theater, sumo, professional baseball, museums, and art galleries.


Japan - Workplace


Entry into the labor force widens the circle of social relationships. For many adults, these contacts are important sources of friendships and resources. For men especially, the workplace is the focus of their social world. Many both in and outside of Japan share an image of the Japanese workplace that is based on a lifetime-employment model used by large companies. These employment practices came about as the result of labor shortages in the 1920s, when companies competed to recruit and retain the best workers by offering better benefits and job security. By the 1960s, employment at a large prestigious company had become the goal of children of the new middle class, the pursuit of which required mobilization of family resources and great individual perseverance in order to achieve success in the fiercely competitive education system.

Lifetime employment refers not to a worker's lifetime but to the time from school graduation until mandatory retirement, at age sixty for most men. Workers are recruited directly out of school, and large investments are made in training. Employees are expected to work hard and demonstrate loyalty to the firm, in exchange for some degree of job security and benefits, such as housing subsidies, good insurance, the use of recreational facilities, and bonuses and pensions. Wages begin low, but seniority is rewarded, with promotions based on a combination of seniority and ability. Leadership is not based on assertiveness or quick decision making but on the ability to create consensus, taking into account the needs of subordinates. Surveys indicate continued preference for bosses who are demanding but show concern for workers' private lives over less-demanding bosses interested only in performance on the job. This system rewards behavior demonstrating identification with the team effort, indicated by singing the company song, not taking all of one's vacation days, and sharing credit for accomplishments with the work group. Pride in one's work is expressed through competition with other parallel sections in the company and between one's company and other companies in similar lines of business. Thus, individuals are motivated to maintain wa (harmony) and participate in group activities, not only on the job but also in after-hours socializing. The image of group loyalty, however, may be more a matter of ideology than practice, especially for people who do not make it to the top.

Every worker does not, however, enjoy the benefits of such employment practices and work environments. Although 64 percent of households in 1985 depended on wages or salaries for most of their income, most of these workers were employed by small and mediumsized firms that could not afford the benefits or achieve the successes of the large companies, despite the best intentions of owners. Even in the large corporations, distinctions between permanent and temporary employees made many workers, often women, ineligible for benefits and promotions. These workers were also the first to be laid off in difficult business conditions. Japan scholar Dorinne K. Kondo compares the status of permanent and temporary workers with Bachnik's distinctions between permanent and temporary members of an ie, creating degrees of inside and outside within a firm. Traditions of entrepreneurship and of inheritance of the means of livelihood continued among merchants, artisans, farmers, and fishermen, still nearly 20 percent of the work force in 1985. These workers gave up security for autonomy and, when economically necessary, supplemented household income with wage employment. Traditionally, such businesses use unpaid family labor, but wives or even husbands are likely to go off to work in factories or offices and leave spouses or retired parents to work the farm or mind the shop. On the one hand, policies of decentralization provide factory jobs locally for families that farm part time; on the other hand, unemployment created by deindustrialization affects rural as well as urban workers. Whereas unemployment is low in Japan compared with other industrialized nations (less than 3 percent through the late 1980s), an estimated 400,000 day laborers share none of the security or affluence enjoyed by those employees with lifetime-employment benefits.

Although Japanese workers are known worldwide for their hard work and dedication to their firms, more than 50 percent of respondents of a 1988 government survey said that they would rather have more free time than increased income. The proportion preferring free time to increased income was greater among professionals, supervisors, and white-collar workers. There was also evidence of increased interfirm mobility among some types of workers in the late 1980s, as a result of a labor shortage and changing attitudes toward work among young people.


Japan - Popular Culture


Japanese popular culture not only reflects the attitudes and concerns of the present, but it provides a link to the past. Popular films, television programs, comics, and music all developed from older artistic and literary traditions, and many of their themes and styles of presentation can be traced to traditional art forms. Contemporary forms of popular culture, like the traditional forms, provide not only entertainment but also an escape for the contemporary Japanese from the problems of an industrial world. When asked how they spent their leisure time, 80 percent of a sample of men and women surveyed by the government in 1986 saiid they averaged about two and one-half hours per weekday watching television, listening to the radio, and reading newspapers or magazines. Some 16 percent spent an average of two and one-quarter hours a day engaged in hobbies or amusements. Others spent leisure time participating in sports, socializing, and personal study. Teenagers and retired people reported more time spent on all of these activities than did other groups.

In the late 1980s, the family was the focus of leisure activities, such as excursions to parks or shopping districts. Although Japan is often thought of as a hard-working society with little time for pleasure, the Japanese seek entertainment wherever they can. It is common to see Japanese commuters riding the train to work, enjoying their favorite comic book or listening through earphones to the latest in popular music on cassette players.

Japan has about 100 million television sets in use, and television is the main source of home entertainment and information for most of the population. The Japanese has a wide variety of programs to choose from, including the various dramas (police, crime, home, and samurai), cartoons, news, and game, quiz, and sports shows provide by the Japan Broadcasting Corporation (Nippon Hoso Kyokai--NHK) general station, the NHK educational station, and numerous commercial and independent stations. The violence of the samurai and police dramas and the scatological humor of the cartoons draws criticism from mothers and commentators. Characters in dramas and cartoons often reflect racial and gender stereotypes. Women news anchors are not given equal exposure in news broadcasts, and few women are portrayed on television in high career positions.

Individuals also choose from a variety of types of popular entertainment. There is a large selection of musical tapes, films, television programs, and the products of a huge comic book industry, among other forms of entertainment, from which to choose.


Japan - The Lives of Women


Gender has been an important principle of stratification throughout Japanese history, but the cultural elaboration of gender differences has varied over time and among different social classes. In the twelfth century, for example, women could inherit property in their own names and manage it by themselves. Later, under feudal governments, the status of women declined. Peasant women continued to have de facto freedom of movement and decisionmaking power, but upper-class women's lives were subject to the patrilineal and patriarchal ideology supported by the government as part of its efforts at social control. With early industrialization, young women participated in factory work under exploitive and unhealthy working conditions without gaining personal autonomy. In the Meiji period, industrialization and urbanization lessened the authority of fathers and husbands, but at the same time the Meiji Civil Code denied women legal rights and subjugated them to the will of household heads. Peasant women were less affected by the institutionalization of this trend, but it gradually spread even to remote areas. In the 1930s and 1940s, the government encouraged the formation of women's associations, applauded high fertility, and regarded motherhood as a patriotic duty to the Japanese Empire.

After World War II, the legal position of women was redefined by the occupation authorities, who included an equal rights clause in the 1947 Constitution and the revised Civil Code of 1948. Individual rights were given precedence over obligation to family. Women as well as men were guaranteed the right to choose spouses and occupations, to inherit and own property in their own names, to initiate divorce, and to retain custody of their children. Women were given the right to vote in 1946. Other postwar reforms opened education institutions to women and required that women receive equal pay for equal work. In 1986 the Equal Employment Opportunity Law took effect. Legally, few barriers to women's equal participation in the life of society remain.

Gender inequality, however, continues in family life, the workplace, and popular values. The notion expressed in the proverbial phrase "good wife, wise mother," continues to influence beliefs about gender roles. Most women may not be able to realize that ideal, but many believe that it is in their own, their children's, and society's best interests that they stay home to devote themselves to their children, at least while the children were young. Many women find satisfaction in family life and in the accomplishments of their children, gaining a sense of fulfillment from doing good jobs as household managers and mothers. In most households, women are responsible for their family budgets and make independent decisions about the education, careers, and life-styles of their families. Women also take the social blame for problems of family members.

Women's educational opportunities have increased in the twentieth century. Among new workers in 1989, 37 percent of women had received education beyond upper-secondary school, compared with 43 percent of men, but most women had received their postsecondary education in junior colleges and technical schools rather than in universities and graduate schools.

In 1990 approximately 50 percent of all women over fifteen years of age participated in the paid labor force. At that time, two major changes in the female work force were under way. The first was a move away from household-based employment. Peasant women and those from merchant and artisan families had always worked. With self-employment becoming less common, though, the more usual pattern was separation of home and workplace, creating new problems of child care, care of the elderly, and housekeeping responsibilities. The second major change was the increased participation of married women in the labor force. In the 1950s, most women employees were young and single; 62 percent of the female labor force in 1960 had never been married. In 1987 about 66 percent of the female labor force was married, and only 23 percent was made up women who had never married. Some women continued working after marriage, most often in professional and government jobs, but their numbers were small. Others started their own businesses or took over family businesses. More commonly, women left paid labor after marriage, then returned after their youngest children were in school. These middle-age recruits generally took low-paying, part-time service or factory jobs. They continued to have nearly total responsibility for home and children and often justified their employment as an extension of their responsibilities for the care of their families. Despite legal support for equality and some improvement in their status, married women understood that their husbands' jobs demanded long hours and extreme commitment. Because women earned an average of only 60 percent as much as men, most did not find it advantageous to take full-time, responsible jobs after marriage, if doing so left no one to manage the household and care for children.

Yet women's status in the labor force was changing in the late 1980s, most likely as a result of changes brought about by the aging of the population. Longer life expectancies, smaller families and bunched births, and lowered expectations of being cared for in old age by their children have all led women to participate more fully in the labor force. At the same time, service job opportunities in the postindustrial economy expanded, and there were fewer new male graduates to fill them.

Some of the same demographic factors--low birth rates and high life expectancies--also change workplace demands on husbands. For example, men recognize their need for a different kind of relationship with their wives in anticipation of long postretirement periods.


Japan - The Elderly


Another key principle in the stratification of Japanese society is age. "Acting one's age" may be more important in Japan than in some other societies, resulting in relatively narrow age-ranges for such life cycle-events as university education, first job, or marriage. This pattern fits with the value placed on playing social roles appropriately.

Old age ideally represents a time of relaxation of social obligations, assisting with the family farm or business without carrying the main responsibility, socializing, and receiving respectful care from family and esteem from the community. In the late 1980s, high (although declining) rates of suicide among older people and the continued existence of temples where one could pray for quick death indicated that this ideal was not always fulfilled. Japan has a national holiday called Respect for the Aged Day, but for most people it is merely another day for picnics or an occasion when the commuter trains run on holiday schedules. True respect for the elderly may be questioned when buses and trains carry signs above specially reserved seats to remind people to give up their seats for elderly riders. Although the elderly might not have been accorded generalized respect based on age, many older Japanese continued to live full lives that included gainful employment and close relationships with adult children.

Although the standard retirement age in Japan throughout most of the postwar period was fifty-five, people aged sixty-five and over in Japan were more likely to work than in any other developed country in the 1980s. In 1987 about 36 percent of men and 15 percent of women in this age-group were in the labor force. With better pension benefits and decreased opportunities for agricultural or other self-employed work, however, labor force participation by the elderly has been decreasing since 1960. In 1986 about 90 percent of Japanese surveyed said that they wished to continue working after age sixty-five. They indicated both financial and health reasons for this choice. Other factors, such as a strong work ethic and the centering of men's social ties around the workplace, may also be relevant. Employment was not always available, however, and men and women who worked after retirement usually took substantial cuts in salary and prestige. Between 1981 and 1986, the proportion of people sixty and over who reported that a public pension was their major source of income increased from 35 percent to 53 percent, while those relying most on earnings for income fell from 31 to 25 percent and those relying on children decreased from 16 to 9 percent.

In the 1980s, there was a major trend toward the elderly maintaining separate households rather than co-residing with the families of adult children. The proportion living with children decreased from 77 percent in 1970 to 65 percent in 1985, although this rate was still much higher than in other industrialized countries. The number of elderly living in Japan's retirement or nursing homes also increased from around 75,000 in 1970 to more than 216,000 in 1987; still, this group was a small portion of the total elderly population. People living alone or only with spouses constituted 32 percent of the sixty-five-and-over group. Less than half of those responding to a government survey believed that it was the duty of the eldest son to care for parents, but 63 percent replied that it was natural for children to take care of their elderly parents. The motive of co-residence seems to have changed, from being the expected arrangement of an agricultural society to being an option for coping with circumstances such as illness or widowhood in a postindustrial society.

Concern for the health of the aged receives a great deal of attention, and nearly free medical care for people over seventy years of age is a national policy. Responsibility for the care of the aged, bedridden, or senile, however, still devolves mainly on family members, usually daughters-in-law.




While most postwar Japanese relied on personal savings and the support of family, both the government and private companies have long provided assistance for the ill or otherwise disabled and for the old. Beginning in the 1920s, the government enacted a series of welfare programs, based mainly on European models, to provide medical care and financial support. Government expenditures for all forms of social welfare increased from 6 percent of national income in the early 1970s to 18 percent in 1989. The mixtures of public and private funding have created complex pension and insurance systems.

Health Care

A person who becomes ill in Japan has a number of options. One may visit a Buddhist temple or Shinto shrine, or send a family member in his or her place. There are numerous folk remedies, including hot springs baths and chemical and herbal over-the- counter medications. A person may seek the assistance of traditional healers, such as herbalists, masseurs, and acupuncturists. However, Western biomedicine dominated Japanese medical care in the postwar period.

Public health services, including free screening examinations for particular diseases, prenatal care, and infectious disease control, are provided by national and local governments. Payment for personal medical services is offered through a universal medical insurance system that provides relative equality of access, with fees set by a government committee. People without insurance through employers can participate in a national health insurance program administered by local governments. Since 1973, all elderly persons have been covered by government-sponsored insurance. Patients are free to select physicians or facilities of their choice.

In the early 1990s, there were more than 1,000 mental hospitals, 8,700 general hospitals, and 1,000 comprehensive hospitals with a total capacity of 1.5 million beds. Hospitals provided both out-patient and in-patient care. In addition, 79,000 clinics offered primarily out-patient services, and there were 48,000 dental clinics. Most physicians and hospitals sold medicine directly to patients, but there were 36,000 pharmacies where patients could purchase synthetic or herbal medication.

National health expenditures rose from about ¥1 trillion in 1965 to nearly ¥20 trillion in 1989, or from slightly more than 5 percent to more than 6 percent of Japan's national income. In addition to cost-control problems, the system was troubled with excessive paperwork, long waits to see physicians, assembly-line care for out-patients (because few facilities made appointments), overmedication, and abuse of the system because of low out-of-pocket costs to patients. Another problem is an uneven distribution of health personnel, with cities favored over rural areas.

In the late 1980s, government and professional circles were considering changing the system so that primary, secondary, and tertiary levels of care would be clearly distinguished within each geographical region. Further, facilities would be designated by level of care and referrals would be required to obtain more complex care. Policy makers and administrators also recognized the need to unify the various insurance systems and to control costs.

In the early 1990s, there were nearly 191,400 physicians, 66,800 dentists, and 333,000 nurses, plus more than 200,000 people licensed to practiced massage, acupuncture, moxibustion, and other East Asian therapeutic methods. Since around 1900, Chinese-style herbalists have been required to be licensed medical doctors. Training was professionalized and, except for East Asian healers, was based on a biomedical model of disease. However, the practice of biomedicine was influenced as well by Japanese social organization and cultural expectations concerning education, the organization of the workplace, and social relations of status and dependency, decision-making styles, and ideas about the human body, causes of illness, gender, individualism, and privacy. Anthropologist Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney notes that "daily hygienic behavior and its underlying concepts, which are perceived and expressed in terms of biomedical germ theory, in fact are directly tied to the basic Japanese symbolic structure."

Although the number of cases remained small by international standards, public health officials were concerned in the late 1980s about the worldwide epidemic of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). The first confirmed case of AIDS in Japan was reported in 1985. By 1991 there were 553 reported cases, and by April 1992 the number had risen to 2,077. While frightened by the deadliness of the disease yet sympathetic to the plight of hemophiliac AIDS patients, most Japanese are unconcerned with contracting AIDS themselves. Various levels of government responded to the introduction of AIDS into the heterosexual population by establishing government committees, mandating AIDS education, and advising testing for the general public without targeting special groups. A fund, underwritten by pharmaceutical companies that distributed imported blood products, was established in 1988 to provide financial compensation for AIDS patients.

Social Welfare

The futures of Japan's health and welfare systems are being shaped by the rapid aging of the population. Medical insurance, health care for the elderly, and public health expenses constituted about 60 percent of social welfare and social security costs in 1975, while government pensions accounted for 20 percent. By the early 1980s, pensions accounted for nearly 50 percent of social welfare and social security expenditures because people were living longer after retirement. A fourfold increase in workers' individual contributions was projected by the twenty-first century.

A major revision in the public pension system in 1986 unified several former plans into the single Employee Pension Insurance Plan. In addition to merging the former plans, the 1986 reform attempted to reduce benefits to hold down increases in worker contribution rates. It also established the right of women who did not work outside the home to pension benefits of their own, not only as a dependent of a worker. Everyone aged between twenty and sixty was a compulsory member of this Employee Pension Insurance Plan.

Despite complaints that these pensions amounted to little more than "spending money," an increasing number of people planning for their retirement counted on them as an important source of income. Benefits increased so that the basic monthly pension was about US$420 in 1987, with future payments adjusted to the consumer price index. Forty percent of elderly households in 1985 depended on various types of annuities and pensions as their only sources of income.

Some people are also eligible for corporate retirement allowances. About 90 percent of firms with thirty or more employees gave retirement allowances in the late 1980s, frequently as lump sum payments but increasingly in the form of annuities.

Japan also has public assistance programs benefiting about 1 percent of the population. About 33 percent of recipients are elderly people, 45 percent were households with sick or disabled members, and 14 percent are fatherless families, and 8 percent are in other categories.

Japanese often claim to outsiders that their society is homogeneous. By world standards, the Japanese enjoy a high standard of living, and nearly 90 percent of the population consider themselves part of the middle class. Most people express satisfaction with their lives and take great pride in being Japanese and in their country's status as an economic power on a par with the United States and Western Europe. In folk crafts and in right-wing politics, in the new religions and in international management, the Japanese have turned to their past to interpret the present. In doing so, however, they may be reconstructing history as a common set of beliefs and practices that make the country look more homogeneous than it really is.

In a society that values outward conformity, individuals may appear to take a back seat to the needs of the group. Yet it is individuals who create for themselves a variety of life-styles. They are constrained in their choices by age, gender, life experiences, and other factors, but they draw from a rich cultural repertoire of past and present through which the wider social world of families, neighborhoods, and institutions gives meaning to their lives. As Japan set out to internationalize itself in the 1990s, the identification of inherent Japanese qualities took on new significance, and the ideology of homogeneity sometimes masked individual decisions and life-styles of postindustrial Japan.


Japan - Education and the Arts


JAPANESE CULTURAL VALUES are deeply imbedded in the country's richly varied, ancient past. Rooted in the native religion of Shinto (Way of the Gods), these values are also heavily indebted to the continental influences of Buddhism and Confucianism. In Shinto, gods permeate the universe and are perceived as embodied in specific places, such as sacred Mount Fuji and the Nachi Falls, or as tutelary spirits of rocks and trees. Therefore, a reverence for nature and admiration for particular scenic places are pervasive in Japanese art, echoed in literary descriptions and expressed in architectural concepts that remove walls to allow the outside in and in avant-garde smoke sculptures, which recreate mists. Shinto concepts of ritual cleanliness, purification, and renewal have played a role in preserving the forms of ancient shrines like that at Ise and have nurtured handicrafts. They also have shaped some funereal practices, for example, the clay sculptures or haniwa in the Kofun period (ca. A.D. 250-CA. 600), which provided the first real likeness of the ancient Japanese.

Buddhist thought was fundamental to the formulation of most of Japan's arts, blending and absorbing elements from the protohistoric Shinto. Basic to Buddhist thought is the comprehension of the universe as in constant flux, which results in emphasis on the idea that all living things perish or are transformed in the chain of existence. From this view comes a feeling for "the poignancy of things" (mono no aware), a frequent element in literature beginning in the Heian period (A.D. 794-1185). Cherry blossoms are appreciated for their short-lived beauty, which symbolizes the samurai ideal of a brilliant life with a sudden, dramatic end. Zen Buddhism affirms the values of rustic simplicity and finding pleasure in the ordinary or minimal; it stresses austerity, simplicity, and brevity in all things and a life of solitude and contemplation, ideas that, together with Zen teaching devices, found expression in the tea ceremony, short poems, spontaneous ink paintings, and meditation gardens.

Chinese artistic forms and philosophical concepts have been variously integrated and modified over the centuries by the Japanese. Confucianism glorifies the cultivation of wisdom: the scholarly life is its ideal, as are the virtues of ethical behavior, sincerity, and a desire for social harmony. All these elements were embodied in the gentleman-scholar and his successors, the teacher-scholar and the artist-writer, whose proficiency in language and use of the brush made literature and calligraphy the most admired art forms.

Japanese children are taught a reverence for learning and are trained in the traditional arts both within the school system and outside. Instruction in music, calligraphy, flower arrangement, and the tea ritual may begin at home, but soon the child studies with a skilled practitioner. Only the martial arts, such as judo or Japanese fencing (kendo), are generally limited to men. Men often practice the other arts as well. Such early introduction to, and widespread participation in, different expressions of Japanese heritage lead to support for traditional cultural values and the appreciation throughout society of artistic qualities.





Many of the historical and cultural characteristics that shape Japanese arts shape its education as well. Japanese tradition stresses respect for society and the established order and prizes group goals above individual interests. Sschooling also emphasize diligence, self-criticism, and well-organized study habits. More generally, the belief is ingrained that hard work and perseverance will yield success in life. Much of official school life is devoted directly or indirectly to teaching correct attitudes and moral values and to developing character, with the aim of creating a citizenry that is both literate and attuned to the basic values of culture and society.

At the same time, the academic achievement of Japanese students is extremely high by international standards. Japanese children consistently rank at or near the top in successive international tests of mathematics. The system is characterized by high enrollment and retention rates throughout. An entrance examination system, particularly important at the college level, exerts strong influences throughout the entire system. The structure does not consist exclusively of government-sponsored, formal official education institutions. Private education also forms an important part of the educational landscape, and the role of schools outside the official school system can not be ignored.

A majority of children begin their education by attending preschool, although it is not part of the official system. The official structure provides compulsory free schooling and a sound and balanced education to virtually all children from grade one through grade nine. Upper-secondary school, from grades ten through twelve, although also not compulsory, attracts about 94 percent of those who complet lower-secondary school. About one-third of all Japanese upper-secondary school graduates advance to postsecondary education--to full four-year universities, two-year junior colleges, or to other institutions.

Japan is a highly education-minded society. Education is esteemed, and educational achievement is often the prerequisite for success in work and in society at large.

Historical Background

Japan has had relations with other cultures since the dawn of its history. Foreign civilizations have often provided new ideas for the development of Japan's own culture. Chinese teachings and ideas, for example, flowed into Japan from the sixth to the ninth century. Along with the introduction of Buddhism came the Chinese system of writing and its literary tradition, and Confucianism.

By the ninth century, Kyoto, the imperial capital, had five institutions of higher learning, and during the remainder of the Heian period, other schools were established by the nobility and the imperial court. During the medieval period (1185-1600), Zen Buddhist monasteries were especially important centers of learning, and the Ashikaga School (Ashikaga Gakko) flourished in the fifteenth century as a center of higher learning.

In the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, Japan experienced intense contact with the major European powers. Jesuit missionaries, who accompanied Portuguese traders, proselytized Christianity and opened a number of religious schools. Japanese students thus began to study Latin and Western music, as well as their own language.

By 1603 Japan had been reunified by the Tokugawa regime (1600- 1867), and by 1640 foreigners had been ordered out of Japan, Christianity banned, and virtually all foreign contact prohibited. The nation then entered a period of isolation and relative domestic tranquillity, which was to last 200 years. When the Tokugawa period began, few common people in Japan could read or write. By the period's end, learning had become widespread. Tokugawa education left a valuable legacy: an increasingly literate populace, a meritocratic ideology, and an emphasis on discipline and competent performance. Under subsequent Meiji leadership, this foundation would facilitate Japan's rapid transition from feudal country to modern nation.

During the Tokugawa period, the role of many of the bushi, or samurai, changed from warrior to administrator, and as a consequence, their formal education and their literacy increased proportionally. Samurai curricula stressed morality and included both military and literary studies. Confucian classics were memorized, and reading and recitating them were common methods of study. Arithmetic and calligraphy were also studied. Most samurai attended schools sponsored by their han (domains), and by the time of the Meiji Restoration of 1868, more than 200 of the 276 han had established schools. Some samurai and even commoners also attended private academies, which often specialized in particular Japanese subjects or in Western medicine, modern military science, gunnery, or Rangaku (Dutch studies), as European studies were called.

Education of commoners was generally practically oriented, providing basic training in reading, writing, and arithmetic, emphasizing calligraphy and use of the abacus. Much of this education was conducted in so-called temple schools (terakoya), derived from earlier Buddhist schools. These schools were no longer religious institutions, nor were they, by 1867, predominantly located in temples. By the end of the Tokugawa period, there may have been more than 14,000 such schools. Teaching techniques included reading from various textbooks, memorizing, and repeatedly copying Chinese characters and Japanese script.

After 1868 new leadership set Japan on a rapid course of modernization. Realizing from the outset that education was fundamental to nation building and modernization, the Meiji leaders established a public education system to help Japan catch up with the West. Missions were sent abroad to study the education systems of leading Western countries. These missions and other observers returned with the ideas of decentralization, local school boards, and teacher autonomy. Such ideas and ambitious initial plans, however, proved very difficult to carry out. After some trial and error, a new national education system emerged. As an indication of its success, elementary school enrollments climbed from about 40 or 50 percent of the school-age population in the 1870s to more than 90 percent by 1900.

By the 1890s, after earlier intensive preoccupation with Western, particularly United States, educational ideas, a much more conservative and traditional orientation evolved: the education system became more reflective of Japanese values. Confucian precepts were stressed, especially those concerning the hierarchical nature of human relations, service to the new state, the pursuit of learning, and morality. These ideals, embodied in the 1890 Imperial Rescript on Education, along with highly centralized government control over education, largely guided Japanese education until the end of World War II.

In the early twentieth century, education at the primary level was egalitarian and virtually universal, but at higher levels it was multitracked, highly selective, and elitist. College education was largely limited to the few national universities, where German influences were strong. Three of the imperial universities admitted women, and there were a number of women's colleges, some quite prestigious, but women had relatively few opportunities to enter higher education. During this period, a number of universities were founded by Christian missionaries, who also took an active role in expanding educational opportunities for women, particularly at the secondary level.

After 1919 several of the private universities received official status and were granted government recognition for programs they had conducted, in many cases, since the 1880s. In the 1920s, the tradition of liberal education briefly reappeared, particularly at the kindergarten level, where the Montessori method attracted a following. In the 1930s, education was subject to strong military and nationalistic influences.

By 1945 the Japanese education system had been devastated, and with the defeat came the discredit of much prewar thought. A new wave of foreign ideas was introduced during the postwar period of military occupation .

Occupation policy makers and the United States Education Mission, set up in 1946, made a number of changes aimed at democratizing Japanese education: instituting the six-three-three grade structure (six years of elementary school, three of lower- secondary school, and three of upper-secondary school) and extending compulsory schooling to nine years. They replaced the prewar system of higher-secondary schools with comprehensive upper- secondary schools (high schools). Curricula and textbooks were revised, the nationalistic morals course was abolished and replaced with social studies, locally elected school boards were introduced, and teachers unions established.

With the abolition of the elitist higher education system and an increase in the number of higher education institutions, the opportunities for higher learning grew. Expansion was accomplished initially by granting university or junior college status to a number of technical institutes, normal schools, and advanced secondary schools.

After the restoration of full national sovereignty in 1952, Japan immediately began to modify some of the changes in education, to reflect Japanese ideas about education and educational administration. The postwar Ministry of Education regained a great deal of power. School boards were appointed, instead of elected. A course in moral education was reinstituted in modified form, despite substantial initial concern that it would lead to a renewal of heightened nationalism.

By the 1960s, postwar recovery and accelerating economic growth brought new demands to expand higher education. But as the expectations grew that the quality of higher education would improve, the costs of higher education also increased. In general, the 1960s was a time of great turbulence in higher education. Late in the decade especially, universities in Japan were rocked by violent student riots that disrupted many campuses. Campus unrest was the confluence of a number of factors, including the anti- Vietnam War movement in Japan, ideological differences between various Japanese student groups, disputes over campus issues, such as discipline; student strikes, and even general dissatisfaction with the university system itself.

The government responded with the University Control Law in 1969 and, in the early 1970s, with further education reforms. New laws governed the founding of new universities and teachers' compensation, and public school curricula were revised. Private education institutions began to receive public aid, and a nationwide standardized university entrance examination was added for the national universities. Also during this period, strong disagreement developed between the government and teachers groups.

Despite the numerous educational changes that have occurred in Japan since 1868, and especially since 1945, the education system still reflects long-standing cultural and philosophical ideas: that learning and education are esteemed and to be pursued seriously, and that moral and character development are integral to education. The meritocratic legacy of the Meiji period has endured, as has the centralized education structure. Interest remains in adapting foreign ideas and methods to Japanese traditions and in improving the system generally.

Education Reform

In spite of the admirable success of the education system since World War II, problems remained through the 1980s. Some of these difficulties as perceived by domestic and foreign observers included rigidity, excessive uniformity, lack of choices, undesirable influences of the university examinations, and overriding emphasis on formal educational credentials. There was also a belief that education was responsible for some social problems and for the general academic, behavioral, and adjustment problems of some students. There was great concern too that Japanese education be responsive to the new requirements caused by international challenges of the changing world in the twenty-first century.

Flexibility, creativity, internationalization (kokusaika), individuality, and diversity thus became the watchwords of Japan's momentous education reform movement of the 1980s, although they echoed themes heard earlier, particularly in the 1970s. The proposals and potential changes of the 1980s were so significant that some compared them to the educational changes that occurred when Japan opened to the West in the nineteenth century and to those of the occupation.

Concerns of the new reform movement were captured in a series of reports issued between 1985 and 1987 by the National Council on Educational Reform. The final report outlined basic emphases in response to the internationalization of education, new information technologies, and the media and emphases on individuality, lifelong learning, and adjustment to social change. To explore these new directions, the council suggested that eight specific subjects be considered: designing education for the twenty-first century; organizing a system of lifelong learning and reducing the emphasis on the educational background of individuals; improving and diversifying higher education; enriching and diversifying elementary and secondary education; improving the quality of teachers; adapting to internationalization; adapting to the information age; and conducting a review of the administration and finance of education. These subjects reflected both educational and social aspects of the reform, in keeping with the Japanese view about the relationship of education to society. Even as debate over reform took place, the government quickly moved to begin implementing changes in most of these eight areas.

Contemporary Setting

The late twentieth-century Japanese education system has a strong legal foundation. Three documents in particular, the Fundamental Law of Education, the School Education Law, and the new Constitution, all adopted in 1947, provide this legal basis. The system is highly centralized, although three levels of government administration--national, prefectural, and municipal--have various responsibilities for providing, financing, and supervising educational services for the nation's more than 62,000 schools and more than 25 million students in 1991. At the top of the system stands the Ministry of Education, Science, and Culture (hereafter, the Ministry of Education, or Monbusho ), which has significant responsibility for funding, curricula, textbooks, and national education standards.

More general responsibilities of the Ministry of Education are the promotion and dissemination of education, scientific knowledge, academic research, culture, and sports. The ministry is supported by advisory bodies and standing councils, such as the Central Council on Education, and by ad hoc councils, such as the National Council on Educational Reform.

The ministry's authority and responsibilities are not limited to public institutions. Most of its regulations, particularly concerning compulsory education, also apply to private institutions. The ministry has power to approve the founding of universities and supervises the national universities. In addition, it provides financial assistance and guidance to lower levels of government on educational matters and is empowered to mandate changes in local policies.

The ministry drafts its annual budget and education-related legislation and submits them to the National Diet. Monbusho administers the disbursement of funds and cooperated with other agencies concerned with education and its finance. In 1990 a main ministry activity was implementing reforms based on the reports and recommendations of the National Council on Educational Reform, whose final report was submitted to the prime minister in 1987.

Each of the forty-seven prefectures has a five-member board of education appointed by the governor with the consent of the prefectural assembly. The prefectural boards administer and operate public schools under their supervision, including most of the public upper-secondary schools, special schools for the handicapped, and some other public institutions in the prefecture. Prefectural boards are the teacher- licensing bodies; with the advice of municipal governments, they appoint teachers to public elementary and lower-secondary schools; they also license preschools and other schools in their municipalities and promote social education.

Municipal-level governments operate the public elementary and lower-secondary schools in their jurisdictions. Supervision is conducted by the local board of education, usually a five-member organization appointed by the mayor with the consent of the local assembly. The board also makes recommendations to the prefectures about the appointment or dismissal of teachers and adopts textbooks from the list certified by the Ministry of Education. Mayors also are charged with some responsibilities for municipal universities and budget coordination.

All three levels of government--national, prefectural, and municipal--provid financial support for education. The national government is the largest source of direct funding, through the budget of the Ministry of Education, and is a significant source of indirect funding of local education through a tax rebate to local government, in a tax allocation grant. The national government bears from one-third to one-half of the cost of education in the form of teachers' salaries, school construction, the school lunch program, and vocational education and equipment.

The ministry's budget between fiscal year (FY) 1980 and FY 1988 increased a total of about 7 percent. But as a percentage of the total national budget (before the deduction of mandated expenses and debt service), the ministry's share actually declined steadily during the 1980s, from about 10 percent in 1980 to about 7.7 percent in 1989. A slight increase was seen in the early 1990s. For example, the FY 1992 budget provided ¥5.319 trillion, or 7.9 percent of the national budget.

Teaching remains an honored profession, and teachers have high social status, stemming from the Japanese cultural legacy and public recognition of their important social responsibilities. Society expects teachers to embody the ideals they are to instill, particularly because teaching duties extend to the moral instruction and character development of children. Formal classroom moral education, informal instruction, and even academic classes are all viewed as legitimate venues for this kind of teaching. Teachers' responsibilities to their schools and students frequently extend beyond the classroom, off school grounds and after school hours.

Teachers are well paid, and periodic improvements also are made in teachers' salaries and compensation. Starting salaries compare favorably with those of other white-collar professionals and in some cases are higher. In addition to their salaries, teachers are eligible for many types of special allowances and a bonus (paid in three installments), which amount to about five months' salary. Teachers also receive the standard health and retirement benefits available to most salaried workers.

Whether for economic reward, social status, or the desire to teach, the number of people wishing to enter teaching exceeds the number of new openings by as many as five or six applicants to every one position. Prefectural boards and other public bodies are able to select the best qualified from a large pool of applicants.

By the late 1980s, the great majority of new teachers were entering the profession with a bachelor's degree, although about 25 percent of the total teaching force at the elementary school level did not have a bachelor's degree. The program for prospective teachers at the undergraduate level included study in education as well as concentration in academic areas. Most new teachers majored in a subject other than education, and graduates of colleges of education were still in the minority. After graduation, a teacher had to pass a prefectural-level examination to be licensed by a prefectural board of education.

Changes also occurred during the 1980s in in-service training and supervision of new teachers. In-service training, particularly that conducted under the auspices of the Ministry of Education, had been questioned for many years. After considerable debate, and some opposition from the Japan Teachers Union (Nihon Kyoshokuin Kumiai-- Nikkyoso), a new system of teacher training was introduced in 1989. The new system established a one-year training program, required new teachers to work under the direction of a master teacher, and increased the required number of both in-school and out-of-school training days and the length of time new teachers were under probationary status.

The Japan Teachers Union, established in 1947, was the largest teachers union in the late 1980s. The union functioned as a national federation of prefectural teachers unions, although each of these unions had considerable autonomy and its own strengths and political orientation. Historically, there had been considerable antagonism between the union and the Ministry of Education, owing to a variety of factors. Some were political, because the stance of the union had been strongly leftist and it often opposed the more conservative Liberal Democratic Party. Another factor was the trade union perspective that the teachers union had on the profession of teaching. Additional differences on education issues concerned training requirements for new teachers, decentralization in education, school autonomy, curricula, textbook censorship, and, in the late 1980s, the reform movement.

The union tended to support the Japan Socialist Party, while a minority faction supported the Japan Communist Party. In the late 1980s, internal disagreements in the Japan Teachers Union on political orientation and on the union's relationships to other national labor organizations finally caused a rupture. The union thus became less effective than in previous years at a time when the national government and the ministry were moving ahead on reform issues. The union had opposed many reforms proposed or instituted by the ministry, but it failed to forestall changes in certification and teacher training, two issues on which it was often at odds with the government. The new union leadership that emerged after several years of internal discord seemed to take a more conciliatory approach to the ministry and reform issues, but the union's future directions were not clear.

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Japan - Primary and Secondary Education


Education is compulsory and free for all schoolchildren from the first through the ninth grades. The school year begins on April 1 and ends on March 31 of the following year. Schools use a trimester system demarcated by vacation breaks. Japanese children attend school five full weekdays and one-half day on Saturdays. The school year has a legal minimum of 210 days, but most local school boards add about thirty more days for school festivals, athletic meets, and ceremonies with nonacademic educational objectives, especially those encouraging cooperation and school spirit. With allowance made for the time devoted to such activities and the half-day of school on Saturday, the number of days devoted to instruction is about 195 per year.

The Japanese hold several important beliefs about education, especially compulsory schooling: that all children have the ability to learn the material; that effort, perseverance, and selfdiscipline , not academic ability, determine academic success; and that these study and behavioral habits can be taught. Thus, students in elementary and lower-secondary schools are not grouped or taught on the basis of their ability, nor is instruction geared to individual differences.

The nationally designed curricula exposes students to balanced, basic education, and compulsory schooling is known for its equal educational treatment of students and for its relatively equal distribution of financial resources among schools. However, the demands made by the uniform curricula and approach extracts a price in lack of flexibility, including expected conformity of behavior. Little effort is made to address children with special needs and interests. Much of the reform proposed in the late 1980s, particularly that part emphasizing greater flexibility, creativity, and opportunities for greater individual expression, was aimed at changing these approaches.

Textbooks are free to students at compulsory school levels. New texts are selected by school boards or principals once every three years from the Ministry of Education's list of approved textbooks or from a small list of texts that the ministry itself publishes. The ministry bears the cost of distributing these books, in both public and private schools. Textbooks are small, paperbound volumes that can easily be carried by the students and that became their property.

Almost all schools have a system of access to health professionals. Educational and athletic facilities are good; almost all elementary schools had an outdoor playground, roughly 90 percent have a gymnasium, and 75 percent have an outdoor swimming pool.

Preschool and Day Care

Early childhood education begins at home, and there are numerous books and television shows aimed at helping mothers of preschool children to educate their children and to "parent" more effectively. Much of the home training is devoted to teaching manners, proper social behavior, and structured play, although verbal and number skills are also popular themes. Parents are strongly committed to early education and frequently enroll their children in preschools.

Preschool education provides the transition from home to formal school for most children. Children's lives at home are characterized by indulgence, and the largely nonacademic preschool experience helps children make the adjustment to the group-oriented life of school and, in turn, to life in society itself.

Preschools (yochien), predominantly staffed by young female junior college graduates, are supervised by the Ministry of Education, but are not part of the official education system. The 58 percent of preschools that are private accounted for 77 percent of all children enrolled. In addition to preschools, a well-developed system of government-supervised day-care centers (hoikuen), supervised by the Ministry of Labor, is an important provider of preschool education. Together, these two kinds of institutions enroll well over 90 percent of all preschoolage children prior to their entrance into the formal system at first grade. The Ministry of Education's 1990 Course of Study for Preschools, which applies to both kinds of institutions, covers such areas as human relationships, environment, words (language), and expression.

Elementary School

More than 99 percent of elementary school-age children are enrolled in school. All children enter first grade at age six, and starting school is considered a very important event in a child's life.

Virtually all elementary education takes place in public schools; less than 1 percent of the schools are private. Private schools tended to be costly, although the rate of cost increases in tuition for these schools had slowed in the 1980s. Some private elementary schools are prestigious, and they serve as a first step to higher-level private schools with which they are affiliated, and thence to a university. Competition to enter some of these "ladder schools" is quite intense.

Although public elementary education is free, some school expenses are borne by parents, for example, school lunches and supplies. For many families, there are also nonschool educational expenses, for extra books, or private lessons, or juku. Such expenses rose throughout the 1980s, reaching an average of ¥184,000 (US$1,314) in FY 1987 for each child. Costs for private elementary schools are substantially higher.

Elementary school classes are large, about thirty-one students per class on average, but higher numbers are permitted. Students are usually organized into small work groups, which have both academic and disciplinary functions. Discipline also is maintained, and a sense of responsibility encouraged, by the use of student monitors and by having the students assume responsibility for the physical appearance of their classroom and school.

The ministry's Course of Study for Elementary Schools is composed of a wide variety of subjects, both academic and nonacademic, including moral education and "special activities." "Special activities" refer to scheduled weekly time given over to class affairs and to preparing for the school activities and ceremonies that are used to emphasize character development and the importance of group effort and cooperation. The standard academic curriculum include Japanese language, social studies, arithmetic, and science. Nonacademic subjects taught include art and handicrafts, music, homemaking, physical education, and moral education. Japanese language is the most emphasized subject. The complexity of the written language and the diversity of its spoken forms in educated speech require this early attention.

A new course of study was established in 1989, partly as a result of the education reform movement of the 1980s and partly because of ongoing curriculum review. Important changes scheduled were an increased number of hours devoted to Japanese language, the replacement of the social sciences course with a daily life course- -instruction for children on proper interaction with the society and environment around them--and an increased emphasis on moral education. While evidence is still inconclusive, it appears that at least some children are having difficulties with the Japanese language. New emphasis also was to be given in the curriculum to the national flag and the national anthem. The ministry suggested that the flag be flown and the national anthem sung at important school ceremonies. Because neither the flag nor the anthem had been legally designated as national symbols, and because of the nationalistic wartime associations the two had in the minds of some citizens, this suggestion was greeted with some opposition. The revised history curriculum emphasized cultural legacies and events and the biographies of key figures. The ministry provided a proposed list of biographies, and there was some criticism surrounding particular suggestions.

Elementary teachers are generally responsible for all subjects, and classes remain in one room for most activities. Teachers are well prepared. Most teachers, about 60 percent of the total, are women; but most principals and head teachers in elementary schools are men.

Teachers have ample teaching materials and audiovisual equipment. There is an excellent system of educational television and radio, and almost all elementary schools use programs prepared by the School Education Division of Japan Broadcasting Corporation (Nippon Hoso Kyokai--NHK). In addition to broadcast media, schools increasingly are equipped with computers. Although only 6.5 percent of public elementary schools had personal computers in 1986, by 1989 the number had passed 20 percent. The ministry is greatly concerned with this issue and planned much greater use of such equipment.

Virtually all elementary schoolchildren receive a full lunch at school. Although heavily subsidized by the government, both directly and indirectly, the program is not altogether free. Full meals usually consist of bread (or increasingly, of rice), a main dish, and milk. Although the program grew out of concern in the immediate postwar period for adequate nutrition, the school lunch is also important as a teaching device. Because there are relatively few cafeterias in elementary schools, meals are taken in the classroom with the teacher, providing another informal opportunity for teaching nutrition and health and good eating habits and social behavior. Frequently, students also are responsible for serving the lunch and cleaning up.

Japanese elementary schooling is acknowledged both in Japan and abroad to be excellent, but not without some problems, notably increasing absenteeism and a declining but troublesome number of cases of bullying. In addition, special provision for the many young children returning to Japan from long absences overseas is an issue of major interest. The government also is concerned with the education of Japanese children residing abroad, and it sends teachers overseas to teach in Japanese schools.

Elementary school education is seen in Japan as fundamental in shaping a positive attitude toward lifelong education. Regardless of academic achievement, almost all children in elementary school are advanced to lower-secondary schools, the second of the two compulsory levels of education.

Lower-Secondary School

Lower-secondary school covers grades seven, eight, and nine-- children between the ages of roughly twelve and fifteen--with increased focus on academic studies. Although it is still possible to leave the formal education system after completing lowersecondary school and find employment, fewer than 4 percent did so by the late 1980s.

Like elementary schools, most lower-secondary schools in the 1980s were public, but 5 percent were private. Private schools were costly, averaging ¥558,592 (US$3,989) per student in 1988, about four times more than the ¥130,828 (US$934) that the ministry estimated as the cost for students enrolled in public lowersecondary schools.

The teaching force in lower-secondary schools is two-thirds male. Schools are headed by principals, 99 percent of whom were men in 1988. Teachers often majored in the subjects they taught, and more than 80 percent graduated from a four-year college. Classes are large, with thirty-eight students per class on average, and each class is assigned a homeroom teacher who doubles as counselor. Unlike elementary students, lower-secondary school students have different teachers for different subjects. The teacher, however, rather than the students, moves to a new room for each fifty-minute period.

Instruction in lower-secondary schools tends to rely on the lecture method. Teachers also use other media, such as television and radio, and there is some laboratory work. By 1989 about 45 percent of all public lower-secondary schools had computers, including schools that used them only for administrative purposes. Classroom organization is still based on small work groups, although no longer for reasons of discipline. By lower-secondary school, students are expected to have mastered daily routines and acceptable behavior.

All course contents are specified in the Course of Study for Lower-Secondary Schools. Some subjects, such as Japanese language and mathematics, are coordinated with the elementary curriculum. Others, such as foreign-language study, usually English, begin at this level. The curriculum covers Japanese language, social studies, mathematics, science, music, fine arts, health, and physical education. All students also are exposed to either industrial arts or homemaking. Moral education and special activities continue to receive attention.

Students also attend mandatory club meetings during school hours, and many also participate in after-school clubs. Most lowersecondary students say they liked school, although it is the chance to meet their friends daily--not the lessons--that is particularly attractive to them.

The ministry recognizes a need to improve the teaching of all foreign languages, especially English. To improve instruction in spoken English, the government invites many young native speakers of English to Japan to serve as assistants to school boards and prefectures under its Japan Exchange and Teaching Program. By 1988 participants numbered over 1,000.

As part of the movement to develop an integrated curriculum and the education reform movement of the late 1980s, the entire Course of Study for Lower-Secondary Schools was revised in 1989 and took effect in the 1992-93 school year. A main aim of the reform is to equip students with the basic knowledge needed for citizenship. In some measure, this means increased emphasis on Japanese history and culture, as well as understanding Japan as a nation and its relationships with other nations of the world. The course of study also increased elective hours, recommending that electives be chosen in light of individual student differences and with an eye toward diversification.

Two problems of great concern to educators and citizens began to appear at the lower-secondary level in the 1980s: bullying, which seemed rampant in the mid-1980s but had abated somewhat by the end of the decade, and the school-refusal syndrome (toko kyohi--manifested by a student's excessive absenteeism), which was on the rise. Experts disagreed over the specific causes of these phenomena, but there is general agreement that the system offers little individualized or specialized assistance, thus contributing to disaffection among those who can not conform to its demands or who are otherwise experiencing difficulties. Another problem concerns Japanese children returning from abroad. These students, particularly if they have been overseas for extended periods, often need help not only in reading and writing but also in adjusting to rigid classroom demands. Even making the adjustment does not guarantee acceptance: besides having acquired a foreign language, many of these students have also acquired foreign customs of speech, dress, and behavior that mark them as different.

Special Education

Japanese special education at the compulsory level is highly organized in the late 1980s, even though it had been nationally mandated and implemented only in 1979. There is still controversy over whether children with special needs can or should be "mainstreamed." In a society that stresses the group, many parents desire to have their children attend regular schools. Mainstreaming in Japan, however, does not necessarily mean attending regular classes; it often means attending a regular school that has special classes for handicapped students. There are also special public schools for the handicapped, which have departments equivalent to the various levels of elementary and secondary schools, including kindergarten and upper-secondary departments in some cases. There are few private institutions for special education. Some students attend regular classes and also special classes for training for their particular needs. Some teachers are also dispatched to children who can not attend schools.

Upper-Secondary School

Even though upper-secondary school is not compulsory in Japan, 94 percent of all lower-secondary school graduates entered uppersecondary schools in 1989. Private upper-secondary schools account for about 24 percent of all upper-secondary schools, and neither public nor private schools are free. The Ministry of Education estimated that annual family expenses for the education of a child in a public upper-secondary school were about ¥300,000 (US$2,142) in both 1986 and 1987 and that private upper-secondary schools were about twice as expensive.

All upper-secondary schools, public and private, are informally ranked, based on their success in placing graduates in freshman classes of the most prestigious universities. In the 1980s, private upper-secondary schools occupied the highest levels of this hierarchy, and there was substantial pressure to do well in the examinations that determined the upper-secondary school a child entered. Admission also depends on the scholastic record and performance evaluation from lower-secondary school, but the examination results largely determine school entrance. Students are closely counseled in lower-secondary school, so that they will be relatively assured of a place in the schools to which they apply.

The most common type of upper-secondary schools has a fulltime , general program that offered academic courses for students preparing for higher education and also technical and vocational courses for students expecting to find employment after graduation. More than 70 percent of upper-secondary school students were enrolled in the general academic program in the late 1980s. A small number of schools offer part-time or evening courses or correspondence education.

The first-year programs for students in both academic and commercial courses are similar. They include basic academic courses, such as Japanese language, English, mathematics, and science. In upper-secondary school, differences in ability are first publicly acknowledged, and course content and course selection are far more individualized in the second year. However, there is a core of academic material throughout all programs.

Vocational-technical programs includes several hundred specialized courses, such as information processing, navigation, fish farming, business English, and ceramics. Business and industrial courses are the most popular, accounting for 72 percent of all students in full-time vocational programs in 1989.

The upper-secondary curriculum also underwent thorough revision; in 1989 a new Course of Study for Upper-Secondary Schools was announced that was to be phased in beginning with the tenth grade in 1994, followed by the eleventh grade in 1995 and the twelfth grade in 1996. Among noteworthy changes is the requirement that both male and female students take a course in home economics. The government is concerned with instilling in all students an awareness of the importance of family life, the various roles and responsibilities of family members, the concept of cooperation within the family, and the role of the family in society. The family continues to be an extremely important part of the social infrastructure, and the ministry clearly is interested in maintaining family stability within a changing society. Another change of note was the division of the old social studies course into history, geography, and civics courses.

Most upper-secondary teachers are university graduates. Uppersecondary schools are organized into departments, and teachers specialize in their major fields although they teach a variety of courses within their disciplines. Although women compose about 20 percent of the teaching force, only 2.5 percent of principals are women.

Teaching depends largely on the lecture system, with the main goal of covering the very demanding curriculum in the time allotted. Approach and subject coverage tends to be uniform, at least in the public schools. As in lower-secondary school, the teachers, not the students, move from room to room after each fifty-minute class period.

Upper-secondary students are subject to a great deal of supervision by school authorities and school rules even outside of school. Students' behavior and some activities are regulated by school codes that are known and obeyed by most children. School regulations often set curfews and govern dress codes, hairstyles, student employment, and even leisure activities. The school frequently is responsible for student discipline when a student ran afoul of the regulations or, occasionally, of the law.

Delinquency generally, and school violence in particular, are troubling to Japanese authorities. Violations by upper-secondary school students include smoking and some substance abuse (predominantly of amphetamines). Use of drugs, although not a serious problem by international standards, is of concern to the police and civil authorities. Bullying and the drop-out rate are also subjects of attention. Upper-secondary students drop out at a rate of between 2.0 and 2.5 percent per year. The graduation rates for upper-secondary schools stood at 87.5 percent in 1987.

Discrimination in education is prohibited, but the hisabetsu buraku discriminated communities, a group of people racially and culturally Japanese who have been discriminated against historically, are still disadvantaged in education to some degree. Their relatively poor educational attainment through the upper-secondary level in the 1960s was said to have been largely corrected by the 1980s, but reliable evidence is lacking.

There are some private schools for the children of the foreign community in Japan, and there are some Korean schools for children of Japan's Korean minority population, many of whom are secondgeneration or third-generation residents in Japan. Graduates of Korean schools face some discrimination, particularly in entering higher education. Observers estimated that 75 percent of Korean children were attending Japanese schools in the early 1980s.

Training of handicapped students, particularly at the uppersecondary level, emphasizes vocational education to enable students to be as independent as possible within society. Vocational training varies considerably depending on the student's handicap, but the options are limited for some. It is clear that the government is aware of the necessity of broadening the range of possibilities for these students. Advancement to higher education is also a goal of the government, and it struggles to have institutions of higher learning accept more handicapped students.

Upper-secondary school students returning to Japan after living overseas present another problem. The ministry was trying to get upper-secondary schools to accept these students more readily and in the late 1980s had decided to allow credit for one uppersecondary school year spent abroad.

Upper-secondary school graduates choosing to enter the labor force are supported by a very effective system of job placement, which, combined with favorable economic conditions, keeps the unemployment rate among new graduates quite low. For those students going on to college, the final phases of school life becomes increasingly dedicated to preparing for examinations, particularly in some of the elite private schools. About 31 percent of upper-secondary graduates advance to some form of higher education directly after graduation.

After-school clubs provide an important upper-secondary school activity. Sports, recreational reading, and watching television are popular daily leisure activities, but schoolwork and other studies remain the focus of the daily lives of most children. The college entrance examinations greatly influence school life and study habits, not only for college-bound students but also indirectly for all; the prospect of the examinations often imparts a seriousness to the tone of school life at the upper-secondary level.

After-School Education

Much debated, and often criticized in the late twentieth century, juku are special private schools that offer highly organized lessons conducted after regular school hours and on the weekends. Although best known and most widely publicized for their role as "cram schools," where children (sent by concerned parents) can study to improve scores on upper-secondary school entrance examinations, academic juku actually perform several educational functions. They provide supplementary education that many children need just to keep up with the regular school curriculum, remedial education for the increasing numbers of children who fall behind in their work, and preparation for students striving to improve test scores and preparing for the all-important upper-secondary and university entrance examinations. In many ways, juku compensate for the formal education system's inability or unwillingness to address particular individual problems. Half of all compulsory school-age children attend academic juku, which offers instruction in mathematics, Japanese language, science, English, and social studies. Many other children, particularly younger children, attend nonacademic juku for piano lessons, art instruction, swimming, and abacus lessons. To some observers, juku represent an attempt by parents to exercise a meaningful measure of choice in Japanese education, particularly for children attending public schools. Some juku offer subject matter not available in the public school curricula, while others emphasize a special philosophical or ethical approach.

Juku also play a social role, and children in Japan say they liked going to juku because they are able to make new friends; many children ask to be sent because their friends attend. Some children seem to like juku because of the closer personal contact they have with their teachers.

Juku attendance rose from the 1970s through the mid1980s ; participation rates increases at every grade level throughout the compulsory education years. This phenomenon is a source of great concern to the ministry, which issued directives to the regular schools that it hoped would reduce the need for afterschool lessons, but these directives have had little practical effect. Some juku even have branches in the United States and other countries to help children living abroad catch up with students in Japan.

Because of the commercial nature of most juku, some critics argue that they have profit rather than education at heart. Not all students can afford to attend juku. Therefore juku introduce some inequality into what had been a relatively egalitarian approach to education, at least in public schools through ninth grade. Yet, while some juku are expensive, the majority are affordable for most families; juku can not price themselves beyond the reach of their potential clientele. If rising enrollments in juku are any indication, costs are not yet a limiting factor for most parents, and juku clearly are given some priority in family budgeting.

If a student does not attend juku, it dies not mean that he or she is necessarily at a disadvantage in school. Other avenues of assistance are available. For example, self-help literature and supplemental texts and study guides, some produced by publishing houses associated with juku, are widely available commercially. Most of these items are moderately priced. A correspondence course of the Upper-Secondary School of the Air is broadcast almost daily on the Japan Broadcasting Corporation (Nippon Hoso Kyokai--NHK) educational radio and television channels. These programs are free, and costs for accompanying textbooks are nominal. In addition, about 1 percent of elementary school students and 7.3 percent of lower-secondary school students take extra lessons at home with tutors.


Japan - Higher Education


College Entrance

College entrance is based largely on the scores that students achieved in entrance examinations. Private institutions accounted for nearly 80 percent of all university enrollments in 1991, but with a few exceptions, the public national universities are the most highly regarded. This distinction had its origins in historical factors--the long years of dominance of the select imperial universities, such as Tokyo and Kyoto universities, which trained Japan's leaders before the war--and also in differences in quality, particularly in facilities and faculty ratios. In addition, certain prestigious employers, notably the government and select large corporations, continue to restrict their hiring of new employees to graduates of the most esteemed universities. There is a close link between university background and employment opportunity. Because Japanese society places such store in academic credentials, the competition to enter the prestigious universities is keen. In addition, the eighteen-year-old population is still growing, increasing the number of applicants.

Students applying to national universities take two entrance examinations, first a nationally administered uniform achievement test and then an examination administered by the university that the student hope to enter. Applicants to private universities need to take only the university's examination. Some national schools have so many applicants that they use the first test, the Joint First Stage Achievement Test, as a screening device for qualification to their own admissions test.

Such intense competition means that many students can not compete successfully for admission to the college of their choice. An unsuccessful student can either accept an admission elsewhere, forego a college education, or wait until the following spring to take the national examinations again. A large number of students choose the last option. These students, called ronin, spend an entire year, and sometimes longer, studying for another attempt at the entrance examinations.

Yobiko are private schools that, like many juku, help students prepare for entrance examinations. While yobiko have many programs for upper-secondary school students, they are best known for their specially designed full-time, year-long classes for ronin. The number of applicants to four-year universities totaled almost 560,000 in 1988. Ronin accounted for about 40 percent of new entrants to four-year colleges in 1988. Most ronin were men, but about 14 percent were women. The ronin experience is so common in Japan that the Japanese education structure is often said to have an extra ronin year built into it.

Yobiko sponsor a variety of programs, both full-time and part-time, and employ an extremely sophisticated battery of tests, student counseling sessions, and examination analysis to supplement their classroom instruction. The cost of yobiko education is high, comparable to first-year university expenses, and some specialized courses at yobiko are even more expensive. Some yobiko publish modified commercial versions of the proprietary texts they use in their classrooms through publishing affiliates or by other means, and these are popular among the general population preparing for college entrance exams. Yobiko also administer practice examinations throughout the year, which they open to all students for a fee.

In the late 1980s, the examination and entrance process were the subjects of renewed debate. In 1987 the schedule of the Joint First Stage Achievement Test was changed, and the content of the examination itself was revised for 1990. The schedule changes for the first time provided some flexibility for students wishing to apply to more than one national university. The new Joint First Stage Achievement Test was prepared and administered by the National Center for University Entrance Examination and was designed to accomplish better assessment of academic achievement.

The Ministry of Education hoped many private schools would adopt or adapt the new national test to their own admissions requirements and thereby reduce or eliminate the university tests. But, by the time the new test was administered in 1990, few schools had displayed any inclination to do so. The ministry urged universities to increase the number of students admitted through alternate selection methods, including admission of students returning to Japan from long overseas stays, admission by recommendation, and admission of students who had graduated from upper-secondary schools more than a few years before. Although a number of schools had programs in place or reserved spaces for returning students, only 5 percent of university students were admitted under these alternate arrangements in the late 1980s.

Other college entrance issues include proper guidance for college placement at the upper-secondary level and better dissemination of information about university programs. The ministry provides information through the National Center for University Entrance Examination's on-line information access system and encourages universities, faculties, and departments to prepare brochures and video presentations about their programs.


In 1991 more than 2.1 million students were enrolled in Japan's 507 universities. At the top of the higher education structure, these institutions provide four-year training leading to a bachelor's degree, and some offer six-year programs leading to a professional degree. There are two types of public four-year colleges: the ninety-six national universities (including the University of the Air) and the thirty-nine local public universities, founded by prefectures and municipalities. The 372 remaining four-year colleges in 1991 were private.

The overwhelming majority of college students attend full-time day programs. In 1990 the most popular courses, enrolling almost 40 percent of all undergraduate students, were in the social sciences, including business, law, and accounting. Other popular subjects were engineering (19 percent), the humanities (15 percent), and education (7 percent).

The average costs (tuition, fees, and living expenses) for a year of higher education in 1986 were ¥1.4 million (US$10,000), of which parents paid a little less than 80 percent, or about 20 percent of the average family's income in 1986. To help defray expenses, students frequently work part-time or borrow money through the government-supported Japan Scholarship Association. Assistance also is offered by local governments, nonprofit corporations, and other institutions.

In 1991 women accounted for about 27 percent of all university undergraduates, and their numbers were slowly increasing. Women's choices of majors and programs of study still tend to follow traditional patterns, with more than two-thirds of all women enroll in education, social sciences, or humanities courses. Only 15 percent studied scientific and technical subjects, and women represented less than 3 percent of students in engineering, the most popular subject for men in 1991.

Junior Colleges

Junior colleges--mainly private institutions--are a legacy of the occupation period; many had been prewar institutions upgraded to college status at that time. More than 90 percent of the students in junior colleges are women, and higher education for women is still largely perceived as preparation for marriage or for a short-term career before marriage. Junior colleges provide many women with social credentials as well as education and some career opportunities. These colleges frequently emphasize home economics, nursing, teaching, the humanities, and social sciences in their curricula.

Special Training Schools

Advanced courses in special training schools require uppersecondary -school completion. These schools offer training in specific skills, such as computer science and vocational training, and they enroll a large number of men. Some students attend these schools in addition to attending a university; others gp to qualify for technical licenses or certification. The prestige of special training schools is lower than that of universities, but graduates, particularly in technical areas, are readily absorbed by the job market.

Miscellaneous Schools

In 1991 there were about 3,400 predominantly private "miscellaneous schools," whose attendance did not require uppersecondary school graduation. Miscellaneous schools offer a variety of courses in such programs as medical treatment, education, social welfare, and hygiene, diversifying practical postsecondary training and responding to social and economic demands for certain skills.

Technical Colleges

Most technical colleges are national institutions established to train highly skilled technicians in five-year programs in a number of fields, including the merchant marine. Sixty-two technical colleges have been operating since the early 1960s. About 10 percent of technical college graduates transfer to universities as third-year students, and some universities, notably the University of Tokyo and the Tokyo Institute of Technology, earmarked entrance places for these transfer students in the 1980s.

Graduate Education and Research

Graduate schools became a part of the formal higher education system only after World War II and are still not stressed in the 1990s. Even though 60 percent of all universities have graduate schools, only 7 percent of university graduates advance to master's programs, and total graduate school enrollment is about 4 percent of the entire university student population.

The pattern of graduate enrollment is almost the opposite of that of undergraduates: the majority (63 percent) of all graduate students are enrolled in the national universities, and it appears that the disparity between public and private graduate enrollments is widening. Graduate education is largely a male preserve, and women, particularly at the master's level, are most heavily represented in the humanities, social sciences, and education. Men are frequently found in engineering programs where, at the master's level, women comprise only 2 percent of the students. At the doctoral level, the two highest levels of female enrollment are found in medical programs and the humanities, where in both fields 30 percent of doctoral students are women. Women account for about 13 percent of all doctoral enrollments.

The generally small numbers of graduate students and the graduate enrollment profile results from a number of factors, especially the traditional employment pattern of industry. The private sector frequently prefer to hire and train new university graduates, allowing them to develop their research skills within the corporate structure. Thus, the demand for students with advanced degrees is low.

The Ministry of Education, Science, and Culture

The Ministry of Education, Science, and Culture (often shortened to Ministry of Education or Monbusho ) is the primary authority over higher education. It approves the establishment of all new institutions, both public and private, and directly controls the budgets of all national institutions and their affiliated research institutes. In addition, the ministry regulates many aspects of the university environment, including standards for academics and physical plants and facilities. The ministry also provides subsidies to private higher education institutions for both operation and equipment and made long-term loans for physical plant improvement.

Government appropriations are the largest source of funds for national universities (more than 75 percent), and tuition and fees provides most revenues for private schools (about 66 percent), with subsidies accounting for another 10 to 15 percent for the private schools. The 1975 Private School Promotion Law allowed the government to subsidize private education and increased the ministry's authority over private schools, but the ministry's own budgetary limits and general fiscal restraint have tended to limit such subsidies, which remained relatively low. In FY 1988, for example, only ¥244 billion of the total ministry budget of ¥4.6 trillion went for this purpose.

The Ministry of Education has two major areas of responsibility related to graduate education and research. In addition to being generally responsible for the national universities and establishing their research institutes, the ministry also promotes the research conducted at universities and funded both institutions and individuals. About a half-dozen research institutes, such as the National Institute for Educational Research and the National Institute for Special Education, are also under direct ministry supervision. Several types of research organizations are affiliated with universities: the national research institutes attached to national universities, independent research facilities affiliated with national universities but open to researchers from universities throughout Japan, other research centers, and other facilities at national, local, public, and private universities.

The ministry is not the exclusive agent for funding and promoting research, but it accounted for about half of the entire government budget for research throughout most of the 1980s. In addition to providing funds for research institutes and national universities, the ministry gives smaller amounts for scientific grants and programs in other public and private institutions.

The ministry can devote funds to particular areas of research that it considered important. In FY 1988, the ministry emphasized the following programs in its budget: space science, particularly scientific satellites, rockets, and astronomy; high-energy physics and accelerator experiments; and construction of a national research and development information network.


The quality of undergraduate and graduate education was the subject of widespread criticism in the 1980s, and its improvement was one of the focal points of university reform. One complaint was that students, once admitted, had little incentive to study because graduation was virtually automatic. Attendance requirements were minimal, and, except for examinations, students were free to come and go as they pleased. Some of the teaching was poor, and the students often did little studying. Students and the system were accused of squandering the four years.

In response to the call for university reform in the reports of the National Council on Educational Reform, the ministry founded the University Council in 1987. High on the council's agenda were the diversification and reform of graduate education, improvement in the management and organization of universities, and the development of a policy for lifelong education and diversification in educational activities. The recommendations that had emerged by 1989 include improvements in the provision of private financial support to universities and modified personnel practices for college instructors in the national schools. There are calls for improved education in the fields of information science and automation and the establishment or reorganization of departments and research faculties in those fields. Finally, in the area of lifelong education, changes under discussion are the provision of more public lectures, expansion of university entrance opportunities for the general adult population, improvements in the University of the Air, and better links between the school and the community.

The University of the Air, which has no entrance requirements, was originally designed to give all Japanese access to higher education through radio and television broadcasts. Although it is hampered by limited broadcast radius and frequencies, it has a potentially leading role in promoting lifelong learning.

Internationalization is an issue at every education level, but particularly for higher education. The number of students studying in Japan from foreign countries, especially Asian countries, is increasing, and the higher education structure is not particularly well equipped to deal with them. In 1988 approximately 25,000 foreign students from more than 100 countries were studying in Japanese universities and colleges, and the ministry expected the figure to be 100,000 by the beginning of the twenty-first century. The ministry is also working to regulate and improve the standards for teaching Japanese to foreign students and trying to improve their financial and living arrangements. Beginning in the 1980s, Japanese universities established branches in the United States, and many schools in the United States also set up Japanese branches. At least one Japanese women's university began to require its undergraduates to spend a semester on the campus of an affiliated school in the United States.

As in virtually every other area of education, debate over reform of graduate education and research was widespread at the end of the 1980s. The University Council established a subcommittee on graduate schools consisting of academics, researchers, and corporate executives. The subcommittee identified a number of critical issues: establishing graduate schools that were independent of traditional university structures, founding new and specialized graduate schools, reconsidering entrance and graduation criteria, increasing the international student population and internationalizing graduate education, addressing the qualifications of graduate school faculties, modifying the mission of doctoral courses, arranging for flexibility in admissions to graduate school, standardizing the length of graduate programs and reconciling the variations between degrees awarded by different schools and in different disciplines, establishing an accreditation and evaluation system, and reviewing the financial situation of graduate students. These recommendations were acknowledged in the ministry's FY 1988 budget, which included funds for expanding student aid programs, reforming graduate programs, and establishing a new Graduate School for Advanced Studies. Proposed reform of the research system concentrated on improving cooperation between universities and the private sector, and between universities and other institutions.

Finally, the subcommittee recommended greater Japanese participation and cooperation in international projects and greater efforts to make Japanese scientific and technical literature available in English. Although there were more programs for international scholarly exchange and more foreign researchers and foreign graduate students in Japan than in the past, Japanese society and education institutions were still having some difficulties in accommodating them smoothly.

Some of the urgency behind considering reforms in graduate education and research comes from the recognition that Japan is increasingly involved in advanced research and is no longer assured of having foreign models to study. To remain competitive and to guarantee its future, Japan needs to make serious changes in its education and research structures. Its institutions needs to be more flexible and diverse and needs to encourage the creativity in education that would foster new technology. This change is seen to require a national effort, one not limited to the graduate sector.


Japan - Social Education


Modern Japan is unquestionably a society that values education highly. Nowhere is this better reflected than in "social education," as the Japanese call nondegree-oriented education. Diverse institutions, such as the miscellaneous schools, provide these services. Large newspaper companies sponsor cultural centers that offer ongoing programs of informal education, and department stores organize curricula covering everything from cooking classes to music, English conversation, and Japanese poetry.

"Lifelong learning," another term for social education, was also a key phrase in the education reforms of the late 1980s. The responsibility for social education is shared by all levels of government, but especially by local government. Local governments also are largely responsible for such public facilities as libraries and museums--basic resources in social education. The ministry is interested in increasing the use of public school facilities for lifelong learning activities, increasing the number of social education facilities, training staff, and disseminating information about lifelong learning opportunities.

The Japanese are voracious readers. Popular bookstores are full from the moment they open their doors each day with readers seeking books from a staggering range of foreign as well as Japanese titles. The top four national newspapers alone have a combined daily circulation (with two editions each day) of more than 35 million, and there are four daily English-language papers as well.

Although education in Japan is in transition in many regards, it still retains its postwar organizational structure. Even with growing pressure for reforms and for more emphasis on individuality and internationalization in education, it is clear that educational changes would be a unique amalgam of traditional values and modern innovations.


Japan - THE ARTS


The introduction of Western cultural values, which had flooded Japan by the late nineteenth century, led to a dichotomy between traditional values and attempts to duplicate and assimilate a variety of clashing new ideas. This split remained evident in the late twentieth century, although much synthesis had occurred, which had created an international cultural atmosphere and stimulated contemporary Japanese arts toward ever more innovative forms.

Japan's aesthetic conceptions, deriving from diverse cultural traditions, have been formative in the production of unique art forms. Over the centuries, a wide range of artistic motifs developed and were refined, becoming imbued with symbolic significance. Like a pearl, they acquired many layers of meaning and a high luster. Japanese aesthetics provide a key to understanding artistic works perceivably different from those coming from Western traditions.

Within the East Asian artistic tradition, China has been the acknowledged teacher and Japan the devoted student. Nevertheless, Japanese arts developed their own style, which can be clearly differentiated from the Chinese. The monumental, symmetrically balanced, rational approach of Chinese art forms became miniaturized, irregular, and subtly suggestive in Japanese hands. Miniature rock gardens, diminutive plants (bonsai), and flower arrangements, in which the selected few represented a garden, were the favorite pursuits of refined aristocrats for a millennium, and they have remained a part of contemporary cultural life.

The diagonal, reflecting a natural flow, rather than the fixed triangle became the favored structural device, whether in painting, architectural or garden design, dance steps, or musical notations. Odd numbers replace even numbers in the regularity of a Chinese master pattern, and a pull to one side allows a motif to turn the corner of a three-dimensional object, thus giving continuity and motion that is lacking in a static frontal design. Japanese painters used the devices of the cutoff, close-up, and fade-out by the twelfth century in yamato-e, or Japanese-style, scroll painting, perhaps one reason why modern filmmaking has been such a natural and successful art form in Japan. Suggestion is used rather than direct statement; oblique poetic hints and allusive and inconclusive melodies and thoughts- -all have proved frustrating to the Westerner trying to penetrate the meanings of literature, music, painting, and even everyday language.

The Japanese began defining such aesthetic ideas in a number of evocative phrases by at least the tenth or eleventh century. The courtly refinements of the aristocratic Heian period evolved into the elegant simplicity seen as the essence of good taste in the understated art that is called shibui. Two terms originating from Zen Buddhist meditative practices describe degrees of tranquillity: one, the repose found in humble melancholy (wabi), the other, the serenity accompanying the enjoyment of subdued beauty (sabi). Zen thought also contributed a penchant for combining the unexpected or startling, used to jolt one's consciousness toward the goal of enlightenment. In art, this approach was expressed in combinations of such unlikely materials as lead inlaid in lacquer and in clashing poetic imagery. Unexpectedly humorous and sometimes grotesque images and motifs also stem from the Zen koan (conundrum). Although the arts have been mainly secular since the Tokugawa period, traditional aesthetics and training methods, stemming generally from religious sources, continue to underlie artistic productions.

In the Meiji period (1868-1912), Western art forms came into Japan and were studied with intense interest by Japanese artists, who quickly imitated a variety of European models. By the early twentieth century, a period of assimilation began as techniques were mastered and the new forms of literature and the visual and performing arts were adapted. Artists divided into two main camps, those continuing in traditional Japanese style and those who wholeheartedly studied the new Western culture. By the late 1920s, a generation of Japanese artists had synthesized Western and Japanese artistic conceptions. Oil painters used the calligraphic, black lines of traditional Japanese brushwork, and musicians used the Asian tonal system and instruments to create Western-style music, while new theaters dealt with social themes in the allusive traditional literary style. Artists employing Western forms were accused of imitating rather than innovating. Yet, the age-old Asian cultural tradition has always entailed copying a master's style until it has been perfected, which explains why so much so-called "imitative art" was produced. As a result, Japan has produced much vibrant and unique new art through such exchanges.

After World War II, many artists began working in art forms derivied from the international scene, moving away from local artistic developments into the mainstream of world art. But traditional Japanese conceptions endured, particularly in the use of modular space in architecture, certain spacing intervals in music and dance, a propensity for certain color combinations and characteristic literary forms. The wide variety of art forms available to the Japanese reflect the vigorous state of the arts, widely supported by the Japanese people and promoted by the government.

Traditionally, the artist was a vehicle for expression and was personally reticent, in keeping with the role of an artisan or entertainer of low social status. The calligrapher--a member of the Confucian literati class, or samurai--had a higher status, while artists of great genius were often recognized in the medieval period by receiving a name from a feudal lord and thus rising socially. The performing arts, however, were generally held in less esteem, and the purported immorality of actresses of the early Kabuki theater caused the Tokugawa government to bar women from the stage; female roles in Kabuki and No thereafter were played by men.

There are a number of specialized universities for the arts, led by the national universities. The most important is the Tokyo Arts University, one of the most difficult of all national universities to enter. Another seminal center is Tama Arts University in Tokyo, which produced many of Japan's late twentieth- century innovative young artists. Traditional training in the arts remains: experts teach from their homes or head schools working within a master-pupil relationship. A pupil does not experiment with a personal style until achieving the highest level of training, or graduating from an arts school, or becoming head of a school. Many young artists have criticized this system as stifling creativity and individuality. A new generation of the avant-garde has broken with this tradition, often receiving its training in the West. In the traditional arts, however, the master-pupil system preserves the secrets and skills of the past. Some master-pupil lineages can be traced to the medieval period, from which they continue to use a great master's style or theme. Japanese artists consider technical virtuosity as the sine qua non of their professions, a fact recognized by the rest of the world as one of the hallmarks of Japanese art.

The national government has actively supported the arts through the Agency for Cultural Affairs, set up in 1968 as a special body of the Ministry of Education. The agency's budget for FY 1989 rose to ¥37.8 billion after five years of budget cuts, but still represented much less than 1 percent of the general budget. The agency's Cultural Affairs Division disseminated information about the arts within Japan and internationally, and the Cultural Properties Protection Division protected the nation's cultural heritage. The Cultural Affairs Division is concerned with such areas as art and culture promotion, arts copyrights, and improvements in the national language. It also supports both national and local arts and cultural festivals, and it funds traveling cultural events in music, theater, dance, art exhibitions, and filmmaking. Special prizes are offered to encourage young artists and established practitioners, and some grants are given each year to enable them to train abroad. The agency funds national museums of modern art in Kyoto and Tokyo and the Museum of Western Art in Tokyo, which exhibit both Japanese and international shows. The agency also supports the Japan Academy of Arts, which honors eminent persons of arts and letters, appointing them to membership and offering ¥3.5 million in prize money. Awards are made in the presence of the emperor, who personally bestows the highest accolade, the Cultural Medal. In 1989 the fifth woman ever to be so distinguished was cited for Japanese-style painting, while for the first time two women--a writer and a costume designer--were nominated for the Order of Cultural Merit, another official honor carrying the same stipend.

The Cultural Properties Protection Division originally was established to oversee restorations after World War II. In 1989 it was responsible for more than 2,500 historic sites--including the ancient capitals of Asuka, Heijokyo, and Fujiwara, more than 275 scenic places, and nearly 1,000 national monuments--and for such indigenous fauna as ibis and storks. As of 1989, some 1,000 buildings, paintings, sculptures, and other art forms had been designated national treasures. In addition, about 11,500 items had the lesser designation of Important Cultural Properties, with buildings accounting for the largest share, closely followed by sculpture and craft objects.

The government also protects buried properties, of which some 300,000 had been identified. During the 1980s, many important prehistoric and historic sites were investigated by the archaeological institutes that the agency funded, resulting in about 2,000 excavations in 1989. The wealth of material unearthed shed new light on the controversial period of the formation of the Japanese state.

A 1975 amendment to the Cultural Properties Protection Act of 1897 enabled the Agency for Cultural Affairs to designate traditional areas and buildings in urban centers for preservation. From time to time, various endangered traditional artistic skills are added to the agency's preservation roster, such as the 1989 inclusion of a kind of ancient doll making.

One of the most important roles of the Cultural Properties Protection Division is to preserve the traditional arts and crafts and performing arts through their living exemplars. Individual artists and groups, such as a dance troupe or a pottery village, are designated as mukei bunkazai (intangible cultural assets) in recognition of their skill. Major exponents of the traditional arts have been designated as ningen kokuho (living national treasures). About seventy persons are so honored at any one time; in 1989 the six newly designated masters were a kyogen (comic) performer, a chanter of bunraku (puppet) theater, a performer of the nagauta samisen (a special kind of stringed instrument), the head potter making Nabeshima decorated porcelain ware, the top pictorial lacquer-ware artist, and a metal-work expert. Each was provided a lifetime annual pension of ¥2 million and financial aid for training disciples.

A number of institutions come under the aegis of the Cultural Properties Protection Division: the national museums of Japanese and Asian art in Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, and Osaka; the cultural properties research institutes at Tokyo and Nara; the national theaters; the Ethnological Museum; the National Museum of History and Folk Culture; and the National Storehouse for Fine Arts. During the 1980s, the National No Theater and the National Bunraku Theater were constructed by the government.

Arts patronage and promotion by the government are broadened to include a new cooperative effort with corporate Japan to provide funding beyond the tight budget of the Agency for Cultural Affairs. Many other public and private institutions participat, especially in the burgeoning field of awarding arts prizes. A growing number of large corporations join major newspapers in sponsoring exhibitions and performances and in giving yearly prizes. The most important of the many literary awards given are the venerable Naoki Prize and the Akutagawa Prize, the latter being the equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize in the United States.

In 1989 an effort to promote cross-cultural exchange led to the establishment of a Japanese "Nobel Prize" for the arts--the Premium Imperiale--by the Japan Art Association. This prize of US$100,000 was funded largely by the mass media conglomerate Fuji-Sankei and was awarded on a worldwide selection basis.

A number of foundations promoting the arts arose in the 1980s, including the Cultural Properties Foundation set up to preserve historic sites overseas, especially along the Silk Route in Inner Asia and at Dunhuang in China. Another international arrangement was made in 1988 with the United States Smithsonian Institution for cooperative exchange of high-technology studies of Asian artifacts. The government plays a major role by funding the Japan Foundation, which provides both institutional and individual grants, effects scholarly exchanges, awards annual prizes, supported publications and exhibitions, and sends traditional Japanese arts groups to perform abroad. The Arts Festival held for two months each fall for all the performing arts is sponsored by the Agency for Cultural Affairs. Major cities also provides substantial support for the arts; a growing number of cities in the 1980s had built large centers for the performing arts and, stimulated by government funding, were offering prizes such as the Lafcadio Hearn Prize initiated by the city of Matsue. A number of new municipal museums were also providing about one-third more facilities in the 1980s than were previously available. In the late 1980s, Tokyo added more than twenty new cultural halls, notably, the large Cultural Village built by Tokyo Corporation and the reconstruction of Shakespeare's Globe Theater. All these efforts reflect a rising popular enthusiasm for the arts. Japanese art buyers swept the Western art markets in the late 1980s, paying record highs for impressionist paintings and US$51.7 million alone for one blue period Picasso.

After World War II, artists typically gathered in arts associations, some of which were long-established professional societies while others reflected the latest arts movement. The Japan Artists League, for example, was responsible for the largest number of major exhibitions, including the prestigious annual Nitten (Japan Art Exhibition). The P.E.N. Club of Japan (P.E.N. stands for prose, essay, and narrative)--a branch of an international writers' organization--was the largest of some thirty major authors' associations. Actors, dancers, musicians, and other performing artists boasted their own societies, including the Kabuki Society, organized in 1987 to maintain this art's traditional high standards, which were thought to be endangered by modern innovation. By the 1980s, however, avant-garde painters and sculptors had eschewed all groups and were "unattached" artists.

<>Performing Arts
<>Kabuki and Bunraku
<>Modern Theater
<>Films and Television


Japan - Architecture


With the introduction of Western building techniques, materials, and styles into Meiji Japan, new steel and concrete structures were built in strong contrast to traditional styles. Japan played some role in modern skyscraper design because of its long familiarity with the cantilever principle to support the weight of heavy tiled temple roofs. Frank Lloyd Wright was strongly influenced by Japanese spatial arrangements and the concept of interpenetrating exterior and interior space, long achieved in Japan by opening up walls made of sliding doors. In the late twentieth century, however, only in domestic and religious architecture was Japanese style commonly employed. Cities bristled with modern skyscrapers, epitomized by Tokyo's crowded skyline, reflecting a total assimilation and transformation of modern Western forms.

The widespread urban planning and reconstruction necessitated by the devastation of World War II produced such major architects as Maekawa Kunio and Tange Kenzo. Maekawa, a student of worldfamous architect Charles LeCorbusier, produced thoroughly international , functional modern works. Tange, who worked at first for Maekawa, supported this concept. Both were notable for infusing Japanese aesthetic ideas into starkly contemporary buildings, returning to the spatial concepts and modular proportions of tatami (sleeping mats), using textures to enliven the ubiquitous ferroconcrete and steel, and integrating gardens and sculpture into their designs. Tange used the cantilever principle in a pillar and beam system reminiscent of ancient imperial palaces; the pillar--a hallmark of Japanese traditional monumental timber construction-- became fundamental to his designs. Maki Fumihiko advanced new city planning ideas based on the principle of layering or cocooning around an inner space (oku), a Japanese spatial concept that was adapted to urban needs. He also advocated the use of empty or open spaces (ma), a Japanese aesthetic principle reflecting Buddhist spatial ideas. Another quintessentially Japanese aesthetic concept was a basis for Maki designs, which focused on openings onto intimate garden views at ground level while cutting off somtimes-ugly skylines. A dominant 1970s architectural concept, the "metabolism" of convertibility, provided for changing the functions of parts of buildings according to use, and remains influential.

A major architect of the 1970s and 1980s was Isozaki Arata, originally a student and associate of Tange's, who also based his style on the LeCorbusier tradition and then turned his attention toward the further exploration of geometric shapes and cubic silhouettes. He synthesized Western high-technology building concepts with peculiarly Japanese spatial, functional, and decorative ideas to create a modern Japanese style. Isozaki's predilection for the cubic grid and trabeated pergola in largescale architecture, for the semicircular vault in domestic-scale buildings, and for extended barrel vaulting in low, elongated buildings led to a number of striking variations. New Wave architects of the 1980s were influenced by his designs, either pushing to extend his balanced style, often into mannerism, or reacting against them.

A number of avant-garde experimental groups were encompassed in the New Wave of the late 1970s and the 1980s. They reexamined and modified the formal geometric structural ideas of modernism by introducing metaphysical concepts, producing some startling fantasy effects in architectural design. In contrast to these innovators, the experimental poetic minimalism of Ando Tadao embodied the postmodernist concerns for a more balanced, humanistic approach than that of structural modernism's rigid formulations. And 's buildings provided a variety of light sources, including extensive use of glass bricks and opening up spaces to the outside air. He adapted the inner courtyards of traditional Osaka houses to new urban architecture, using open stairways and bridges to lessen the sealed atmosphere of the standard city dwelling. His ideas became ubiquitous in the 1980s, when buildings were commonly planned around open courtyards or plazas, often with stepped and terraced spaces, pedestrian walkways, or bridges connecting building complexes . In 1989 And became the third Japanese to receive France's Prix de l'Académie d'Architecture, an indication of the international strength of the major Japanese architects, all of whom produced important structures abroad during the 1980s. Japanese architects were not only skilled practitioners in the modern idiom but also enriched postmodern designs worldwide with innovative spatial perceptions, subtle surface texturing, unusual use of industrial materials, and a developed awareness of ecological and topographical problems.


Japan - Sculpture


Japanese sculpture derived from Shinto funerary and Buddhist religious arts. Portrait sculpture was developed only as a memorial to a shrine patron or temple founder. Materials traditionally used were metal--especially bronze--and, more commonly, wood, often lacquered, gilded, or brightly painted. By the end of the Tokugawa period, such traditional sculpture--except for miniaturized works-- had largely disappeared because of the loss of patronage by Buddhist temples and the nobility.

The stimulus of Western art forms returned sculpture to the Japanese art scene and introduced the plaster cast, outdoor heroic sculpture, and the school of Paris concept of sculpture as an "art form." Such ideas adapted in Japan during the late nineteenth century, together with the return of state patronage, rejuvenated sculpture. After World War II, sculptors turned away from the figurative French school of Rodin and Maillol toward aggressive modern and avant-garde forms and materials, sometimes on an enormous scale. A profusion of materials and techniques characterized these new experimental sculptures, which also absorbed the ideas of international "op" (optical illusion) and "pop" (popular motif) art. A number of innovative artists were both sculptors and painters or printmakers, their new theories cutting across material boundaries.

In the 1970s, the ideas of contextual placement of natural objects of stone, wood, bamboo, and paper into relationships with people and their environment were embodied in the mono-ha school. The mono-ha rtists emphasized materiality as the most important aspect of art and brought to an end the antiformalism that had dominated the avant-garde in the preceding two decades. This focus on the relationships between objects and people was ubiquitous throughout the arts world and led to a rising appreciation of "Japanese" qualities in the environment and a return to native artistic principles and forms. Among these precepts were a reverence for nature and various Buddhist concepts, which were brought into play by architects to treat time and space problems. Western ideology was carefully reexamined, and much was rejected as artists turned to their own environment--both inward and outward--for sustenance and inspiration. From the late 1970s through the late 1980s, artists began to create a vital new art, which was both contemporary and Asian in sources and expression but still very much a part of the international scene. These artists focused on projecting their own individualism and national styles rather than on adapting or synthesizing Western ideas exclusively.

Outdoor sculpture, which came to the fore with the advent of the Hakone Open-Air Museum in 1969, was widely used in the 1980s. Cities supported enormous outdoor sculptures for parks and plazas, and major architects planned for sculpture in their buildings and urban layouts. Outdoor museums and exhibitions burgeoned, stressing the natural placement of sculpture in the environment. Because hard sculpture stone is not native to Japan, most outdoor pieces were created from stainless steel, plastic, or aluminum for "tension and compression" machine constructions of mirror-surfaced steel or for elegant, polished-aluminum, ultramodern shapes. The strong influence of modern high technology on the artists resulted in experimentation with kinetic, tensile forms, such as flexible arcs and "info-environmental" sculptures using lights. Video components and video art developed rapidly from the late 1970s throughout the 1980s. The new Japanese experimental sculptors could be understood as working with Buddhist ideas of permeability and regeneration in structuring their forms, in contrast to the general Western conception of sculpture as something with finite and permanent contours.

In the 1980s, wood and natural materials were used prominently by many sculptors, who now began to place their works in inner courtyards and enclosed spaces. Also, a Japanese feeling for rhythmic motion, captured in recurring forms as a "systematic gestural motion," was used by both long-established artists like Kiyomizu Kyubei and Nagasawa Hidetoshi and the younger generation led by Toya Shigeo. The 1970s search for a national identity led to a renewed understanding of Japanese forms, spatial perceptions, rhythms, and philosophical conceptions, which reinvigorated Japanese sculpture in the 1980s.


Japan - Painting


Painting is one of the oldest and most highly refined of the Japanese arts, stemming from classic continental traditions of the early historical period (sixth-seventh centuries A.D.). Native Japanese traditions reached their apex in the Heian period (A.D 794-1185), producing many artistic devices still in use. During periods of strong Chinese influence, new art forms were adapted, such as Buddhist works in Nara, ink painting in the Muromachi period, and landscape painting by literati in the Tokugawa era. When Western painting theories were introduced in the Meiji period, Japan already had a long history of adaptation of imported ideas and had established a copying process ranging from emulation to synthesis. But it was not until well into the twentieth century that the Japanese were able to assimilate the new medium of oil paints with new ideas of three-dimensional projections on flat surfaces.

Most contemporary Japanese artists could be divided into those who worked in a broadly international style and those who maintained Japanese artistic traditions, though usually within a modern idiom. After World War II, painters, calligraphers, and printmakers flourished in the big cities, particularly Tokyo, and became preoccupied with the mechanisms of urban life, reflected in the flickering lights, neon colors, and frenetic pace of their abstractions. All the "isms" of the New York-Paris art world were fervently embraced. After the abstractions of the 1960s, the 1970s saw a return to realism strongly flavored by the "op" and "pop" art movements, embodied in the 1980s in the explosive works of Shinohara Ushio. Many such outstanding avant-garde artists worked both in Japan and abroad, winning international prizes. These artists felt that there was "nothing Japanese" about their works, and indeed they belonged to the international school. By the late 1970s, the search for Japanese qualities and a national style caused many artists to reevaluate their artistic ideology and turn away from what some felt were the empty formulas of the West. Contemporary paintings within the modern idiom began to make conscious use of traditional Japanese art forms, devices, and ideologies. A number of mono-ha artists turned to painting to recapture traditional nuances in spatial arrangements, color harmonies, and lyricism.

Japanese-style painting (nihonga) had continued in a modern fashion, updating traditional expressions while retaining their intrinsic character. Some artists within this style still painted on silk or paper with traditional colors and ink, while others used new materials, such as acrylics. Many of the older schools of art, most notably those of the Tokugawa period, were still practiced. For example, the decorative naturalism of the rimpa school, characterized by brilliant, pure colors and bleeding washes, was reflected in the work of many postwar artists and in the 1980s art of Hikosaka Naoyoshi. The realism of the Maruyama-Okyo school and the calligraphic and spontaneous Japanese style of the gentlemen-scholars were both widely practiced in the 1980s. Sometimes all of these schools, as well as older ones, such as the Kano ink traditions, were drawn on by contemporary artists in the Japanese style and in the modern idiom. Many Japanese-style painters were honored with awards and prizes as a result of renewed popular demand for Japanese-style art beginning in the 1970s. More and more, the international modern painters also drew on the Japanese schools as they turned away from Western styles in the 1980s. The tendency had been to synthesize East and West. But new artistic approaches were less in favor of a conscious blending than of recapturing the Japanese spirit within a modern idiom. Thus, the 100-year split between Japanese-style and Western-style art began to heal. Some artists had already leapt the gap between the two, as did the outstanding painter Shinoda Toko. Her bold sumi ink abstractions were inspired by traditional calligraphy but realized as lyrical expressions of modern abstraction.


Japan - Calligraphy


Calligraphy, the art of beautiful writing, had long been highly esteemed, intensively studied, and avidly collected. The writing of Chinese ideograms (kanji) in a wide variety of styles was inherited from the Chinese scholarly tradition, which at one extreme became the nearly indecipherable grass-style writing and at the other geometric abstractions. There are famous exponents of all these styles in contemporary Japan who have spent a lifetime perfecting their skills. The most widely used mode is called kana, referring to the Japanese syllabary, which provides an opportunity to depict both ideograms and Japanese phonetic sounds in set phrases. This kind of writing may be done in many ways: with fine, delicate strokes or bold, splashy ones, carefully controlled or in uninhibited freedom, and on a scale ranging from large to minuscule. Traditional Japanese poetry is usually classified in the kana group, while modern poetry is placed in a group by itself. Zen Buddhism promoted a spontaneous style of writing in its koan, which includes some pictorial additions.

Because calligraphy lends itself so well to modern abstract painting, some artists have used it in this form; the Bokusho abstract school has developed some outstanding masters. Calligraphers are greatly revered not only for their skill and scholarship but also for their attainment of a high spiritual level, which produces the meditative calm considered necessary for truly creative brushwork. Calligraphy is widely collected at enormous prices, and writing by well-known persons in various fields, such as politics or the military, is also treasured even by those who cannot read the script, which is not uncommon because some is nearly abstract.


Japan - Prints


Outstanding among the contemporary arts for vitality and originality are the works of the creative printmakers, which have brought worldwide recognition. The twentieth-century Japanese print evolved from the Western idea of a single artist's conceiving, executing, and producing one individual work. In contrast, the classic ukiyo-e (floating world art) print approach was of a team production by an artist designer, craftsman carver, colorist, printer, and publisher, who promoted sales of multiple copies. The modern print movement so stressed the creative process that even in the 1980s, editions of prints were seldom very large and were apt to differ in color or even design elements from one printing to the next.

In the late twentieth century, a broad spectrum of artistic styles from traditional to experimental was practiced in a multiplicity of media and techniques. Munakata Shiko, a major force in gaining recognition for creative printmaking, drew deeply on Japanese artistic sources, from folk art to Zen poetry-paintings, combining kanji with free-floating Chagall-like figures. He influenced many other celebrated print artists who drew on folk art and used natural earth and mineral colors to depict traditional village scenes and lively local festivals. Artists such as Sekino Jun'ichiro and Saito Kiyoshi were inspired to update famous views, as of the Tokaido, while others played with traditional themes derived from sumo, the theater, or geisha. At the opposite pole are the works of the abstractionists, the exponents of all the "isms" of the day, and the experimental essays of some consummate designers. Most avant-garde artists worked in mixed media, often using engraving techniques with silk-screened colors or monochromatic metal prints with soldered wires. They experimented freely with photomontage, photo-prints made with an electric scanner, and lithographs. Photography as an art form came into its own in the 1980s, and major international exhibitions displayed the stunning products of artist photographers such as Namikawa Banri, Kurigama Kazumi, and Hashi. In the 1980s, a trend among many young printmakers was toward the use of black and white for somber, often superrealistic, themes, captured with exquisite technical and artistic precision.


Japan - Ceramics


One of Japan's oldest art forms, ceramics, reaches back to the Neolithic period (ca. 10,000 B.C.), when the earliest soft earthenware was coil-made, decorated by hand-impressed rope patterns (Jomon ware), and baked in the open. Continental emigrants of the third century B.C. introduced the use of the wheel along with the metal age (Yayoi), and eventually (in the third to fourth centuries A.D.), a tunnel kiln in which stoneware fired at high temperatures embellished with natural ash glaze was produced. Medieval kilns enabled more refined production of stoneware, which was still produced in the late twentieth century at a few famous sites, especially in central Honshu around the city of Seto, the wares of which were so widely used that Seto-mono became the generic term for ceramics in Japan. The overlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi's Korean campaigns of the late sixteenth century were dubbed the "ceramic wars," since the importation of Korean potters appeared to be the Koreans' major contribution. These potters introduced a variety of new techniques and styles in their artifacts that were greatly admired for the tea ceremony. They also discovered in northern Kyushu the proper ingredients needed to produce porcelain and were soon dazzling the guests at daimyo banquets with the first Japanese-made porcelain.

The modern masters of these famous traditional kilns still bring the ancient formulas in pottery and porcelain to new heights of achievement at Shiga, Ige, Karatsu, Hagi, and Bizen. Yamamoto Masao of Bizen and Miwa Kyusetsu of Hagi were designated as mukei bunkazai. Only a half-dozen potters were so honored by 1989 either as representatives of famous kiln wares or as creators of superlative techniques in glazing or decoration; two groups were designated for preserving the wares of distinguished ancient kilns.

In the old capital of Kyoto, the Raku family continued to produce the famous rough tea bowls that had so delighted Hideyoshi. At Mino, continued to be made to reconstruct the classic formulas of Momoyama-era Seto-type tea wares at Mino, such as the famous Oribe copper-green glaze and Shino ware's prized milky glaze. Artist potters experimented endlessly at the Kyoto and Tokyo arts universities to recreate traditional porcelain and its decorations under such outstanding ceramic teachers as Fujimoto Yoshimichi, a mukei bunkazai. Ancient porcelain kilns around Arita in Kyushu were still maintained by the lineage of the famous Sakaida Kakiemon XIV and Imaizume Imaiemon XIII, hereditary porcelain makers to the Nabeshima clan; both were heads of groups designated mukei bunkazai.

By the end of the 1980s, many master potters no longer worked at major or ancient kilns, but were making classic wares in various parts of Japan or in Tokyo, a notable example being Tsuji Seimei, who brought his clay from Shiga but potted in the Tokyo area. A number of artists were engaged in reconstructing famous Chinese styles of decoration or glazes, especially the blue-green celadon and the watery-green qingbai. One of the most beloved Chinese glazes in Japan is the chocolate-brown tenmoku glaze that covered the peasant tea bowls brought back from Southern Song China (in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries) by Zen monks. For their Japanese users, these chocolate-brown wares embodied the Zen aesthetic of wabi (rustic simplicity).

Interest in the humble art of the village potter was revived in a folk movement of the 1920s by such master potters as Hamada Shoji and Kawai Kanjiro. These artists studied traditional glazing techniques to preserve native wares in danger of disappearing. The kilns at Tamba, overlooking Kobe. A number of institutions came under the aegis of the Cultural Properties Protection Division.be, continued to produce the daily wares used in the Tokugawa period, while adding modern shapes. Most of the village wares were made anonymously by local potters for utilitarian purposes. Local styles, whether native or imported, tended to be continued without alteration into the present. In Kyushu, kilns set up by Korean potters in the sixteenth century, such as at Koishibara and its offshoot at Onta, perpetuated sixteenth-century Korean peasant wares. In Okinawa, the production of village ware continued under several leading masters, with Kaneshiro Jiro honored as a mukei bunkazai.


Japan - Handicrafts


The many and varied traditional handicrafts of Japan enjoyed official recognition and protection and, owing to the folk art movement, were much in demand. Each craft demanded a set of specialized skills. Textile crafts, for example, included silk, hemp, and cotton, woven (after spinning and dyeing) in forms from timeless folk designs to complex court patterns. Village crafts evolving from ancient folk traditions also continued in weaving and indigo dyeing in Hokkaido by the Ainu peoples, whose distinctive designs had prehistoric prototypes, and by other remote farming families in northern Japan. Silk-weaving families can be traced to the fifteenth century in the famous Nishijin weaving center of Kyoto, where elegant fabrics worn by the emperor and the aristocracy were produced. In the seventeenth century, designs on textiles were applied using stencils and rice paste, in the yuzen or paste-resist method of dyeing. The yuzen method provided an imitation of aristocratic brocades, which were forbidden to commoners by sumptuary laws. Moriguchi Kako of Kyoto has continued to create works of art in his yuzen-dyed kimonos, which were so sought after that the contemporary fashion industry designed an industrial method to copy them for use on Western-style clothing. Famous designers, such as Hanae Mori, borrowed extensively from kimono patterns for their couturier collections. By the late 1980s, an elegant, handwoven, dyed kimono had become extremely costly, running to US$25,000 for a formal garment. In Okinawa the famous yuzen-dyeing method was especially effective where it was produced in the bingata stencil-dyeing techniques, which produced exquisitely colored, striking designs as artistic national treasures.

Lacquer, the first plastic, was invented in Asia, and its use in Japan can be traced to prehistoric finds. Lacquer ware is most often made from wooden objects, which receive multiple layers of refined lac juices, each of which must dry before the next is applied. These layers make a tough skin impervious to water damage and to resist breakage, providing lightweight, easy-to-clean utensils of every sort. The decoration on such lacquers, whether carved through different colored layers or in surface designs, applied with gold or inlaid with precious substances, has been a prized art form since the Nara period (A.D. 710-94).

Papermaking is another contribution of Asian civilization; the Japanese art of making paper from the mulberry plant is thought to have begun in the sixth century A.D. Dyeing paper with a wide variety of hues and decorating it with designs became a major preoccupation of the Heian court, and the enjoyment of beautiful paper and its use has continued thereafter, with some modern adaptations. The traditionally made paper called Izumo (after the shrine area where it is made) was especially desired for fusuma (sliding panels) decoration, artists' papers, and elegant letter paper. Some printmakers have their own logo made into their papers, and since the Meiji period, another special application has been Western marbleized end papers (made by the Atelier Miura in Tokyo).

Metalwork is epitomized in the production of the Japanese sword, of extremely high quality. These swords originated before the first century B.C. and reached their height of popularity as the chief possession of warlords and samurai. The production of a sword has retained something of the religious quality it once had in embodying the soul of the samurai and the martial spirit of Japan. For many Japanese, the sword, one of the "three jewels" of the nation, remained a potent symbol; possessors would treasure a sword and it would be maintained within the family, its loss signifying their ruin.


Japan - Performing Arts


A remarkable number of the traditional forms of music, dance, and theater have survived in the contemporary world, enjoying some popularity through reidentification with Japanese cultural values. Traditional music and dance, which trace their origins to ancient religious use--Buddhist, Shinto, and folk--have been preserved in the dramatic performances of No, Kabuki, and bunraku theater. Ancient court music and dance forms deriving from continental sources were preserved through imperial household musicians and temple and shrine troupes. Some of the oldest musical instruments in the world have been in continuous use in Japan from the Jomon period, as shown by finds of stone and clay flutes and zithers having between two and four strings, to which Yayoi-period metal bells and gongs were added to create early musical ensembles. By the early historical period (sixth to seventh centuries A.D.), there were a variety of large and small drums, gongs, chimes, flutes, and stringed instruments, such as the imported mandolin-like biwa and the flat six-stringed zither, which evolved into the thirteen-stringed koto. These instruments formed the orchestras for the seventh-century continentally derived ceremonial court music, which, together with the accompanying bugaku (a type of court dance), are the most ancient of such forms still performed at the imperial court, ancient temples, and shrines. Buddhism introduced the rhythmic chants, still used, that were joined with native ideas and underlay the development of vocal music, such as in No.


Japan - No


The oldest dramatic form preserved in Japan is No theater, which attained its contemporary form at the fourteenth-century Ashikaga court. In the 1980s, there were five major No groups and a few notable regional troupes performing several hundred plays from a medieval repertoire for a popular audience, not just for an elite. A No play unfolds around the recitation and dancing of a principal and secondary figure, while a seated chorus chants a story, accentuated by solemn drum and flute music. The dramatic action is mimed in highly stylized gestures symbolizing intense emotions, which are also evoked by terse lyrical prose and dance. Standardized masks and brilliant costumes stand out starkly against the austere, empty stage with its symbolic pine tree backdrop.

No stories depict legendary or historical events of a tragic cast, infused with Buddhist ideas. The foreboding atmosphere is relieved by comic interludes (kyogen) played during the intermission. A few experimental plays have been developed by authors such as Mishima Yukio (1925-70), and in the 1980s a Christian No play was written by a Sophia University philosophy professor and daringly performed at the Vatican for Pope John Paul II. The National No Theater has revived popular interest in this ancient art form by supporting experimental No plays in the late 1980s.


Japan - Kabuki and Bunraku


Kabuki and bunraku theater developed as popular forms of entertainment in the seventeenth century. Kabuki combined contemporary music, acrobatics, and mimicry like that of No, and it was originally performed by troupes that included actresses. Women were soon barred from appearing, so the often large casts consisted entirely of male performers. Classical Kabuki somewhat resembles Western drama, except that dialogue was supplemented by chanting and accompanied by music provided by the samisen, a threestringed lute perfected during the seventeenth century. The plot was often clarified by the use of a storyteller who recounted the major action, as was also customary in No.

Kabuki conventions include the use of artificially high-pitched voices, exaggerated gestures and miming, and flamboyant costumes and makeup, but no masks. Elaborate stage devices--trapdoors, revolving stages, and runways through the theater--heighten the excitement. Historical and legendary themes were extended to include events from the urban life of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, such as a townsman's dislike for the samurai. A common theme in the late-seventeenth-century and early eighteenth-century works of Chikamatsu Monzaemon, "the Shakespeare of Japan," is the conflict between personal desires and the Confucian sense of loyalty and duty. By the early 1990s, there were two national Kabuki theaters in Tokyo featuring a growing repertoire of lesser known as well as classic work. Among contemporary masters working to "update" Kabuki and attract modern audiences were Ichikawa Ennosuke III, whose deft acting, clever acrobatics, and swift costume changes evoked nearly magical illusions, and Tamasaburo Bando, the top player of a wide range of feminine roles. These and other superb Kabuki actors brought record audiences to performances in the late 1980s.

Bunraku, puppet theater native to Osaka, was regarded as a serious dramatic medium for adults (unlike puppetry in many Western countries), and it flourished along with Kabuki begining with the Tokugawa period. Chikamatsu turned to writing for the bunraku when he became dissatisfied with the liberties some Kabuki actors took with his plays. A narrator, who sings all the parts, and a samisen-playing chorus are the main elements of bunraku. The narrator-singer conveys the emotional content of the play and generates the illusion of life in the large puppets, who move realistically in complex roles, manipulated by a master and black-hooded, robed assistants. These narrator-singers derive from the ancient tradition of storytellers, whose exponents continue to flourish in modern forms, now including women and such uproarish comics as Katsura Shijaku.


Japan - Music


Traditional music, song, and dance have been performed by women, notably the geisha of Tokyo and Kyoto. Theatrical performances by Kyoto geisha can be seen in the spring and autumn Miyako Odori dance performances. A nagauta (lyric music) singing group has a full orchestral ensemble, consisting of drums, flutes, samisen, and koto. The traditional musical notation is based on a five-tone scale, with semitones often ending on a rising note. Famous performers may play the samisen or koto only, or they may play together with a singer or dancer. The dances come from No, Kabuki, and folk sources, featuring large ensemble dances as highlights of these brilliant spectacles.

Folk music and dance deriving from regional festivals and ceremonies began to become well-known in Japan through radio, television, and recordings. Folk festivals, concerts, contests, and taverns specializing in folk singing contributed to the rising popularity of these ancient forms, revitalized by the growing desire of the young in the 1980s to learn traditional agrarian songs and dances, while the Japan Folkloric Dance Ensemble performed them internationally. Some thirty outstanding performers from all the traditional performing arts were designated as mukei bunkazai at the end of the 1980s.

Classical Western music has become a fundamental part of Japanese musical education since its introduction in the nineteenth century. The Toho School of Music in Tokyo has produced many outstanding international performers on the piano and stringed instruments. Children commonly studied piano or violin, and the famous Suzuki violin method of training children from the age of two had produced a generation of virtuosos; some, such as Midori, enjoyed an international reputation.

Symphony orchestras played in Tokyo and most major cities, also making international tours. Japanese musicians and conductors gained international recognition, some performing regularly with top foreign orchestras overseas and on tour in Japan. Contemporary Japanese composers have experimented widely with instruments: using Japanese and Western instruments together, using only Asian instruments, and capturing traditional sounds with electronic synthesizers and Western instruments. The Ensemble Nipponica, Music Today, and Sound Space Ark were among the major groups promoting modern Japanese music.

Classical Western opera enjoyed a boom, with many foreign companies performing, and even local companies rose to new heights with the development of leading operatic singers. Further evidence of interest in Japanese themes was shown by a major competition to write a new opera about Chikamatsu, with music composed by Hara Kazuko, a Doshisha University professor.

Popular music was enjoyed in many forms. Musical comedies and revues were standard urban entertainment. Broadway and London hits were quickly adapted by Tokyo theater troupes, often using foreign directors for notable productions and sometimes featuring Western actors who spoke their lines in Japanese. Japanese youth everywhere enjoyed popular music: highly international jazz, rock, heavy metal, folk, new music, pop, synthesized music, instrumental music, and Japanese folk songs. Springing from popular music were the works of experimental composers like Hosono Haruomi and Sakamoto Ryuichi, who blended Middle Eastern or Chinese sounds for the huge recording industry and film sound tracks. In 1988 Sakamoto was Japan's first Oscar-winning musician for his score for The Last Emperor.

Live jazz in concert halls, open air, and hundreds of disco coffee shops and pianobars was enthusiastically embraced. While American jazz greats were acclaimed, veteran Japanese instrumentalists Watanabe Sadao and Hino Teramasu also commanded major audiences at jazz festivals. Kitaro was the leading composer in synthesized sounds, providing sometimes exotic, but generally soothing, music dear to the frazzled urbanite. While percussionist Tsuchitori Toshi recreated the Mahabharata and other ethnic works, an indigenous kind of jazz poured from the Sado Island Kodo drummers, whose prodigious athletic performances mesmerized all and made their home a new music festival center. Singing and dancing at amateur open nights (karaoke) at a growing number of pubs was an activity in which everyone could shine by singing along with prerecorded tapes. In the late 1980s, the kawaiko-chan, the new girl singers, also were popular. Records, tapes, and compact discs made every type of music available nationwide and provided common experience for music appreciation.


Japan - Dance


Twentieth-century Japanese dance draws on various traditional styles and Western classical and avant-garde forms, all interpretated with the high standards of Japanese schools. Many famous dance studios grew from training centers for Kabuki actor-dancers or derived from famous Kabuki families. Women dancers drawing their art from butoh (classical Japanese dance) were trained by the Hanayagi school, whose top dancers performed internationally. Ichinohe Sachiko choreographed and performed traditional dances in Heian court costumes, characterized by the slow, formal, and elegant motions of this classical age of Japanese culture.

Western schools covered classical ballet, jazz-dance, and modern dance and influenced the butoh avant-garde dance movement. Ballet was said to have replaced traditional Japanese arts, such as flower arranging and the tea ceremony, in the hearts of young girls. Prima ballerina Morishita Yoko sat on the jury for the Prix de Lausanne Ballet Competition in 1989, held for the first time in Tokyo, marking the arrival of Japanese classical ballet in the international community. Horiuchi Gen, a 1980 Prix de Lausanne winner, became a major soloist with the New York City Ballet, and Japanese performers noted for their superb technique were members of many major international companies. Modern dance was performed early after World War II and was later taught by such famous dancers as Eguchi Takaya. The Tokyo Modern Dance School and the Ozawa Hisako Modern Dance Company also promoted avant-garde modern dance. A wide experimental range within modern dance occurred from which choreographer Teshigawara Saburo skillfully drew to create multifaceted works for his KARAS Company.

The vital avant-garde butoh dance was a major development after the war: at least five major schools performed in the 1985 Butoh Festival, and there were numerous creative offshoots. Hijikata Tatsumi was a charismatic dancer who experimented with different kinds of creative dance to capture expressive motions he considered expressly suited to the Japanese physiognomy and psyche. He combined eroticism, social criticism, and avant-garde theater ideas, and he considered the body to be a repository for "stored memories," which could be metamorphosed into dance forms. His theories and choreography were carried on by a number of famous dancers, who eventually formed their own major companies, which were strong in the 1980s and toured abroad.


Japan - Modern Theater


Modern drama in the late twentieth century consisted of shingeki (experimental Western-style theater), which employed naturalistic acting and contemporary themes in contrast to the stylized conventions of Kabuki and No. In the postwar period, there was a phenomenal growth in creative new dramatic works, which introduced fresh aesthetic concepts that revolutionized the orthodox modern theater. Challenging the realistic, psychological drama focused on "tragic historical progress" of the Westernderived shingeki, young playwrights broke with such accepted tenets as conventional stage space, placing their action in tents, streets, and open areas and, at the extreme, in scenes played out all over Tokyo. Plots became increasingly complex, with play-within-a-play sequences, moving rapidly back and forth in time, and intermingling reality with fantasy. Dramatic structure was fragmented, with the focus on the performer, who often used a variety of masks to reflect different personae. Playwrights returned to common stage devices perfected in No and Kabuki to project their ideas, such as employing a narrator, who could also use English for international audiences. Major playwrights in the 1980s were Kara Joro , Shimizu Kunio, and Betsuyaku Minoru, all closely connected to specific companies. In the 1980s, stagecraft was refined into a more sophisticated, complex format than in the earlier postwar experiments but lacked their bold critical spirit.

Many Western plays, from those of the ancient Greeks to Shakespeare and from those of Fyodor Dostoevsky to Samuel Beckett, were performed in Tokyo. An incredible number of performances, perhaps as many as 3,000, were given each year, making Tokyo one of the world's leading theatrical centers. The opening of the replica of the Globe Theater was celebrated by importing an entire British company to perform all of Shakespeare's historical plays, while other Tokyo theaters produced other Shakespearean plays including various new interpretations of Hamlet and King Lear.

Suzuki Tadashi's Togo troupe developed a unique kind of "method acting," integrating avant-garde concepts with classical No and Kabuki devices, an approach that became a major creative force in Japanese and international theater in the 1980s. Another highly original East-West fusion occurred in the inspired production Nastasya, taken from Dostoevsky's The Idiot, in which Bando Tamasaburo, a famed Kabuki onnagata (female impersonator), played the roles of both the prince and his fianceé.


Japan - Literature


Japanese literature dates from about the fifth century A.D., when the Chinese writing system began to be used by scribes at the Yamato court. As soon as the Japanese courtiers learned to read, they began to write, compiling between the sixth century and the eighth century both a state history of epic proportions, the Kojiki (Record of Ancient Matters) and one of the world's oldest poetry anthologies, the Man'yoshu (Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves), both of which contain many older works. They also composed Chinese-style poetry, which they found suitable for more difficult, lengthy, and profound thoughts. By the eighth century, the elite had already come to grips with the problem of assimilating difficult foreign ideas in a complex new language. The dichotomy between native expression and the use of prestigious imported forms became a pattern of Japanese artistic life. Buddhist commentary appeared after several centuries of copying, translation, and study. In the ninth century it found a strong voice and skilled brush in the monk Kukai, through whose inspiration religious themes became a part of the literary fabric.

Prose works had reached a high level by the tenth century, when the literary diary made its appearance. In the eleventh century the world's first novel, Genji monogatari (Tale of Genji), was composed by a court lady, Murasaki Shikibu. Her acute psychological observations molded by a subtle feminine sensibility wove a deft picture of the hothouse Heian court society. It remains a matchless source for all subsequent writers and an important part of the classical education of every Japanese. In the medieval period, women's vernacular writing dominated prose in the form of diaries of court ladies, supplemented by recollections of courtiers, the wry comments and musings of monks, and a wide variety of tales and legends, both secular and profane. Heike monogatari (Tale of the Heike) captured the samurai spirit of the Kamakura warriors' age, while the melancholy thirty-one syllable waka poems (in a five-seven-five-seven-seven syllables-per-line arrangement) of the twelfth-century monk Saigyo reflected the mood of a militant era. Writing of the Muromachi period was characteristically the work of exiles from the capital and monastic authors who contemplated the fleeting vanities of this world, and the theme of death and the spirit world, setting the tone for the No plays of Zeami Motokiyo (1363-1443). Comic relief was provided by kyogen, using the vernacular to reveal something of the life of the commoner.

The peace and prosperity of the Tokugawa age produced a new mercantile class--the chonin--whose antics were humorously described in the vigorous seventeenth-century novels of Ihara Saikaku, dispelling the lingering melancholy of the late feudal period. A major poet of this age, Matsuo Basho, lifted his voice to extol the qualities of loneliness, of getting away from the new crowded towns by taking the "narrow road to the deep north," a celebrated journey whose three-hundredth anniversary was widely commemorated in the late 1980s. Basho's matchless renku (linked poems) of thirty-six verses and his lighthearted seventeen- syllable haiku (five-seven-five) set a norm for modern emulators. A third literary genius of this period was the great dramatist Chikamatsu Monzaemon, whose historical and domestic plays formed the soul of the Kabuki theater. In the eighteenth century, Chinese novels were translated into Japanese, the poet Yosa Buson infused a new romantic spirit into haiku poems, and Kobayashi Issa made interesting subjects out of the "ordinariness" of the common folk and the ugly, starveling sparrow.

Japanese literature clearly draws on a tradition rich in poetic and prose forms. The writing of poetry in both the classic thirty-one syllable waka and the seventeen-syllable haiku remained a national pastime and a skill expected of the educated, among whom competitions were frequently held. Japanese renga parties, at which poets and the intelligentsia composed poetry in groups, continued as a major literary pursuit. Haiku poets were among the most honored of all creative artists, and a haiku museum was established in 1976 as a public center for the study of poetry. The ancient waka in modern usage is called a tanka, or short song (also with a five-seven-five-seven-seven syllabic formula). Many writers continued to use this form for less profound thoughts. Even more striking were the modern permutations of older literary forms: such experiments as two syllable haiku, tanka in romaji (romanized form of kana), and Zen ideas expressed in Western-style free verse, or iambic pentameter.

The introduction of European literature in the late nineteenth century brought free verse into the poetic repertoire; it became widely used for longer works embodying new intellectual themes. Young Japanese prose writers and dramatists have struggled with a whole galaxy of new ideas and artistic schools, but novelists were the first to successfully assimilate some of these concepts. A new colloquial literature developed centering on the "I novel," with some unusual protagonists as in Natsume Soseki's Wagahai wa neko de aru (I Am a Cat). Two modern literary giants whose works were deeply rooted in Japanese sensibilities were Tanizaki Jun'ichiro, who captured the East-West value struggle in Japanese life prior to World War II and Kawabata Yasunari, a master of psychological fiction during the mid-twentieth century and a Nobel Prize winner. Capturing the immediate postwar atmosphere were Dazai Osamu and Mishima Yukio, both of whom committed suicide. Dazai's writing reflected the quiet desperation of living with personal defeat, while Mishima provided a glowing vision of traditional morality, gradually overcome by new Western values.

Prominent writers of the 1970s and 1980s, such as e Kensabuo, were identified with intellectual and moral issues in their attempts to raise social and political consciousness. Inoue Mitsuaki had long been concerned with the atomic bomb and continued in the 1980s to write on problems of the nuclear age, while Endo Shusaku depicted the religious dilemma of Roman Catholics in feudal Japan, as a springboard to address spiritual problems. Inoue Yasushi also turned to the past in masterful historical novels of Inner Asia and ancient Japan, in order to portray present human fate.

Avant-garde writers, such as Abe Kobo, who wanted to express the Japanese experience in modern terms without using either international styles or traditional conventions, developed new inner visions. Furui Yoshikichi tellingly related the lives of alienated urban dwellers coping with the minutiae of daily life, while the psychodramas within such daily life crises have been explored by a rising number of important women novelists. The 1988 Naoki Prize went to Todo Shizuko for Ripening Summer, a story capturing the complex psychology of modern women. Other award-winning stories at the end of the decade dealt with current issues of the elderly in hospitals, the recent past (Pure- Hearted Shopping District in Koenji, Tokyo), and the life of a Meiji ukiyo-e artist. In international literature, Ishiguro Kazuo, a native of Japan, had taken up residence in Britain and won Britain's prestigious Booker Prize.

Although modern Japanese writers covered a wide variety of subjects, one particularly Japanese approach stressed their subjects' inner lives, widening the earlier novel's preoccupation with the narrator's consciousness. In Japanese fiction, plot development and action have often been of secondary interest to emotional issues. In keeping with the general trend toward reaffirming national characteristics, many old themes reemerged, and some authors turned consciously to the past. Strikingly, Buddhist attitudes about the importance of knowing oneself and the poignant impermanence of things formed an undercurrent to sharp social criticism of this material age. There was a growing emphasis on women's roles, the Japanese persona in the modern world, and the malaise of common people lost in the complexities of urban culture.

Popular fiction, nonfiction, and children's literature all flourished in urban Japan in the 1980s. Many popular works fell between "pure literature" and pulp novels, including all sorts of historical serials, information-packed docudramas, science fiction, mysteries, business stories, war journals, and animal stories. Best-sellers in the late 1980s were several books by a young woman, "Banana" Yoshimoto, and Murakami Haruki's spectacularly successful Norwegian Wood and A Wild Sheep Chase. Nonfiction covered everything from crime to politics. Although factual journalism predominated, many of these works were interpretive, reflecting a high degree of individualism. Children's works reemerged in the 1950s, and the newer entrants into this field, many of them younger women, brought new vitality to it in the 1980s.

Manga (comic books) have penetrated almost every sector of the popular market. Widely used for soft pornography, they also have included a multivolume high-school history of Japan and, for the adult market, a manga introduction to economics, which was also available in English. Manga represented between 20 and 30 percent of annual publications at the end of the 1980s, in sales of some ¥400 billion per year.


Japan - Films and Television


Reeling from television's overwhelming success, the cinema industry retreated in the 1980s to the tried-and-true formulas--the comedies, romances, detective stories, and youth films that always had sure audiences. Production at the four major film companies decreased to some 200 films a year, of which only a handful were quality productions. Pornographic films grew to constitute about half of the films made. The animated format used for children's films did show promising originality, but truly creative productions could be found only among independent film directors. A burgeoning number of art films, both domestic and imported, found homes in intimate art theaters in the cities. Foreign films were often the major draws in urban areas, which had record runs for European and North American hits. Some top directors produced major films with foreign funding or in foreign locations. In a return to Japanese production at the end of the 1980s, Akira Kurosawa, the acknowledged old master of cinematic art, summarized his remembrance of things past in Dreams. A nostalgic look at past views of family life was seen in Ichikawa Kon's remake of Tanizaki Jun'ichiro's The Makioka Sisters, a visually beautiful color film portraying the nearly vanished world of earlytwentieth -century upper-class women. A major historical offering was Teshigawara Hiroshi's Rikyu (1989), which marked the return of this major director after a seventeen-year absence from films, in a pictorially magnificent presentation of the life of the famous Momoyama tea master and his moral conflict with the political overlord Hideyoshi.

Although there was virtually no market in Japan for documentaries, a major docudrama, Tokyo saiban (Tokyo Judgment), directed by Kobayashi Masaki and taken directly from footage of tribunal proceedings against alleged Japanese war criminals, had a rapt audience. Outstanding among the newer independent directors were Itami Juzo and Morita Yoshimitsu, whose The Family Game set a new pattern for satirical comedies on urban dilemmas. By the mid-1980s, Itami's savage new satires showed unprecedented originality. Although these films addressed the anomalies and excesses of Japanese life, their subjects were mirrored around the world, and they had a strong international following.

Popular comedy was led by the beloved Tora-san series about the travel adventures of an avuncular, bumbling everyman, played by the ever-popular Atsumi Kiyoshi, whose forty-first feature film in 1989 took the hero to Vienna in a telling display of internationalization. Another hoary favorite was the monster series starring Godzilla. The most sophisticated youth movie of the 1980s may have been Yamakawa Naoto's The New Morning of Billy the Kid, a fantasy set in a Tokyo theme-bar, which was embraced by the young worldwide. A much-loved children's classic Kaze no matasaburo (Children of the Wind), written by Miyazawa Kenji, was filmed by award-winning director Ito Shunya as a skillful fantasy. Animated full-length features ranged from a gorgeously interpreted selection from Tale of Genji to Otomoto Katsushiro's Akira, a violent, provocative futuristic fantasy. Such animated features had their origins in the wildly popular manga action cartoons. Television also produced a substantial number of cartoons, including the ever popular "Sazae-san," which had the highest rating in the late 1980s.

Television had attained virtually 100 percent penetration by 1990, and only 1 percent of households were without a color television set, making Japan a major information society. Programming consisted of about 50 percent pure entertainment and nearly 25 percent cultural shows, the remainder being news reports and educational programs. There were two main broadcasting systems: the public NHK and five private networks. The major system, NHK, was publicly subsidized by mandatory subscription fees. Leading newspapers were among the financial supporters of the most important private channels. International programs were transmitted by satellite for instant replay after the government, in 1979, set up the Communications and Broadcasting Satellite Organization. Japan's first operational broadcast satellite was launched in 1984. Commercial television stations had become a major vehicle for advertising in place of newspapers and received huge revenues, far surpassing those of NHK.

Samurai and yakuza (Japanese underworld) themes in the 1980s were almost solely the providence of television, as were those of family life, ubiquitous in daytime soap operas. The biggest hit of the 1980s overall was the television drama "Oshin," a tale of a mother's struggles and suffering. The longest-running series since 1981 was "From the North Country," in which a divorced father and his two children survive in the backwoods of Hokkaido.

Criticism continued concerning the vulgarity of some commercial programs, but these programs still appeared in the early 1990s. Major problems perceived were the high level of violence and the lack of moral values in children's shows. All television and radio stations, however, were required to devote a certain proportion of broadcast time to educational programs to retain their licenses, and these programs grew steadily in response to popular demand. All networks have to comply with the Broadcasting Law of 1950, while several councils oversee general programming, although compliance with their recommendations is voluntary.

Japan's traditional arts and their modern counterparts found wide expression at home and internationally in the 1980s, reflecting the strong continuing creativity of its artists, performers, and writers. Major trends were seen in the search for characteristic cultural values and modes of expression, on the one hand, and the growing awareness of internationalism, on the other hand, affirming Japan's strong economic position in the world.


Japan - The Economy


THE JAPANESE ECONOMY entered the 1990s in excellent shape. Japan had the world's second largest gross national product (GNP), after the United States, throughout the 1970s and ranked first among major industrial nations in 1990 in per capita GNP at US$23,801, up sharply from US$9,068 in 1980. After a mild economic slump in the mid-1980s, Japan's economy began a period of expansion in 1986 that continued until it again entered a recessionary period in 1992. Economic growth averaging 5 percent between 1987 and 1989 revived industries, such as steel and construction, which had been relatively dormant in the mid-1980s, and brought record salaries and employment. In 1992, however, Japan's real GNP growth slowed to 1.7 percent. Even industries such as automobiles and electronics that had experienced phenomenal growth in the 1980s entered a recessionary period in 1992. The domestic market for Japanese automobiles shrank at the same time that Japan's share of the United States market declined. Foreign and domestic demand for Japanese electronics also declined, and Japan seemed on the way to losing its leadership in the world semiconductor market to the United States.

Unlike the economic booms of the 1960s and 1970s, when increasing exports played the key role in economic expansion, domestic demand propelled the Japanese economy in the late 1980s. This development involved fundamental economic restructuring, moving from dependence on exports to reliance on domestic demand. The boom that started in 1986 was generated by the decisions of companies to increase private plant and equipment spending and of consumers to go on a buying spree. Japan's imports grew at a faster rate than exports. Japanese postwar technological research was carried out for the sake of economic growth rather than military development. The growth in high-technology industries in the 1980s resulted from heightened domestic demand for high-technology products and for higher living, housing, and environmental standards; better health, medical, and welfare opportunities; better leisure-time facilities; and improved ways to accommodate a rapidly aging society. This reliance on domestic consumption also became a handicap as consumption grew by only 2.2 percent in 1991 and at the same rate again in 1992.

During the 1980s, the Japanese economy shifted its emphasis away from primary and secondary activities (notably agriculture, manufacturing, and mining) to processing, with telecommunications and computers becoming increasingly vital. Information became an important resource and product, central to wealth and power. The rise of an information-based economy was led by major research in highly sophisticated technology, such as advanced computers. The selling and use of information became very beneficial to the economy. Tokyo became a major financial center, home of some of the world's major banks, financial firms, insurance companies, and the world's largest stock exchange, the Tokyo Securities and Stock Exchange. Even here, however, the recession took its toll. The Nikkei stock average began 1992 at 23,000 and fell to 14,000 in mid-August before leveling off at 17,000 by the end of 1992.




Revolutionary Change

Since the mid-nineteenth century, when the Tokugawa government first opened the country to Western commerce and influence, Japan has gone through two periods of economic development. The first began in earnest in 1868 and extended through World War II; the second began in 1945 and continued into mid-1990s. In both periods, the Japanese opened themselves to Western ideas and influence; experienced revolutionary social, political, and economic changes; and became a world power with carefully developed spheres of influence. During both periods, the Japanese government encouraged economic change by fostering a national revolution from above and by planning and advising in every aspect of society. The national goal each time was to make Japan so powerful and wealthy that its independence would never again be threatened.

In the Meiji period (1868-1912), leaders inaugurated a new Western-based education system for all young people, sent thousands of students to the United States and Europe, and hired more than 3,000 Westerners to teach modern science, mathematics, technology, and foreign languages in Japan. The government also built railroads, improved roads, and inaugurated a land reform program to prepare the country for further development.

To promote industrialization, the government decided that, while it should help private business to allocate resources and to plan, the private sector was best equipped to stimulate economic growth. The greatest role of government was to help provide the economic conditions in which business could flourish. In short, government was to be the guide and business the producer. In the early Meiji period, the government built factories and shipyards that were sold to entrepreneurs at a fraction of their value. Many of these businesses grew rapidly into the larger conglomerates that still dominates much of the business world. Government emerged as chief promoter of private enterprise, enacting a series of probusiness policies, including low corporate taxes.

Before World War II, Japan built an extensive empire that included Taiwan, Korea, Manchuria, and parts of northern China. The Japanese regarded this sphere of influence as a political and economic necessity, preventing foreign states from strangling Japan by blocking its access to raw materials and crucial sea-lanes. Japan's large military force was regarded as essential to the empire's defense. Japan's colonies were lost as a result of World War II, but since then the Japanese have extended their economic influence throughout Asia and beyond. Japan's Constitution, promulgated in 1947, forbids an offensive military force, but Japan still maintained its formidable Self-Defense Forces and ranked third in the world in military spending behind the United States and the Soviet Union in the late 1980s.

Rapid growth and structural change characterized Japan's two periods of economic development since 1868. In the first period, the economy grew only moderately at first and relied heavily on traditional agriculture to finance modern industrial infrastructure. By the time the Russo-Japanese War (1904-5) began, 65 percent of employment and 38 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) was still based on agriculture, but modern industry had begun to expand substantially. By the late 1920s, manufacturing and mining contributed 23 percent of GDP, compared with 21 percent for all of agriculture. Transportation and communications had developed to sustain heavy industrial development.

In the 1930s, the Japanese economy suffered less from the Great Depression than most of the other industrialized nations, expanding at the rapid rate of 5 percent of GDP per year. Manufacturing and mining came to account for more than 30 percent of GDP, more than twice the value for the agricultural sector. Most industrial growth, however, was geared toward expanding the nation's military power.

World War II wiped out many of the gains Japan had made since 1868. About 40 percent of the nation's industrial plants and infrastructure were destroyed, and production reverted to levels of about fifteen years earlier. The people were shocked by the devastation and swung into action. New factories were equipped with the best modern machines, giving Japan an initial competitive advantage over the victor states, who now had older factories. As Japan's second period of economic development began, millions of former soldiers joined a well-disciplined and highly educated work force to rebuild Japan.

Japan's highly acclaimed postwar education system contributed strongly to the modernizing process. The world's highest literacy rate and high education standards were major reasons for Japan's success in achieving a technologically advanced economy. Japanese schools also encouraged discipline, another benefit in forming an effective work force.

The early postwar years were devoted to rebuilding lost industrial capacity: major investments were made in electric power, coal, iron and steel, and chemical fertilizers. By the mid-1950s, production matched prewar levels. Released from the demands of military-dominated government, the economy not only recovered its lost momentum but also surpassed the growth rates of earlier periods. Between 1953 and 1965, GDP expanded by more than 9 percent per year, manufacturing and mining by 13 percent, construction by 11 percent, and infrastructure by 12 percent. In 1965 these sectors employed more than 41 percent of the labor force, whereas only 26 percent remained in agriculture.

The mid-1960s ushered in a new type of industrial development as the economy opened itself to international competition in some industries and developed heavy and chemical manufactures. Whereas textiles and light manufactures maintained their profitability internationally, other products, such as automobiles, ships, and machine tools, assumed new importance. The value added to manufacturing and mining grew at the rate of 17 percent per year between 1965 and 1970. Growth rates moderated to about 8 percent and evened out between the industrial and service sectors between 1970 and 1973, as retail trade, finance, real estate, information, and other service industries streamlined their operations.

Japan faced a severe economic challenge in the mid-1970s. The world oil crisis in 1973 shocked an economy that had become virtually dependent on foreign petroleum. Japan experienced its first postwar decline in industrial production, together with severe price inflation. The recovery that followed the first oil crisis revived the optimism of most business leaders, but the maintenance of industrial growth in the face of high energy costs required shifts in the industrial structure.

Changing price conditions favored conservation and alternative sources of industrial energy. Although the investment costs were high, many energy-intensive industries successfully reduced their dependence on oil during the late 1970s and 1980s and enhanced their productivity. Advances in microcircuitry and semiconductors in the late 1970s and 1980s also led to new growth industries in consumer electronics and computers and to higher productivity in already established industries. The net result of these adjustments was to increase the energy efficiency of manufacturing and to expand so-called knowledge-intensive industry. The service industries expanded in an increasingly postindustrial economy.

Structural economic changes, however, were unable to check the slowing of economic growth as the economy matured in the late 1970s and 1980s, attaining annual growth rates no better than 4 to 6 percent. But these rates were remarkable in a world of expensive petroleum and in a nation of few domestic resources. Japan's average growth rate of 5 percent in the late 1980s, for example, was far higher than the 3.8 percent growth rate of the United States.

Despite more petroleum price increases in 1979, the strength of the Japanese economy was apparent. It expanded without the double- digit inflation that afflicted other industrial nations and that had bothered Japan itself after the first oil crisis in 1973. Japan experienced slower growth in the mid-1980s, but its demand- sustained economic boom of the late 1980s revived many troubled industries.

Complex economic and institutional factors affected Japan's postwar growth. First, the nation's prewar experience provided several important legacies. The Tokugawa period (1600-1867) bequeathed a vital commercial sector in burgeoning urban centers, a relatively well-educated elite (although one with limited knowledge of European science), a sophisticated government bureaucracy, productive agriculture, a closely unified nation with highly developed financial and marketing systems, and a national infrastructure of roads. The buildup of industry during the Meiji period to the point where Japan could vie for world power was an important prelude to postwar growth and provided a pool of experienced labor following World War II.

Second, and more important, was the level and quality of investment that persisted through the 1980s. Investment in capital equipment, which averaged more than 11 percent of GNP during the prewar period, rose to some 20 percent of GNP during the 1950s and to more than 30 percent in the late 1960s and 1970s. During the economic boom of the late 1980s, the rate still kept to around 20 percent. Japanese businesses imported the latest technologies to develop the industrial base. As a latecomer to modernization, Japan was able to avoid some of the trial and error earlier needed by other nations to develop industrial processes. In the 1970s and 1980s, Japan improved its industrial base through technology licensing, patent purchases, and imitation and improvement of foreign inventions. In the 1980s, industry stepped up its research and development, and many firms became famous for their innovations and creativity.

Japan's labor force contributed significantly to economic growth, not only because of its availability and literacy but also because of its reasonable wage demands. Before and immediately after World War II, the transfer of numerous agricultural workers to modern industry resulted in rising productivity and only moderate wage increases. As population growth slowed and the nation became increasingly industrialized in the mid-1960s, wages rose significantly. But labor union cooperation generally kept salary increases within the range of gains in productivity.

High productivity growth played a key role in postwar economic growth. The highly skilled and educated labor force, extraordinary savings rates and accompanying levels of investment, and the low growth of Japan's labor force were major factors in the high rate of productivity growth.

The nation has also benefited from economies of scale. Although medium-sized and small enterprises generated much of the nation's employment, large facilities were the most productive. Many industrial enterprises consolidated to form larger, more efficient units. Before World War II, large holding companies formed wealth groups, or zaibatsu, which dominated most industry. The zaibatsu were dissolved after the war, but keiretsu--large, modern industrial enterprise groupings-- emerged. The coordination of activities within these groupings and the integration of smaller subcontractors into the groups enhanced industrial efficiency.

Japanese corporations developed strategies that contributed to their immense growth. Growth-oriented corporations that took chances competed successfully. Product diversification became an essential ingredient of the growth patterns of many keiretsu. Japanese companies added plant and human capacity ahead of demand. Seeking market share rather than quick profit was another powerful strategy.

Finally, circumstances beyond Japan's direct control contributed to its success. International conflicts tended to stimulate the Japanese economy until the devastation at the end of World War II. The Russo-Japanese War (1904-5), World War I (1914- 18), the Korean War (1950-53), and the Second Indochina War (1954- 75) brought economic booms to Japan. In addition, benign treatment from the United States after World War II facilitated the nation's reconstruction and growth.

The United States occupation of Japan (1945-52) resulted in the rebuilding of the nation and the creation of a democratic state. United States assistance totaled about US$1.9 billion during the occupation, or about 15 percent of the nation's imports and 4 percent of GNP in that period. About 59 percent of this aid was in the form of food, 15 percent in industrial materials, and 12 percent in transportation equipment. United States grant assistance, however, tapered off quickly in the mid-1950s. United States military procurement from Japan peaked at a level equivalent to 7 percent of Japan's GNP in 1953 and fell below 1 percent after 1960. A variety of United States-sponsored measures during the occupation, such as land reform, contributed to the economy's later performance by increasing competition. In particular, the postwar purge of industrial leaders allowed new talent to rise in the management of the nation's rebuilt industries. Finally, the economy benefited from foreign trade because it was able to expand exports rapidly enough to pay for imports of equipment and technology without falling into debt, as had a number of developing nations in the 1980s.

The consequences of Japan's economic growth were not always positive. Large advanced corporations existed side-by-side with the smaller and technologically less-developed firms, creating a kind of economic dualism in the late twentieth century. Often the smaller firms, which employed more than two-thirds of Japan's workers, worked as subcontractors directly for larger firms, supplying a narrow range of parts and temporary workers. Excellent working conditions, salaries, and benefits, such as permanent employment, were provided by most large firms, but not by the smaller firms. Temporary workers, mostly women, received much smaller salaries and had less job security than permanent workers. Thus, despite the high living standards of many workers in larger firms, Japan in 1990 remained in general a low-wage country whose economic growth was fueled by highly skilled and educated workers who accepted poor salaries, often unsafe working conditions, and poor living standards.

Additionally, Japan's preoccupation with boosting the rate of industrial growth during the 1950s and 1960s led to the relative neglect of consumer services and also to the worsening of industrial pollution. Housing and urban services, such as water and sewage systems, lagged behind the development of industry. Social security benefits, despite considerable improvement in the 1970s and 1980s, still lagged well behind other industrialized nations at the end of the 1980s. Agricultural subsidies and a complex and outmoded distribution system also kept the prices of some essential consumer goods very high by world standards. Industrial growth came at the expense of the environment. Foul air, heavily polluted water, and waste disposal became critical political issues in the 1970s and again in the late 1980s.

The Evolving Occupational Structure

As late as 1955, some 40 percent of the labor force still worked in agriculture, but this figure had declined to 17 percent by 1970 and to 7.2 percent by 1990. The government estimated in the late 1980s that this figure would decline to 4.9 percent by 2000, as Japan imported more and more of its food and small family farms disappeared.

Japan's economic growth in the 1960s and 1970s was based on the rapid expansion of heavy manufacturing in such areas as automobiles, steel, shipbuilding, chemicals, and electronics. The secondary sector (manufacturing, construction, and mining) expanded to 35.6 percent of the work force by 1970. By the late 1970s, however, the Japanese economy began to move away from heavy manufacturing toward a more service-oriented (tertiary sector) base. During the 1980s, jobs in wholesaling, retailing, finance and insurance, real estate, transportation, communications, and government grew rapidly, while secondary-sector employment remained stable. The tertiary sector grew from 47 percent of the work force in 1970 to 59.2 percent in 1990 and was expected to grow to 62 percent by 2000, when the secondary sector will probably employ about one-third of Japan's workers.




Although Japan's economic development is primarily the product of private entrepreneurship, the government has directly contributed to the nation's prosperity. Its actions have helped initiate new industries, cushion the effects of economic depression, create a sound economic infrastructure, and protect the living standards of the citizenry. Indeed, so pervasive has government influence in the economy seemed that many foreign observers have popularized the term "Japan Inc." to describe its alliance of business and government interests. Whether Japan in the mid-1990s actually fit this picture seems questionable, but there is little doubt that government agencies continue to influence the economy through a variety of policies.

Japanese attitudes towards government have historically been shaped by Confucianism. Japan often has been defined as a Confucian country, but one in which loyalty is more important than benevolence. Leadership stemmed from the government and authority in general, and business looked to government for guidance. These attitudes, coupled with the view of the nation as a family, allowed government to influence business, and businesses worked hard not only for their own profits but also for national well-being. There was a national consensus that Japan must be an economic power and that the duty of all Japanese was to sacrifice themselves for this national goal. Thus, the relationship between government and business was as collaborators rather than as mutually suspicious adversaries.

Government-business relations are conducted in many ways and through numerous channels. The most important conduits in the postwar period are the economic ministries: the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, known as MITI. The Ministry of Finance has operational responsibilities for all fiscal affairs, including the preparation of the national budget. It initiates fiscal policies and, through its indirect control over the Bank of Japan, the central bank, is responsible for monetary policy as well. The Ministry of Finance allocates public investment, formulates tax policies, collectes taxes, and regulates foreign exchange.

The Ministry of Finance establishes low interest rates and, by thus reducing the cost of investment funds to corporations, promotes industrial expansion. MITI is responsible for the regulation of production and the distribution of goods and services. It is the "steward" of the Japanese economy, developing plans concerning the structure of Japanese industry. MITI has several special functions: controlling Japan's foreign trade and supervising international commerce; ensuring the smooth flow of goods in the national economy; promoting the development of manufacturing, mining, and distribution industries; and supervising the procurement of a reliable supply of raw materials and energy resources.

The Ministry of Transportation is responsible for oversight of all land, sea, and air transport. The Ministry of Construction is charged with supervising all construction in Japan and Japanesesupported construction abroad. Its responsibilities also include land acquisition for public use and environmental protection as it related to construction. The Ministry of Health and Welfare is responsible for supervising and coordinating all health and welfare services, and the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications is responsible for the postal service and electronic communications.

Industrial Policy

After World War II and especially in the 1950s and 1960s, the Japanese government devised a complicated system of policies to promote industrial development, and it cooperated closely for this purpose with private firms. The objective of industrial policy was to shift resources to specific industries in order to gain international competitive advantage for Japan. These policies and methods were used primarily to increase the productivity of inputs and to influence, directly or indirectly, industrial investment.

Administrative guidance (gyosei shido) is a principal instrument of enforcement used extensively throughout the Japanese government to support a wide range of policies. Influence, prestige, advice, and persuasion are used to encourage both corporations and individuals to work in directions judged desirable. The persuasion is exerted and the advice is given by public officials, who often have the power to provide or to withhold loans, grants, subsidies, licenses, tax concessions, government contracts, import permits, foreign exchange, and approval of cartel arrangements. The Japanese use administrative guidance to buffer market swings, anticipate market developments, and enhance market competition.

Mechanisms used by the Japanese government to affect the economy typically relate to trade, labor markets, competition, and tax incentives. They include a broad range of trade protection measures, subsidies, de jure and de facto exemptions from antitrust statutes, labor market adjustments, and industry-specific assistance to enhance the use of new technology. Rather than producing a broad range of goods, the Japanese selecte a few areas in which they can develop high-quality goods that they can produce in vast quantities at competitive prices. A good example is the camera industry, which since the 1960s has been dominated by Japan.

Historically, there have been three main elements in Japanese industrial development. The first was the development of a highly competitive manufacturing sector. The second was the deliberate restructuring of industry toward higher value-added, highproductivity industries. In the late 1980s, these were mainly knowledge-intensive tertiary industries. The third element was aggressive domestic and international business strategies.

Japan has few natural resources and depends on massive imports of raw materials. It must export to pay for its imports, and manufacturing and the sales of its services, such as banking and finance, were its principal means of doing so. For these reasons, the careful development of the producing sector has been a key concern of both government and industry throughout most of the twentieth century. Government and business leaders generally agree that the composition of Japan's output must continually shift if living standards are to rise. Government plays an active role in making these shifts, often anticipating economic developments rather than reacting to them.

After World War II, the initial industries that policy makers and the general public felt Japan should have were iron and steel, shipbuilding, the merchant marine, machine industries in general, heavy electrical equipment, and chemicals. Later they added the automobile industry, petrochemicals, and nuclear power and, in the 1980s, such industries as computers and semiconductors. Since the late 1970s, the government has strongly encouraged the development of knowledge-intensive industries. Government support for research and development grew rapidly in the 1980s, and large joint government-industry development projects in computers and robotics were started. At the same time, government promoted the managed decline of competitively troubled industries, including textiles, shipbuilding, and chemical fertilizers through such measures as tax breaks for corporations that retrained workers to work at other tasks.

Although industrial policy remained important in Japan in the 1970s and 1980s, thinking began to change. Government seemed to intervene less and become more respectful of price mechanisms in guiding future development. During this period, trade and direct foreign investment were liberalized, tariff and nontariff trade barriers were lowered, and the economies of the advanced nations became more integrated, as the result of the growth of international trade and international corporations. In the late 1980s, knowledge-intensive and high-technology industries became prominent. The government showed little inclination to promote such booming parts of the economy as fashion design, advertising, and management consulting. The question at the end of the 1980s was whether the government would become involved in such new developments or whether it would let them progress on their own.

Monetary and Fiscal Policy

Monetary policy pertains to the regulation, availability, and cost of credit, while fiscal policy deals with government expenditures, taxes, and debt. Through management of these areas, the Ministry of Finance regulated the allocation of resources in the economy, affected the distribution of income and wealth among the citizenry, stabilized the level of economic activities, and promoted economic growth and welfare.

The Ministry of Finance played an important role in Japan's postwar economic growth. It advocated a "growth first" approach, with a high proportion of government spending going to capital accumulation, and minimum government spending overall, which kept both taxes and deficit spending down, making more money available for private investment. Most Japanese put money into savings accounts.

In the postwar period, the government's fiscal policy centers on the formulation of the national budget, which is the responsibility of the Ministry of Finance. The ministry's Budget Bureau prepares expenditure budgets for each fiscal year (FY) based on the requests from government ministries and affiliated agencies. The ministry's Tax Bureau is responsible for adjusting the tax schedules and estimating revenues. The ministry also issues government bonds, controls government borrowing, and administers the Fiscal Investment and Loan Program, which is sometimes referred to as the "second budget."

Three types of budgets are prepared for review by the National Diet each year. The general account budget includes most of the basic expenditures for current government operations. Special account budgets, of which there are about forty, are designed for special government programs or institutions where close accounting of revenues and expenditures is essential: for public enterprises, state pension funds, and public works projects financed from special taxes. Finally, there are the budgets for the major affiliated agencies, including public service corporations, loan and finance institutions, and the special public banks. Although these budgets are usually approved before the start of each fiscal year, they are usually revised with supplemental budgets in the fall. Local jurisdiction budgets depend heavily on transfers from the central government.

Government fixed investments in infrastructure and loans to public and private enterprises are about 15 percent of GNP. Loans from the Fiscal Investment and Loan Program, which are outside the general budget and funded primarily from postal savings, represent more than 20 percent of the general account budget, but their total effect on economic investment is not completely accounted for in the national income statistics. Government spending, representing about 15 percent of GNP in 1991, was low compared with that in other developed economies. Taxes provided 84.7 percent of revenues in 1993. Income taxes are graduated and progressive. The principal structural feature of the tax system is the tremendous elasticity of the individual income tax. Because inheritance and property taxes are low, there is a slowly increasing concentration of wealth in the upper tax brackets. In 1989 the government introduced a major tax reform, including a 3 percent consumer tax.




In the mid-1980s, while the United States was becoming a debtor nation, Japan became the world's largest creditor and <"http://worldfacts.us/Japan-Tokyo.htm"> Tokyo a major international financial center. Four of the biggest banks in the world were Japanese at that time, and Japan had the world's largest insurance company, advertising firm, and stock market. In the remainder of the 1980s, Japan's financial and banking industries grew at unprecedented rates.

The main elements of Japan's financial system were much the same as those of other major industrialized nations: a commercial banking system, which accepted deposits, extended loans to businesses, and dealt in foreign exchange; specialized governmentowned financial institutions, which funded various sectors of the domestic economy; securities companies, which provided brokerage services, underwrote corporate and government securities, and dealt in securities markets; capital markets, which offered the means to finance public and private debt and to sell residual corporate ownership; and money markets, which offered banks a source of liquidity and provided the Bank of Japan with a tool to implement monetary policy.

Japan's traditional banking system was segmented into clearly defined components in the late 1980s: commercial banks (thirteen major and sixty-four smaller regional banks), long-term credit banks (seven), trust banks (seven), mutual loan and savings banks (sixty-nine), and various specialized financial institutions. During the 1980s, a rapidly growing group of nonbank operations-- such as consumer loan, credit card, leasing, and real estate organizations--began performing some of the traditional functions of banks, such as the issuing of loans.

In the early postwar financial system, city banks provided short-term loans to major domestic corporations while regional banks took deposits and extended loans to medium-sized and small businesses. Neither engaged much in international business. In the 1950s and 1960s, a specialized bank, the Bank of Tokyo, took care of most of the government's foreign-exchange needs and functioned as the nation's foreign-banking representative. Long-term credit banks were intended to complement rather than to compete with the commercial banks. Authorized to issue debentures rather than take ordinary deposits, they specialized in long-term lending to major kaisha, or corporations. Trust banks were authorized to conduct retail and trust banking and often combined the work of commercial and long-term credit banks. Trust banks not only managed portfolios but also raised funds through the sale of negotiable loan trust certificates. Mutual loan and savings banks, credit associations, credit cooperatives, and labor credit associations collected individual deposits from general depositors. These deposits were then loaned to cooperative members and to the liquidity-starved city banks via the interbank money markets or were sent to central cooperative banks, which in turn loaned the funds to small businesses and corporations. More than 8,000 agricultural, forestry, and fishery cooperatives performed many of the same functions for the cooperatives. Many of their funds were transmitted to their central bank, the Norinchukin Bank, which was the world's largest bank in terms of domestic deposits.

A group of government financial institutions paralleled the private banking sector. The Japan Export-Import Bank, the Japan Development Bank, and a number of finance corporations, such as the Housing Loan Corporation, promoted the growth of specialized sectors of the domestic economy. These institutions derived their funding from deposits collected by the postal savings system and deposited with the Trust Fund Bureau. The postal savings system, through the 24,000 post offices, accepted funds in various forms, including savings, annuities, and insurance. The post offices offered the highest interest rates for regular savings accounts (8 percent for time deposits in 1990) and tax-free savings until 1988, thereby collecting more deposits and accounts than any other institution in the world.

Japan's securities markets increased their volume of dealings rapidly during the late 1980s, led by Japan's rapidly expanding securities firms. There were three categories of securities companies in Japan, the first consisting of the "Big Four" securities houses (among the six largest such firms in the world): Nomura, Daiwa, Nikko, and Yamaichi. The Big Four played a key role in international financial transactions and were members of the New York Stock Exchange. Nomura was the world's largest single securities firm; its net capital, in excess of US$10 billion in 1986, exceeded that of Merrill Lynch, Salomon Brothers, and Shearson Lehman combined. In 1986 Nomura became the first Japanese member of the London Stock Exchange. Nomura and Daiwa were primary dealers in the United States Treasury bond market. The second tier of securities firms contained ten medium-sized firms. The third tier consisted of all the smaller securities firms registered in Japan. Many of these smaller firms were affiliates of the Big Four, while some were affiliated with banks. In 1986 eighty-three of the smaller firms were members of the Tokyo Securities and Stock Exchange. Japan's securities firms derived most of their income from brokerage fees, equity and bond trading, underwriting, and dealing. Other services included the administration of trusts. In the late 1980s, a number of foreign securities firms, including Salomon Brothers and Merrill Lynch, became players in Japan's financial world.

Japanese insurance companies became important leaders in international finance in the late 1980s. More than 90 percent of the population owned life insurance and the amount held per person was at least 50 percent greater than in the United States. Many Japanese used insurance companies as savings vehicles. Insurance companies' assets grew at a rate of more than 20 percent per year in the late 1980s, reaching nearly US$694 billion in 1988. These assets permitted the companies to become major players in international money markets. Nippon Life Insurance Company, the world's largest insurance firm, was reportedly the biggest single holder of United States Treasury securities in 1989.

The Tokyo Securities and Stock Exchange became the largest in the world in 1988, in terms of the combined market value of outstanding shares and capitalization, while the Osaka Stock Exchange ranked third after those of Tokyo and New York. Although there are eight stock exchanges in Japan, the Tokyo Securities and Stock Exchange represented 83 percent of the nation's total equity in 1988. Of the 1,848 publicly traded domestic companies in Japan at the end of 1986, about 80 percent were listed on the Tokyo Securities and Stock Exchange.

Two developments in the late 1980s helped in the rapid expansion of the Tokyo Securities and Stock Exchange. The first was a change in the financing of company operations. Traditionally large firms obtained funding through bank loans rather than capital markets, but in the late 1980s they began to rely more on direct financing. The second development came in 1986 when the Tokyo exchange permitted non-Japanese brokerage firms to become members for the first time. By 1988 the exchange had sixteen foreign members. The Tokyo Securities and Stock Exchange had 124 member companies in 1990.

Japan's stock market dealings exploded in the 1980s, with increased trading volume and rapidly rising stock prices. The trading recorded by the Nikkei stock average, compiled by the Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Japan Economic Daily), grew from 6,850 in October 1982 to nearly 39,000 in early 1990. During one sixmonth period in 1986, total trade volume on the Tokyo exchange increased by 250 percent with wild swings in the Nikkei. After the plunge of the New York Stock Exchange in October 1987, the Tokyo average dropped by 15 percent, but there was a sharp recovery by early 1988. In 1990 five types of securities were traded on the Tokyo exchange: stocks, bonds, investment trusts, rights, and warrants alone.




Although the Japanese economy is largely based on private enterprise, it does have a number of government-owned (public) corporations, which are more extensive and, in some cases, different in function from what exists in the United States. In 1988 there were ninety-seven public corporations, reduced from 111 in the early 1980s as a result of administrative reforms. Public companies at the national level were normally affiliated with one of the economic ministries, although the extent of direct management and supervision varied. The government divided the national-level corporations into several categories. The first included the main public service and monopoly corporations: Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation, Japanese National Railways, and Japan Tobacco and Salt Corporation. However, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation was privatized in 1985, and the Japanese National Railways in 1987, and Japan Tobacco and Salt Corporation in 1988. The second category included the major development corporations devoted to housing, agriculture, highways, water resources, ports, energy resources, and urban development projects. Other categories of corporations included those charged with special government projects, loans and finance, and special types of banking. Local public corporations were involved with utilities.

Public corporations benefited the economy in several ways. Some, like Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation before privatization, were important sources of technology development funds or centers around which private industry could cluster. Others provided vital public services that private industry would find impossible to finance. The development banks, particularly the Japan Development Bank, were sources of long-term investment funds and instrumental in shaping the pattern of industry, especially in the early postwar period. Because public corporations also added revenue to the national budget and were, theoretically, selffinancing , they required little from the government in the way of financial support. They also provided employment for retired bureaucrats. The reemployment of retired bureaucrats as advisers to these corporations as well as to many private-sector firms was rather common, especially in the late 1960s and early 1970s, under the title amakudari (descent from heaven). The practice was most prevalent in the highly regulated banking, steel, and transportation industries but was also found throughout the Japanese economy.

Public corporations also have a negative side. Their operations are apt to be less efficient than those of the private sector, and in some corporations, close government supervision impedes corporate responsibility. Conflicts between corporate heads, who are retired from competing ministries, and envy among career employees, who see their advancement blocked by the influx of retired officials, also creates frequent management problems. Labor relations are also less harmonious in the public sector than in the private sector. Some of Japan's most debilitating strikes and work slowdowns have been launched by public transportation workers.




The engine of Japanese economic growth has been private initiative and enterprise, together with strong support and guidance from the government and from labor. The most numerous enterprises were single proprietorships, of which there were more than 4 million in the late 1980s. The dominant form of organization, however, is the corporation: in 1988 some 2 million corporations employed more than 30 million workers, or nearly half of the total labor force of 60.1 million people. Corporations range from large to small, but the favored type of organization is the joint-stock company, with directors, auditors, and yearly stockholders' meetings.

Japan's postwar business system dates back to the dissolution of the zaibatsu during the Allied occupation. Central holding companies were dissolved and families and other owners were compensated with non-negotiable government bonds. Individual operating firms were then freed to act independently. At the same time, the government instituted antimonopoly legislation and formed the Fair Trade Commission. Together with agricultural land reform and the start of the labor movement, these measures helped introduce a degree of competition into markets that had not previously existed.

It was not long, however, before the spirit and the letter of these reform laws were neglected. During the 1950s, government guidance of industry often sidestepped the provisions of the law. While market forces determined the course of the vast majority of enterprise activities, adjustments in the allocation of bank credit and the formation of cartels favored the reemergence of conglomerate groupings. These groups competed vigorously with one another for market share both within and outside Japan, but they dominated lesser industry.

In contrast to the dualism of the prewar era--featuring a giant gap between modern, large enterprises and the smaller, traditional firms--the postwar system is more graduated. Interlocking production and sales arrangements between greater and smaller enterprises characterized corporate relations in most markets. The average Japanese business executive is well aware of the firms that lead production and sales in each industry and is sensitive to minute differentiations of rank among the many corporations.

At the top of the corporate system are three general types of corporate groupings. The first includes the corporate heirs of the zaibatsu (including many of the same firms). The second consists of corporations that formed around major commercial banks. The nation's six largest groupings are in these two categories. Mitsui, Mitsubishi, and Sumitomo are former zaibatsu, while other groupings were formed around the Fuji-Sankei, Sanwa, and DaiIchi Kangyo banking giants. A third type of corporate grouping developed around large industrial producers.

The relations among the members of the first two types of groups are flexible, informal, and quite different from the holding company pattern of the prewar days. Coordination takes place at periodic gatherings of corporation presidents and chief executive officers. The purpose of these meetings is to exchange information and ideas rather than to command group operations in a formal way. The general trading firms associated with each group can also be used to coordinate group finance, production, and marketing policies, although none of these relationships is entirely exclusive. The practice of crossholding shares of group stock further cements these groups, and such holdings usually make up about 30 percent of the total group equity. Member corporations typically, although not exclusively, borrow from group banks.

Similar relationships characterize the third type of corporate group, which was established around a major industrial producer. Members of this group are often subsidiaries or affiliates of the parent firm or are regular subcontractors. Subsidiaries and contracting corporations normally build components for the parent firm and, because of their smaller size, afford several benefits to the parent. The larger firm can concentrate on final assembly and high value-added processes, while the smaller firm can perform specialized and labor-intensive tasks. Cash payments to the subcontractors are supplemented by commercial bills whose maturity can be postponed when the need arose. In the late 1980s, subcontracting firms accounted for more than 60 percent of Japan's 6 million small and medium-sized enterprises (those having fewer than 300 employees).

This characterization of the economy as consisting of neat, hierarchical corporate groupings is somewhat simplistic. In the 1970s and 1980s, a number of independent middle-sized firms-- especially in the services and retail trade--were busy catering to increasingly diversified and specialized markets. Unaffiliated with the nation's large conglomerates, these corporations dueled each other in a highly competitive market. Bankruptcies among such companies and the smaller firms were much more common than among the large enterprises. Small business was the main provider of employment for the Japanese--two-thirds of Japanese workers were employed by small firms throughout the 1980s--and thereby the source of consumer demand; small business engaged in almost half of business investment as well.

The issue of who controlled the enterprise system is complex. While theoretically corporations are owned by stockholders, individual stock-ownership fell throughout the 1970s and 1980s, and in 1990 it was less than 30 percent. Financial corporations accounted for the remainder. Relative to capital, almost all large corporations carry enormous debt, a phenomenon known as overborrowing. Such an unbalanced capital structure results from the easy availability of credit from the main group bank and the network of corporate relations, which reduces the need to resort to capital markets. Corporate shareholder meetings are often only window dressing. Thugs sometimes terrorize stockholders, demanding payments to vote for management or refrain from exposing scandals. The auditing system also is not well developed. Until the late 1980s, few companies engaged outside auditors, and accounting practices gave corporations room to mislead both the public and the shareholders. The law was changed in 1981 to control this kind of excess, to enhance the power of auditors, and to reduce the number of stockholders in the employ of management. But in general, it seems that business management holds the reins of corporate control, often with little public accountability. The corporate system maintains itself by smoothing relations with the government bureaucracy, expanding benefits to workers and consumers, and inceasingly engaging in public relations and philanthropy.




The culture of Japanese management so famous in the West is generally limited to Japan's large corporations. These flagships of the Japanese economy provide their workers with excellent salaries and working conditions and secure employment. These companies and their employees are the business elite of Japan. A career with such a company was the dream of many young people in Japan, but only a select few attain these jobs. Qualification for employment is limited to the men and the few women who graduate from the top thirty colleges and universities in Japan.

Placement and advancement of Japanese workers is heavily based on educational background. Students who do not gain admission to the most highly rated colleges only rarely have the chance to work for a large company. Instead, they have to seek positions in small and medium-sized firms that can not offer comparable benefits and prestige. The quality of one's education and, more important, the college attended, play decisive roles in a person's career.

Few Japanese attend graduate school, and graduate training in business per se is rare. There are only a few business school programs in Japan. Companies provide their own training and show a strong preference for young men who can be trained in the company way. Interest in a person whose attitudes and work habits are shaped outside the company is low. When young men are preparing to graduate from college, they begin the search for a suitable employer. This process has been very difficult: there are only a few positions in the best government ministries, and quite often entry into a good firm is determined by competitive examination. The situation is becoming less competitive, with a gradual decrease in the number of candidates. New workers enter their companies as a group on April 1 each year.

One of the prominent features of Japanese management is the practice of permanent employment (shushin koyo). Permanent employment covers the minority of the work force that work for the major companies. Management trainees, traditionally nearly all of whom were men, are recruited directly from colleges when they graduate in the late winter and, if they survive a six-month probationary period with the company, are expected to stay with the companies for their entire working careers. Employees are not dismissed thereafter on any grounds, except for serious breaches of ethics.

Permanent employees are hired as generalists, not as specialists for specific positions. A new worker is not hired because of any special skill or experience; rather, the individual's intelligence, educational background, and personal attitudes and attributes are closely examined. On entering a Japanese corporation, the new employee will train from six to twelve months in each of the firm's major offices or divisions. Thus, within a few years a young employee will know every facet of company operations, knowledge which allows companies to be more productive.

Another unique aspect of Japanese management is the system of promotion and reward. An important criterion is seniority. Seniority is determined by the year an employee's class enters the company. Career progression is highly predictable, regulated, and automatic. Compensation for young workers is quite low, but they accept low pay with the understanding that their pay will increase in regular increments and be quite high by retirement. Compensation consists of a wide range of tangible and intangible benefits, including housing assistance, inexpensive vacations, good recreational facilities, and, most important, the availability of low-cost loans for such expenses as housing and a new automobile. Regular pay is often augmented by generous semiannual bonuses. Members of the same graduating class usually start with similar salaries, and salary increases and promotions each year are generally uniform. The purpose is to maintain harmony and avoid stress and jealousy within the group.

Individual evaluation, however, does occur. Early in workers' careers, by age thirty, distinctions are made in pay and job assignments. During the latter part of workers' careers, another weeding takes place, as only the best workers are selected for accelerated advancement into upper management. Those employees who fail to advance are forced to retire from the company in their midto -late fifties. Retirement does not necessarily mean a life of leisure. Poor pension benefits and modest social security means that many people have to continue working after retiring from a career. Many management retirees work for the smaller subsidiaries of the large companies, with another company, or with the large company itself at substantially lower salaries.

A few major corporations in the late 1980s were experimenting with variations of permanent employment and automatic promotion. Some rewarded harder work and higher production with higher raises and more rapid promotions, but most retained the more traditional forms of hiring and advancement. A few companies that experienced serious reverses laid off workers, but such instances were rare.

Another aspect of Japanese management is the company union, which most regular company employees are obliged to join. The worker do not have a separate skill identification outside of the company. Despite federations of unions at the national level, the union does not exist as an entity separate from, or with an adversarial relationship to, the company. The linking of the company with the worker puts severe limits on independent union action, and the worker does not wish to harm the economic wellbeing of the company. Strikes are rare and usually brief.

Japanese managerial style and decision making in large companies emphasizes the flow of information and initiative from the bottom up, making top management a facilitator rather than the source of authority, while middle management is both the impetus for and the shaper of policy. Consensus is stressed as a way of arriving at decisions, and close attention is paid to workers' well-being. Rather than serve as an important decision maker, the ranking officer of a company has the responsibility of maintaining harmony so that employees can work together. A Japanese chief executive officer is a consensus builder.




Rising labor productivity, particularly in the manufacturing industries, contribute significantly to the nation's economic development. Labor productivity was unusually high in the late 1970s, when Japan's wages first become competitive with other industrialized nations. But productivity rose at an annual average rate of only 2.6 percent between 1978 and 1987. At the same time, Japan was able to keep its unemployment rate between 2.8 and 2.2 percent from 1987 to 1992. The structure of the nation's employment system and relatively harmonious labor-management relations were two of the reasons for this enviable performance.

Employment, Wages, and Working Conditions

Japan's work force grew by less than 1 percent per year in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1991 it stood at 62.4 percent of the total population over fifteen years of age, a level little changed since 1970. Labor force participation differed within age and gender groupings and was similar to that in other industrialized nations in its relative distribution among primary, secondary, and tertiary industries. The percentage of people employed in the primary sector (agriculture, forestry, and fishing) dropped from 17.4 in 1970 to 7.2 in 1990 and was projected to fall to 4.9 by 2000. The percentage of the Japanese labor force employed in heavy industry was 33.7 in 1970; it dropped to 33.1 in 1987 and was expected to be 27.7 in 2000. Light industry employed 47 percent of the work force in 1970 and 58 percent in 1987. The sector was expected to employ 62 percent by 2000. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, well over 95 percent of all men between the ages of twenty-five and fifty-four were in the work force, but the proportion dropped sharply after the usual retirement age of fifty-five (by 1990 the retirement age for most men had risen to sixty). Women participated most actively in the job market in their early twenties and between the ages of thirtyfive and fifty-four. The unemployment rate (2.2 percent in 1992) was considerably lower than in the other industrialized nations.

Wages vary by industry and type of employment. Those earning the highest wages are permanent workers in firms having more than thirty employees and those workers in finance, real estate, public service, petroleum, publishing, and emerging high-technology industries earned the highest wages. The lowest paid are those in textiles, apparel, furniture, and leather products industries. The average farmer fares even worse.

During the period of strong economic growth from 1960 to 1973, wage levels rose rapidly. Nominal wages increased an average of 13 percent per year while real wages rose 7 percent each year. Wage levels then stagnated as economic growth slowed. Between 1973 and 1987 annual nominal and real wage increases dropped to 8 percent and 2 percent, respectively. Wages began rising in 1987 as the value of the yen sharply appreciated. In 1989 salaried workers receiving the highest average pay hikes over the previous year were newspaper employees (6.7 percent), followed by retail and wholesale workers (6 percent) and hotel employees (5.7 percent). Workers in the steel (2.5 percent) and shipbuilding (4.2 percent) industries fared worse. The salaries of administrative and technical workers were about 20 percent higher than those of production workers. In the late 1980s, with wages in manufacturing firms having 500 or more workers indexed at 100, enterprises with 100 to 499 employees were indexed at 79, those with thirty to ninety-nine employees at 64, and those with five to twenty-nine employees at 56.6. The gap between wages paid to secondary school and college graduates was slight but widened as the employees grew older; wages peaked at the age of fifty-five, when the former received only 60 to 80 percent of the wages of the latter.

Workers received two fairly large bonuses as well as their regular salary, one mid-year and the other at year's end. In 1988 workers in large companies received bonuses equivalent to their pay for 1.9 months while workers in the smallest firms gained bonuses equal to 1.2 months' pay. In addition to bonuses, Japanese workers received a number of fringe benefits, such as living allowances, incentive payments, remuneration for special job conditions, allowances for good attendance, and cost-of-living allowances.

Working conditions varied from firm to firm. On average, employees worked a forty-six-hour week in 1987; employees of most large corporations worked a modified five-day week with two Saturdays a month, while those in most small firms worked as much as six days each week. In the face of mounting international criticism of excessive working hours in Japan, in January 1989 public agencies began closing two Saturdays a month. Labor unions made reduced working hours an important part of their demands, and many larger firms responded in a positive manner. In 1986 the average employee in manufacturing and production industries worked 2,150 hours in Japan, compared with 1,924 hours in the United States and 1,643 in France. The average Japanese worker is entitled to fifteen days of paid vacation a year but actually took only seven days.

The Structure of Japan's Labor Market

The structure of Japan's labor market was experiencing gradual change in the late 1980s and was expected to continue this trend throughout the 1990s. The structure of the labor market is affected by the aging of the working population, increasing numbers of women in the labor force, and workers' rising education level. There is the prospect of increasing numbers of foreign nationals in the labor force. And, finally, the labor market faces possible changes owing to younger workers who sought to break away from traditional career paths to those that stressed greater individuality and creativity.

Working Women

Japanese women are joining the labor force in unprecedented numbers. In 1987 there were 24.3 million working women (40 percent of the labor force), and they accounted for 59 percent of the increase in employment from 1975 to 1987. The participation rate for women in the labor force (the ratio of those working to all women aged fifteen and older) rose from 45.7 percent in 1975 to 50.6 percent in 1991 and was expected to reach 50 percent by 2000.

The growing participation of women reflected both supply and demand factors. Industries such as wholesaling, retailing, banking, and insurance have expanded, in large part because of the effective use of women as part-time employees.

Foreign Workers

Traditionally, Japan has had strict laws regarding the employment of foreigners, although exceptions were made for certain occupational categories. Excepted categories have included executives and managers engaged in commercial activities, full-time scholars associated with research and education institutions, professional entertainers, engineers and others specializing in advanced technology, foreign-language teachers, and others with special skills unavailable among Japanese nationals.

The problems of foreign workers in the labor force were expected to continue throughout the 1990s. Despite the long-term upward trend in the unemployment rate, many unpopular jobs go unfilled and the domestic labor market is sluggish. Imported labor is seen as a solution to this situation by some employers, who hire low-paid foreign workers, who are, in turn, enticed by comparatively high Japanese wages. The strict immigration laws are expected to remain on the books, however, although the influx of illegal aliens from nearby Asian countries to participate in the labor market is likely to increase.

Workers' Changing Attitudes

The success of corporations in Japan is attributable to the remarkable motivation of its workers. Also behind this corporate prosperity is the workers' strong sense of loyalty to and identification with their employers. While many theories have evolved to explain the extraordinary attitude of Japanese workers, perhaps the most noteworthy is that of personnel management. This view holds that loyalty to the company has developed as a result of job security and a wage system in which those with the greatest seniority reap the highest rewards. Such corporate structure presumably fostered not only a determined interest in the company but also a low percentage of workers who changed jobs.

During the postwar economic reconstruction, the backbone of the labor force was, of course, made up of people born before World War II. These people grew up in a Japan that was still largely an agriculturally based economy and had little material wealth. Moreover, they had suffered the hardships of war and had accepted hard work as a part of their lives. In the late twentieth century, these people were being replaced by generations born after the war, and there were indications that the newcomers had different attitudes toward work. Postwar generations were accustomed to prosperity and were also better educated than their elders.

As might be expected, these socioeconomic changes have affected workers' attitudes. Prior to World War II, surveys indicated that the aspect of life regarded as most worthwhile was work. During the 1980s, the percentage of people who felt this way was declining. Workers' identification with their employers was weakening as well. A survey by the Management and Coordination Agency revealed that a record 2.7 million workers changed jobs in the one-year period beginning October 1, 1986, and the ratio of those who switched jobs to the total labor force matched the previous high recorded in 1974. This survey also showed that the percentage of workers indicating an interest in changing jobs increased from 4.5 percent in 1971 to 9.9 percent in 1987.

Another indication of changing worker attitudes is the number of people meeting with corporate scouts to discuss the possibility of switching jobs. Corporations' treatment of older workers also affects attitudes: there are fewer positions for older workers, and many find themselves without the rewards that their predecessors had enjoyed.

Aging and Retirement of the Labor Force

Japan's population is aging. During the 1950s, the percentage of the population in the sixty-five-and-over group remained steady at around 5 percent. Throughout subsequent decades, however, that age-group expanded, and by 1989 it had grown to 11.6 percent of the population. It was expected to reach 16.9 percent by 2000 and almost 25.2 percent by 2020. Perhaps the most outstanding feature of this trend was the speed with which it was occurring in comparison to trends in other industrialized nations. In the United States, expansion of the sixty-five-and-over age-group from 7 percent to 14 percent took seventy-five years; in Britain and the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany), this expansion took forty-five years. The same expansion in Japan was expected to take only twenty-six years.

As Japan's population aged, so did its work force. In 1990 about 20 percent of the work force was made up of workers aged fifty-five and over. The Ministry of Labor predicted that by 2000 about 24 percent of the working population (almost one in four workers) would be in this age-group. This demographic shift was expected to bring about both macroeconomic and microeconomic problems. At the national level, Japan may have trouble financing the pension system. At the corporate level, problems will include growing personnel costs and the shortage of senior positions. If such problems become severe, government will be forced to develop countermeasures.

In most Japanese companies, salaries rise with worker age. Because younger workers are paid less, they are more attractive to employers, and the difficulty in finding employment increases with age. This pattern is evidenced by the unemployment rates for different age-groups and by the number of applicants per job vacancy for each age-group in openings handled by public employment offices. As the Japanese population ages, such trends may grow.

Most Japanese companies require that employees retire upon reaching a specified age. During most of the postwar period, that age was fifty-five. Because government social security payments normally begins at age sixty, workers are forced to find reemployment to fill the five-year gap. However, in 1986 the Diet passed the Law Concerning the Stabilization of Employment for Elderly People to provide various incentives for firms to raise their retirement age to sixty. Many Japanese companies raised the retirement age they had set, partly in response to this legislation. And despite mandatory retirement policies, many Japanese companies allow their employees to continue working beyond the age of sixty--although generally at reduced wages. People over sixty continue to work varied: to supplement inadequate pension incomes, to give meaning to their lives, or to keep in touch with society.

As Japan's population ages, the financial health of the public pension plan deteriorates. To avoid massive increases in premiums, the government reformed the system in 1986 by cutting benefit levels and raising the plan's specified age at which benefits began from sixty to sixty-five. Under the revised system, contributions paid in equal share by employer and employee were expected to be equivalent to about 30 percent of wages, as opposed to 40 percent of wages under the old system. However, problems now arose in securing employment opportunities for the sixty-to-sixty-five agegroup .

In 1990 some 90 percent of companies paid retirement benefits to their employees in the form of lump-sum payments and pensions. Some companies based the payment amount on the employee's base pay, while others used formulas independent of base pay. Because the system was designed to reward long service, payment rose progressively with the number of years worked.

Social Insurance and Minimum Wage Systems

Companies in Japan are responsible for enrolling their employees in various social insurance systems, including health insurance, employee pension insurance, employment insurance, and workers' accident compensation insurance. The employer covers all costs for workers' accident compensation insurance, but payments to the other systems are shared by both employer and employee.

The Minimum Wage Law, introduced in 1947 but not enacted until 1959, was designed to protect low-income workers. Minimum wage levels have been determined, according to both region and industry, by special councils composed of government, labor, and employment representatives.

Labor Unions

Japan's 74,500 trade unions were represented by four main labor federations in the mid-1980s: the General Council of Trade Unions of Japan (Nihon Rodo Kumiai Sohyogikai, commonly known as Sohyo), with 4.4 million members--a substantial percentage representing public sector employees; the Japan Confederation of Labor (Zen Nihon Rodo Sodomei, commonly known as Domei), with 2.2 million members; the Federation of Independent Labor Unions (Churitsu Roren), with 1.6 million members; and the National Federation of Industrial Organizations (Shinsanbetsu), with only 61,000 members. In 1987 Domei and Churitsu Roren were dissolved and amalgamated into the newly established National Federation of Private Sector Unions (Rengo); and in 1990 Sohyo affiliates merged with Rengo . Local labor unions and work unit unions, rather than the federations, conducted the major bargaining. Unit unions often banded together for wage negotiations, but federations did not control their policies or actions. Federations also engaged in political and public relations activities.

The rate of labor union membership, which was 35.4 percent in 1970, had declined considerably by the end of the 1980s. The continuing long-term reduction in union membership was caused by several factors, including the restructuring of Japanese industry away from heavy industries. Many people entering the work force in the 1980s joined smaller companies in the tertiary sector, where there was a general disinclination toward joining labor organizations.

The relationship between the typical labor union and the company is unusually close. Both white- and blue-collar workers join the union automatically in most major companies. Temporary and subcontracting workers are excluded, and managers with the rank of section manager and above are considered part of management. In most corporations, however, many of the managerial staff are former union members. In general, Japanese unions are sensitive to the economic health of the company, and company management usually brief the union membership on the state of corporate affairs.

Any regular employee below the rank of section chief is eligible to become a union officer. Management, however, often pressures the workers to select favored employees. Officers usually maintain their seniority and tenure while working exclusively on union activities and while being paid from the union's accounts, and union offices are often located at the factory site. Many union officers go on to higher positions within the corporation if they are particularly effective (or troublesome), but few become active in organized labor activities at the national level.

During prosperous times, the spring labor offensives are highly ritualized affairs, with banners, sloganeering, and dances aimed more at being a show of force than a crippling job action. Meanwhile, serious discussions take place between the union officers and corporate managers to determine pay and benefit adjustments. If the economy turns sour, or if management tries to reduce the number of permanent employees, however, disruptive strikes often occur. The number of working days lost to labor disputes peaked in the economic turmoil of 1974 and 1975 at around 9 million workdays in the two-year period. In 1979, however, there were fewer than 1 million days lost. Since 1981 the average number of days lost per worker each year to disputes was just over 9 percent of the number lost in the United States. After 1975, when the economy entered a period of slower growth, annual wage increases moderated and labor relations were conciliatory. During the 1980s, workers received pay hikes that on average closely reflected the real growth of GNP for the preceding year. In 1989, for example, workers received an average 5.1 percent pay hike, while GNP growth had averaged 5 percent between 1987 and 1989. The moderate trend continued in the early 1990s as the country's national labor federations were reorganizing themselves.




A mountainous, island nation, Japan has inadequate natural resources to support its growing economy and large population. Although many kinds of minerals were extracted throughout the country, most mineral resources had to be imported in the postwar era. Local deposits of metal-bearing ores were difficult to process because they were low grade. The nation's large and varied forest resources, which covered 70 percent of the country in the late 1980s, were not utilized extensively. Because of the precipitous terrain, underdeveloped road network, and high percentage of young trees, domestic sources were only able to supply between 25 and 30 percent of the nation's timber needs. Agriculture and fishing were the best developed resources, but only through years of painstaking investment and toil. The nation therefore built up the manufacturing and processing industries to convert raw materials imported from abroad. This strategy of economic development necessitated the establishment of a strong economic infrastructure to provide the needed energy, transportation, communications, and technological know-how.


The mainstay of infrastructure development is the construction industry, which employed 9.4 percent of the labor force in 1990 and contributed some 8.5 percent of GDP. After the two oil crises in the 1970s, construction investment turned sluggish, and the share of construction investment in GNP decreased gradually. In 1987, however, business expanded through investor confidence, continued increase in corporate earnings, improvement of personal income, and rapid rise in land prices. The share of construction investment in GNP rose sharply, especially for more sophisticated and higher value-added private housing and private nonhousing structures.

Construction starts in FY 1990 covered a total area of about 283 million square meters, with about 134 square meters exclusively for housing. Total construction costs were estimated in excess of ¥49 billion.

Although demand for new private housing is expected to grow in the 1990s, even greater growth is expected for new urban office buildings. A number of large projects are underway, suggesting that the construction industry would experience continued growth throughout the 1990s. These include projects for Tokyo's waterfront and other urban redevelopment, highway construction, and new or expanded airports.

Japan's construction technology, which includes advanced earthquake-resistant designs, is among the most developed in the world. Major firms compete to improve quality control over all phases of design, management, and execution. Research and development focuses especially on energyrelated facilities, such as nuclear power plants and liquid natural gas (LNG) storage tanks. The largest firms are also improving their underwater construction methods.


Mining was a rapidly declining industry in the 1980s. Domestic coal production shrank from a peak of 55 million tons in 1960 to slightly more than 16 million tons in 1985, while coal imports grew to nearly 91 million tons in 1987. Domestic coal mining companies faced cheap coal imports and high production costs, which caused them chronic deficits in the 1980s. In the late 1980s, Japan's approximately 1 million tons of coal reserves were mostly hard coal used for coking. Most of the coal Japan consumed is used to produce electric power.

Japanese coal is found at the extreme ends of the country, in Hokkaido and Kyushu, which have, respectively, 45 and 40 percent of the country's coal deposits. Kyushu's coal is generally of poor quality and hard to extract, but the proximity of the Kyushu mines to ports facilitates transportation. In Hokkaido, the coal seams are wider and can be worked mechanically, and the quality of the coal is good. Unfortunately, these mines are located well inland, making transportation difficult. In most Japanese coal mines, inclined galleries, which extended in some places to 9.7 kilometers underground, were used instead of pits. This arrangement is costly, despite the installation of moving platforms. The result is that a miner's daily output is far less than in Western Europe and the United States and domestic coal costs far more than imported coal.


Japan lacks significant domestic sources of energy except coal and must import substantial amounts of crude oil, natural gas, and other energy resources, including uranium. In 1990 the country's dependence on imports for primary energy stood at more than 84 percent. Its rapid industrial growth since the end of World War II had doubled energy consumption every five years. The use of power had also changed qualitatively. In 1950 coal supplied half of Japan's energy needs, hydroelectricity one-third, and oil the rest. In 1988 oil provided Japan with 57.3 percent of energy needs, coal 18.1 percent, natural gas 10.1 percent, nuclear power 9.0 percent, hydroelectic power 4.6 percent, geothermal power 0.1 percent, and 1.3 percent came from other sources. During the 1960-72 period of accelerated growth, energy consumption grew much faster than GNP, doubling Japan's consumption of world energy. By 1976, with only 3 percent of the world's population, Japan was consuming 6 percent of global energy supplies.

After the two oil crises of the 1970s, the pattern of energy consumption in Japan changed from heavy dependence on oil to some diversification to other forms of energy resources. Japan's domestic oil consumption dropped slightly, from around 5.1 million barrels of oil per day in the late 1970s to 4.9 million barrels per day in 1990. While the country's use of oil is declining, its consumption of nuclear power and LNG has risen substantially. Because domestic natural gas production is minimal, rising demand is met by greater imports. Japan's main LNG suppliers in 1987 were Indonesia (51.3 percent), Malaysia (20.4 percent), Brunei (17.8 percent), Abu Dhabi (7.3 percent), and the United States (3.2 percent). Several Japanese industries, including electric power companies and steelmakers, switched from petroleum to coal, most of which is imported.

In 1990, the latest year for which complete statistics were available, Japan's total energy requirements were tabulated at 428.2 million tons of petroleum equivalent. Of this total, 84 percent was imported. Consumption totaled 298 million tons: 46.7 percent of which was used by industry; 23.3 percent by the transportation sector; 26.6 percent for agricultural, residential, services, and other uses; and 3.3 percent for non-energy uses, such as lubricating oil or asphalt.

In 1989 Japan was the world's third largest producer of electricity. Most of the more than 3,300 power plants were thermoelectric. About 75 percent of the available power was controlled by the ten major regional power utilities, of which Tokyo Electric Power Company was the world's largest. Electricity rates in Japan were among the world's highest.

The Japanese were working to increase the availability of nuclear power in 1985. Although Japan was a late starter in this field, it finally imported technology from the United States and obtained uranium from Canada, France, South Africa, and Australia. By 1991 the country had forty-two nuclear reactors in operation, with a total generating capacity of approximately 33 million kilowatts. The ratio of nuclear power generation to total electricity production increased from 2 percent in 1973 to 23.6 percent in 1990.

During the 1980s, Japan's nuclear power program was strongly opposed by environmental groups, particularly after the Three Mile Island accident in the United States. Other problems for the program were the rising costs of nuclear reactors and fuel, the huge investments necessary for fuel enrichment and reprocessing plants, reactor failures, and nuclear waste disposal. Nevertheless, Japan continued to build nuclear power plants. Of alternative energy sources, Japan has effectively exploited only geothermal energy. The country had six geothermal power stations with a combined capacity of 133,000 kilowatts per hour in 1989.

Research and Development

As its economy matured in the 1970s and 1980s, Japan gradually shifted away from dependence on foreign research. Japan's ability to conduct independent research and development became a decisive factor in boosting the nation's competitiveness. As early as 1980, the Science and Technology Agency, a component of the Office of the Prime Minister, announced the commencement of "the era of Japan's technological independence."

By 1986 Japan had come to devote a higher proportion of its GNP to research and development than the United States. In 1989 nearly 700,000 Japanese were engaged in research and development, more than the number of French, British, and West Germans combined. At the same time, Japan was producing more engineers than any country except the Soviet Union and the United States. Similar trends were seen in the use of capital resources. Japan spent US$39.1 billion on government and private research and development in 1987, equivalent to 2.9 percent of its national income (the highest ratio in the world). Although the United States spent around US$108.2 billion on research and development in 1987, only 2.6 percent of its income was devoted to that purpose, ranking it third behind Japan and West Germany.

The Japanese reputation for originality also increased. Of the 1.2 million patents registered worldwide in 1985, 40 percent were Japanese, and Japanese citizens took out 19 percent of the 120,000 patent applications made in the United States. In 1987 around 33 percent of computer-related patents in the United States were Japanese, as were 30 percent of aviation-related patents and 26 percent of communications patents.

Despite its advances in technological research and development and its major commitment to applied research, however, Japan significantly trailed other industrialized nations in basic scientific research. In 1989 about 13 percent of Japanese research and development funds were devoted to basic research. The proportion of basic research expenses borne by government is also much lower in Japan than in the United States, as is Japan's ratio of basic research expenses to GNP. In the late 1980s, the Japanese government attempted to rectify national deficiencies in basic research by waging a broad "originality" campaign in schools, by generously funding research, and by encouraging private cooperation in various fields.

Most research and development is private, although government support to universities and laboratories aid industry greatly. In 1986 private industry provided 76 percent of the funding for research and development, which was especially strong in the late 1980s in electrical machinery (with a ratio of research costs to total sales of 5.5 percent in 1986), precision instruments (4.6 percent), chemicals (4.3 percent), and transportation equipment (3.2 percent).

As for government research and development, the national commitment to greater defense spending in the 1980s translated into increased defense-related research and development. Meanwhile, government moved away from supporting large-scale industrial technology, such as shipbuilding and steel. Research emphases in the 1980s were in alternative energy, information processing, life sciences, and modern industrial materials.




The nation's industrial activities (including mining, manufacturing, and power, gas, and water utilities) contributed 46.6 of total domestic industrial production in 1989, up slightly from 45.8 percent in 1975. This steady performance of the industrial sector in the 1970s and 1980s was a result of the growth of high-technology industries. During this period, some of the older heavy industries, such as steel and shipbuilding, either declined or simply held stable. Together with the construction industry, those older heavy industries employed 34.9 of the work force in 1989 (relatively unchanged from 34.8 percent in 1980). The service industry sector grew the fastest in the 1980s in terms of GNP, while the greatest losses occurred in agriculture, forestry, mining, and transportation. Most industry catered to the domestic market, but exports were important for several key commodities. In general, industries relatively geared toward exports over imports in 1988 were transportation equipment (with a 24.8 percent ratio of exports over imports), motor vehicles (54 percent), electrical machinery (23.4 percent), general machinery (21.2 percent), and metal and metal products (8.2 percent).

Industry is concentrated in several regions, in the following order of importance: the Kanto region surrounding Tokyo, especially the prefectures of Chiba, Kanagawa, Saitama and Tokyo (the Keihin industrial region); the Nagoya metropolitan area, including Aichi, Gifu, Mie, and Shizuoka prefectures (the Chukyo-Tokai industrial region); Kinki (the Keihanshin industrial region); the southwestern part of Honshu and northern Shikoku around the Inland Sea (the Setouchi industrial region); and the northern part of Kyushu (Kitakyushu). In addition, a long narrow belt of industrial centers is found between Tokyo and Hiroshima, established by particular industries, that havw developed as mill towns. These include Toyota City, near Nagoya, the home of the automobile manufacturer.

The fields in which Japan enjoys relatively high technological development include semiconductor manufacturing, optical fibers, optoelectronics, video discs and videotex, facsimile and copy machines, industrial robots, and fermentation processes. Japan lags slightly in such fields as satellites, rockets, and large aircraft, where advanced engineering capabilities are required, and in such fields as computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM), databases, and natural resources exploitation, where basic software capabilities are required.

Basic Manufactures

Japan's major export industries includes automobiles, consumer electronics, computers, semiconductors, and iron and steel. Additionally, key industries in Japan's economy are mining, nonferrous metals, petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, bioindustry, shipbuilding, aerospace, textiles, and processed foods.

As the coal-mining industry declined, so did the general importance of domestic mining in the whole economy. Only 0.2 percent of the labor force was engaged in mining operations in 1988, and the value added from mining was about 0.3 percent of the total for all mining and manufacturing. Domestic production contributed most to the supply of such nonmetals as silica sand, pyrophyllite clay, dolomite, and limestone. Domestic mines were contributing declining shares of the requirements for the metals zinc, copper, and gold. Almost all of the ores used in the nation's sophisticated processing industries are imported.

The nonferrous metals industry fared very well in the late 1980s, as domestic demand for these metals reached record levels. Japan's consumption of the main nonferrous metals, such as copper, lead, zinc, and aluminum, was the second highest in the noncommunist world after the United States. In 1989 sales of copper products exceeded 1.5 million tons for the first time. Production of electric wire and cable, which accounted for 70 percent of Japan's copper demand, and brass mills, which used the other 30 percent, experienced sharp growth, as did the demand for aluminum.

The petrochemical industry experienced moderate growth in the late 1980s because of steady economic expansion. The highest growth came in the production of plastics, polystyrene, and polypropylene. Prices for petrochemicals remained high because of increased demand in the newly developing economies of Asia, but the construction of factory complexes to make ethylene-based products in the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and Thailand by 1990 was expected to increase supplies and reduce prices. In the long term, the Japanese petrochemical industry is likely to face intensifying competition as a result of the integration of domestic and international markets and the efforts made by other Asian countries to catch up with Japan.

The pharmaceutical industry and bioindustry experienced strong growth in the late 1980s. Pharmaceuticals production grew an estimated 8 percent in 1989 because of increased expenditures by Japan's rapidly aging population. Leading producers actively developed new drugs, such as those for degenerative and geriatric diseases, and also internationaled operations. Pharmaceutical companies were establishing tripolar networks connecting Japan, the United States, and Western Europe to coordinate product development. They also increased merger and acquisition activity overseas. Biotechnology research and development was progressing steadily, including the launching of marine biotechnology projects, with full-scale commercialization expected to take place in the 1990s. Biotechnology research covered a wide variety of fields: agriculture, animal husbandry, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, food processing, and fermentation. Human hormones and proteins for pharmaceutical products were sought through genetic recombination using bacteria.

Biotechnology also is used to enhance bacterial enzyme properties to further improve amino-acid fermentation technology, a field in which Japan is the world leader. The government cautions Japanese producers, however, against overoptimism regarding biotechnology and bioindustry. The research race both in Japan and abroad intensified in the 1980s, leading to patent disputes and forcing some companies to abandon research. Also, researchers began to realize that such drug development continually showed new complexities, requiring more technical breakthroughs than first imagined. Yet despite these problems, research and development, especially in leading companies, was still expected to be successful and to end in product commercialization in the mid-term.

Japan dominated world shipbuilding in the late 1980s, filling more than half of all orders worldwide. Its closest competitors were South Korea and Spain, with 9 percent and 5.2 percent of the market, respectively. Japan's shipyards replaced their West European competitors as world leaders in production through advanced design, fast delivery, and low production costs. The Japanese shipbuilding industry was hit by a lengthy recession from the late 1970s through most of the 1980s, which resulted in a drastic cutback in the use of facilities and in the work force, but there was a sharp revival in 1989. The industry was helped by a sudden rise in demand from other countries that needed to replace their aging fleets and from a sudden decline in the South Korean shipping industry. In 1988 Japanese shipbuilding firms received orders for 4.8 million gross tons of ships, but this figure grew to 7.1 million gross tons in 1989.

The aerospace industry received a major boost in 1969 with the establishment of the National Space Development Agency, which was charged with the development of satellites and launch vehicles. Japan's aircraft industry was only one-twentieth the size of that of the United States and one-twelfth that of Western Europe, and its technological level lagged as well. However, in the late 1980s Japan began to participate in new international aircraft development projects as its technical capabilities developed. The Asuka fanjet-powered short takeoff and landing (STOL) aircraft made a successful test flight in 1985. In 1988 Japan signed an accord with the United States to cooperate in building Japan's next-generation fighter aircraft, the FSX.

The textile industry showed a strong revival in the late 1980s because of increased domestic demand from the construction, automobile, housing, and civil engineering industries for various synthetic fibers. The clothing industry also fared well in the late 1980s, thanks to the expansion of consumer demand, especially in the area of women's apparel. Production of high value-added fashionable clothes became the mainstay of this industry.

The production value of the food industry ranked third among manufacturing industries after electric and transport machinery. It produced a great variety of products, ranging from traditional Japanese items, such as soybean paste (miso) and soy sauce, to beer and meat. The industry as a whole experienced mild growth in the 1980s, primarily from the development of such new products as "dry beer" and precooked food, which was increasingly used because of the tendency of family members to dine separately, the trend toward smaller families, and convenience. A common feature of all sectors of the food industry was their internationalization. As domestic raw materials lost their price competitiveness following the liberalization of imports, food makers more often produced foodstuffs overseas, promoted tie-ups with overseas firms, and purchased overseas firms.

Domestic Trade and Services

The nation's service industries are the major contributor to GNP, generating about 59 percent of the national totals in 1991. Moreover, services were the fastest growing sector, outperforming manufacturing in the 1980s. The service sector covers many, diverse activities. Wholesale and retail trade was dominant, but advertising, data processing, publishing, tourism, leisure industries, entertainment, and other industries grew rapidly in the 1980s. Most service industries were small and labor intensive but became more technologically sophisticated as computer and electronic products were incorporated by management.

The operation of wholesale and retail trades has often been denigrated by other nations as a barrier to foreign participation in the Japanese market, as well as being called antiquated and inefficient. Small retailers and "mom-and-pop" stores predominated- -in 1985 there were 1.6 million retail outlets in Japan, slightly more than the total number of retail outlets in the United States (1.5 million in 1982), even though Japan has only half the population of the United States and is smaller in size than California.

There were several changes in wholesaling and retailing in the 1980s. Japan's distribution system was becoming more efficient. Retail outlets and wholesale establishments both peaked in number in 1982 and then went down 5.4 percent and 3.7 percent, respectively, in 1985. The main casualties were sole proprietorships, especially mom-and-pop stores and wholesale locations with fewer than ten employees. Almost 96,000 of the 1,036,000 mom-and-pop stores in operation in 1982 were out of business three years later. Government estimates for the late 1980s show additional consolidation in both wholesale and retail sectors including a continued sharp decline in mom-and-pop store operations. A further decline in mom-and-pop stores is expected as a result of the Large-Scale Retail Store Law of 1990, which greatly reduced the power of small retailers to block the establishment of large retail stores. Soaring land prices are a major cause of the decline of mom-and-pop stores, but an even more important reason is the growth of convenience and discount stores. Discount stores are not much bigger than the traditional small shops, but their distribution networks gives them a big pricing edge.

In the 1980s, Japanese consumers were discovering the advantages of catalog shopping, which offered not only convenience but also greater selection and lower prices. According to a Nikkei survey, the mail-order business expanded 13 percent between April 1987 and March 1988 to more than US$8.9 billion in annual sales. Specialty chains, particularly those handling men's and women's clothing, shoes, and consumer electronics, were also doing better than the overall industry. Department stores, supermarkets, and superstores (hybrid supermarket-discount stores) and other big retail operations were gaining business at the expense of small retailers, although their progress was quite slow. Between 1980 and 1988, department stores increased their share of total retail sales by only 1 percentage point to 8.4 percent. Supermarkets and superstores increased in market share from 6.5 to 7.3 percent. Between 1980 and 1988, the number of department stores grew from 325 to just 371, and other big self-service stores only increased in number by 62 units between 1984 and 1988.

Among service industries, the restaurant, advertising, real estate, hotel and leisure business, and data-processing industries grew rapidly in the 1980s. The fast-food industry has been profitable for both foreign and domestic companies. By 1989 family restaurants and fast-food chains had grown into a US$138 billion business per year. Overall growth declined in the late 1980s because of the sharp rise of rents and a proliferation of restaurants in many areas. The number of hotel and guest rooms grew from 189,654 in 1981 to 342,695 in 1988.

Because much of the sales competition in Japan is of the nonprice variety, advertising is extremely important. Consumers have to see the suitability of products and services for their lifestyles. The intense competition for the domestic market spurs the growth of the world's largest advertising agency, Dentsu, as well as other advertisers.




Agriculture, forestry, and fishing dominated the Japanese economy through the 1940s, but thereafter declined in relative importance. In the late nineteenth century, these sectors had accounted for more than 80 percent of employment. Employment in agriculture declined in the prewar period, but the sector was still the largest employer (about 50 percent of the work force) by the end of World War II. It further declined to 23.5 percent in 1965, 11.9 percent in 1977, and to 7.2 percent in 1988. The importance of agriculture in the national economy later continued its rapid decline, with the share of net agricultural production in GNP finally reduced between 1975 and 1989 from 4.1 to 3 percent. In the late 1980s, 85.5 percent of Japan's farmers were also engaged in occupations outside of farming, and most of these part-time farmers earned most of their income from nonfarming activities.

Japan's economic boom that began in the 1950s left farmers far behind in both income and agricultural technology. Farmers were determined to close this income gap as quickly as possible. They were attracted to the government's food control policy under which high rice prices were guaranteed and farmers were encouraged to increase the output of any crops of their own choice. Farmers became mass producers of rice, even turning their own vegetable gardens into rice fields. Their output swelled to over 14 million tons in the late 1960s, a direct result of greater cultivated acreage and increased yield per unit area, owing to improved cultivation techniques.

Three types of farm households developed: those engaging exclusively in agriculture (14.5 percent of the 4.2 million farm households in 1988, down from 21.5 percent in 1965); those deriving more than half their income from the farm (14.2 percent, down from 36.7 percent in 1965); and those mainly engaged in jobs other than farming (71.3 percent, up from 41.8 percent in 1965). As more and more farm families turned to nonfarming activities, the farm population declined (down from 4.9 million in 1975 to 4.8 million in 1988). The rate of decrease slowed in the late 1970s and 1980s, but the average age of farmers rose to fifty-one years by 1980, twelve years older than the average industrial employee.

The most striking feature of Japanese agriculture is the shortage of farmland. The 4.9 million hectares under cultivation constituted just 13.2 percent of the total land area in 1988. However, the land is intensively cultivated. Rice paddies occupy most of the countryside, whether on the alluvial plains, the terraced slopes, or the swampland and coastal bays. Nonrice farmland share the terraces and lower slopes and are planted with wheat and barley in the autumn and with sweet potatoes, vegetables, and dry rice in the summer. Intercropping is common: such crops are alternated with beans and peas.

Japanese agriculture has been characterized as a "sick" sector because it must contend with a variety of constraints, such as the rapidly diminishing availability of arable land and falling agricultural incomes. Nevertheless, the Japanese manage to keep production at high levels. Agriculture is maintained through the use of technically advanced fertilizers and farm machinery and through a vast array of price supports. The nation's many agricultural cooperatives are in charge of purchasing grain according to prices indexed to the average wage rates in the nonagricultural sector. As a result, rice, wheat, and barley prices follow productivity trends in industry rather than in agriculture. This type of support system, enacted in 1960 along with the Basic Agricultural Law, resulted in large government rice stockpiles and high agricultural prices. Excessive rice production had an adverse effect on other crop production. Japan's self-sufficiency ratio for grains other than rice fell below 10 percent in the 1970s but rose to 14 percent in the mid- to late 1980s. The problem of surplus rice was further aggravated by extensive changes in the diets of many Japanese in the 1970s and 1980s. Even a major rice crop failure did not reduce the accumulated stocks by more than 25 percent of the reserve. In 1990 Japan was 67 percent selfsufficient in agricultural products but only provided about 30 percent of its cereals and fodder needs.

Livestock raising is a minor activity. Demand for beef rose in the 1980s, and farmers often shifted from dairy farming to production of high-quality (and high-cost) beef. Throughout the 1980s, domestic beef production met over 60 percent of demand. In 1991, as a result of heavy pressure from the United States, Japan ended import quotas on beef as well as citrus fruit. Milk cows are numerous in Hokkaido, where 25 percent of farmers ran dairies, but milk cows are also raised in Iwate, in Tohoku, and near Tokyo and Kobe. Beef cattle are mostly concentrated in western Honshu, and on Kyushu. Hogs, the oldest domesticated animals raised for food, are found everywhere. Pork is the most popular meat.

The nation's forest resources, although abundant, have not been well developed to sustain a large lumber industry. Of the 24.5 million hectares of forests, 19.8 million are classified as active forests. Most often forestry is a part-time activity for farmers or small companies. About a third of all forests are owned by the government. Production is highest in Hokkaido and in Aomori, Iwate, Akita, Fukushima, Gifu, Miyazaki, and Kagoshima prefectures. Nearly 33.5 million cubic meters of roundwood were produced in 1986, of which 98 percent was destined for industrial uses.

Japan ranked second in the world behind China in tonnage of fish caught--11.9 million tons in 1989, down slightly from 11.1 million tons in 1980. After the 1973 energy crisis, deep-sea fishing in Japan declined, with the annual catch in the 1980s averaging 2 million tons. Offshore fisheries accounted for an average of 50 percent of the nation's total fish catches in the late 1980s although they experienced repeated ups and downs during that period. Coastal fisheries had smaller catches than northern sea fisheries in 1986 and 1987. As a whole, Japan's fish catches registered a slower growth in the late 1980s. By contrast, Japan's import of marine products increased greatly in the 1980s, and was nearly 2 million tons in 1989. Japan also introduced the "culture and breed" fishing system, or sea farming. In this system, artificial insemination and hatching techniques are used to breed fish and shellfish, which are then released into rivers or seas. These fish and shellfish are caught after they grow bigger. Salmon is raised this way.

Japan is also one of the world's few whaling nations. As a member of the International Whaling Commission, the government pledged that its fleets would restrict their catch to international quotas, but it attracted international opprobrium for its failure to sign an agreement placing a moratorium on catching sperm whales. Japan has more than 2,000 fishing ports, including Nagasaki, in southwest Kyushu; Otaru, Kushiro, and Abashiri in Hokkaido; and Yaezu and Misaki on the east coast of Honshu.


Japan - International Economic Relations


JAPAN IS BOTH a major trading nation and one of the largest international investors in the world. In many respects, international trade is the lifeblood of Japan's economy, and it is the window through which many people in the United States view Japan. Imports and exports totaling the equivalent of nearly US$522 billion in 1990 meant that Japan was the world's third largest trading nation after the United States and the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany). Trade was once the primary form of Japan's international economic relationships, but in the 1980s its rapidly rising foreign investments added a new and increasingly important dimension, broadening the horizons of Japanese businesses and giving Japan new world prominence.

Japan's international economic relations in the first three decades after World War II were shaped largely by two factors: a relative lack of domestic raw materials and a determination to catch up with the industrial nations of the West. Because of Japan's lack of raw materials, its exports have consisted almost exclusively of manufactured goods, and raw materials have represented a large share of its imports. The country's sense of dependency and vulnerability has also been strong because of its lack of raw materials. Japan's determination to catch up with the West encouraged policies to move away from simple labor-intensive exports toward more sophisticated export products (from textiles in the 1950s to automobiles and consumer electronics in the 1980s) and to pursue protectionist policies to limit foreign competition for domestic industries.

The sense of dependence on imported raw materials was especially strong in Japan during the 1970s, when crude petroleum and other material prices rose and supply was uncertain. Throughout much of the postwar period, in fact, Japanese government policy has aimed at generating sufficient exports to pay for raw material imports. During the 1980s, however, raw material prices fell and the feeling of vulnerability lessened. The 1980s also brought rapidly rising trade surpluses, so that Japan could export far more than was needed to balance its imports. With these developments, some of the resistance to manufactured imports, long considered luxuries in the relative absence of raw materials, began to dissipate.

By the 1980s, Japan had caught up. Now an advanced industrial nation, it faced new changes in its economy, on both domestic and international fronts, including demands to supply more foreign aid and to open its markets for imports. It had become a leader in the international economic system through its success in certain export markets, its leading technologies, and its growth as a major investor around the world. These were epochal changes for Japan, after a century in which the main national motivation was to catch up with the West. These dramatic changes also fed domestic developments that were lessening the society's insularity and parochialism.

The processes through which Japan is becoming a key member of the international economic community continues in the 1990s. Productivity continued to grow at a healthy pace, the country's international leadership in a number of industries remained unquestioned, and investments abroad continued to expand. Pressures were likely to lead to further openness to imports, increased aid to foreign countries, and involvement in the running of major international institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund. As Japan achieved a more prominent international position during the 1980s, it also generated considerable tension with its trade partners, especially with the United States. These tensions will likely remain, but they should be manageable as both sides continue to see economic benefits from the relationship.


Japan - The Politics and Government


AS THE 1990S BEGAN, Japan's oldest living person was Fujisawa Mitsu, 113 years old. In the year of her birth, 1876 (the ninth year of the 1868-1912 Meiji era), the government ended the special status of the samurai, taking away their stipends and prohibiting them from wearing swords. Members of the new ruling elite traveled to Europe and the United States to study Western political ideas and institutions. Mitsu was thirteen when the Meiji Constitution was promulgated, a document combining traditional nationalistic thought with German legal and political concepts. The most influential Meiji-era advocate of Anglo-American liberalism, Fukuzawa Yukichi, died in 1901 when Mitsu was twenty-five. She was middle-aged when political parties controlled the government during the "Taisho democracy" era of the early to mid-1920s and revolutionary Marxism was popular among university students and intellectuals. The "Showa fascism" of the 1930s and 1940s was in large measure a reaction against these Westernizing trends. When General Douglas MacArthur landed in Japan and began the United States occupation in 1945, Mitsu was sixty-nine years old. Her robust old age witnessed the reintroduction of Western-style liberalism, the emergence of a stable parliamentary system under the dominance of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP--Jiyu-Minshuto), the rise of the new left, and postwar Japan's most dramatic episode of romantic rightist theater, writer Mishima Yukio's selfimmolation during his effort to initiate a rebellion among SelfDefense Forces units in 1970.

That the lifespan of a single person could encompass such dramatic and abrupt changes suggests the heterogeneity of contemporary Japanese political values. The country has been host to a wide range of often conflicting foreign influences: Prussian statism, French radicalism, Anglo-American liberalism, Marxism and Marxism-Leninism, and European fascism. Mitsu lived to see the kokutai (national polity) ideology enshrined in the Meiji Constitution and then overthrown in the postwar constitution. The fact that a person living in 1989 had been born in the twilight of Japan's feudal regime suggests that some of the older values remained viable. Certainly Japan's economic dynamism is often explained in terms of the coupling of feudal values with the efficiency of modern organization. Political scientists seeking to describe the distinctive features of Japanese politics also point to the feudal legacy behind them. These features include the nature of decision making, the generally pragmatic spirit of Japanese politics, and, especially, the post-1955 successes of the conservative LDP, which has epitomized feudal personalism.

Maintaining power uninterruptedly for nearly four decades, the LDP was able to promote a highly stable policy-making process. Its leaders functioned as brokers, joining the expertise of the elite civil service with the demands of important interest groups. The role of these leaders, however, was not passive. Since the 1960s, the party's policy-making power has increased, while that of the bureaucracy has declined. Although political scandals were frequent, tarnishing the general image of politicians, the system succeeded in providing most groups in society with adequate representation and a share of prosperity. The Japanese middle class is large and stable.

The scandal-shaken LDP was able to obtain a stable House of Representatives majority in the February 18, 1990, general election. However, the failure of the LDP government of Prime Minister Miyazawa Kiichi to get political reform legislation passed disappointed the electorate and many members of his own party, leading to a June 18, 1993, no-confidence vote in the lower house, bringing an end to thirty-eight years of LDP majority rule. The government formed after the July 18, 1993 lower house election was led by Prime Minister Hosokawa Morihiro's Japan New Party. This party, which had broken off from the LDP in the spring of 1992 formed a coalition with the Shinseito (Japan Renewal Party) and Sakigake (Harbinger) parties, which had separated from the LDP just prior to the election, as well as with the Komeito and three socialist parties. The primary goal of the coalition was to pass effective political reform legislation, but the members of the coalition also promised to maintain LDP national security and foreign policies.





On July 26, 1945, Allied leaders Winston Churchill, Harry S. Truman, and Joseph Stalin issued the Potsdam Declaration, which demanded Japan's unconditional surrender. This declaration also defined the major goals of the postsurrender Allied occupation: "The Japanese government shall remove all obstacles to the revival and strengthening of democratic tendencies among the Japanese people. Freedom of speech, of religion, and of thought, as well as respect for the fundamental human rights shall be established" (Section 10). In addition, the document stated: "The occupying forces of the Allies shall be withdrawn from Japan as soon as these objectives have been accomplished and there has been established in accordance with the freely expressed will of the Japanese people a peacefully inclined and responsible government" (Section 12). The Allies sought not merely punishment or reparations from a militaristic foe, but fundamental changes in the nature of its political system. In the words of political scientist Robert E. Ward: "The occupation was perhaps the single most exhaustively planned operation of massive and externally directed political change in world history."

The wording of the Potsdam Declaration--"The Japanese Government shall remove all obstacles..."--and the initial postsurrender measures taken by MacArthur, the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP), suggest that neither he nor his superiors in Washington intended to impose a new political system on Japan unilaterally. Instead, they wished to encourage Japan's new leaders to initiate democratic reforms on their own. But by early 1946, MacArthur's staff and Japanese officials were at odds over the most fundamental issue, the writing of a new constitution. Prime Minister Shidehara Kijuro and many of his colleagues were extremely reluctant to take the drastic step of replacing the 1889 Meiji Constitution with a more liberal document. In late 1945, Shidehara appointed Matsumoto Joji, state minister without portfolio, head of a blue-ribbon committee of constitutional scholars to suggest revisions. The Matsumoto Commission's recommendations, made public in February 1946, were quite conservative (described by one Japanese scholar in the late 1980s as "no more than a touching-up of the Meiji Constitution"). MacArthur rejected them outright and ordered his staff to draft a completely new document. This was presented to surprised Japanese officials on February 13, 1946.

The MacArthur draft, which proposed a unicameral legislature, was changed at the insistence of the Japanese to allow a bicameral legislature, both houses being elected. In most other important respects, however, the ideas embodied in the February 13 document were adopted by the government in its own draft proposal of March 6. These included the constitution's most distinctive features: the symbolic role of the emperor, the prominence of guarantees of civil and human rights, and the renunciation of war. The new document was approved by the Privy Council, the House of Peers, and the House of Representatives, the major organs of government in the 1889 constitution, and promulgated on November 3, 1946, to go into effect on May 3, 1947. Technically, the 1947 constitution was an amendment to the 1889 document rather than its abrogation.

The new constitution would not have been written the way it was had MacArthur and his staff allowed Japanese politicians and constitutional experts to resolve the issue as they wished. The document's foreign origins have, understandably, been a focus of controversy since Japan recovered its sovereignty in 1952. Yet in late 1945 and 1946, there was much public discussion on constitutional reform, and the MacArthur draft was apparently greatly influenced by the ideas of certain Japanese liberals. The MacArthur draft did not attempt to impose a United States-style presidential or federal system. Instead, the proposed constitution conformed to the British model of parliamentary government, which was seen by the liberals as the most viable alternative to the European absolutism of the Meiji Constitution.

After 1952 conservatives and nationalists attempted to revise the constitution to make it more "Japanese," but these attempts were frustrated for a number of reasons. One was the extreme difficulty of amending it. Amendments require approval by twothirds of the members of both houses of the National Diet before they can be presented to the people in a referendum (Article 96). Also, opposition parties, occupying more than one-third of the Diet seats, were firm supporters of the constitutional status quo. Even for members of the ruling LDP, the constitution was not disadvantageous. They had been able to fashion a policy-making process congenial to their interests within its framework. Nakasone Yasuhiro, a strong advocate of constitutional revision during much of his political career, for example, downplayed the issue while serving as prime minister between 1982 and 1987.

<>The Status of the Emperor
<>The Article 9 "No War" Clause
<>Rights and Duties of Citizens


Japan - The Status of the Emperor


In the Meiji Constitution, the emperor was sovereign and was the locus of the state's legitimacy. The preamble stated, "The rights of sovereignty of the State, We have inherited from Our Ancestors, and We shall bequeath them to Our descendants." In the postwar constitution, the emperor's role in the political system was drastically redefined. A prior and important step in this process was Emperor Hirohito's 1946 New Year's speech, made at the prompting of MacArthur, renouncing his status as a divine ruler. Hirohito declared that relations between the ruler and his people cannot be based on "the false conception that the emperor is divine or that the Japanese people are superior to other races."

In the first article of the new constitution, the newly "humanized" ruler is described as "the symbol of the State and of the unity of the people, deriving his position from the will of the people with whom resides sovereign power." The authority of the emperor as sovereign in the 1889 constitution was broad and undefined. His functions under the postwar system are narrow, specific, and largely ceremonial, confined to such activities as convening the Diet, bestowing decorations on deserving citizens, and receiving foreign ambassadors (Article 7). He does not possess "powers related to government" (Article 4). The change in the emperor's status was designed to preclude the possibility of military or bureaucratic cliques exercising broad and irresponsible powers "in the emperor's name"--a prominent feature of 1930s extremism. The constitution defines the Diet as the "highest organ of state power" (Article 41), accountable not to the monarch but to the people who elected its members.

The use of the Japanese word shocho, meaning symbol, to describe the emperor is unusual and, depending upon one's viewpoint, conveniently or frustratingly vague. The emperor is neither head of state nor sovereign, as are many European constitutional monarchs, although in October 1988 Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed, controversially, that the emperor is the country's sovereign in the context of its external relations. Nor does the emperor have an official priestly or religious role. Although he continues to perform ancient rituals, such as ceremonial planting of the rice crop in spring, he does so in a private capacity.

Laws relating to the imperial house must be approved by the Diet. Under the old system, the Imperial Household Law was separate from and equal with the constitution. After the war, the imperial family's extensive estates were confiscated and its finances placed under control of the Imperial Household Agency, part of the Office of the Prime Minister and theoretically subject to the Diet. In practice remains a bastion of conservatism, its officials shrouding the activities of the emperor and his family behind a "chrysanthemum curtain" (the chrysanthemum being the crest of the imperial house) to maintain an aura of sanctity. Despite knowledge of his illness among the press corps and other observers, details about the late Emperor Hirohito's state of health in 1988 and 1989 were tightly controlled. The use of the masculine pronoun to describe the emperor is appropriate because the Imperial Household Law still restricts the succession to males, despite the fact that in earlier centuries some of Japan's rulers had been females.

The emperor's constitutional status became a focus of renewed public attention following news of Hirohito's serious illness in late 1988. Crown Prince Akihito became the first person to ascend the throne under the postwar system. One important symbolic issue was the choice of a new reign title under the gengo system-- borrowed originally from imperial China and used before 1945-- which enumerates years beginning with the first year of a monarch's reign. Thus 1988 was Showa 63, the sixty-third year of the reign of Hirohito, the Showa Emperor. The accession of a new monarch is marked by the naming of a new era that consists of two auspicious Chinese characters. Showa, for example, means bright harmony. Critics deplored the secrecy with which such titles were chosen in the past, the decision being left to a governmentappointed committee of experts, and advocated public discussion of the choice as a reflection of Japan's democratic values. Although the gengo system was accorded official status by a bill the Diet passed in June 1979, some favored the system's abandonment altogether in favor of the Western calendar. But on January 7, 1989, the day of Hirohito's death, the government announced that Heisei (Achieving Peace) was the new era name. The first year of Heisei thus was 1989, and all official documents were so dated.

Still more controversial were the ceremonies held in connection with the late emperor's funeral and the new emperor's accession. State support of these activities would have violated Article 20 of the constitution on the separation of state and religious activities. Rightists, such as members of the Society to Protect Japan (Nihon o Mamoru Kai), a nationwide lobbying group, demanded full public support of the ceremonies as expression of the people's love for their monarch. Walking a tightrope between proconstitution and rightist groups, the government chose to divide Hirohito's state funeral, held February 24, 1989, into official and religious components. Akihito's accession to the throne in November 1990 also had religious (Shinto) and secular components: the Sokuino -rei, or Enthronement Ceremony, was secular; the Daij sai, or Great Thanksgiving Festival, traditionally, a communion between the new monarch and the gods in which the monarch himself became a deity, was religious. The government's decision to use public funds not only for the Sokui-no-rei but also for the Daijosai, justified in terms of the "public nature" of both ceremonies, was seen by religious and opposition groups as a serious violation of Article 20.

In the early 1990s, an array of such symbolic political issues brought attention to the state's role in religious or quasireligious activities. Defenders of the constitution, including Japanese Christians, followers of new religions, leftists, and many members of the political opposition, considered any government involvement in religious aspects of the enthronement to be a conservative attempt to undermine the spirit, if not the letter, of the constitution. They also strongly criticized the 1989 Ministry of Education, Science, and Culture's controversial directive, which called for the playing of the prewar national anthem ("Kimigayo," or "The Sovereign's Reign") and display of the rising sun flag (Hinomaru, the use of which dates to the early nineteenth century) at public school ceremonies. Although since the late 1950s these activities had been described by the ministry as "desirable," neither had legal status under the postwar constitution.

Another issue was state support for the Yasukuni Shrine. This shrine, located in Tokyo near the Imperial Palace, was established during the Meiji era as a repository for the souls of soldiers and sailors who died in battle, thus a holy place rather than simply a war memorial. Conservatives introduced bills five times during the 1970s to make it a "national establishment," but none was adopted. On the fortieth anniversary of the end of World War II in Japan, on August 15, 1985, Prime Minister Nakasone Yasuhiro and members of his cabinet visited the shrine in an official capacity, an action viewed as a renewed conservative effort, outside the Diet, to invest the shrine with official status.

Despite the veneer of Westernization and Article 20's prohibition of state support of the emperor's religious or ceremonial activities, his postwar role was in some ways more like that of traditional rather than prewar emperors. During the Meiji (1868-1912), Taisho (1912-26), and early Showa (1926-89) eras, the emperor himself was not actively involved in politics. His political authority, however, was immense, and military and bureaucratic elites acted in his name. The "symbolic" role of the emperor after 1945, however, recalled feudal Japan, where political power was monopolized and exercised by the shoguns, and where the imperial court carried on a leisurely, apolitical existence in the ancient capital of Kyoto and served as patrons of culture and the arts.

Emperor Akihito, in an effort to put a modern face on the Japanese monarchy, held a press conference on August 7, 1989, his first since ascending to the throne. He expressed his determination to respect the constitution and promote international understanding.


Japan - The Article 9 "No War" Clause


Another distinctive feature of the constitution, and one that has generated as much controversy as the status of the emperor, is the Article 9 "No War" clause. It contains two paragraphs: the first states that the Japanese people "forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes"; the second states that "land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential will never be maintained." Some historians attribute the inclusion of Article 9 to Charles Kades, one of MacArthur's closest associates, who was impressed by the spirit of the 1928 Kellogg-Briand Pact renouncing war. MacArthur himself claimed that the idea had been suggested to him by Prime Minister Shidehara. The article's acceptance by the Japanese government may in part be explained by the desire to protect the imperial throne. Some Allied leaders saw the emperor as the primary factor in Japan's warlike behavior. His assent to the "No War" clause weakened their arguments in favor of abolishing the throne or trying the emperor as a war criminal.

Article 9 has had broad implications for foreign policy, the institution of judicial review as exercised by the Supreme Court, the status of the Self-Defense Forces, and the nature and tactics of opposition politics. During the late 1980s, increases in government appropriations for the Self-Defense Forces averaged more than 5 percent per year. By 1990 Japan was ranked third, behind the then-Soviet Union and the United States, in total defense expenditures, and the United States urged Japan to assume a larger share of the burden of defense of the western Pacific. Given these circumstances, some have viewed Article 9 as increasingly irrelevant. It has remained, however, an important brake on the growth of Japan's military capabilities. Despite the fading of bitter wartime memories, the general public, according to opinion polls, continued to show strong support for this constitutional provision.


Japan - Rights and Duties of Citizens


"The rights and duties of the people" are prominently featured in the postwar constitution. Altogether, thirty-one of its 103 articles are devoted to describing them in considerable detail, reflecting the commitment to "respect for the fundamental human rights" of the Potsdam Declaration. Although the Meiji Constitution had a section devoted to the "rights and duties of subjects," which guaranteed "liberty of speech, writing, publication, public meetings, and associations," these rights were granted "within the limits of law." Freedom of religious belief was allowed "insofar as it does not interfere with the duties of subjects" (all Japanese were required to acknowledge the emperor's divinity, and those, such as Christians, who refused to do so out of religious conviction were accused of lèse-majesté).

Such freedoms are delineated in the postwar constitution without qualification. In addition, the later constitution guarantees freedom of thought and conscience; academic freedom; the prohibition of discrimination based on race, creed, social status, or family origin; and a number of what could be called welfare rights: the right to "minimum standards of wholesome and cultured living"; the right to "equal education"; the "right and obligation to work" according to fixed standards of labor and wages; and the right of workers to organize. Equality of the sexes and the right of marriage based on mutual consent (in contrast to arranged marriage in the most traditional sense, in which families decide on the match) are also recognized. Limitations are placed on personal freedoms only insofar as they are not abused (Article 12) or interfere with public welfare (Article 13). The bestowal of the power of judicial review on the Supreme Court (Article 81) is in part meant to serve as a means of defending individual rights from infringement by public authorities.

Some United States origins of the constitution are revealed in the phraseology of Article 13, which states that the right of the people to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" shall be the "supreme consideration in legislation and other governmental affairs." It was with some awkwardness that such concepts were translated into Japanese. Yet the document goes further in enumerating rights than do the United States and many other Western constitutions. For example, the article pertaining to equality of the sexes (Article 14) bans sexual (as well as racial, religious, and social) discrimination "in political, economic, or social relations" as clearly as the proposed United States equal rights amendment, which failed to be ratified during the 1970s and 1980s. Unlike their Japanese counterparts, United States schoolteachers and university professors are not protected by a special provision on academic freedom (Article 23). Instead, American teaching and research activities are subsumed under the more general guarantee of freedom of speech in the First Amendment.




The Legislature

Article 41 of the constitution describes the National Diet, or national legislature, as "the highest organ of state power" and "the sole law-making organ of the State". This statement is in forceful contrast to the Meiji Constitution, which described the emperor as the one who exercised legislative power with the consent of the Diet. The Diet's responsibilities include not only the making of laws but also the approval of the annual national budget that the government submits and the ratification of treaties. It can also initiate draft constitutional amendments, which, if approved, must be presented to the people in a referendum. The Diet may conduct "investigations in relation to government" (Article 62). The prime minister must be designated by Diet resolution, establishing the principle of legislative supremacy over executive government agencies (Article 67). The government can also be dissolved by the Diet if it passes a motion of no confidence introduced by fifty members of the House of Representatives, the lower chamber. Government officials, including the prime minister and cabinet members, are required to appear before Diet investigative committees and answer inquiries. The Diet also has the power to impeach judges convicted of criminal or irregular conduct.

Japan's legislature is bicameral. Both the upper house, the House of Councillors, and the lower house, the House of Representatives, are elective bodies. The constitution's Article 14 declares that "peers and peerages shall not be recognized." Upon the enactment of the 1947 constitution, the old House of Peers was abolished. Members of the two new houses are elected by universal adult suffrage, and secrecy of the ballot is guaranteed (Article 15). The term of the House of Representatives is four years. It may be dissolved earlier, however, if the prime minister or members of the House of Representatives decide to hold a general election before the expiration of that term (Article 7). Multiple representatives are elected from 130 constituencies based theoretically on population. In 1993 the House of Representatives had 511 members.

Members of the House of Councillors have six-year terms. One half of these terms expire every three years. There are two types of constituencies in the upper house: prefectural constituencies, for the forty-seven prefectures and districts, represented by thirteen councillors, apportioned according to the district populations; and a national "proportional representation" constituency, represented by 127 councillors, which yields a total of 140 in 1992. The proportional representation system, introduced in 1982, was the first major electoral reform under the postwar constitution. Instead of choosing national constituency candidates as individuals, as had previously been the case, voters cast ballots for parties. Individual councillors, listed officially by the parties before the election, are selected on the basis of the parties' proportions of the total national constituency vote. The system was introduced to reduce the excessive money spent by candidates for the national constituencies. Critics charged, however, that this new system benefited the two largest parties, the LDP and the Japan Socialist Party (Nihon Shakaito; after 1991 known as the Social Democratic Party of Japan), which in fact had sponsored the reform.

The House of Representatives has the greater power of the two contemporary houses, in contrast to the prewar system in which the two houses had equal status. According to Article 59, a bill that is approved by the House of Representatives but turned down by the House of Councillors returns to the House of Representatives. If the latter passes the bill with a two-thirds or higher majority on this second ballot, the bill becomes law. However, three important exceptions to the principle exist; covering the approval of the budget, adoption of treaties with foreign countries, and the selection of the prime minister. In all three cases, if the upper and lower houses have a disagreement that is not resolved by a joint committee of the two houses, then after a lapse of thirty days "the decision of the House of Representatives shall be the decision of the Diet" (Articles 60, 61, and 67). Budgeting is an important annual political function, setting both taxes and the allowable expenditures of all segments of the central government, and the impotence of the upper house has been demonstrated on a number of occasions. Nevertheless, the House of Councillors, with its fixed terms, cannot be dissolved by the prime minister. In times of emergency, the cabinet may convene the House of Councillors rather than the House of Representatives (Article 54).

In the July 23, 1989, election for half the members of the House of Councillors, the LDP lost its majority. It won only thirty-six of the seats contested in the prefectural and national constituencies, while the opposition parties together won ninety, the largest opposition party, the Japan Socialist Party, won fortysix. This result gave an admittedly unstable coalition of opposition groups the opportunity to use the limited powers of the upper house to delay or frustrate initiatives taken in the LDP-dominated lower house. On August 9, 1989, for the first time in forty-one years, the two houses nominated two different candidates for prime minister--Kaifu Toshiki of the LDP and Doi Takako of the Japan Socialist Party. Although Kaifu was finally chosen because of the principle of lower house supremacy, the events showed how opposition control of the upper house could complicate the political process. In March 1990, the upper house rejected a supplementary budget bill for fiscal year (FY) 1989 that had been proposed by the lower house. Although the bill was eventually approved despite rejection by the upper house, the wrangling caused some minor inconvenience to the country's more than 1 million national civil servants whose monthly salary payments were delayed. The more serious upheaval, which might have occurred had there been a real deadlock or a potential shift in fiscal policies brought about by the opposition parties, was avoided.

The LDP won 223 seats in the July 1993 House of Representatives election, thirty-three seats short of the simple majority required to control the 511-member lower house. With postelection adjustments and realignments, the Japan New Party head, Hosokawa Morihiro, was able to gain the support of the Shinseito, the Sakigake, the Komeito, the Social Democratic Party of Japan, the Democratic Socialist Party, and United Social Democratic Party to form a minority government. This coalition of small conservative parties that had broken off from the LDP and socialist-based opposition parties differed on many issues but shared the common objective of passing political reform legislation. In early 1994, it remained to be seen how long and how effectively Prime Minister Hosokawa would be able to hold the coalition together.

<>The Cabinet and Ministries
<>Local Government
<>The Electoral System
<>The Judicial System


Japan - The Cabinet and Ministries


In the postwar political system, executive power has been vested in the cabinet. The cabinet head is the prime minister, responsible for appointing and dismissing other cabinet members. Cabinet ministers include those appointed to head the twelve ministries, and the ministers of state placed in charge of the agencies and commissions of the Office of the Prime Minister, which itself has the status of a ministry. They include the director general of the Defense Agency, equivalent to a minister of defense but lacking ministerial status (a reflection of the Article 9 renunciation of war). Also among the ministers of state are the chief cabinet secretary, who coordinates the activities of the ministries and agencies, conducts policy research, and prepares materials to be discussed at cabinet meetings, and the director of the Cabinet Legislative Bureau, who advises cabinet members on drafting the legislation to be proposed to the Diet. Although the chief cabinet secretary does not have ministerial rank, the position is influential within the cabinet because of its coordination role.

The Board of Audit reviews government expenditures and submits an annual report to the Diet. The 1947 Board of Audit Law gives this body substantial independence from both cabinet and Diet control. The Security Council advises the prime minister on salaries and other matters pertaining to national government civil servants. Semiautonomous public corporations--including public housing corporations, financial institutions, and the Japan Broadcasting Corporation (Nippon Hoso Kyokai--NHK, the sole, noncommercial public radio and television broadcasting system)--had been reduced in number by the privatization of Japan Airlines, the Japanese National Railways, the Japan Tobacco and Salt Public Corporation, and Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation during the 1980s. In May 1992, there were ninety-two semiautonomous corporations and seven privatized corporations.

National government civil servants are divided into "special" and "regular" categories. Appointments in the special category are governed by political or other factors and do not involve competitive examinations. This category includes cabinet ministers, heads of independent agencies, members of the Self-Defense Forces, Diet officials, and ambassadors. The core of the civil service is composed of members of the regular category, who are recruited through competitive examinations. This group is further divided into junior service and upper professional levels, the latter forming a well-defined civil service elite.


Japan - Local Government


Japan is divided into forty-seven administrative divisions: one metropolitan district (to--Tokyo), two urban prefectures (fu--Kyoto and Osaka), forty-three rural prefectures (ken), and one district (d --Hokkaido). Large cities are subdivided into wards (ku), and further split into towns, or precincts (machi or cho), or subdistricts (shicho) and counties (gun).

Each of the forty-seven local jurisdictions has a governor and a unicameral assembly, both elected by popular vote every four years. All are required by national law to maintain departments of general affairs, finance, welfare, health, and labor. Departments of agriculture, fisheries, forestry, commerce, and industry are optional, depending on local needs. The governor is responsible for all activities supported through local taxation or the national government.

Cities (shi) are self-governing units administered independently of the larger jurisdictions within which they are located. In order to attain shi status, a jurisdiction must have at least 30,000 inhabitants, 60 percent of whom are engaged in urban occupations. City government is headed by a mayor elected for four years by popular vote. There are also popularly elected city assemblies. The wards (ku) of larger cities also elect their own assemblies, which select ward superintendents.

The terms machi and cho designate self-governing towns outside the cities as well as precincts of urban wards. Like the cities, each has its own elected mayor and assembly. Villages (son or mura) are the smallest self-governing entities in rural areas. They often consist of a number of rural hamlets (buraku) containing several thousand people connected to one another through the formally imposed framework of village administration. Villages have mayors and councils elected to four-years terms.

Japan has a unitary rather than a federal system of government, in which local jurisdictions largely depend on national government both administratively and financially. Although much less powerful than its prewar counterpart (the Home Ministry), the postwar Ministry of Home Affairs, as well as other national ministries, has the authority to intervene significantly in regional and local government. The result of this power is a high level of organizational and policy standardization among the different local governments. Because local tax revenues are insufficient to support prefectural and city governments, these bodies depend on the central government for subsidies. The term "30 percent autonomy" is frequently used to describe local government because that amount of revenues is derived from local taxation. Yet local governments are not entirely passive. People have a strong sense of local community, are highly suspicious of the central government, and wish to preserve the uniqueness of their prefecture, city, or town. Some of the more progressive jurisdictions, such as Tokyo and Kyoto, have experimented with policies in such areas as social welfare that later were adopted by the national government.


Japan - The Electoral System


The Japanese political system has three types of elections: general elections to the House of Representatives held every four years (unless the lower house is dissolved earlier), elections to the House of Councillors held every three years to choose one-half of its members, and local elections held every four years for offices in prefectures, cities, and villages. Elections are supervised by election committees at each administrative level under the general direction of the Central Election Administration Committee. The minimum voting age for persons of both sexes is twenty years; voters must satisfy a three-month residency requirement before being allowed to cast a ballot. For those seeking office, there are two sets of age requirements: twenty-five years of age for admission to the House of Representatives and most local offices, and thirty years of age for admission to the House of Councillors and the prefectural governorship.

In the general election of February 18, 1990, the thirty-ninth held since the first parliamentary election in July 1890, the 130 multiple-seat election districts of the House of Representatives returned two to five representatives, depending on their population. There were two exceptions: the district encompassing the Amami Islands, south of Kyushu, elected only one representative to the lower house, while the first district of Hokkaido elected six. Successful candidates were those who won at least the fifth largest aggregation of votes in a five-person district, the fourth largest in a four-person district, and so on. Voters cast their ballots for only one candidate. Competition for lower house seats in the February 1990 general election varied from district to district. Tokyo's fourth district had seventeen candidates running for five seats, while the second district in Ibaraki Prefecture had only four persons running for three seats. In Okinawa Prefecture's single five-seat district, there were only six candidates.

In House of Councillors elections, the prefectural constituencies elect from two to eight councillors, depending on their population. Each voter casts one ballot for a prefectural candidate and a second one for a party in the national constituency system.

Percentages of eligible voters casting ballots in postwar elections for the House of Representatives had varied within a rather narrow range, from 76.9 percent in May 1958 to 67.9 percent in December 1983, but the 67.3 percent turnout in the July 1993 lower house election set a new low. The figure for the February 18, 1990, general election was 72.4 percent. Although interest in politics is greater in urban areas than in rural areas, voter turnout in the latter is generally higher, probably because constituents have a greater personal stake in such elections.

Elections and Political Funding

Partly as a result of revelations following the Recruit scandal of 1988-89, the problem of political funding was intensely debated during the late 1980s and early 1990s. The scandal arose as a result of the dealings of Ezoe Hiromasa, the ambitious chairman of the board of the Recruit Corporation (a professional search service that had diversified into finance and real estate and had become involved in politics), who sold large blocks of untraded shares in a subsidiary, Recruit Cosmos, to seventy-six individuals. When the stock was traded over the counter in 1986, its price jumped, earning individual investors as much as ¥100 million in after-sales profits. The persons involved included the most influential leaders of the LDP (usually through their aides or spouses) and a smaller number of opposition party figures. Although such insider trading was not strictly illegal, it caused public outrage at a time when the ruling party was considering a highly controversial consumption tax. Before the scandal ran its course, Takeshita Noboru was obliged to resign as prime minister in April 1989, a senior aide committed suicide in expiation for his leader's humiliation, and former Prime Minister Nakasone Yasuhiro resigned from the LDP--becoming an "independent" Diet member--to spare the much-tainted party further shame.

Regarding the background issue of political funding, a group of parliamentarians belonging to the ruling LDP estimated in 1987 that annual expenses for ten newly elected members of the Diet averaged ¥120 million each, or about US$800,000. This figure, which included expenses for staff and constituent services in a member's home district, was less than the average for Diet members as a whole, because long-term incumbents tended to incur higher expenses. Yet in the late 1980s, the government provided each Diet member with only ¥20 million for annual operating expenses, leaving ¥100 million to be obtained through private contributions, political party faction bosses, or other means. The lack of public funding meant that politicians--especially, but not exclusively, members of the LDP-- needed constant infusions of cash to stay in office.

Maintaining staff and offices in Tokyo and the home district constituted the biggest expense for Diet members. Near-obligatory attendance at the weddings and funerals of constituents and their families, however, was another large financial drain: the Japanese custom requires that attendees contribute cash, handed over discreetly in elaborately decorated envelopes, to the parents of the bride and groom or to the bereaved.

After revelations of corrupt activities forced the resignation of Prime Minister Tanaka Kakuei, postwar Japan's most skillful practitioner of "money politics," in 1974, the 1948 Political Funds Control Law was amended to establish ceilings for contributions from corporations, other organizations, and individuals. This change forced Diet members to seek a larger number of smaller contributions to maintain cash flow. Fund- raising parties to which tickets were sold were a major revenue source during the 1980s, and the abuse of these ticket sales became a public concern. Another related problem was the secrecy surrounding political funds and their use. Although many politicians, including members of newly appointed cabinets, voluntarily disclosed their personal finances, such disclosure is not compulsory and many sources of revenue remain obscure.

Proposals for system reform in the early 1990s included compulsory full disclosure of campaign funding, more generous public allowances for Diet members to reduce (or, ideally, to eliminate) their reliance on under-the-table contributions, and stricter penalties for violators, including lengthy periods of being barred from running for public office. Some commentators advocated replacement of the lower house's multiple-seat election district system with single-seat constituencies like those found in Britain and the United States. It was argued that the multiple-seat districts made election campaigning more expensive because party members from the same district had to compete among themselves for the votes of the same constituents. It was hoped that the smaller size of single-seat districts would also reduce the expense of staff, offices, and constituent services. Critics argued, however, that the creation of single-seat constituencies would virtually eliminate the smaller opposition parties and would either create a United States-style two-party system or give the LDP an even greater majority in the lower house than it enjoyed under the multiple-seat system.

In contrast with multimillion-dollar United States political campaigns, direct expenses for the comparatively short campaigns before Japanese general, upper house, and local elections were relatively modest. The use of posters and pamphlets was strictly regulated, and candidates appeared on the noncommercial public television station, NHK, to give short campaign speeches. Most of this activity was publicly funded. Campaign sound-trucks wove their way through urban and rural streets, often bombarding residents with earsplitting harangues from candidates or their supporters. No politician, however, could expect to remain in office without considering expenses for constituent services the most important component of campaign expenses.

In the summer of 1993, the LDP government of Miyazawa Kiichi was brought down largely as a result of its failure to pass effective political reform legislation. The minority government of Hosokawa Morihiro that succeeded it proposed legislation to ban direct contributions by companies or unions to parliamentary candidates and to divide the Diet equally between 250 single-seat constituencies and 250 seats distributed by proportional representation.

Electoral Districts

The apportionment of electoral districts still reflects the distribution of the population in the years following World War II, when only one-third of the people lived in urban areas and twothirds lived in rural areas. In the next forty-five years, the population became more than three-quarters urban, as people deserted rural communities to seek economic opportunities in Tokyo and other large cities. The lack of reapportionment led to a serious underrepresentation of urban voters. Urban districts in the House of Representatives were increased by five in 1964, bringing nineteen new representatives to the lower house; in 1975 six more urban districts were established, with a total of twenty new representatives allocated to them and to other urban districts. Yet great inequities remained between urban and rural voters.

In the early 1980s, as many as five times the votes were needed to elect a representative from an urban district compared with those needed for a rural district. Similar disparities existed in the prefectural constituencies of the House of Councillors. The Supreme Court had ruled on several occasions that the imbalance violated the constitutional principle of one person-one vote. The Supreme Court mandated the addition of eight representatives to urban districts and the removal of seven from rural districts in 1986. Several lower house districts' boundaries were redrawn. Yet the disparity is still as much as three urban votes to one rural vote.

After the 1986 change, the average number of persons per lower house representative was 236,424. However, the figure varied from 427,761 persons per representative in the fourth district of Kanagawa Prefecture, which contains the large city of <"http://worldfacts.us/Japan-Yokohama.htm">Yokohama, to 142,932 persons in the third district of largely rural and mountainous Nagano Prefecture. A major reapportionment seemed unlikely in the near future because rural voters remained a major source of support for the LDP.


Japan - The Judicial System


In contrast to the prewar system, in which executive bodies had much control over the courts, the postwar constitution guarantees that "all judges shall be independent in the exercise of their conscience and shall be bound only by this constitution and the Laws" (Article 76). They cannot be removed from the bench "unless judicially declared mentally or physically incompetent to perform official duties," and they cannot be disciplined by executive agencies (Article 78). A Supreme Court justice, however, may be removed by a majority of voters in a referendum that occurs at the first general election following the justice's appointment and every ten years thereafter. As of the early 1990s, however, the electorate had not used this unusual system to dismiss a justice.

The Supreme Court, the highest court, is the final court of appeal in civil and criminal cases. The constitution's Article 81 designates it "the court of last resort with power to determine the constitutionality of any law, order, regulation, or official act." The Supreme Court is also responsible for nominating judges to lower courts, determining judicial procedures, overseeing the judicial system, including the activities of public prosecutors, and disciplining judges and other judicial personnel. It renders decisions from either a grand bench of fifteen justices or a petit bench of five. The grand bench is required for cases involving constitutionality. The court includes twenty research clerks, whose function is similar to that of the clerks of the United States Supreme Court.

The judicial system is unitary: there is no independent system of prefectural level courts equivalent to the state courts of the United States. Below the Supreme Court, the Japanese system included eight high courts, fifty district courts, and fifty family courts in the late 1980s. Four of each of the last two types of courts were located in Hokkaido, and one of each in the remaining forty-six rural prefectures, urban prefectures, and the Tokyo Metropolitan District. Summary courts, located in 575 cities and towns in the late 1980s, performed the functions of small courts and justices of the peace in the United States, having jurisdiction over minor offenses and civil cases.

Judicial Review

The Supreme Court is generally reluctant to exercise the powers of judicial review given to it by the constitution, in large part because of unwillingness to become involved in politically sensitive issues. When decisions have been rendered on such matters as the constitutionality of the Self-Defense Forces, the sponsorship of Shinto ceremonies by public authorities, or the authority of the Ministry of Education, Science, and Culture to determine the content of school textbooks or teaching curricula, the court generally took a conservative, progovernment stance.

In the words of political scientist T.J. Pempel, the Supreme Court "has been an important, if frequently unrecognized, vehicle for preserving the status quo in Japan and for reducing the capacity of the courts to reverse executive actions." Important exceptions to this conservative trend, however, were the rulings on the unconstitutionality of the electoral district apportionment system, discussed earlier.

The Role of Law in Japanese Society

As in other industrialized countries, law plays a central role in Japanese political, social, and economic life. Fundamental differences between Japanese and Western legal concepts, however, have often led Westerners to believe that Japanese society is based more on quasi-feudalistic principles of paternalism (the oyabun-kobun relationship) and social harmony, or wa. Japan has a relatively small number of lawyers, about 13,000 practicing in the mid-1980s, compared with 667,000 in the United States, a country with only twice Japan's population. This fact has been offered as evidence that the Japanese are strongly averse to upsetting human relationships by taking grievances to court. In cases of liability, such as the crash of a Japan Airlines jetliner in August 1985, which claimed 520 lives, Japanese victims or their survivors were more willing than their Western counterparts would be to accept the ritualistic condolences of company presidents (including officials' resignations over the incident) and nonjudicially determined compensation, which in many cases was less than they might have received through the courts.

Factors other than a cultural preference for social harmony, however, explain the court-shy behavior of the Japanese. The Ministry of Justice closely screens university law faculty graduates and others who wish to practice law or serve as judges. Only about 2 percent of the approximately 25,000 persons who applied annually to the Ministry's Legal Training and Research Institute two-year required course were admitted in the late 1980s. The institute graduates only a few hundred new lawyers each year. Plagued by shortages of attorneys, judges, clerks, and other personnel, the court system is severely overburdened. Presiding judges often strongly advise plaintiffs to seek out-of-court settlements. The progress of cases through even the lower courts is agonizingly slow, and appeals carried to the Supreme Court can take decades. Faced with such obstacles, most individuals choose not to seek legal remedies. If legal personnel are dramatically increased, which seems unlikely, use of the courts might approach rates found in the United States and other Western countries.

In the English-speaking countries, law has been viewed traditionally as a framework of enforceable rights and duties designed to protect the legitimate interests of private citizens. The judiciary is viewed as occupying a neutral stance in disputes between individual citizens and the state. Legal recourse is regarded as a fundamental civil right. The reformers of the Meiji era (1868-1912), however, were strongly influenced by legal theories that had evolved in Germany and other continental European states. The Meiji reformers viewed the law primarily as an instrument through which the state controls a restive population and directs energies to achieving the goals of fukoku kyohei (wealth and arms).

The primary embodiment of the spirit of the law in modern Japan has not been the attorney representing private interests but the bureaucrat who exercises control through what sociologist Max Weber has called "legal-rational" methods of administration. Competence in law, acquired through university training, consists of implementing, interpreting, and, at the highest levels, formulating law within a bureaucratic framework. Many functions performed by lawyers in the United States and other Western countries are the responsibility of civil servants in Japan. The majority of the country's ruling elite, both political and economic, has been recruited from among the graduates of the Law Faculty of the University of Tokyo and other prestigious institutions, people who have rarely served as private attorneys.

Legal and bureaucratic controls on many aspects of Japanese society were extremely tight. The Ministry of Education, Science, and Culture, for example, closely supervised both public and private universities. Changes in undergraduate or graduate curricula, the appointment of senior faculty, and similar actions required ministry approval in conformity with very detailed regulations. Although this "control-oriented" use of law did not inhibit the freedom of teaching or research (protected by Article 23 of the constitution), it severely limited the universities' scope for reform and innovation. Controls were even tighter on primary and secondary schools.

Human Rights

Compared with most of its Asian neighbors and countries in most other parts of the world, Japan's record on human rights is commendable, if not exemplary. With some important exceptions, most observers consider informal social pressures a greater factor in limiting individual freedom than the coercive actions of the authorities. The ancient Japanese adage that "the nail that sticks up gets hammered down" captures the sense that Japanese people are pressured more to conform than are people in the more "individualistic" societies of the West. Some Japanese lower- and upper-secondary schools, for example, have adopted extremely strict dress codes, determining not only apparel but also the length of hair to the exact centimeter. Although defended by conservative educators as a way of cultivating discipline and self-control, these codes have been widely criticized as violations of students' rights. In another example, shopkeepers and local community groups throughout Japan canceled sales promotions and festivals in the wake of Emperor Hirohito's illness in late 1988, for fear of being labeled unpatriotic. This self-restraint cost them billions of yen.

Although freedom of expression was, for the most part, respected, certain matters--particularly those relating to the emperor--were widely considered taboo subjects for public figures. Nagasaki's mayor, Motoshima Hitoshi, a member of the LDP, said in December 1988 that Hirohito bore some responsibility for World War II. Motoshima was later ostracized by influential, mainstream politicians, his life was threatened on several occasions, and in January 1990 he was seriously wounded outside his office by a right-wing extremist. Despite the comments about his father, Emperor Akihito visited Motoshima after the attempt on his life.

Although Article 14 guarantees sexual equality, women faced systematic discrimination in the workplace. They were generally expected to quit work after getting married or having children. However, the number of lifelong career women grew steadily during the 1980s and early 1990s. The Diet's passage of the Law for Equal Opportunity in Employment for Men and Women in 1985 was of some help in securing women's rights, even though the law was a "guideline" and entailed no legal penalties for employers who discriminated. The law has, however, been used by women in several court cases seeking equal treatment in such areas as retirement age.

Human rights have also become an issue because of the police practice of obtaining confessions from criminal suspects. Although torture is rarely reported, suspects are placed under tremendous psychological and physical pressures to confess. In several cases, the courts have acknowledged that confessions were forced and ordered prisoners released.

The greatest controversy concerning human rights, however, focuses on the social and legal treatment of minorities. Although the Japanese consider themselves to be a homogeneous people, minorities do exist, and they often have suffer severe discrimination. The largest group are the 2 million to 4 million hisabetsu buraku ("discriminated communities") descendants of the outcast communities of feudal Japan. Other minorities, including the Ainu, indigenous inhabitants of northern Japan; the people of Okinawa; and ethnic Koreans, have suffered discrimination as well.




Japanese politics are generally described as pragmatic, limited by particularistic loyalties, and based on human relations rather than on ideology or principles. The quintessential Japanese leader is a network builder rather than the embodiment of charisma or ideals; more like the crafty and resourceful founder of the Tokugawa bakufu, Tokugawa Ieyasu, than the ruthless but heroic Oda Nobunaga. Such political dynamics are evident, for example, in the workings of the LDP, which has remained the strongest party since 1955 despite their loss of majority control in the early 1990s.

Yet the pragmatic, personalistic view of politics cannot explain Japan's militaristic past, the political crises of the 1960s, the controversies surrounding the emperor, Article 9, or the unwillingness of many in the Socialist Democratic Party of Japan, despite a huge political cost, to abandon their antiwar and revolutionary commitment in the early 1990s. It also fails to account for the apparently sincerely held ideological beliefs of the wartime period. The "New Order in Greater East Asia" was legitimized on the basis of universal principles, such as "panAsianism ," "international justice," and "permanent peace," even if the results were quite the opposite. The nonideological nature of mainstream Japanese politics in the postwar period reflects defeat in war, the failure after 1945 to find a national ideological consensus to replace discredited wartime beliefs, and the commitment of both elite and ordinary Japanese to expanding the economy and raising living standards. As these goals were attained, a complacent, largely apolitical "middle mass society" (a term coined by economist Murakami Yasusuke) emerged, in which 90 percent of the people in opinion polls consistently classified themselves as "middle class."

Community and Leadership

Certain distinctive features of Japanese politics can be identified, although this is not to say that they are unique to Japan. Rather, qualities also found in other political systems, such as the importance of personal connections and consensus building, played an extraordinarily important role in Japanese politics. These features have deep historical roots and reflect values that pervade the society as a whole.

In both the feudal and the modern eras, a major problem for Japanese political leaders has been reconciling the goals of community survival and the welfare and self-respect of individuals in an environment of extreme scarcity. In recent centuries, Japan lacked the natural resources and space to accommodate its population comfortably. With the exception of Hokkaido and colonial territories in Asia between 1895 and 1945, there was no "frontier" to absorb excess people. One solution was to ignore the welfare of large sectors of the population (poor peasants and workers) and to use force when they expressed their discontent. Such coercive measures, common during both the Tokugawa and the World War II periods, largely, although not entirely, disappeared in the postwar "welfare state" (for example, farmers were evicted from their land to construct the New Tokyo International Airport at NaritaSanrizuka in the 1970s after long negotiations had failed). But noncoercive, or mostly noncoercive, methods of securing popular compliance had developed to an extraordinary degree in social and political life.

The most important such method is the promotion of a strong sense of community consciousness and group solidarity. Japanese individuals are often characterized as having a strong sense of self-sacrifice and community dedication. Historians and sociologists note that both traditional and modern Japanese communities--the buraku, the feudal domain with its retinue of samurai, the large commercial houses found in Edo (the future Tokyo), Osaka, and Kyoto before 1868, and modern corporations and bureaucracies with their cohorts of lifetime employees--have striven to be all-inclusive. Such groups serve a variety of functions for the individual, providing not only income and sustenance but also emotional support and individual identity. Japanese called such community inclusiveness the "octopus-pot way of life" (takotsubo seikatsu). Large pots with narrow openings at the top are used by fishermen to capture octopuses, and the term is used to refer to people so wrapped up in their particular social group that they cannot see the world outside its confines.

The "group consciousness" model of Japanese social life, however, has been overstressed at times. A person may often go along with group demands because they serve self-interest in the long run (for example, political contributions may help secure future favors from those in office). Historically, democratic concepts of individual rights and limited government have been deeply appealing because they, too, promise protection of individual autonomy. Despite very different ethical and political traditions, the Japanese people were very receptive to imported liberal ideas both before and after 1945. John Stuart Mill's essay On Liberty, for example, was extremely popular during the Meiji era.

Because individual, usually passive, resistance to group demands occurrs, Japanese leaders have found the creation of a strong community sense to be a difficult and time-consuming task. Harmony (wa), that most prized social value, is not easily attained. One mechanism for achieving wa is the use of rituals to develop a psychological sense of group identity. Political parties and factions, the offices of national and local governments, businesses, university departments, research groups, alumni associations, and other groups sponsor frequent ceremonies and more informal parties for this purpose. A group's history and identity are carefully constructed through the use of songs and symbols (often resembling, in miniature, the Meiji government's creation of symbols of kokutai in the late nineteenth century). Often, an organization's founder, especially if deceased, is regarded as something of a Confucian sage or a Shinto kami (deity). Group members, however, may find that pervasive ritualism allows them to "go through the motions" (such as the chanting of banzai! (ten thousand years!) at the end of political rallies, without having to make a deeper commitment to the group.

A second mechanism to promote community solidarity is the building of hierarchical relationships. In this practice, the influence of premodern ethics is readily apparent. In what anthropologist Nakane Chie calls Japan's "vertical society," human relationships are defined in terms of inequality, and people relate to each other as superiors and inferiors along a minutely differentiated gradient of social status, not only within bureaucratic organizations, where it might be expected, but also in academic, artistic, and, especially, political worlds.

Hierarchy expresses itself along two dimensions: first, an internal community differentiation of rank by seniority, education, and occupational status; and second, the distinction between "insiders" and "outsiders," between members and nonmembers of the community, along with the ranking of whole groups or communities along a vertical continuum. Although internal hierarchy can cause alienation as inferiors chafe under the authority of their superiors, the external kind of hierarchy tends to strengthen group cohesion as individual members work to improve their group's relative ranking. The Japanese nation as a whole has been viewed as a single group by its people in relation to other nations. Intense nationalism has frequently been a manifestation of group members' desire to "catch up and overtake" the advanced ("superior") nations of the West, while the rights of non-Western nations, like China or Korea, often viewed as "inferior," have been ignored.

Like group consciousness, however, the theme of hierarchy has been overstressed. Contemporary Japanese politics show a strong consciousness of equality, and even traditional communities, such as rural villages, were often egalitarian rather than hierarchical. Citizens' movements of the 1960s and 1970s differed from older political organizations in their commitment to promoting intragroup democracy. In addressing the nation, Emperor Akihito used colloquial Japanese terms that stressed equality, rather than the formal, hierarchy-laden language of his predecessors.

Two mechanisms for lessening the hierarchy-generated tensions are the seniority principle and early retirement. As men or women grow older, gaining seniority within an organization, they acquire authority and higher status. The seniority principle is reinforced by the traditional reluctance to place younger persons in positions of authority over older ones. The institution of early retirement (top-ranked businesspeople and bureaucrats commonly retired at age fifty-five or sixty) helps to the keep the promotion of others smooth and predictable. The system also helps to enable talented individuals to succeed to the most responsible positions and prevents a small group of older persons (what the Japanese call "one-man leaders") from monopolizing leadership positions and imposing increasingly outmoded ideas on the organization. Elite retirees, however, often continue to wield influence as advisers and usually pursue second careers in organizations affiliated with the one from which they retired.

The circulation of elites that results from the seniority and early retirement principles ensures that everyone within the upper ranks of the hierarchy has a turn at occupying a high-status position, such as a cabinet post in the national government. This principle, in turn, enables people to reward their followers. There has been, for example, a regular turnover of LDP leaders. No individual has served as party president (and prime minister) longer than Sato Eisaku, the incumbent between 1964 and 1972. The average tenure of party presidents/prime ministers between 1964 and 1987 was slightly more than three years. Frequent cabinet reshuffling meant that the average tenure of other cabinet ministers in the same period was a little less than a year. Japan has not been beset with leaders in their seventies and eighties unwilling to give up their powerful positions.

Another mechanism reducing intragroup tensions is the strong personal, rather than legalistic or ideological, ties between superior and subordinate. These ties are typically characterized in terms of fictive familial relationships, analogous to the bonds between parents and children (the oyabun-kobun relationship). The ideal leader is viewed as a paternalistic one, with a warm and personal concern for the welfare of his followers. For followers, loyalty is both morally prescribed and emotionally sustained by the system. In the political world, oyabun- kobun relationships are pervasive despite the formal commitment to universalistic, democratic values. At the same time, younger people find such relationships less appealing than their elders. The so-called shinjinrui (new human beings), born in the affluent 1960s and 1970s, were often criticized by older Japanese for being self-absorbed, egoistic, and "cool." The younger generation is inclined to view with disdain the emotional expression of paternalistic ties, such as in the 1989 television broadcasts of former Prime Minister Tanaka Kakuei's supporters weeping profusely over his political retirement.

Consensus Building

The community is often demanding, but it is also fragile, because social ties are sustained not only through legal norms and common self-interest but also through the affective patron-client relationship. Open conflict poses a danger to the survival of this sort of community, and thus policy making requires elaborate consultation and consensus building, usually involving all the parties concerned. According to political scientist Lewis Austin, "everyone must be consulted informally, everyone must be heard, but not in such a way that the hearing of different opinions develops into opposition. The leader and his assistants `harmonize opinion'... in advance, using go-betweens to avert the confrontation of opposing forces." After a preliminary agreement among all has been reached, a formal meeting is held in which the agreed-upon policy will be proposed and adopted.

This process is called nemawashi (root trimming or binding), evoking the image of a gardener preparing a tree or shrub for transplanting, that is, a change in policy. Austin points out that a common Japanese verb meaning "to decide" (matomeru) literally means to gather or bring together. Decisions are "the sum of the contributions of all." Although consensus building is, for leaders, a time-consuming and emotionally exhausting process, it is necessary not only to promote group goals but also to respect and protect individual autonomy. In fact, the process represents reconciliation of the two. In the political system as a whole, most groups play some role in the nemawashi process. Exceptions are those groups or individuals, such as Koreans or other minority groups, who are viewed as outsiders.

Political leaders have to maintain solidarity and harmony within a single group and also secure the cooperation of different groups who are often in bitter conflict. Takotsubo seikatsu can promote destructive sectionalism. During World War II, rivalry between the Imperial Army and the Imperial Navy was so intense that it was nearly impossible to coordinate their strategic operations. In the postwar political system, prime ministers have often been unable to persuade different ministries, all self-sufficient and intensely jealous "kingdoms," to go along with reforms in such areas as trade liberalization. Observers such as journalist Karel G. van Wolferen, have concluded that Japan's political system is empty at the center, lacking real leadership or a locus of responsibility: "Statecraft in Japan is quite different from that in the rest of Asia, Europe, and the Americas. For centuries it has entailed the preservation of a careful balance of semiautonomous groups that share power.... These semiautonomous components, each endowed with great discretionary powers, are not represented in one central ruling body." This view is probably exaggerated. Leadership in other countries, including the United States, has been paralyzed from time to time by powerful interest groups, and some policies in Japan requiring decisive leadership, such as the creation of social welfare and energy conservation policies in the 1970s and the privatization of state enterprises in the 1980s, have been reasonably successful.




The emphasis on consensus in Japanese politics is seen in the role of interest groups in policy making. These groups range from those with economic interests, such as occupational and professional associations, to those with strong ideological commitments, such as the right-wing Society to Protect Japan and the left-wing Japan Teachers Union (Nihon Kyoshokuin Kumiai-- Nikkyoso). There are groups representing minorities (the Burakumin Liberation League, the Central Association of Korean Residents in Japan [Chosoren], and Utari Kyokai in Hokkaido, representing the Ainu community); groups representing war veterans and postwar repatriates from Japan's overseas colonies (the Military Pensions Association and the Association of Repatriates); the victims of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; and women opposed to prostitution and the threat to public morals posed by businesses offering "adult" entertainment (the Japan Mothers League). Mayors' and prefectural governors' associations promote regional development. Residents' movements near United States military installations in Okinawa and elsewhere pressure local authorities to support reductions in base areas and to exert more control over United States military personnel off base. The great majority of Japanese are connected, either directly or indirectly, to one or more of these interest groups.

In the postwar period, extremely close ties emerged among major interest groups, political parties, and the bureaucracy. Many groups identified so closely with the ruling LDP that it was often difficult to discern the boundaries between the party and the various groups. Officers of agricultural, business, and professional groups were elected to the Diet as LDP legislators. Groups of LDP parliamentarians formed zoku (tribes), which represented the interests of occupational constituencies, such as farmers, small businesses, and the construction industry. The zoku, interest groups, and bureaucrats worked together closely in formulating policy in such areas as agriculture.

In the case of the Socialist Democratic Party of Japan (until 1991 known as the Japan Socialist Party), the Democratic Socialist Party, the Japan Communist Party (Nihon Kyosanto), and Komeito (Clean Government Party), the links with interest groups were even more intimate. Before the public-sector unions linked up with the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo) in 1989, most leaders of the Japan Socialist Party and Democratic Socialist Party and many socialist Diet members had been officers of the confederation's predecessors, the General Council of Trade Unions of Japan (Nihon Rodo Kumiai Sohyogikai, or Sohyo for short), founded in 1950, and the Japan Confederation of Labor (Zen Nihon Rodo Sodomei, or Domei for short), established in 1964. Despite repeated disavowals, the Komeito remains related to its parent body, the Value Creation Society (Soka Gakkai), an organization of lay followers of the Buddhist sect Nichiren Shoshu, founded before World War II and one of Japan's most successful new religions. The communists had their own unions and small business groups, which competed with conservative small business associations. Japan's relatively few lawyers divided their allegiance among three professional groups separately affiliated with the LDP, the Japan Socialist Party, and the Japan Communist Party.

Both the LDP and the opposition parties, which had weak regional organizations, depended on the interest groups to win elections. The interest groups provided funding, blocks of loyal voters (although these could not be manipulated as easily as in the past), and local organizational networks.

One important question concerning interest groups in any country is how well they represent the diverse concerns of all the citizens. A second is whether government responds evenhandedly to their demands. Japan's postwar record on both counts was generally good. Both major and minor groups in society were well represented. And the government has implemented policies to spread the blessings of economic growth among the population at large. Such arrangements helped to ensure political stability and to explain why, in repeated public opinion polls, 90 percent of respondents viewed themselves as "middle class."

After the war, for example, there were major policy changes on agriculture. Despite prewar nationalistic idealization of the rural village, the government at that time squeezed the farmers for taxes and rice. Political scientist Kent E. Calder observed that "the prewar state took heavily from the countryside, without providing much in return." Historians describe how many farm families starved or were forced to sell their daughters into prostitution. Responding to the threat of vigorous leftist movements in the countryside, conservative governments after 1945 initiated price supports for rice and other measures that brought the farmers not just a decent standard of living but affluence. By the 1970s, it was not uncommon to encounter group tours of farmers who had never visited Tokyo taking holidays in Hawaii or New York City. In Calder's view, conservative governments were stoutly probusiness but were also willing to co-opt other interests such as agriculture at the expense of business to ensure social stability and prevent socialist electoral victories. Sometimes government adopted policies first espoused by the opposition (for example, medical insurance and other social welfare policies).

Business Interests

Links between the corporate world and government were maintained through three national organizations: the Federation of Economic Organizations (Keizai Dantai Rengokai--Keidanren), established in 1946; the Japan Committee for Economic Development (Keizai Doyu Kai), established in 1946; and the Japan Federation of Employers Association (Nihon Keieishadantai Renmei--Nikkeiren), established in 1948. Keidanren is considered the most important. Its membership includes 750 of the largest corporations and 110 manufacturers' associations. Its Tokyo headquarters serves as a kind of "nerve center" for the country's most important enterprises, and it works closely with the powerful Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI). There is evidence, however, suggesting that the federation's power is not what it had been, partly because major corporations, which had amassed huge amounts of money by the late 1980s, are increasingly capable of operating without its assistance.

Nikkeiren was concerned largely with labor-management relations and with organizing a united business front to negotiate with labor unions on wage demands during the annual "Spring Struggle." The Keizai Doyu Kai, composed of younger and more liberal business leaders, assigned itself the role of promoting business's social responsibilities. Whereas Keidanren and Nikkeiren were "peak organizations," whose members themselves were associations, members of the Keizai Doyu Kai were individual business leaders.

Because of financial support from corporations, business interest groups were generally more independent of political parties than other groups. Both Keidanren and the Keizai Doyu Kai, for example, indicated a willingness to talk with the socialists in the wake of the political scandals of 1988-89 and also suggested that the LDP might form a coalition government with an opposition party. Yet through an organization called the People's Politics Association (Kokumin Seiji Kyokai), they and other top business groups provided the LDP with its largest source of party funding.

Small Business

Japan's streets are lined with small shops, grocery stores, restaurants, and coffeehouses. Although supermarkets and large discount department stores are more common than in the 1980s, the political muscle of small business associations was reflected in the success with which they blocked the rationalization of the country's distribution system. The Large-Scale Retail Store Law of 1973, amended in 1978, made it very difficult in the late 1980s for either Japanese or foreign retailers to establish large, economically efficient outlets in local communities.

Many light industrial goods, such as toys, footwear, pencils, and kitchen utensils, were still manufactured by small local companies rather than imported from the Republic of Korea (South Korea), Taiwan, or Hong Kong. Traditional handicrafts, such as pottery, silk weaving, and lacquerware, produced using centuriesold methods in small workshops, flourished in every part of the country. Apart from protectionism of the "nontariff barrier" variety, the government ensured the economic viability of small enterprises through lenient tax policies and access to credit on especially favorable terms.

Major associations representing small and medium-sized enterprises included the generally pro-LDP Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Nihon Shoko Kaigisho, or Nissho for short), which was established in 1922 but whose origins are traced to the establishment of the Tokyo Chamber of Commerce and Industry in 1878, the National Central Association of Medium and Small Enterprise Associations, the Japan League of Medium and Small Enterprise Organizations, and the Japan Communist Party-sponsored Democratic Merchants and Manufacturers Association.

Although small enterprises in services and manufacturing preserved cultural traditions and enlivened urban areas, a major motivation for government nurturing of small business was social welfare. In Calder's words, "Much of small business, particularly in the distribution sector, serves as a labor reservoir. Its inefficiencies help absorb surplus workers who would be unemployed if distribution, services, and traditional manufacturing were uniformly as efficient as the highly competitive and modernized export sectors."

Agricultural Cooperatives

Observers have suggested that the great influence of the Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives (Nokyo) in policy making partly resulted from a widespread feeling of gratitude to the dwindling agricultural sector, which in the past supported the country's industrial modernization. Nokyo spokespersons were vociferous in their claims that agriculture is somehow intimately connected with the spirit of the nation. They argued that selfsufficiency , or near self-sufficiency, in food production, resulting from government support of the nation's farmers, was central to Japan's security. The public in general was receptive to their arguments: an opinion poll in 1988, for example, revealed that 70 percent of respondents preferred paying a higher price for rice to importing it.

Nokyo, organized in 1947 at the time of the land reform, had local branches in every rural village in the late 1980s. Its constituent local agricultural cooperatives included practically all of the population for which farming was the principal occupation. Since its founding, Nokyo had been preoccupied with maintaining and increasing government price supports on rice and other crops and with holding back the import of cheaper agricultural products from abroad. Self-sufficient in rice, Japan in the early 1990s imported only a tiny quantity. A special variety of Thai rice, for example, is used specifically to make the traditional Okinawan liquor, awamori. Nokyo's determination to preserve "Fortress Japan" in the agricultural realm had brought it into conflict with business groups such as Keidanren, which advocated market liberalization and cheaper food prices.

Although closely allied to the LDP in the past, Nokyo and other agricultural groups were outraged by the government's concessions to the United States on imports of oranges and beef in 1988. Local cooperatives threatened to defect to the Japan Socialist Party if government continued to give in to United States demands. The Japan Socialist Party chairwoman at the time, Doi Takako, made agricultural protectionism a major component of her party's platform.

Labor Organizations

Postwar labor unions were established with the blessings of the occupation authorities. The mechanism for collective bargaining is set up, and unions are organized by enterprise: membership was determined by company affiliation rather than by skill or industry type. In general, membership is also limited to permanent, nonsupervisory personnel. Observers in the late 1980s viewed labor unions' role in the policy-making process as less powerful than that of business and agricultural organizations because the unions' enterprise-based structure made national federations weak and because unions were closely associated with parties that remained out of power.

The Japan Socialist Party largely depended on Sohyo for funding, organizational support, and membership during most of the postwar period. Domei performed similar functions for the Democratic Socialist Party. Sohyo was composed primarily of public sector unions such as those organized for national civil servants, municipal workers, and public school teachers. Domei's constituent unions were principally in the private sector. In the late 1980s, however, the labor movement saw significant change. In November 1987, the National Federation of Private Sector Trade Unions (Rengo), an amalgamation of Domei and smaller groups, was formed with a membership of 5.5 million workers and known as Shin Reng (New Rengo). After two years of intense negotiations, the 2.5 million members of public sector unions largely affiliated with Sohyo joined with Rengo. With 8 million members, Rengo (the Shin was dropped) included 65 percent of Japan's unionized workers and was, after the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) and the British Trades Union Congress, the world's third largest noncommunist union federation.

Rengo is a moderate, nonideological movement that shuns involvement with Marxist Japan Communist Party-affiliated unions. Two leftist union confederations emerged in the wake of the amalgamation of Sohyo and Rengo: the 1.2 million-member Japan Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren), and the 500,000-member National Trade Union Council (Zenrokyo). The powerful Nikkyoso, with 675,000 members in the country's public primary and secondary schools, was divided between adherents and opponents of Rengo.

In the early 1990s, the relationship of Rengo to the socialist political parties remained somewhat unclear. It was likely that many old support networks would remain in place. Some noted the new confederation's potential for promoting opposition party unity, because it encompassed supporters of the socialist parties and the small Social Democratic League. However, in the House of Councillors election on July 18, 1989, Rengo withheld its support from the Japan Socialist Party and the party lost sixty-four seats. In their traditional stronghold, Tokyo, the socialists retained only one of the eleven seats contested.

Professional Associations and Citizen and Consumer Movements

Physicians, dentists, lawyers, academics, and other professionals organized associations for the exchange of knowledge, supervision of professional activities, and influence government policy, like those found in other developed countries. The Japan Medical Association has used its influence to preserve a highly profitable system in which physicians, rather than pharmacists, sell prescription drugs.

Citizens and consumer movements, which became prominent during the 1960s and 1970s, were organized around issues relating to the quality of life, the protection of the environment from industrial pollution, and the safety (although not the cost) of consumer goods. In the late 1960s, industrial pollution, symbolized by the suffering of victims of mercury poisoning caused by the pollution of Minamata Bay in Kumamoto Prefecture by a chemical company, was viewed as a national crisis. The Sato government responded by establishing the Environmental Agency in the Office of the Prime Minister in 1970, instituting tough penalties for polluters, and extending compensation to the victims of pollution. Environmental issues continue to be the focus of intense local activity. In the early 1990s, communities on Ishigaki Island in Okinawa Prefecture were divided over whether to construct a new airport to handle wide-bodied aircraft on land reclaimed from the sea. Supporters viewed the project as essential to the island's tourist development, while opponents claimed that construction would destroy offshore colonies of rare blue coral and would ruin the local fishing industry. Another environmental issue in many parts of Japan was the use of powerful chemicals on golf courses, which in some cases harmed nearby residents.

Women's groups are in the forefront of the consumer movement. They include the National Federation of Regional Women's Associations, the Housewives Association, and the National Association of Consumer Cooperatives. Their activities depend on the support of neighborhood women's associations, the women's sections of local agricultural and fishing cooperatives, and government-sponsored consumer education groups. Although boycotts have been organized against companies making products that the groups viewed as dangerous (for example, canned foods containing carcinogenic cyclamates), they do not, for the most part, demand lower prices for food or other goods. In tandem with agricultural interests, consumer groups oppose increased food imports on the grounds that the supply is unpredictable and likely laced with dangerous additives.




Japan is a society awash in information. Newspaper readership is, by a wide margin, the highest in the world. The six largest and most influential national newspapers are Yomiuri Shimbun, Mainichi Shimbun, Asahi Shimbun, Seikyo Shimbun, Sankei Shimbun, and Nihon Keizai Shimbun. There are also more than 100 local newspapers. The population, 99 percent literate, also consumes record numbers of books and magazines. The latter range from high-quality comprehensive general circulation intellectual periodicals such as Sekai (World), Chuo Koron (Central Review), and Bungei Shunju (Literary Annals) to sarariman manga (salaryman comics), comic books for adults that depict the vicissitudes and fantasies of contemporary office workers, and weeklies specializing in scandals. Japan probably also leads the world in the translation of works by foreign scholars and novelists. Most of the classics of Western political thought, such as The Republic by Plato and Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes, for example, are available in Japanese.

News programs and special features on television also give viewers detailed reports on political, economic, and social developments both at home and abroad. The sole, noncommercial public radio and television broadcasting network, the Japan Broadcasting Corporation (Nippon Hoso Kyokai--NHK) provides generally balanced coverage. Unlike their counterparts in the United States, however, Japanese newscasters on NHK and commercial stations usually confine themselves to relating events and did not offer opinions or analysis.

The major magazines and newspapers are vocal critics of government policies and take great pains to map out the personal and financial ties that hold the conservative establishment together. Readers are regularly informed of matrimonial alliances between families of top politicians, civil servants, and business leaders, which in some ways resemble those of the old European aristocracy. The important print media are privately owned.

Observers, however, point out that the independence of the established press has been compromised by the pervasive "press club" system. Politicians and government agencies each have one of these clubs, which contain from 12 to almost 300 reporters from the different newspapers, magazines, and broadcast media. Club members are generally described as being closer to each other than they are to their employers. They also have a close and collaborative working relationship with the political figures or government agencies to which they are attached. There is little opportunity for reporters to establish a genuinely critical, independent stance because reporting distasteful matters might lead to exclusion from the club and thus inability to gain information and to write. Although the media have played a major role in exposing political scandals, some critics have accused the large newspapers, ostensibly oppositionist, of being little more than a conduit of government ideas to the people. Free-lance reporters, working outside the press club system, often made the real breakthroughs in investigative reporting. For example, a free-lance journalist published the first public accounts of Tanaka Kakuei's personal finances in a monthly magazine in 1974, even though the established press had access to this information.




The LDP had dominated the political system beginning in 1955, when it was established as a coalition of smaller conservative groups. Until 1993 all of Japan's prime ministers came from its ranks as did, with one exception, other cabinet ministers. The party's fortunes have risen and ebbed: a low point was reached in the July 23, 1989, election to the upper house, when it became, for the first time, a minority party, and again in the July 18, 1993, lower house election, when it lost its simple majority in that body.

By the early 1990s, the LDP's nearly four decades in power allowed it to establish a highly stable process of policy formation. This process would not have been possible if other parties had secured parliamentary majorities. LDP strength was based on an enduring, although not unchallenged, coalition of big business, small business, agriculture, professional groups, and other interests. Elite bureaucrats collaborated closely with the party and interest groups in drafting and implementing policy. In a sense, the party's success was a result not of its internal strength but of its weakness. It lacked a strong, nationwide organization or consistent ideology with which to attract voters. Its leaders were rarely decisive, charismatic, or popular. But it functioned efficiently as a locus for matching interest group money and votes with bureaucratic power and expertise. This arrangement resulted in corruption, but the party could claim credit for helping to create economic growth and a stable, middle-class Japan.

Party History and Basic Principles

The LDP has a complex genealogy. Its roots can be traced to the groups established by Itagaki Taisuke and Okuma Shigenobu in the 1880s. It attained its present form in November 1955, when the conservative Liberal Party (Jiyuto) and the Japan Democratic Party (Nihon Minshuto) united in response to the threat posed by a unified Japan Socialist Party, which had been established the month before. The union of the Liberal Party and the Japan Democratic Party has often been described as a "shotgun marriage." Both had strong leaders and had previously competed with each other. The Japan Democratic Party, which had been established only a year before, in November 1954, was itself a coalition of different groups in which farmers were prominent. The result of the new amalgamation was a large party that represented a broad spectrum of interests but had minimal organization compared with the socialist and other leftist parties. In 1976, in the wake of the Lockheed bribery scandal, a handful of younger LDP Diet members broke away and established their own party, the New Liberal Club (Shin Jiyu Kurabu). A decade later, however, it was reabsorbed by the LDP.

Unlike the leftist parties, the LDP did not espouse a welldefined ideology or political philosophy. Its members held a variety of positions that could be broadly defined as being to the right of the opposition parties, yet more moderate than those of Japan's numerous rightist splinter groups. The LDP traditionally identified itself with a number of general goals: rapid, export-based economic growth; close cooperation with the United States in foreign and defense policies; and several newer issues, such as administrative reform. Administrative reform encompassed several themes: simplification and streamlining of government bureaucracy; privatization of stateowned enterprises; and adoption of measures, including tax reform, needed to prepare for the strain on the economy posed by an aging society. Other priorities in the early 1990s included promoting a more active and positive role for Japan in the rapidly developing Asia-Pacific region, internationalizing Japan's economy by liberalizing and promoting domestic demand, creating a hightechnology information society, and promoting scientific research. A business-inspired commitment to free enterprise was tempered by the insistence of important small business and agricultural constituencies on some form of protectionism.

Party Structure

At the apex of the LDP's formal organization is the president, who serves a two-year renewable term. While the party maintained a parliamentary majority, the party president was the prime minister. The choice was formally that of a party convention composed of Diet members and local LDP figures, but in most cases, they merely approved the joint decision of the most powerful party leaders. To make the system more democratic, Prime Minister Miki Takeo introduced a "primary" system in 1978, which opened the balloting to some 1.5 million LDP members. The process was so costly and acrimonious, however, that it was subsequently abandoned in favor of the old "smoke-filled room" method.

The LDP was the most "traditionally Japanese" of the political parties because it relied on a complex network of patron-client (oyabun-kobun) relationships on both national and local levels. Nationally, a system of factions in both the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors tied individual Diet members to powerful party leaders. Locally, Diet members had to maintain koenkai (local support groups) to keep in touch with public opinion and gain votes and financial backing. The importance and pervasiveness of personal ties between Diet members and faction leaders and between citizens and Diet members gave the party a pragmatic "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" character. Its success depended less on generalized mass appeal than on jiban (a strong, well-organized constituency), kaban (a briefcase full of money), and kanban (prestigious appointment, particularly on the cabinet level).


In a sense, the LDP was not a single organization but a conglomeration of competitive factions, which, despite the traditional emphasis on consensus and harmony, engaged in bitter infighting. Over the years, factions numbered from six to thirteen, with as few as four members and as many as 120, counting those in both houses. The system was operative in both houses, although it was more deeply entrenched in the House of Representatives than in the less powerful House of Councillors. Faction leaders usually were veteran LDP politicians. Many, but not all, had served as prime minister.

Faction leaders offered their followers services without which the followers would have found it difficult, if not impossible, to survive politically. Leaders provided funds for the day-to-day operation of Diet members' offices and staff as well as financial support during expensive election campaigns. As discussed earlier, the operating allowances provided by the government were inadequate. The leader also introduced his followers to influential bureaucrats and business people, which made it much easier for the followers to satisfy their constituents' demands.

Historically, the most powerful and aggressive faction leader in the LDP was Tanaka Kakuei, whose dual-house strength in the early 1980s exceeded 110. His followers remained loyal despite the fact that he had been convicted of receiving ¥500 million (nearly US$4 million) in bribes from Lockheed to facilitate the purchase of its passenger aircraft by All Nippon Airways and that he had formally withdrawn from the LDP. Tanaka and his bitterest factional rival, Fukuda Takeo, were a study in contrasts. Tanaka was a roughhewn wheeler-dealer with a primary school education who had made a fortune in the construction industry; Fukuda was an elite product of the University of Tokyo Law Faculty and a career bureaucrat.

In the face of Fukuda's strong opposition, Tanaka engineered the selections of prime ministers Ohira Masayoshi (1978-80) and Suzuki Zenko (1980-82). The accession of Nakasone Yasuhiro to the prime ministership in 1982 would also not have occurred without Tanaka's support. As a result, Nakasone, at that time a politically weak figure, was nicknamed "Tanakasone." But Tanaka's faction was dealt a grave blow when one of his subordinates, Takeshita Noboru, decided to form a breakaway group. Tanaka suffered a stroke in November 1985, but four years passed before he formally retired from politics.

The LDP faction system was closely fitted to the House of Representatives' medium-sized, multiple-member election districts. The party usually ran more than one candidate in each of these constituencies to maintain its lower house majority, and these candidates were from different factions. During an election campaign, the LDP, in a real sense, ran not only against the opposition but also against itself. In fact, intraparty competition within one election district was often more bitter than interparty competition, with two or more LDP candidates vying for the same block of conservative votes. For example, in the House of Representatives election of February 18, 1990, three LDP and three opposition candidates competed for five seats in a southwestern prefecture. Two of the LDP candidates publicly expressed bitterness over the entry of the third, a son of the prefectural governor. Local television showed supporters of one of the LDP candidates cheering loudly when the governor's son was edged out for the fifth seat by a Komeito candidate.

Local Support Groups

Koenkai (local support groups) were perhaps even more important than faction membership to the survival of LDP Diet members. These koenkai served as pipelines through which funds and other support were conveyed to legislators and through which the legislators could distribute favors to constituents in return. To avoid the stringent legal restrictions on political activity outside of designated campaign times, koenkai sponsored year-round cultural, social, and "educational" activities. In the prewar years, having an invincible, or "iron," constituency depended on gaining the support of landlords and other local notables. These people delivered blocks of rural votes to the candidates they favored. In the more pluralistic postwar period, local bosses were much weaker, and building a strong constituency base was much more difficult and costly. Tanaka used his "iron constituency" in rural Niigata Prefecture to build a formidable, nationwide political machine. But other politicians, like It Masayoshi, were so popular in their districts that they could refrain, to some extent, from money politics and promote a "clean" image. Koenkai remained particularly important in the overrepresented rural areas, where paternalistic, old-style politics flourished and where the LDP, despite disaffection during the late 1980s over agricultural liberalization policies, had its strongest support.

In the classic oyabun-kobun manner, local people who were consistently loyal to a figure like Tanaka became favored recipients of government largesse. In the 1980s, his own third electoral district in Niigata was the nation's top beneficiary in per capita public works spending. Benefits included stops on the Shinkansen bullet train to Tokyo and the cutting of a tunnel through a mountain to serve a hamlet of sixty people. Another fortunate area was Takeshita Noboru's district in Shimane Prefecture on the Sea of Japan.

The importance of local loyalties was also reflected in the widespread practice of a second generation's "inheriting" Diet seats from fathers or fathers-in-law. This trend was found predominantly, although not exclusively, in the LDP. In the February 1990 election, for example, forty-three second-generation candidates ran: twenty-two, including twelve LDP candidates, were successful. They included the sons of former prime ministers Suzuki Zenko and Fukuda Takeo, although a son-in-law of Tanaka Kakuei lost in a district different from his father-in-law's.

The Liberal Democratic Party in National Elections

Election statistics show that, while the LDP had been able to secure a majority in the twelve House of Representatives elections from May 1958 to February 1990, with only three exceptions (December 1976, October 1979, and December 1983), its share of the popular vote had declined from a high of 57.8 percent in May 1958 to a low of 41.8 percent in December 1976, when voters expressed their disgust with the party's involvement in the Lockheed scandal. The LDP vote rose again between 1979 and 1990. Although the LDP won an unprecedented 300 seats in the July 1986 balloting, its share of the popular vote remained just under 50 percent. The figure was 46.2 percent in February 1990. Following the three occasions when the LDP found itself a handful of seats shy of a majority, it was obliged to form alliances with conservative independents and the breakaway New Liberal Club. In a cabinet appointment after the October 1983 balloting, a non-LDP minister, a member of the New Liberal Club, was appointed for the first time. In the July 18, 1993, lower house elections, the LDP fell so far short of a majority that it was unable to form a government.

In the upper house, the July 1989 election represented the first time that the LDP was forced into a minority position. In previous elections, it had either secured a majority on its own or recruited non-LDP conservatives to make up the difference of a few seats.

The political crisis of 1988-89 was testimony to both the party's strength and its weakness. In the wake of a succession of issues--the pushing of a highly unpopular consumer tax through the Diet in late 1988, the Recruit insider trading scandal, which tainted virtually all top LDP leaders and forced the resignation of Prime Minister Takeshita Noboru in April (a successor did not appear until June), the resignation in July of his successor, Uno Sosuke, because of a sex scandal, and the poor showing in the upper house election--the media provided the Japanese with a detailed and embarrassing dissection of the political system. By March 1989, popular support for the Takeshita cabinet as expressed in public opinion polls had fallen to 9 percent. Uno's scandal, covered in magazine interviews of a "kiss and tell" geisha, aroused the fury of female voters.

Yet Uno's successor, the eloquent if obscure Kaifu Toshiki, was successful in repairing the party's battered image. By January 1990, talk of the waning of conservative power and a possible socialist government had given way to the realization that, like the Lockheed affair of the mid-1970s, the Recruit scandal did not signal a significant change in who ruled Japan. The February 1990 general election gave the LDP, including affiliated independents, a comfortable, if not spectacular, majority: 275 of 512 total representatives.

In October 1991, Prime Minister Kaifu Toshiki failed to attain passage of a political reform bill and was rejected by the LDP, despite his popularity with the electorate. He was replaced as prime minister by Miyazawa Kiichi, a long-time LDP stalwart. Defections from the LDP began in the spring of 1992, when Hosokawa Morihiro left the LDP to form the Japan New Party. Later, in the summer of 1993, when the Miyazawa government also failed to pass political reform legislation, thirty-nine LDP members joined the opposition in a no-confidence vote. In the ensuing lower house election, more than fifty LDP members formed the Shinseito and the Sakigake parties, denying the LDP the majority needed to form a government.




The Japanese had been exposed to bureaucratic institutions at least by the early seventh century A.D., when the imperial court adopted the laws and government structure of Tang China. However, the distinctive Chinese institution of civil service examinations never took root, and the imported system was never successfully imposed on the country at large. But by the middle of the Tokugawa period (1600- 1867), the samurai class functions had evolved from warrior to clerical and administrative functions. Following the Meiji Restoration (1868), the new elite, which came from the lower ranks of the samurai, established a Western-style civil service.

Although the United States occupation dismantled both the military and zaibatsu establishments, it did little, outside of abolishing the prewar Home Ministry, to challenge the power of the bureaucracy. There was considerable continuity--in institutions, operating style, and personnel-- between the civil service before and after the occupation, partly because MacArthur's staff ruled indirectly and depended largely on the cooperation of civil servants. A process of mutual co-optation occurred. Also, United States policy planners never regarded the civil service with the same opprobrium as the military or economic elites. The civil service's role in Japan's militarism was generally downplayed. Many of the occupation figures themselves were products of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal and had strong faith in the merits of civil service professionalism. Finally, the perceived threat of the Soviet Union in the late 1940s created a community of interests for the occupiers and for conservative, social order-conscious administrators.

The Civil Service

In trying to discover "who's in charge here," many analysts have pointed to the elite bureaucracy as the people who really govern Japan, although they composed only a tiny fraction of the country's more than 1 million national government employees. Several hundred of the elite are employed at each national ministry or agency. Although entry into the elite through open examinations does not require a college degree, the majority of its members are alumni of Japan's most prestigious universities. The University of Tokyo Law Faculty is the single most important source of elite bureaucrats. After graduation from college and, increasingly, some graduate-level study, applicants take a series of extremely difficult higher civil service examinations: in 1988, for example, 28,833 took the tests, but only 1,814, or 6.3 percent, were successful. Of those who were successful, only 721 were actually hired. Like the scholar-officials of imperial China, successful candidates were hardy survivors of a grueling education and testing process that necessarily began in early childhood and demanded total concentration. The typical young bureaucrat, who is in most cases male, is an intelligent, hardworking, and dedicated individual. Some bureaucrats lack imagination and, perhaps, compassion for people whose way of life is different from their own.

The public's attitude toward the elite is ambivalent. The elite enjoy tremendous social prestige, but members are also resented. They live in a realm that is at least partly public yet far removed from the lives of ordinary people. Compared with politicians, they are generally viewed as honest. Involvement of top officials in scandals such as the Recruit affair, however, had, to some extent, tarnished their image.

Japan's elite bureaucrats are insulated from direct political pressure because there are very few political appointments in the civil service. Cabinet ministers are usually career politicians, but they are moved in and out of their posts quite frequently (with an average tenure of under a year), and usually have little opportunity to develop a power base within a ministry or force their civil service subordinates to adopt reforms. Below the cabinet minister is the administrative vice minister. Administrative vice ministers and their subordinates are career civil servants whose appointments are determined in accordance with an internally established principle of seniority.

In a 1975 article, political scientist Chalmers Johnson quotes a retired vice minister of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) who said that the Diet was merely "an extension of the bureaucracy." The official claimed that "the bureaucracy drafts all the laws.... All the legislature does is to use its powers of investigation, which for about half the year keeps most of the senior officials cooped up in the Diet."

In the years since this official made his proud boast, however, it became apparent that there were limits to the bureaucrats' power. The most important was the LDP's growing role in policy formation. Political scientist B.C. Koh suggested that in many cases members of the LDP policy-oriented tribes (zoku) had greater expertise in their fields than elite bureaucrats. Before the latter drafted legislation, they had to consult and follow the initiatives of the party's Policy Research Council. Many analysts consider the role of the bureaucracy in drafting legislation to be no greater than that of its counterparts in France, Germany, and other countries. Also, the decision of many retired bureaucrats to run as LDP candidates for the Diet might not reflect, as had been previously assumed, the power of the officials but rather the impatience of ambitious men who wanted to locate themselves, politically, "where the action is."

An intense rivalry among the ministries came into play whenever major policy decisions were formulated. Elite civil servants were recruited by and spent their entire careers in a single ministry. As a result, they developed a strong sectional solidarity and zealously defended their turf. Nonbureaucratic actors--the politicians and interest groups--could use this rivalry to their own advantage.

The Ministry of Finance is generally considered the most powerful and prestigious of the ministries. Its top officials are regarded as the cream of the elite. Although it was relatively unsuccessful in the 1970s when the deficit rose, the ministry was very successful in the 1980s in constraining government spending and raising taxes, including a twelve-year battle to get a consumption tax passed. The huge national debt in the early 1990s, however, may be evidence that this budget-minded body had been unsuccessful in the previous decade in curbing demands for popular policies such as health insurance, rice price supports, and the unprofitable nationwide network of the privatized Japan Railways Group. MITI frequently encountered obstacles in its early postoccupation plans to reconsolidate the economy. It has not always been successful in imposing its will on private interests, politicians, or other ministries. According to law professor John Owen Haley, writing in the late 1980s, MITI's practice of gyosei shido, or administrative guidance, often described as evidence of the bureaucracy's hidden power, was in fact a second-best alternative to "express statutory authority that would have legitimated its exercise of authority." Administrative reform policies in the 1980s imposed ceilings on civil service staff and spending that probably contributed to a deterioration of morale and working conditions.

Still another factor limiting bureaucratic power was the emergence of an affluent society. In the early postwar period, the scarcity of capital made it possible for the Ministry of Finance and MITI to exert considerable influence over the economy through control of the banking system. To a decreasing extent, this scarcity remained until the 1980s because most major companies had high debt-equity ratios and depended on the banks for infusions of capital. Their huge profits and increasing reliance on securities markets in the late 1980s, however, meant that the Ministry of Finance had less influence. The wealth, technical sophistication, and new confidence of the companies also made it difficult for MITI to exercise administrative guidance. The ministry could not restrain aggressive and often politically controversial purchases by Japanese corporate investors in the United States, such as Mitsubishi Estate's October 1989 purchase of Rockefeller Center in New York City, which, along with the Sony Corporation's acquisition of Columbia Pictures several weeks earlier, heated up trade friction between the two countries.

The whole issue of trade friction and foreign pressure tended to politicize the bureaucracy and promote unprecedented divisiveness in the late 1980s and early 1990s. During the Structural Impediments Initiative talks held by Japan and the United States in early 1990, basic changes in Japan's economy were discussed: reforms of the distribution and pricing systems, improvement of the infrastructure, and elimination of official procedures that limited foreign participation in the economy. Although foreign pressure of this sort is resented by many Japanese as an intrusion on national sovereignty, it also provides an opportunity for certain ministries to make gains at the expense of others. There is hardly a bureaucratic jurisdiction in the economic sphere that is not in some sense affected.

Repeatedly, internationally minded political and bureaucratic elites found their market-opening reforms, designed to placate United States demands, sabotaged by other interests, especially agriculture. Such reactions intensified United States pressure, which in turn created a sense of crisis and a siege mentality within Japan. The "internationalization" of Japan's society in other ways also divided the bureaucratic elite. MITI, the Ministry of Labor, and the Ministry of Justice had divergent views on how to respond to the influx of unskilled, usually South Asian and Southeast Asian, laborers into the labor-starved Japanese economy. An estimated 300,000 to 400,000 of them worked illegally for small Japanese firms in the late 1980s. Ministry of Education, Science, and Culture revision of guidelines on the writing of history textbooks, ostensibly a domestic matter, aroused the indignation of Japan's Asian neighbors because the changes tended to soften accounts of wartime atrocities.

Policy-Making Dynamics

Despite an increasingly unpredictable domestic and international environment, policy making conforms to wellestablished postwar patterns. The close collaboration of the ruling party, the elite bureaucracy, and important interest groups often make it difficult to tell who exactly is responsible for specific policy decisions. The tendency for insiders to guard information on such matters compounds the difficulty, especially for foreigners wishing to understand how domestic decision making can be influenced to reduce trade problems.

The Human Factor

The most important human factor in the policy-making process is the homogeneity of the political and business elites. They tend to be graduates of a relatively small number of top-ranked universities. Regardless of these individuals' regional or class origins, their similar educational backgrounds encourage their feeling of community, as is reflected in the finely meshed network of marriage alliances between top official and financial circle (zaikai) families. The institution of early retirement also foster homogeneity. In the practice of amakudari, or descent from heaven, as it is popularly known, bureaucrats retiring in their fifties often assume top positions in public corporations and private enterprise. They also become politicians. By the late 1980s, most postwar prime ministers had had civil service backgrounds.

This homogeneity facilitates the free flow of ideas among members of the elite in informal settings. Bureaucrats and business people that are associated with a single industry, such as electronics, often hold regular informal meetings in Tokyo hotels and restaurants. Political scientist T.J. Pempel has pointed out that the concentration of political and economic power in Tokyo-- particularly the small geographic area of its central wards--makes it easy for leaders, who are almost without exception denizens of the capital, to have repeated personal contact. Another often overlooked factor is the tendency of elite males not to be family men. Late night work and bar-hopping schedules give them ample opportunity to hash and rehash policy matters and engage in haragei (literally, belly art), or intimate, often nonverbal communication. Like the warriors of ancient Sparta, who lived in barracks apart from their families during much of their adulthood, the business and bureaucratic elites are expected to sacrifice their private lives for the national good.

Formal Policy Development

After a largely informal process within elite circles in which ideas were discussed and developed, steps might be taken to institute more formal policy development. This process often took place in deliberation councils (shingikai). There were about 200 shingikai, each attached to a ministry; their members were both officials and prominent private individuals in business, education, and other fields. The shingikai played a large role in facilitating communication among those who ordinarily might not meet. Given the tendency for real negotiations in Japan to be conducted privately (in the nemawashi, or root binding, process of consensus building), the shingikai often represented a fairly advanced stage in policy formulation in which relatively minor differences could be thrashed out and the resulting decisions couched in language acceptable to all. These bodies were legally established but had no authority to oblige governments to adopt their recommendations.

The most important deliberation council during the 1980s was the Provisional Commission for Administrative Reform, established in March 1981 by Prime Minister Suzuki Zenko. The commission had nine members, assisted in their deliberations by six advisers, twenty-one "expert members," and around fifty "councillors" representing a wide range of groups. Its head, Keidanren president Doko Toshio, insisted that government agree to take its recommendations seriously and commit itself to reforming the administrative structure and the tax system. In 1982 the commission had arrived at several recommendations that by the end of the decade had been actualized. These implementations included tax reform; a policy to limit government growth; the establishment, in 1984, of the Management and Coordination Agency to replace the Administrative Management Agency in the Office of the Prime Minister; and privatization of the state-owned railroad and telephone systems. In April 1990, another deliberation council, the Election Systems Research Council, submitted proposals that included the establishment of single-seat constituencies in place of the multiple-seat system.

Another significant policy-making institution in the early 1990s was the LDP's Policy Research Council. It consisted of a number of committees, composed of LDP Diet members, with the committees corresponding to the different executive agencies. Committee members worked closely with their official counterparts, advancing the requests of their constituents, in one of the most effective means through which interest groups could state their case to the bureaucracy through the channel of the ruling party.

The Budget Process

Despite the increasingly apparent limits of bureaucratic power, the Budget Bureau of the Ministry of Finance is at the heart of the political process because it drows up the national budget each year. This responsibility makes it the ultimate focus of interest groups and of other ministries that competed for limited funds. The budgetary process generally begins soon after the start of a new fiscal year on April 1. Ministries and government agencies prepare budget requests in consultation with the Policy Research Council. In the fall of each year, Budget Bureau examiners reviews these requests in great detail, while top Ministry of Finance officials work out the general contours of the new budget and the distribution of tax revenues. During the winter, after the release of the ministry's draft budget, campaigning by individual Diet members for their constituents and different ministries for revisions and supplementary allocations becomes intense. The coalition leaders and Ministry of Finance officials consult on a final draft budget, which is generally passed by the Diet in late winter.

In broad outline, the process reveals a basic characteristic of Japanese political dynamics: that despite the oft-stated ideals of "harmony" and "consensus," interests, including bureaucratic interests, are in strong competition for resources. Political leaders and Budget Bureau officials need great skill to reach mutually acceptable compromises. The image of "Japan Incorporated," in which harmony and unanimity are virtually automatic, belie the reality of intense rivalry. The late-twentieth-century system is successful insofar as superior political skills and appreciation of common interests minimize antagonisms and maintain an acceptable balance of power among groups. It is unclear, however, whether this system will continue as Japan faces such problems as growing social inequality, an aging society, and the challenge of "internationalization" of its society and economy.




With the exception of the period from May 1947 to March 1948, when a socialist, Katayama Tetsu, was prime minister and headed a coalition of socialists and conservatives, opposition parties failed to gain enough national electoral support to participate in forming a cabinet or to form one of their own until Hosokawa Morihiro's minority government was formed in 1993. In 1990 major opposition parties with representation in the Diet consisted of the Japan Socialist Party, the Komeito, the Japan Communist Party, and the Democratic Socialist Party (Minshato). Two smaller opposition parties were the Socialist Democratic League and the Progressive Party (Shimpoto). None had a sufficiently broad base of support to challenge the LDP at the polls, and in the early 1990s, they had not been able to form workable coalitions. An exception occurred in some local elections, where "progressive" coalitions were more effective in electing opposition candidates than on the national level.

The opposition parties were separated by ideology, with the Japan Communist Party and a significant faction of the Japan Socialist Party espousing Marxist revolution; the others were moderate and pragmatic. In many cases, the programs of the Komeito and the Democratic Socialist Party differed little from those of the LDP. Unlike the Japan Socialist Party, smaller opposition parties lacked the resources to run candidates in all the country's constituencies.

On various occasions in the 1970s and 1980s, it seemed that the end of conservative power was at hand. One such time was following the Lockheed scandal of the mid-1970s (a journalist at the time described it as "conservative power self-destructs"); another was the combined furor over the 3 percent consumption tax and the Recruit scandal in 1988-89. When the LDP was pushed into the minority in the July 1989 House of Councillors election, many commentators believed that Doi Takako, chairwoman and leader of the Japan Socialist Party, was within striking distance of forming a government, probably in coalition with other opposition groups, in the upcoming, more important general election for the lower house. That this situation failed to materialize suggested not so much popular contentment with the LDP as the opposition's inability to present a viable alternative to voters.

The opposition was important if only because its existence legitimized Japan's claim to be a modern, democratic state. Moreover, the Japan Socialist Party and the Japan Communist Party played a major role in the 1950s and 1960s in protecting the democratic institutions promoted by the United States occupation. The opposition's control of more than one-third of the seats in the Diet meant that amendments revising the constitution (such as the proposed rewording or abolition of Article 9) could not be passed. If conservatives had had their way in the early postwar years, some of Japan's prewar symbols and military power would have been restored, a move that most likely would have greatly affected relations with East Asian and Southeast Asian countries, where bitter memories of Japanese wartime occupation remained fresh.

In a political system where the ruling party habitually swept embarrassing matters under the carpet and the established press club system inhibited investigative reporting, the opposition functioned reasonably well, to use film scholar Donald Richie's phrase, as "carpet picker-uppers." They exposed and demanded parliamentary investigations of scandals like the Recruit affair. Routinely, they used meetings of the Budget Committee and other committees in the Diet to question cabinet ministers and government officials, and these sessions received wide media publicity.

Ideas first proposed by the opposition, such as national health insurance and other social welfare measures, were frequently adopted and implemented by the ruling party. The "Eda Vision" of moderate socialist leader Eda Saburo in the early 1960s--"An American standard of living, Soviet levels of social welfare, a British parliamentary system, and Japan's peace constitution"--were largely realized under LDP auspices.

Although opposition control of the upper house after the July 1989 election represented a change, the opposition had little impact on the legislative process. Regulations in the Diet Law and the rules of the two houses gave presiding House of Representatives officers the power to convene plenary sessions, fix agendas, and limit debates. Because these officers were elected by the LDP majority, they used these powers to constrain opposition party activity. Although the opposition could not filibuster, the lack of a time limit for formal balloting allowed them to use the gyuho senjutsu (cow's pace tactics) to cause excruciating delays in the passage of LDP-sponsored bills, walking so slowly to cast their individual votes that the process took several hours, sorely trying the tempers of LDP Diet members.

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<>Democratic Socialist Party


Japan - Social Democratic Party of Japan


The Social Democratic Party of Japan (SDPJ; called the Japan Socialist Party until 1991) is the largest opposition party. It acquired seventy seats in the July 1993 House of Representatives election and joined the Hosokawa coalition. Like the LDP, the Japan Socialist Party resulted from the union of two smaller groups in 1955. The new opposition party had its own factions, although organized according to left-right ideological commitments rather than what it called the "feudal personalism" of the conservative parties. In the House of Representatives election of 1958, the Japan Socialist Party gained 32.9 percent of the popular vote and 166 out of 467 seats. After that, its percentage of the popular vote and number of seats gradually declined. In the double election of July 1986 for both Diet houses, the party suffered a rout by the LDP under Nakasone: its seats in the lower house fell from 112 to an all-time low of eighty-five and its share of the vote from 19.5 percent to 17.2 percent. But its popular chairwoman, Doi Takako, led it to an impressive showing in the February 1990 general election: 136 seats and 24.4 percent of the vote. Some electoral districts had more than one successful socialist candidate. Doi's decision to put up more than one candidate for each of the 130 districts represented a controversial break with the past because, unlike their LDP counterparts, many Japan Socialist Party candidates did not want to run against each other. But the great majority of the 149 socialist candidates who ran were successful, including seven of eight women.

Doi, a university professor of constitutional law before entering politics, had a tough, straight-talking manner that appealed to voters tired of the evasiveness of other politicians. Many women found her a refreshing alternative to submissive female stereotypes, and in the late 1980s the public at large, in opinion polls, voted her their favorite politician (the runner-up in these surveys was equally tough-talking conservative LDP member Ishihara Shintaro). Doi's popularity, however, was of limited aid to the party. The powerful Shakaishugi Kyokai (Japan Socialist Association), which was supported by a hard-core contingent of the party's 76,000-strong membership, remained committed to doctrinaire Marxism, impeding Doi's efforts to promote what she called perestroika and a more moderate program with greater voter appeal.

In 1983 Doi's predecessor as chairman, Ishibashi Masashi, began the delicate process of moving the party away from its strong opposition to the Self-Defense Forces. While maintaining that these forces were unconstitutional in light of Article 9, he claimed that, because they had been established through legal procedures, they had a "legitimate" status (this phrasing was changed a year later to say that the Self-Defense Forces "exist legally"). Ishibashi also broke past precedent by visiting Washington to talk with United States political leaders.

By the end of the decade, the party had accepted the SelfDefense Forces and the 1960 Japan-United States Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security. It advocated strict limitations on military spending (no more than 1 percent of GNP annually), a suspension of joint military exercises with United States forces, and a reaffirmation of the "three nonnuclear principles" (no production, possession, or introduction of nuclear weapons into Japanese territory). Doi expressed support for "balanced ties" with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) and the Republic of Korea (South Korea). In the past, the Japan Socialist Party had favored the Kim Il Sung regime in P'yongyang, and in the early 1990s it still refused to recognize the 1965 normalization of relations between Tokyo and Seoul. In domestic policy, the party demanded the continued protection of agriculture and small business in the face of foreign pressure, abolition of the consumer tax, and an end to the construction and use of nuclear power reactors. As a symbolic gesture to reflect its new moderation, at its April 1990 convention the party dropped its commitment to "socialist revolution" and described its goal as "social democracy": creation of a society in which "all people fairly enjoy the fruits of technological advancement and modern civilization and receive the benefits of social welfare." Delegates also voted Doi a third term as party chairwoman.

Because of the party's self-definition as a class-based party and its symbiotic relationship with Sohyo, the public-sector union confederation, few efforts were made to attract nonunion constituencies. Although some Sohyo unions supported the Japan Communist Party, the Japan Socialist Party remained the representative of Sohyo's political interests until the merger with private-sector unions and the Rengo in 1989. Because of declining union financial support during the 1980s, some Japan Socialist Party Diet members turned to dubious fund-raising methods. One was involved in the Recruit affair. The Japan Socialist Party, like others, sold large blocks of fund-raising party tickets, and the LDP even gave individual Japan Socialist Party Diet members funds from time to time to persuade them to cooperate in passing difficult legislation.


Japan - Komeito


Following the July 1993 House of Representatives election, the Komeito (the euphemistic English translation of the Japanese name is Clean Government Party) held fifty-one seats in the House of Representatives and joined the Hosokawa coalition. The Komeito was an offshoot of the Soka Gakkai, which had been founded in 1930 as an independent lay organization of the Nichiren Shoshu sect of Buddhism, whose numbers were estimated at 750,000 in 1958 and more than 35 million in the late 1980s. In 1962 the Soka Gakkai, established the League for Clean Government, which became a regular political party, the Komeito, two years later. Ties between the Komeito and the Soka Gakkai were formally dissolved in 1970, and the image of an "open party" was promoted. But the resignation in 1989 of a Komeito Diet member, Ohashi Toshio, following his criticism of the religious leader Ikeda Daisaku, suggested that the Soka Gakkai's influence over the party remained substantial.

The party's supporters tended to be people who were largely outside the privileged labor union and "salarymen" circles of lifetime employment in large enterprises. The Komeito's programs were rather vague. They emphasized welfare and quality of life issues. In foreign policy, they had dropped their previous opposition to the Japan-United States security treaty and the SelfDefense Forces. Komeito made up a substantial portion of Hosokawa's coalition government in 1993.


Japan - Communist Party


The Japan Communist Party was first organized in 1922, in the wake of the Bolshevik Revolution, and remained part of the international, Moscow-controlled communist movement until the early 1960s. Although the party won a large percentage of the popular vote in Diet elections in 1949, it became extremely unpopular after 1950, when Moscow ordered it to cease being a "lovable party" and to engage in armed struggle. It was forced to go underground, and in the election it lost all its seats in the Diet. A self-reliant party line, stressing independence from both Moscow and Beijing, evolved during the 1960s. The party's chairman, Miyamoto Kenji, a tough veteran of prewar struggles and wartime prisons, promoted the "parliamentary road" of nonviolent, electoral politics. Thereafter, the fortunes of the Japan Communist Party gradually revived. Representation in the lower house reached a high point of thirtynine in the 1979 election but declined to between twenty-six and twenty-nine seats in the 1980s and to fifteen in the July 1993 election. The party's program promoted unarmed neutrality, the severing of security ties with the United States, defense of the postwar constitution, and socialism. It also voiced concern for welfare and quality of life issues.

Both organizationally and financially, the party was stronger than its opposition rivals and even the LDP. Revenues from its publishing enterprises, especially the popular newspaper Akahata (Red Flag), which had the eighth largest circulation in the country, provided adequate support for its activities. As a result, the Japan Communist Party was the party least mired in money politics. This fact earned it the reluctant respect of voters. But suspicions about its ultimate intentions remains strong. It is excluded from opposition party negotiations on coalitions.


Japan - Democratic Socialist Party


The Democratic Socialist Party was established in January 1960 when right-wing members of the Japan Socialist Party broke away to form their own group. In the past, the Democratic Socialist Party derived much of its financial and organizational support from the Domei private=sector labor confederation. Like the LDP and the Komeito, it supported the security treaty with the United States and the Self-Defense Forces. The party's chairman, Tsukamoto Saburo, was forced to resign in 1988 after it was revealed that he received 5,000 shares of stock from Recruit. The Democratic Socialist Party won fifteen seats in the July 1993 lower house elections and joined the Hosokawa coalition government.




According to the 1989 Asahi Nenkan, there were 14,400 activist members of the "new left" organized into five major "currents" (ry ) and twenty-seven or twenty-eight different factions. Total membership was about 35,000. New-left activity focused on the New Tokyo International Airport at Narita-Sanrizuka. In the early 1970s, radical groups and normally conservative farmers formed a highly unusual alliance to oppose expropriation of the latter's land for the airport's construction. Confrontations at the construction site, which pitted thousands of farmers and radicals against riot police, were violent but generally nonlethal. Although the airport was completed and began operations during the 1980s, the resistance continues, on a reduced scale. Radicals attempted to halt planned expansion of the airport by staging guerrilla attacks on those directly or indirectly involved in promoting the plan. By 1990 this activity had resulted in some deaths. There were also attacks against places associated with the emperor. In January 1990, leftists fired homemade rockets at imperial residences in Tokyo and Kyoto.

In terms of terrorist activities, the most important new-left group was the Japanese Red Army (Nihon Sekigun). Formed in 1969, it was responsible for, among other acts, the hijacking of a Japan Airlines jet to P'yongyang in 1970 and the murder of twenty-six people at Lod International Airport in Tel Aviv in 1977. Its activists developed close connections with international terrorist groups, including Palestinian extremists. The Japanese Red Army also had close ties with the Kim Il Sung regime in North Korea, where several of its hijackers resided in the early 1990s. The group was tightly organized, and one scholar has suggested that its "managerial style" resembled that of major Japanese corporations.

Right-wing extremists were diverse. In 1989 there were 800 such groups with about 120,000 members altogether. By police count, however, only about fifty groups and 23,000 individuals were considered active. Right-wing extremists indulged in a heady romanticism with strong links to the prewar period. They tended to be fascinated with the macho charisma of blood, sweat, and steel, and they promoted (like many nonradical groups) traditional samurai values as the antidote to the spiritual ills of postwar Japan. Their preference for violent direct action rather than words reflected the example of the militarist extremists of the 1930s and the heroic "men of strong will" of the late Tokugawa period of the 1850s and 1860s. The modern right-wing extremists demanded an end to the postwar "system of dependence" on the United States, restoration of the emperor to his prewar, divine status, and repudiation of Article 9. Many, if not most, right-wingers had intimate connections with Japan's gangster underground, the yakuza.

The ritual suicide of one of Japan's most prominent novelists, Mishima Yukio, following a failed attempt to initiate a rebellion among Self-Defense Forces units in November 1970, shocked and fascinated the public. Mishima and his small private army, the Shield Society (Tate no Kai), hoped that a rising of the SelfDefense Forces would inspire a nationwide affirmation of the old values and put an end to the postwar "age of languid peace."

Although rightists were also responsible for the assassination of socialist leader Asanuma Inejiro in 1960 and an attempt on the life of former prime minster Ohira Masayoshi in 1978, most of them, unlike their prewar counterparts, largely kept to noisy street demonstrations, especially harassment campaigns aimed at conventions of the leftist Japan Teachers Union. In the early 1990s, however, there was evidence that a "new right" was becoming more violent. In May 1987, a reporter working for the liberal Asahi Shimbun was killed by a gunman belonging to the Nippon Minzoku Dokuritsu Giyugun Betsudo Sekihotai (Blood Revenge Corps of the Partisan Volunteer Corps for the Independence of the Japanese Race), known as Sekihotai (Blood Revenge Corps). The Sekihotai also threatened to assassinate former Prime Minister Nakasone for giving in to foreign pressure on such issues as the revision of textbook accounts of Japan's war record. In January 1990, a member of the Seikijuku (translatable, ironically, as the Sane Thinkers School) shot and seriously wounded Nagasaki mayor Motoshima Hitoshi. The attack may have been provoked by the leftist rocket attacks on imperial residences in Tokyo and Kyoto a few days earlier as well as by the mayor's critical remarks concerning Emperor Hirohito.

In early 1994, the coalition government formed by Prime Minister Hosokawa Morohiro from small parties broken off from the LDP in league with the Komeito and socialist parties following the July 1993 House of representatives election remained in power. Although the LDP was still the strongest party, for the first time in nearly fifty years it found itself in the role of an opposition party.


Japan - Foreign Relations


JAPAN'S FOREIGN POLICY faces new challenges and difficult decisions in the 1990s. The 1980s had seen enormous changes in the distribution of international economic power and the political influence that accompanies it. Japan had become the world's largest creditor nation and the second largest donor of foreign aid. Japanese industries and enterprises are among the most capable in the world. High savings and investment rates and high-quality education are expected to solidify the international leadership of these enterprises during the mid- to late 1990s. Its economic power gives Japan a steadily growing role in the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and other international financial institutions. Investment and trade flows give Japan by far the dominant economic role in Asia, and Japanese aid and investment were widely sought after in other parts of the world. It appears to be only a matter of time before such economic power would be translated into greater political power.

The collapse of the Soviet Union and the growing preoccupation of its former republics and the East European nations with internal political and economic problems increased the importance of economic competition, rather than military power, to Japan. These formerly communist countries were anxiously seeking aid, trade, and technical benefits from the developed countries, such as Japan. The power of Japan's ally, the United States, was also seen by many as waning. The United States status in the 1980s had gone from the world's largest creditor to the world's largest debtor, and it was forced to look increasingly to Japan and others to shoulder the financial burdens entailed in the transformation of former communist economies in Eastern Europe and other urgent international requirements that fall upon the shoulders of world leaders.

Inside Japan, both elite and popular opinion expressed growing support for a more prominent international role, proportionate to the nation's economic power, foreign assistance, trade, and investment. But the traditional post-World War II reluctance to take a greater military role in the world remained. A firm consensus continued to support the 1960 Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security and other bilateral agreements with the United States as the keystones of Japan's security policy. However, Japanese officials were increasingly active in using their economic and financial resources in seeking a greater voice in international financial and political organizations and in shaping the policies of the developed countries toward international trouble spots, especially in Asia. Meanwhile, there was some doubt in both Japan and the United States as to whether Japan-United States security arrangements, predicated on the Soviet threat, could be transformed to meet the new strategic realities of the 1990s.

Throughout the post-World War II period, Japan concentrated on economic growth. It accommodated itself flexibly to the regional and global policies of the United States while avoiding major initiatives of its own; adhered to pacifist principles embodied in the 1947 constitution, referred to as the "peace constitution"; and generally took a passive, low-profile role in world affairs. Relations with other countries were governed by what the leadership called "omnidirectional diplomacy," which was essentially a policy of maintaining political neutrality in foreign affairs while expanding economic relations wherever possible. This policy was highly successful and allowed Japan to prosper and grow as an economic power, but it was feasible only while the country enjoyed the security and economic stability provided by its ally, the United States.

The need to revamp Japan's foreign policy posture had become apparent during the 1970s and particularly following the middle of the decade, as major changes in the international situation and the nation's own development into an economic world power made the old diplomacy obsolete. Japan's burgeoning economic growth and expansion into overseas markets had given rise to foreign charges of "economic aggression" and demands that it adopt more balanced trade policies. Changes in the power relationships in the AsiaPacific quadrilateral--made up of Japan, China, the United States, and the Soviet Union--also called for reexamination of policies. The deepening Sino-Soviet split and confrontation, the dramatic rapprochement between the United States and China, the rapid reduction of the United States military presence in Asia following the Second Indochina War (1954-75), and the 1970s expansion of Soviet military power in the western Pacific all required a reevaluation of Japan's security position and overall role in Asia. Finally, the oil crises of the 1970s sharpened Japanese awareness of the country's vulnerability to cutoffs of raw material and energy supplies, underscoring the need for a less passive, more independent foreign policy.

Japanese thinking on foreign policy was also influenced by the rise of a new postwar generation to leadership and policy-making positions. The differences in outlook between the older leaders still in positions of power and influence and the younger generation that was replacing them complicated formulation of foreign policy.

By 1990 Japan's foreign policy choices often challenged the leadership's tendency to avoid radical shifts and to rely on incremental adjustments. Although still generally supportive of close ties, including the alliance relationship with the United States, Japanese leaders were well aware of strong American frustrations with Japanese economic practices and Japan's growing economic power relative to the United States in world affairs. Senior United States leaders were calling upon Japanese officials to work with them in crafting "a new conceptual framework" for Japan-United States relations that would take account of altered strategic and economic realities and changes in Japanese and United States views about the bilateral relationship. The results of this effort were far from clear. Some optimistically predicted "a new global partnership" in which the United States and Japan would work together as truly equal partners in dealing with global problems. Pessimists predicted that negative feelings generated by the realignment in United States and Japanese economic power and persistent trade frictions would prompt Japan to strike out more on its own, without the "guidance" of the United States. Given the growing economic dominance of Japan in Asia, Tokyo was seen as most likely to strike out independently there first, translating its economic power into political and perhaps, eventually, military influence.

<>Relations with the United States
<>Relations with China
<>Other Asia-Pacific Countries
<>Relations with Russia
<>United Nations




Japan's geography--particularly its insular character, its limited endowment of natural resources, and its exposed location near potentially hostile giant neighbors--has played an important role in the development of its foreign policy. In premodern times, Japan's semi-isolated position on the periphery of the Asian mainland was an asset. It permitted the Japanese to exist as a self-sufficient society in a secure environment. It also allowed them to borrow selectively from the rich civilization of China while maintaining their own cultural identity. Insularity promoted a strong cultural and ethnic unity, which underlay the early development of a national consciousness that has influenced Japan's relations with outside peoples and cultures throughout its history.

Early Developments

In the early sixteenth century, a feudally organized Japan came into contact with Western missionaries and traders for the first time. Westerners introduced important cultural innovations into Japanese society during more than a century of relations with various feudal rulers. But when the country was unified at the beginning of the seventeenth century, the Tokugawa government decided to expel the foreign missionaries and strictly limit intercourse with the outside world. National seclusion--except for contacts with the Chinese and Dutch--was Japan's foreign policy for more than two centuries.

When the Tokugawa seclusion was forcibly breached in 1853-54 by Commodore Matthew C. Perry of the United States Navy, Japan found that geography no longer ensured security--the country was defenseless against military pressures and economic exploitation by the Western powers. After Perry's naval squadron had compelled Japan to enter into relations with the Western world, the first foreign policy debate was over whether Japan should embark on an extensive modernization to cope with the threat of the "eastward advance of Western power," which had already violated the independence of China, or expel the "barbarians" and return to seclusion. The latter alternative--although it appealed to many-- was never seriously considered. Beginning with the Meiji Restoration of 1868, which ushered in a new, centralized regime, Japan set out to "gather wisdom from all over the world" and embarked on an ambitious program of military, social, political, and economic reforms that transformed it within a generation into a modern nation-state and major world power.

Modern Japan's foreign policy was shaped at the outset by its need to reconcile its Asian identity with its desire for status and security in an international order dominated by the West. The principal foreign policy goals of the Meiji period (1868-1912) were to protect the integrity and independence of the nation against Western domination and to win equality of status with the leading nations of the West by reversing the unequal treaties. Because fear of Western military power was the chief concern of the Meiji leaders, their highest priority was building up the basic requirements for national defense, under the slogan "wealth and arms" (fukoku kyohei). They saw that a modern military establishment required national conscription drawing manpower from an adequately educated population, a trained officer corps, a sophisticated chain of command, and strategy and tactics adapted to contemporary conditions. Finally, it required modern arms together with the factories to make them, sufficient wealth to purchase them, and a transportation system to deliver them.

An important objective of the military buildup was to gain the respect of the Western powers and achieve equal status for Japan in the international community. Inequality of status was symbolized by the treaties imposed on Japan when the country was first opened to foreign intercourse. The treaties were objectionable to the Japanese not only because they imposed low fixed tariffs on foreign imports and thus handicapped domestic industries, but also because their provisions gave a virtual monopoly of external trade to foreigners and granted extraterritorial status to foreign nationals in Japan, exempting them from Japanese jurisdiction and placing Japan in the inferior category of uncivilized nations. Many of the social and institutional reforms of the Meiji period were designed to remove the stigma of backwardness and inferiority represented by the "unequal treaties," and a major task of Meiji diplomacy was to press for early treaty revision.

Once created, the Meiji military machine was used to extend Japanese power overseas, for many leaders believed that national security depended on expansion and not merely a strong defense. Within thirty years, the country's military forces had fought and defeated imperial China in the First Sino-Japanese War (1894-95), winning possession of Taiwan and China's recognition of Korea's independence. Ten years later, in the Russo-Japanese War (1904-5), Japan defeated tsarist Russia and won possession of southern Sakhalin as well as a position of paramount influence in Korea and southern Manchuria. By this time, Japan had been able to negotiate revisions of the unequal treaties with the Western powers and had in 1902 formed an alliance with the world's leading power, Britain. After World War I, in which it sided with the Western Allies, Japan, despite its relatively small role in the war (with little effort it gained possession of former German territories in the Pacific), sat with the victors at Versailles and enjoyed the status of a great power in its own right.

Between World War I and World War II, the nation embarked on a course of imperialist expansion, using both diplomatic and military means to extend its control over more and more of the Asian mainland. It began to see itself as the protector and champion of Asian interests against the West, a point of view that brought it increasingly into conflict with the Western powers. When its aggressive policies met firm resistance from the United States and its allies, Japan made common cause with the Axis partnership of Germany and Italy and launched into war with the United States and the Western alliance.

After Japan's devastating defeat in World War II, the nation came under an Allied occupation in which the United States, as the principal occupying power, was charged with the demilitarization and democratization of the state. Major changes were made in political, social, and economic institutions and practices. During the seven-year occupation, the country had no control over its foreign affairs and became in effect the ward of the United States on the international scene. It adopted a new constitution whereby, in Article 9, the "Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes".

Postwar Developments

When Japan regained its sovereignty in 1952 and reentered the international community as an independent nation, it found itself in a world preoccupied by the Cold War between East and West, in which the Soviet Union and the United States headed opposing camps. By virtue of the Treaty of Peace with Japan signed in San Francisco on September 8, 1951 (effective April 28, 1952), ending the state of war between Japan and most of the Allied powers except the Soviet Union and China, and the Mutual Security Assistance Pact between Japan and the United States, signed in San Francisco the same day, Japan essentially became a dependent ally of the United States, which continued to maintain bases and troops on Japanese soil.

Japan's foreign policy goals during most of the early postwar period were essentially to regain economic viability and establish its credibility as a peaceful member of the world community. National security was entrusted to the protective shield and nuclear umbrella of the United States, which was permitted under the security pact that came into effect in April 1952 to deploy its forces in and about Japan. The pact provided a framework governing the use of United States forces against military threats--internal or external--in the region. A special diplomatic task was to assuage the suspicions and alleviate the resentments of Asian neighbors who had suffered from Japanese colonial rule and imperialist aggression in the past. Japan's diplomacy toward its Asian neighbors, therefore, tended to be extremely low-key, conciliatory, and nonassertive. With respect to the world at large, the nation avoided political issues and concentrated on economic goals. Under its omnidirectional diplomacy, it sought to cultivate friendly ties with all nations, proclaimed a policy of "separation of politics and economics," and adhered to a neutral position on some East-West issues.

During the 1950s and 1960s, foreign policy actions were guided by three basic principles: close cooperation with the United States for both security and economic reasons; promotion of a free-trade system congenial to Japan's own economic needs; and international cooperation through the United Nations (UN)--to which it was admitted in 1956--and other multilateral bodies. Adherence to these principles worked well and contributed to phenomenal economic recovery and growth during the first two decades after the end of the occupation.

In the 1970s, the basic postwar principles remained unchanged but were approached from a new perspective, owing to the pressure of practical politics at home and abroad. There was growing domestic pressure on the government to exercise more foreign policy initiatives independent of the United States, without, however, compromising vital security and economic ties. The so-called Nixon "shock," involving the surprise United States opening to China and other regional issues, also argued for a more independent Japanese foreign policy. The nation's phenomenal economic growth had made it a ranking world economic power by the early 1970s and had generated a sense of pride and self-esteem, especially among the younger generation. The demand for a more independent foreign policy reflected this enhanced self-image.

Changes in world economic relations during the 1970s also encouraged a more independent stance. Japan had become less dependent on the Western powers for resources. Oil, for example, was obtained directly from the producing countries and not from the Western-controlled multinational companies. Other important materials also came increasingly from sources other than the United States and its allies, while trade with the United States as a share of total trade dropped significantly during the decade of the 1970s. Thus, political leaders began to argue that in the interests of economic self-preservation, more attention should be paid to the financial and development needs of other countries, especially those that provided Japan with vital energy and raw material supplies.

The move toward a more autonomous foreign policy was accelerated in the 1970s by the United States decision to withdraw troops from Indochina. Japanese public opinion had earlier favored some distance between Japan and the United States involvement in war in Vietnam. The collapse of the war effort in Vietnam was seen as the end of United States military and economic dominance in Asia and brought to the fore a marked shift in Japan's attitudes about the United States. This shift, which had been developing since the early 1970s, took the form of questioning the credibility of the United States nuclear umbrella, as well as its ability to underwrite a stable international currency system, guarantee Japan's access to energy and raw materials, and secure Japan's interests in a stable political order. The shift therefore required a reassessment of omnidirectional diplomacy.

Japan's leaders welcomed the reassertion of United States military power in Asian and world affairs following the Islamic revolution in Iran, the United States hostage crisis, and the Soviet military invasion of Afghanistan, all of which occurred in 1979. Japanese leaders played a strong supporting role in curbing economic and other interaction with the Soviet Union and its allies in order to help check the expansion of Soviet power in sensitive areas among the developing world countries. Under Prime Minister Nakasone Yasuhiro, Japan built up a close political-military relationship with the United States as part of a de facto international front of a number of developed and developing countries intent on checking Soviet expansion. Japan's defense spending continued to grow steadily despite overall budgetary restraint. Japan became increasingly active in granting foreign assistance to countries of strategic importance in East-West competition.

The realignment of United States and Japanese currencies in the mid-1980s increased the growth of Japanese trade, aid, and investment, especially in Asia. It also accelerated the reversal of the United States fiscal position, from one of the world's largest creditors in the early 1980s to the world's largest debtor at the end of the decade. Japan became the world's largest creditor, an increasingly active investor in the United States, and a major contributor to international debt relief, financial institutions, and other assistance efforts.

The crucial issue for the United States and many other world governments centers on how Japan will employ this growing economic power. The strategic framework of the Japan-United States alliance also was called into question by the ending of the Cold War and collapse of the Soviet Union. Could a new rationale be found to sustain the active security tie that had been the basis for Japan's foreign affairs in the postwar period? Had Japan's foreign interactions become so broad and multifaceted that new mechanisms were needed? Were new ways of thinking about Japan's foreign policy being formulated and implemented in Japan? It appears clear to observers in Japan that the majority of the Japanese public and elite are satisfied with the general direction of Japan's foreign policy. That policy direction is characterized by continued close ties with the United States to sustain world stability and prosperity that are so beneficial to Japan, and incrementally more assertive Japanese policies, especially regarding international economic and political institutions and Asian affairs. Yet the world order ias changing rapidly, and there are deep frustrations in some quarters in the United States, China, and Western Europe over Japanese practices. There also is some evidence of deep frustrations in Japan over Tokyo's seeming slowness in taking a more active world role. The possibility of more radical change in Japan's foreign policy, perhaps in directions more independent of the United States, remains a distinct possibility.


Japan - Relations with the United States


Japan-United States relations were more uncertain in the early 1990s than at any time since World War II. As long-standing military allies and increasingly interdependent economic partners, Japan and the United States cooperated closely to build a strong, multifaceted relationship based on democratic values and interests in world stability and development. Japan-United States relations improved enormously in the 1970s and 1980s, as the two societies and economies became increasingly intertwined. In 1990 their combined gross national product (GNP) totaled about one third of the world's GNP. Japan received about 11 percent of United States exports (a larger share than any other country except Canada), and the United States bought about 34 percent of Japan's exports. Japan had US$148 billion in direct investment in the United States in 1991, while the United States had more than US$17 billion invested in Japan. Some US$100 billion in United States government securities held by institutions in Japan helped finance much of the United States budget deficit. Economic exchanges were reinforced by a variety of scientific, technical, tourist, and other exchanges. Each society continued to see the other as its main ally in Asia and the Pacific. Certain developments in the late 1980s damaged bilateral relations. Nevertheless, public opinion surveys continued to reveal that substantial majorities of Japanese and Americans believed that the bilateral relationship was vital to both countries.

Growing interdependence was accompanied by markedly changing circumstances at home and abroad that were widely seen to have created a crisis in Japan-United States relations in the late 1980s. United States government officials continued to emphasize the positive aspects of the relationship but warned that there was a need for "a new conceptual framework." The Wall Street Journal publicized a series of lengthy reports documenting changes in the relationship in the late 1980s and reviewing the considerable debate in Japan and the United States over whether a closely cooperative relationship was possible or appropriate for the 1990s. An authoritative review of popular and media opinion, published in 1990 by the Washington-based Commission on US-Japan Relations for the Twenty-first Century, was concerned with preserving a close Japan-United States relationship. It warned of a "new orthodoxy" of "suspicion, criticism and considerable self- justification," which it said was endangering the fabric of Japan- United States relations.

Three sets of factors stand out as the most important in explaining the challenges facing Japan-United States relations. They are economic, political-military, and domestic in nature.

The relative economic power of Japan and the United States was undergoing sweeping change, especially in the 1980s. This change went well beyond the implications of the United States trade deficit with Japan, which had remained between US$40 billion and US$48 billion annually since the mid-1980s. The persisting United States trade and budget deficits of the early 1980s led to a series of decisions in the middle of the decade that brought a major realignment of the value of Japanese and United States currencies. The stronger Japanese currency gave Japan the ability to purchase more United States goods and to make important investments in the United States. By the late 1980s, Japan was the main international creditor.

Japan's growing investment in the United States--it was the second largest investor after Britain--led to complaints from some American constituencies. Moreover, Japanese industry seemed well positioned to use its economic power to invest in the high- technology products in which United States manufacturers were still leaders. The United States's ability to compete under these circumstances was seen by many Japanese and Americans as hampered by heavy personal, government, and business debt and a low savings rate.

In the late 1980s, the breakup of the Soviet bloc in Eastern Europe and the growing preoccupation of Soviet leaders with massive internal political and economic difficulties forced the Japanese and United States governments to reassess their longstanding alliance against the Soviet threat. Officials of both nations had tended to characterize the security alliance as the linchpin of the relationship, which should have priority over economic and other disputes. Some Japanese and United States officials and commentators continued to emphasize the common dangers to Japan- United States interests posed by the continued strong Soviet military presence in Asia. They stressed that until Moscow followed its moderation in Europe with major demobilization and reductions in its forces positioned against the United States and Japan in the Pacific, Washington and Tokyo needed to remain militarily prepared and vigilant.

Increasingly, however, other perceived benefits of close Japan- United States security ties were emphasized. The alliance was seen as deterring other potentially disruptive forces in East Asia, notably the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea). Ironically, some United States officials noted that the alliance helped keep Japan's potential military power in check and under the supervision of the United States.

The post-Cold War environment strengthened the relative importance of economic prowess over military power as the major source of world influence in the early 1990s. This shift affected the perceived relative standing of Japan, the United States, and other powers. Increasingly, Japan was expected to shoulder international aid and economic responsibilities that in the past were discharged by the United States and other Western countries.

The declining Soviet threat, the rising power of the Japanese economy, increasingly close United States interaction (and related disputes) with Japan, and other factors led by 1990 to a decided shift in United States opinion about Japan and to less marked but nonetheless notable shifts in Japanese opinion. In the United States, this shift was reflected in questions about which was the more serious, the military threat from the Soviet Union or the economic challenge from Japan. In a series of polls in 1989 and 1990, most respondents considered the challenge from Japan the more serious. Similarly, poll data from early 1990 showed that most Japanese considered negative United States attitudes toward Japan a reflection of United States anger at "America's slipping economic position." Meanwhile, Japanese opinion was showing greater confidence in Japan's ability to handle its own affairs without constant reference--as in the past--to the United States. Japan's belief in United States reliability as a world leader also lessened.

In both countries, new or "revisionist" views of the Japan- United States relationship were promoted. In Japan some commentators argued that the United States was weak, dependent on Japan, and unable to come to terms with world economic competition. They urged Japan to strike out on a more independent course. In the United States, prominent commentators warned of a Japanese economic juggernaut, out of control of the Japanese government, which needed to be "contained" by the United States.

At the same time, it was easy to overstate the changes in opinion in both countries. The Japanese still considered the United States positively as their closest friend, the principal guardian of their external security, their most important economic partner and market, and the exemplar of a life-style that had much to offer--and much to envy. Moreover, the vast majority of Americans still viewed Japan positively, had high respect for Japanese accomplishments, and supported the United States defense commitment to Japan.

In the years after World War II, Japan's relations with the United States were placed on an equal footing for the first time at the end of the occupation by the Allied forces in April 1952. This equality, the legal basis of which was laid down in the peace treaty signed by forty-eight Allied nations and Japan, was initially largely nominal, because in the early postoccupation period Japan required direct United States economic assistance. A favorable Japanese balance of payments with the United States was achieved in 1954, mainly as a result of United States military and aid spending in Japan.

The Japanese people's feeling of dependence lessened gradually as the disastrous results of World War II subsided into the background and trade with the United States expanded. Self-confidence grew as the country applied its resources and organizational skill to regaining economic health. This situation gave rise to a general desire for greater independence from United States influence. During the 1950s and 1960s, this feeling was especially evident in the Japanese attitude toward United States military bases on the four main islands of Japan and in Okinawa Prefecture, occupying the southern two-thirds of the Ryukyu Islands.

The government had to balance left-wing pressure advocating dissociation from the United States against the realities of the need for military protection. Recognizing the popular desire for the return of the Ryukyu Islands and the Bonin Islands (also known as the Ogasawara Islands), the United States as early as 1953 voluntarily relinquished its control of the Amami group of islands at the northern end of the Ryukyu Islands. But the United States made no commitment to return Okinawa, which was then under United States military administration for an indefinite period as provided in Article 3 of the peace treaty. Popular agitation culminated in a unanimous resolution adopted by the Diet in June 1956, calling for a return of Okinawa to Japan.

Bilateral talks on revising the 1952 security pact began in 1959, and the new Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security was signed in Washington on January 19, 1960. When the pact was submitted to the Diet for ratification on February 5, it became the subject of bitter debate over the Japan-United States relationship and the occasion for violence in an all-out effort by the leftist opposition to prevent its passage. It was finally approved by the House of Representatives on May 20. Japan Socialist Party deputies boycotted the lower house session and tried to prevent the LDP deputies from entering the chamber; they were forcibly removed by the police. Massive demonstrations and rioting by students and trade unions followed. These outbursts prevented a scheduled visit to Japan by President Dwight D. Eisenhower and precipitated the resignation of Prime Minister Kishi Nobusuke, but not before the treaty was passed by default on June 19, when the House of Councillors failed to vote on the issue within the required thirty days after lower house approval.

Under the treaty, both parties assumed an obligation to assist each other in case of armed attack on territories under Japanese administration. (It was understood, however, that Japan could not come to the defense of the United States because it was constitutionally forbidden to send armed forces overseas. In particular, the constitution forbids the maintenance of "land, sea, and air forces." It also expresses the Japanese people's renunciation of "the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes". Accordingly, the Japanese find it difficult to send their "self-defense" forces overseas, even for peace-keeping purposes.) The scope of the new treaty did not extend to the Ryukyu Islands, but an appended minute made clear that in case of an armed attack on the islands, both governments would consult and take appropriate action. Notes accompanying the treaty provided for prior consultation between the two governments before any major change occurred in the deployment of United States troops or equipment in Japan. Unlike the 1952 security pact, the new treaty provided for a ten-year term, after which it could be revoked upon one year's notice by either party. The treaty included general provisions on the further development of international cooperation and on improved future economic cooperation.

Both countries worked closely to fulfill the United States promise, under Article 3 of the peace treaty, to return all Japanese territories acquired by the United States in war. In June 1968 the United States returned the Bonin Islands (including Iwo Jima) to Japanese administration control. In 1969 the Okinawa reversion issue and Japan's security ties with the United States became the focal points of partisan political campaigns. The situation calmed considerably when Prime Minister Sato Eisaku visited Washington in November 1969, and in a joint communiqué signed by him and President Richard M. Nixon, announced the United States agreement to return Okinawa to Japan in 1972. In June 1971, after eighteen months of negotiations, the two countries signed an agreement providing for the return of Okinawa to Japan in 1972.

The Japanese government's firm and voluntary endorsement of the security treaty and the settlement of the Okinawa reversion question meant that, two major political issues in Japan-United States relations were eliminated. But new issues arose. In July 1971, the Japanese government was surprised by Nixon's dramatic announcement of his forthcoming visit to the People's Republic of China. Many Japanese were chagrined by the failure of the United States to consult in advance with Japan before making such a fundamental change in foreign policy. The following month, the government was again surprised to learn that, without prior consultation, the United States had imposed a 10 percent surcharge on imports, a decision certain to hinder Japan's exports to the United States. Relations between Tokyo and Washington were further strained by the monetary crisis involving the December 1971 revaluation of the Japanese yen.

These events of 1971 marked the beginning of a new stage in relations, a period of adjustment to a changing world situation that was not without episodes of strain in both political and economic spheres, although the basic relationship remained close. The political issues between the two countries were essentially security-related and derived from efforts by the United States to induce Japan to contribute more to its own defense and to regional security. The economic issues tended to stem from the ever-widening United States trade and payments deficits with Japan, which began in 1965 when Japan reversed its imbalance in trade with the United States and, for the first time, achieved an export surplus.

The United States withdrawal from Indochina in 1975 and the end of the Second Indochina War meant that the question of Japan's role in the security of East Asia and its contributions to its own defense became central topics in the dialogue between the two countries. United States dissatisfaction with Japanese defense efforts began to surface in 1975 when Secretary of Defense James A. Schlesinger publicly stigmatized Japan as a passive defense partner.

United States pressures continued and intensified, particularly as events in Iran and elsewhere in the Middle East after 1979 caused the United States to relocate more than 50 percent of its naval strength from East Asian waters to the Indian Ocean. Japan was repeatedly pressed not only to increase its defense expenditures and build up its antisubmarine and naval patrol capabilities but also to play a more active and positive security role generally.

The Japanese government, constrained by constitutional limitations and strongly pacifist public opinion, responded slowly to pressures for a more rapid buildup of its Self-Defense Forces (SDF). It steadily increased its budgetary outlays for those forces, however, and indicated its willingness to shoulder more of the cost of maintaining the United States military bases in Japan. In 1976 the United States and Japan formally established a subcommittee for defense cooperation, in the framework of a bilateral Security Consultative Committee provided for under the 1960 security treaty. This subcommittee, in turn, drew up new Guidelines for Japan-United States Defense Cooperation, under which military planners of the two countries have conducted studies relating to joint military action in the event of an armed attack on Japan.

On the economic front, Japan sought to ease trade frictions by agreeing to Orderly Marketing Arrangements, which limited exports on products whose influx into the United States was creating political problems. In 1977 an Orderly Marketing Arrangement limiting Japanese color television exports to the United States was signed, following the pattern of an earlier disposition of the textile problem. Steel exports to the United States were also curtailed, but the problems continued as disputes flared over United States restrictions on Japanese development of nuclear fuel- reprocessing facilities, Japanese restrictions on certain agricultural imports, such as beef and oranges, and liberalization of capital investment and government procurement within Japan.

To respond to the call, from its allies and from within the country as well, for a greater and more responsible role in the world, Japan developed what Ohira Masayoshi, after he became prime minister in December 1978, called a "comprehensive security and defense strategy to safeguard peace." Under this policy, Japan sought to place its relations with the United States on a new footing--one of close cooperation but on a more reciprocal and autonomous basis, and on a global scale.

This policy was put to the test in November 1979, when radical Iranians seized the United States embassy in Tehran, taking sixty hostages. Japan reacted by condemning the action as a violation of international law. At the same time, Japanese trading firms and oil companies reportedly purchased Iranian oil that had become available when the United States banned oil imported from Iran. This action brought sharp criticism from the United States of Japanese government "insensitivity" for allowing the oil purchases and led to a Japanese apology and agreement to participate in sanctions against Iran in concert with other United States allies.

Following that incident, the Japanese government took greater care to support United States international policies designed to preserve stability and promote prosperity. Japan was prompt and effective in announcing and implementing sanctions against the Soviet Union following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979. In 1981, in response to United States requests, it accepted greater responsibility for defense of seas around Japan, pledged greater support for United States forces in Japan, and persisted with a steady buildup of the SDF.

A qualitatively new stage of Japan-United States cooperation in world affairs appeared to be reached in late 1982 with the election of Prime Minister Nakasone Yasuhiro. Officials of the Ronald Reagan administration worked closely with their Japanese counterparts to develop a personal relationship between the two leaders based on their common security and international outlook. Nakasone reassured United States leaders of Japan's determination against the Soviet threat, closely coordinated policies with the United States toward such Asian trouble spots as the Korean Peninsula and Southeast Asia, and worked cooperatively with the United States in developing China policy. The Japanese government welcomed the increase of United States forces in Japan and the western Pacific, continued the steady buildup of the SDF, and positioned Japan firmly on the side of the United States against the threat of Soviet international expansion. Japan continued to cooperate closely with United States policy in these areas following Nakasone's term of office, although the political leadership scandals in Japan in the late 1980s made it difficult for newly elected President George Bush to establish the same kind of close personal ties that marked the Reagan years.

A specific example of Japan's close cooperation with the United States included its quick response to the United States call for greater host nation support from Japan following the rapid realignment of Japan-United States currencies in the mid-1980s. The currency realignment resulted in a rapid rise of United States costs in Japan, which the Japanese government, upon United States request, was willing to offset. Another set of examples was provided by Japan's willingness to respond to United States requests for foreign assistance to countries considered of strategic importance to the West. During the 1980s, United States officials voiced appreciation for Japan's "strategic aid" to countries such as Pakistan, Turkey, Egypt, and Jamaica. Prime Minister Kaifu Toshiki's pledges of support for East European and Middle Eastern countries in 1990 fit the pattern of Japan's willingness to share greater responsibility for world stability.

Despite complaints from some Japanese businesses and diplomats, the Japanese government remained in basic agreement with United States policy toward China and Indochina. The government held back from large-scale aid efforts until conditions in China and Indochina were seen as more compatible with Japanese and United States interests. Of course, there also were instances of limited Japanese cooperation. Japan's response to the United States decision to help to protect tankers in the Persian Gulf during the Iran-Iraq War (1980-88) was subject to mixed reviews. Some United States officials stressed the positive, noting that Japan was unable to send military forces because of constitutional reasons but compensated by supporting the construction of a navigation system in the Persian Gulf, providing greater host nation support for United States forces in Japan, and providing loans to Oman and Jordan. Japan's refusal to join even in a mine-sweeping effort in the Persian Gulf was an indication to some United States officials of Tokyo's unwillingness to cooperate with the United States in areas of sensitivity to Japanese leaders at home or abroad.

The main area of noncooperation with the United States in the 1980s was Japanese resistance to repeated United States efforts to get Japan to open its market more to foreign goods and to change other economic practices seen as adverse to United States economic interests. A common pattern was followed. The Japanese government was sensitive to political pressures from important domestic constituencies that would be hurt by greater openness. In general, these constituencies were of two types--those representing inefficient or "declining" producers, manufacturers, and distributors, who could not compete if faced with full foreign competition; and those up-and-coming industries that the Japanese government wished to protect from foreign competition until they could compete effectively on world markets. To deal with domestic pressures while trying to avoid a break with the United States, the Japanese government engaged in protracted negotiations. This tactic bought time for declining industries to restructure themselves and new industries to grow stronger. Agreements reached dealt with some aspects of the problems, but it was common for trade or economic issues to be dragged out in talks over several years, involving more than one market-opening agreement. Such agreements were sometimes vague and subject to conflicting interpretations in Japan and the United States.

During the 1970s and 1980s, United States administrations had favored an issue-by-issue approach in negotiating such economic disputes with Japan. This approach ostensibly limited the areas of dispute. But it resulted in widespread negative publicity, at a time when changing economic and security circumstances were causing both countries to reevaluate the relationship. Notable outpourings of United States congressional and media rhetoric critical of Japan accompanied the disclosure in 1987 that Toshiba had illegally sold sophisticated machinery of United States origin to the Soviet Union, which reportedly allowed Moscow to make submarines quiet enough to avoid United States detection, and the United States congressional debate in 1989 over the Japan-United States agreement to develop a new fighter aircraft--the FSX--for Japan's Air Self- Defense Force.

A new approach was added in 1989. The so-called Structural Impediments Initiative was a series of talks designed to deal with domestic structural problems limiting trade on both sides. After several rounds of often contentious talks, agreements were reached in April and July 1990 that promised major changes in such sensitive areas as Japanese retailing practices, land use, and investment in public works. The United States pledged to deal more effectively with its budget deficit and to increase domestic savings. United States supporters saw the Structural Impediments Initiative talks as addressing fundamental causes of Japan-United States economic friction. Skeptics pointed to them as ways for officials to buy time and avoid an acute crisis in Japan-United States relations. The Bill Clinton administration decided to end the Structural Impediments Initiative in the summer of 1993 as a framework for dealing with United States-Japan bilateral relations.


Japan - Relations with China


The priority that policy toward China has commanded in Japanese foreign affairs has varied over time. During the period of United States-backed "containment" of China, there was a sharp divergence between official policy and popular attitudes in Japan. As a loyal ally of the United States, the Japanese government was committed to nonrecognition, whereas popular sentiments favored diplomatic relations and expanded trade. The Japan Communist Party and the Japan Socialist Party sought to capitalize on this situation in their propaganda efforts to promote closer relations with Beijing. Pro-Chinese sentiment found support not only in the desire of the business community for a new source of raw materials and a profitable market but also in the popular feeling of cultural affinity with the Chinese. Japanese leaders spent considerable effort trying to manage this tension.

The unanticipated United States opening to China in 1971 undermined the administration of Prime Minister Sato , but the subsequent government of Prime Minister Tanaka Kakuei quickly adjusted policy by normalizing diplomatic relations in 1972. Throughout the next decade, policy toward China continued to receive high priority as Japanese officials dealt with competing pressures from the Chinese and Soviet governments. Beijing and Moscow pressed Tokyo to side with their respective positions in the intense Sino-Soviet competition for influence in Asia following the substantial United States military withdrawal and the fall of United States-backed regimes in Indochina.

China's economic importance to Japanese policymakers rose in tandem with the market-oriented reforms and increased foreign interaction associated with the post-Mao Zedong policies of Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping. Unrealistic Japanese expectations of economic benefit in China were ended by the zigzag course of Chinese development in the 1980s. Japanese decision makers by the end of the decade were able to settle on a balanced policy toward China that required less attention from Japanese leaders and received lower priority than in the past. The massacre of prodemocracy demonstrators in Beijing's Tiananmen Incident and the collapse of communist regimes in Eastern Europe and parts of Asia in 1989 discredited China's communist leaders in the minds of Japanese people and made it more difficult for Chinese officials or opposition Japanese politicians to raise China-related issues in Japanese domestic politics. The effect was to reduce further the need to make special government concessions on China-related issues. As the memory of the Tiananmen Incident faded, closer Japan-China economic and political relations were rekindled in the early 1990s.

The early post-World War II political differences between the two countries related especially to China's insistence that Japan end its official relations with the Kuomintang (Chinese Nationalist Party) government on Taiwan and abrogate its security treaty with the United States. Initially, neither country allowed its political differences to stand in the way of broadening unofficial contacts, and in the mid-1950s they exchanged an increasing number of cultural, labor, and business delegations.

In 1958, however, China suspended its trade with Japan-- apparently convinced that trade concessions were ineffective in achieving political goals. Thereafter, in a plan for improving political relations, China requested that the Japanese government not be hostile toward it, not obstruct any effort to restore normal relations between itself and Japan, and not join in any conspiracy to create two Chinas.

Coincident with its dispute with the Soviet Union, China resumed its trade with Japan in late 1960. Important provisions were attached to the arrangement, however, stipulating that trade was to be based on formal government-to-government agreements and the private trade was to be sanctioned indirectly by the Japanese government. Only Japanese firms that pledged to support the three political principles of 1958 were to be allowed to participate.

In November 1962, Sino-Japanese relations were elevated to semiofficial status--still far short of diplomatic recognition-- with the signing in Beijing of a five-year trade memorandum (1963-67), better known as the Liao-Takasaki Agreement. Under its terms, Chinese purchases of industrial plants were to be financed partly through medium-term credits from the Japan Export-Import Bank. The accord also permitted China to open a trade mission in Tokyo and in 1963 paved the way for Japanese government approval of the export to China of a synthetic textile manufacturing plant valued at around US$20 million, guaranteed by the bank. Subsequent protest from Taiwan caused Japan to shelve further deferred-payment plant exports. China reacted to this change by downgrading its Japan trade and intensified propaganda attacks against Japan as a "lackey" of the United States.

Relations cooled noticeably during the massive political and economic chaos that prevailed during the radical phases of the Cultural Revolution in China, from 1966 to 1969. As the turmoil subsided, however, the Japanese government--already under pressure both from the pro-China factions in the LDP and from opposition elements--sought to adopt a more forward posture. Japan's efforts to set its own China policy became particularly evident after July 1971 when Nixon, according to Japanese sources, "shocked" the Japanese by announcing his forthcoming visit to Beijing. Relations remained complicated, however, because of Japan's diplomatic and substantial economic ties with Taiwan and the presence of a powerful pro-Kuomintang faction in the LDP.

The September 1972 visit to Beijing of Japan's newly elected prime minister, Tanaka Kakuei, culminated in the signing of a historic joint statement that ended nearly eighty years of enmity and friction between the two countries. In this statement, Tokyo recognized the Beijing regime as the sole legal government of China, stating at the same time that it understood and respected China's position that Taiwan was "an inalienable part of the territory of the People's Republic of China." For its part, China waived its demand for war indemnities from Japan. (This demand was first made in the mid-1950s; the war reparations claims totaled as much as the equivalent of US$50 billion.) Diplomatic relations were to be established as of September 29, 1972. Japan and China also agreed to hold negotiations aimed at the conclusion not only of a treaty of peace and friendship but also at agreements on trade, shipping, air transportation, and fisheries. Sino-Japanese trade grew rapidly after 1972. In January 1974, a three-year trade agreement--the first of several working agreements covering civil air transportation, shipping, fisheries, and trademarks--was signed. Arrangements for technical cooperation, cultural exchange, and consular matters were also undertaken.

Negotiations for a Sino-Japanese peace and friendship treaty also began in 1974 but soon encountered a political problem Japan wished to avoid. China insisted on including in the treaty an antihegemony clause, clearly directed at the Soviet Union. Japan, wishing to adhere to its "equidistant" or neutral stance in the Sino-Soviet confrontation, objected. The Soviet Union made clear that a Sino-Japanese treaty would prejudice Soviet-Japanese relations. Japanese efforts to reach a compromise with China over this issue failed, and the talks were broken off in September 1975.

Matters remained at a standstill until political changes in China after the death of Mao Zedong in 1976 brought to the fore a leadership dedicated to economic modernization and interested in accommodation with Japan, whose aid was essential. A changing climate of opinion in Japan that was more willing to ignore Soviet warnings and protests and accept the idea of "antihegemonism" as an international principle also helped lay the groundwork for new efforts to conclude the treaty.

In February 1978, a long-term private trade agreement led to an arrangement by which trade between Japan and China would increase to a level of US$20 billion by 1985, through exports from Japan of plants and equipment, technology, construction materials, and machine parts in return for coal and crude oil. This long-term plan, which gave rise to inflated expectations, proved overly ambitious and was drastically cut back the following year as China was forced to reorder its development priorities and scale down its commitments. However, the signing of the agreement reflected the wish on both sides to improve relations. In April 1978, a dispute involving the intrusion of armed Chinese fishing boats into the waters off the Senkaku Islands (called Diaoyutai in Chinese), a cluster of barren islets north of Taiwan and south of the Ryukyu Islands, flared up and threatened to disrupt the developing momentum toward a resumption of peace treaty talks. Restraint on both sides led to an amicable resolution. (The Senkakus are claimed by Japan, China, and Taiwan, but the question of territorial rights was finessed in this case.) Talks on the peace treaty were resumed in July, and agreement was reached in August on a compromise version of the antihegemony clause. The Treaty of Peace and Friendship was signed on August 12 and came into effect October 23, 1978.

Chinese domestic political problems and uneven progress in China's reform programs at times dampened Japanese enthusiasm for economic relations with China. Yet Sino-Japanese relations made considerable progress in the 1980s. In 1982 there was a serious political controversy over revision of Japanese textbooks dealing with the history of imperial Japan's war against China in the 1930s and 1940s. Beijing also registered concern in 1983 about the reported shift in United States strategic emphasis in Asia, away from China and in favor of greater reliance on Japan, under the leadership of the more "hawkish" Prime Minister Nakasone Yasuhiro, warning anew against possible revival of Japanese militarism. By mid-1983, however, Beijing had decided--coincidentally with its decision to improve relations with the Reagan administration--to solidify ties with Japan. Chinese Communist Party general secretary Hu Yaobang visited Japan in November 1983, and Prime Minister Nakasone reciprocated by visiting China in March 1984.

The Chinese had long looked on Japan--by then a major trading partner--as a leading source of assistance in promoting economic development in China. The growth of Soviet military power in East Asia in the early 1980s prompted them to consult with Japan more frequently on security issues and to pursue parallel foreign policies designed to check Soviet influence and promote regional stability. While Japanese enthusiasm for the Chinese market waxed and waned, broad strategic considerations in the 1980s steadied Tokyo's policy toward Beijing. In fact, Japan's heavy involvement in China's economic modernization reflected in part a determination to encourage peaceful domestic development in China, to draw China into gradually expanding links with Japan and the West, to reduce China's interest in returning to its more provocative foreign policies of the past, and to obstruct any Sino-Soviet realignment against Japan.

Thus, common strategic concerns, as well as economic interests, held the two nations together. Until the late 1970s, China appeared more alarmed than Japan about the Soviet military buildup in Asia. But as the Soviet Union increasingly sought to impede strategic cooperation among Japan, the United States, and possibly China, in part by stepped-up intimidation of Japan, the Nakasone government became more concerned about the Soviet military buildup.

Many of Japan's concerns about the Soviet Union duplicated China worries. They included the increased deployment in East Asia of Soviet SS-20 missiles, Tu-22M Backfire bombers, and ballistic missile submarines; the growth of the Soviet Pacific fleet; the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the potential threat it posed to Persian Gulf oil supply routes; and an increased Soviet military presence in Vietnam.

In response, Japan and China adopted strikingly complementary foreign policies, designed to isolate the Soviet Union and its allies politically and to promote regional stability. In Southeast Asia, both countries provided strong diplomatic backing for the efforts of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to bring about a Vietnamese withdrawal from Cambodia. Japan cut off all economic aid to Vietnam and provided substantial economic assistance to Thailand to help with resettling Indochinese refugees. China was a key supporter of Thailand and of the Cambodian resistance groups. In Southwest Asia, both nations backed the condemnation of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, refused to recognize the Soviet-backed Kabul regime, and sought through diplomatic and economic means to bolster Pakistan. In Northeast Asia, Japan and China sought to moderate the behavior of their Korean partners--South Korea and North Korea, respectively--to reduce tensions. In 1983 both China and Japan strongly criticized the Soviet proposal to redeploy some of their European-based SS-20 missiles to Asia.

Complementary economic interests also strengthens Sino-Japanese relations. Japan is a major source of capital, technology, and equipment for China's modernization drive. In fact, Japan has been China's largest trading partner since the mid-1960s, accounting for more than 20 percent of China's total trade. Bilateral trade exploded in the 1970s and early 1980s, from US$1 billion in the early 1970s to more than US$8 billion in 1982. Japan became China's largest creditor, accounting for nearly half of the estimated US$30 billion in credit China lined up from 1979 to 1983.

Although its share of Japan's global trade was still small (3 percent in 1982), China became Japan's sixth largest trading partner. Japan regarded China as a significant source of coal, oil, and strategic minerals, such as tungsten and chromium, and as an important market for Japanese steel, machinery plant equipment, chemical products, and synthetic textile fibers.

The optimism that marked the economic relationship in the late 1970s had given way to a greater degree of realism on both sides by the early 1980s. China's decision to curtail imports of heavy industrial goods in 1981 and 1982 had a sobering effect on the Japanese. Businesspeople in Japan came to appreciate the problems China faced and revised their expections of the growth of economic ties as the Chinese experimented with various economic policies. The Japanese continued to hope that they would profit from China's potentially huge domestic market, whenever its modernization began to pick up speed.

Japanese economic interests in China focused on developing energy resources and infrastructure and on promoting commercial trade. As of 1983, the Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund, Japan's official aid organization, had agreed to grant US$3.5 billion in loans to China for basic infrastructure projects, such as port and rail modernization. In addition, the Japan Export-Import Bank extended US$2 billion for oil exploration and coal mining at a 6.25 percent annual interest rate, the lowest rate China had gained from any country at that time. The Japanese were heavily involved in China's oil industry, and Japanese drilling in the Bohai Gulf appeared promising.

Japan encountered a number of episodes of friction with China during the rest of the 1980s. In late 1985, Chinese officials complained harshly about Prime Minister Nakasone's visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, which commemorates Japan's war dead, and in mid- 1986 they complained about the latest revision of Japan's history textbooks to soften accounts of World War II atrocities. Economic issues centered on Chinese complaints that the influx of Japanese products into China had produced a serious trade deficit for China. Nakasone and other Japanese leaders were able to reduce these official concerns during visits to Beijing and in other talks with Chinese officials. Notably, they assured the Chinese of Japan's continued large-scale development and commercial assistance. At the popular level in China, it was not easy to allay concerns. Student- led demonstrations against Japan, on the one hand, helped reinforce Chinese officials' warnings to their Japanese counterparts. On the other hand, it was more difficult to change popular opinion in China than it was to change the opinions of the Chinese officials. Meanwhile, the removal of party chief Hu Yaobang in 1987 was detrimental to smooth Sino-Japanese relations because Hu had built personal relationships with Nakasone and other Japanese leaders.

The Chinese government's harsh crackdown on prodemocracy demonstrations in the spring of 1989 caused Japanese policymakers to realize that the new situation in China was extremely delicate and required careful handling to avoid Japanese actions that would push China further away from reform. At the same time, these policymakers were loath to break ranks with the United States and other Western countries, where popular opinion and domestic pressures to varying degrees required that officials condemn the crackdown and take action to restrict economic or other interaction of benefit to the Chinese regime. Beijing leaders reportedly judged at first that the industrialized countries would relatively quickly resume normal business with China after a brief period of complaint over the Tiananmen Incident. When that did not happen, the Chinese officials made strong suggestions to Japanese officials that they break from most industrialized nations by pursuing normal economic intercourse with China, consistent with Tokyo's long-term interests in China. Japanese leaders--like West European and United States leaders--were careful not to isolate China and continued trade and other relations generally consistent with the policies of other industrialized democracies. But they also followed the United States lead in limiting economic relations notably advantageous to China. In particular, they held back for one year the disbursement of ¥810 billion in aid, which Japan had promised in 1988 to give China in the 1990-95 period.

Japan is in the forefront among leading industrialized nations in restoring closer economic and political relations with China. Resumption of Japan's multibillion dollar aid to China and increased visits to China by Japanese officials, culminating in the October 1992 visit of Emperor Akihito, gave a clear indication that Japan considered closer ties with China in its economic and strategic interest.


Japan - Other Asia-Pacific Countries


Japan's rapid rise as the dominant economic power in Asia in the 1980s helped to define Japanese policy toward this diverse region, stretching from South Asia to the islands in the South Pacific Ocean. The decline in East-West and Sino-Soviet tensions during the 1980s suggested that economic rather than military power would determine regional leadership. During the decade, Japan displaced the United States as the largest provider of new business investment and economic aid in the region, although the United States market remained a major source of Asia-Pacific dynamism. Especially following the rise in value of the yen relative to the dollar in the late-1980s, Japan's role as a capital and technology exporter and as an increasingly significant importer of Asian manufactured goods made it the core economy of the Asia-Pacific region.

From the mid-1950s to the late 1960s, Japan's relations with the rest of Asia were concerned mainly with promoting its far-flung, multiplying economic interests in the region through trade, technical assistance, and aid. Its main problems were the economic weakness and political instability of its trading partners and the growing apprehension of Asian leaders over Japan's "overpresence" in their region.

Japan began to normalize relations with its neighbors during the 1950s after a series of intermittent negotiations, which led to the payment of war reparations to Burma, Indonesia, the Philippines, and the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam). Thailand's reparations claims were not settled until 1963. Japan's reintegration into the Asian scene was also facilitated by its having joined the Colombo Plan for Cooperative Economic and Social Development in Asia and the Pacific in December 1954 and by its attendance at the April 1955 Afro-Asian Conference in Bandung, Indonesia. In the late 1950s, Japan made a limited beginning in its aid program. In 1958 it extended the equivalent of US$50 million in credits to India, the first Japanese loan of its kind in post-World War II years. As in subsequent cases involving India, as well as Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Taiwan, Pakistan, and South Korea, these credits were rigidly bound to projects that promoted plant and equipment purchases from Japan. In 1960 Japan officially established the Institute of Asian Economic Affairs (renamed the Institute of Developing Economies in 1969) as the principal training center for its specialists in economic diplomacy.

In the early 1960s, the government adopted a more forward posture in seeking to establish contacts in Asia. In 1960 the Institute of Asian Economic Affairs was placed under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI). In 1961 the government established the Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund as a new lending agency. The following year the Overseas Technical Cooperation Agency made its debut.

By the mid-1960s, Japan's role had become highly visible in Asia as well as elsewhere in the world. In 1966 Japan became a full member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). As economic and trade expansion burgeoned, leaders began to question the propriety and wisdom of what they variously described as "mere economism," an "export-first policy," and the "commercial motives of aid." They wanted to contribute more to the solution of the North-South problem, as they dubbed the issue--the tenuous relationship between the developed countries and the developing countries.

Efforts since the beginning of the 1970s to assume a leading role in promoting peace and stability in Asia, especially Southeast Asia, by providing economic aid and by offering to serve as a mediator in disputes, faced two constraints. Externally, there was fear in parts of Asia that Japan's systematic economic penetration into the region would eventually lead to something akin to its pre-World War II scheme to exploit Asian markets and materials. Internally, foreign policymakers were apprehensive that Japan's political involvement in the area in whatever capacity would almost certainly precipitate an anti-Japanese backlash and adversely affect its economic position.

After a reassessment of policy, the Japanese leadership appeared to have decided that more emphasis ought to be given to helping the developing countries of the region modernize their industrial bases to increase their self-reliance and economic resilience. In the late 1970s, Japan seemed to have decided that bilateral aid in the form of yen credits, tariff reductions, larger quota incentives for manufactured exports, and investments in processing industries, energy, agriculture, and education would be the focus of its aid programs in Asia.

By 1990 Japan's interaction with the vast majority of AsiaPacific countries, especially its burgeoning economic exchanges, was multifaceted and increasingly important to the recipient countries. The developing countries of ASEAN (Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand; Singapore was treated as a newly industrialized economy, or NIE) regarded Japan as critical to their development. Japan's aid to the ASEAN countries totaled US$1.9 billion in Japanese fiscal year (FY) 1988 versus about US$333 million for the United States during United States FY 1988. Japan was the number one foreign investor in the ASEAN countries, with cumulative investment as of March 1989 of about US$14.5 billion, more than twice that of the United States. Japan's share of total foreign investment in ASEAN countries in the same period ranged from 70 to 80 percent in Thailand to 20 percent in Indonesia.

In the early 1990s, the Japanese government was making a concerted effort to enhance its diplomatic stature, especially in Asia. Kaifu's much publicized spring 1991 tour of five Southeast Asian nations--Malaysia, Brunei, Thailand, Singapore, and the Philippines--culminated in a May 3 major foreign policy address in Singapore, in which he called for a new partnership with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and pledged that Japan would go beyond the purely economic sphere to seek an "appropriate role in the political sphere as a nation of peace." As evidence of this new role, Japan took an active part in promoting negotiations to resolve the Cambodian conflict.

South Asia

In South Asia, Japan's role is mainly that of an aid donor. Japan's aid to seven South Asian countries totaled US$1.1 billion in 1988 and 1989, dropping to just under US$900 million in 1990. Except for Pakistan, which received heavy inputs of aid from the United States, all other South Asian countries receive most of their aid from Japan. Four South Asian nations--India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka--are in the top ten list of Tokyo's aid recipients worldwide.

Prime Minister Kaifu signaled a broadening of Japan's interest in South Asia with his swing through the region in April 1990. In an address to the Indian parliament, Kaifu stressed the role of free markets and democracy in bringing about "a new international order," and he emphasized the need for a settlement of the Kashmir territorial dispute between India and Pakistan and for economic liberalization to attract foreign investment and promote dynamic growth. To India, which was very short of hard currency, Kaifu pledged a new concessional loan of ¥100 billion (about US$650 million) for the coming year.

Newly Industrialized Economies

Japan's relationships with the newly industrialized economies (NIEs) of South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore, together often called the Four Tigers, were marked by both cooperation and competition. After the early 1980s, when Tokyo extended a large financial credit to South Korea for essentially political reasons, Japan avoided significant aid relationships with the NIEs. Relations instead involved capital investment, technology transfer, and trade. Increasingly, the NIEs came to be viewed as Japan's rivals in the competition for export markets for manufactured goods, especially the vast United States market.

Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands

Japan's economic involvement in Australia is heavily tilted toward extraction of natural resources and in-country manufacturing for the Australian domestic market. Japanese investment by 1988 made Australia the single largest source of Japanese regional imports. Japan's trade with New Zealand is a small fraction of its trade with Australia.

Politically, Japan's relations with Australia and New Zealand have elements of tension as well as acknowledged mutuality of interest. Memories of World War II linger among the public, as do a contemporary fear of Japanese economic domination. At the same time, government and business leaders see Japan as a vital export market and an essential element in Australia's and New Zealand's future growth and prosperity.

By 1990 commercial and strategic interests prompted a strong surge in Japanese involvement in the newly independent island nations of the Pacific. Japan's rapidly growing aid to the South Pacific was seen by many as a response to United States calls for greater burden-sharing and to the adoption of the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea, which gave states legal control over fishery resources within their 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zones. The US$98.3 million that Japan provided in aid to the region in 1989 was fourth behind France, Australia and the United States but was significantly more than was provided by New Zealand and Britain. Japanese companies also invested heavily in the tourism industry in the island nations.

The Koreas

Japan's policies toward the two Koreas reflects the importance this area had for Asian stability, which is seen as essential to Japanese peace and prosperity. Japan is one of four major powers (along with the United States, Russia, and China) that have important security interests on the Korean Peninsula. However, Japan's involvement in political and security issues on the Korean Peninsula is more limited than that of the other three powers. Japan's relations with North Korea and South Korea has a legacy of bitterness stemming from harsh Japanese colonial rule over Korea from 1910 to 1945. Polls during the postwar period in Japan and South Korea showed that the people of each nation had a profound dislike of the other country and people.

Article 9 of Japan's constitution is interpreted to bar Japan from entering into security relations with countries other than the United States. Consequently, Japan had no substantive defense relationship with South Korea, and military contacts were infrequent. The Japanese government supported noncommunist South Korea in other ways. It backed United States contingency plans to dispatch United States armed forces in Japan to South Korea in case of a North Korean attack on South Korea. It also acted as an intermediary between South Korea and China. It pressed the Chinese government to open and expand relations with South Korea in the 1980s.

Japan's trade with South Korea was US$29.1 billion in 1991, with a surplus of nearly US$5.8 billion on the Japanese side. Japanese direct private investment in South Korea totaled US$4.4 billion in 1990. Japanese and South Korean firms often had interdependent relations, which gave Japan advantages in South Korea's growing market. Many South Korean products were based on Japanese design and technology. A surge in imports of South Korean products into Japan in 1990 was partly the result of production by Japanese investors in South Korea.

Japan-North Korea relations remained antagonistic in the late 1980s. The two governments did not maintain diplomatic relations and had no substantive contacts. The opposition Japan Socialist Party, however, had cordial relations with the North Korean regime.

Issues in Japan-North Korea relations that produced tensions included North Korean media attacks on Japan, Japan's imposition of economic sanctions on North Korea for terrorist acts against South Korea in the 1980s, and unpaid North Korean debts to Japanese enterprises of about US$50 million. Japan allowed trade with North Korea through unofficial channels. This unofficial trade reportedly came to more than US$200 million annually in the 1980s.

In the early 1990s, Japan continued to conduct lengthy negotiations with North Korea aimed at establishing diplomatic relations with P'yongyang while maintaining its relations with Seoul. In January 1991, Japan began normalization talks with P'yongyang with a formal apology for its 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula. The negotiations were aided by Tokyo's support of a proposal for simultaneous entry to the UN by North Korea and the Republic of Korea (South Korea); the issues of international inspection of North Korean nuclear facilities and the nature and amount of Japanese economic assistance, however, proved more difficult to negotiate.

Vietnam and Cambodia

Stability in Indochina also is very important to Japanese interests. During the Indochina War of the 1960s and 1970s, Japan had consistently encouraged a negotiated settlement at the earliest possible date. Even before the hostilities ended, it had made contact with the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) government and had reached an agreement to establish diplomatic relations in September 1973. Implementation, however, was delayed by North Vietnamese demands that Japan pay the equivalent of US$45 million in World War II reparations in two yearly installments, in the form of "economic cooperation" grants. Giving in to the Vietnamese demands, Japan paid the money and opened an embassy in Hanoi in October 1975 following the unification of North Vietnam and South Vietnam into the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Recognition of the communist Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia came in 1975, and diplomatic relations with that country were established in August 1976.

This Indochina policy was justified at home and to the member countries of ASEAN--some of which were hostile to and suspicious of Vietnam--on the grounds that official contacts and eventually aid to Vietnam would promote the peace and stability of Southeast Asia as a whole. In December 1978, after a visit to Tokyo by Vietnam's minister of foreign affairs, Nguyen Duy Trinh, Japan agreed to give Vietnam US$195 million in grant aid, as well as commodity loans and food shipments. When Vietnam launched its invasion of Cambodia later that same month, Japan was embarrassed and irritated. It joined ASEAN in condemning the invasion, supported the UN resolution calling for immediate withdrawal of Vietnamese forces, and suspended the aid commitments it had made with Hanoi.

Japan and the United States shared common ground in opposing the Soviet-backed Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia in December 1978. Japan's policy of restricting aid and other economic cooperation with Vietnam reinforced international pressures on Hanoi to pull back its forces and seek a comprehensive Cambodian settlement. Faced with international isolation, waning Soviet bloc support, continued armed resistance in Cambodia, and large-scale economic problems at home, Hanoi withdrew most if not all of its combat troops from Cambodia in 1989. It appealed to developed countries to open channels of economic cooperation, trade, and aid. Although some Japanese businesses were interested in investment and trade with Vietnam and Cambodia, the Japanese government still opposed economic cooperation with those countries until there had been a comprehensive settlement in Cambodia. This stand was basically consistent with United States policy of the time.

Meanwhile, Japan gave informal assurances that Tokyo was prepared to bear a large share of the financial burden to help with reconstruction aid to Cambodia, whenever a comprehensive settlement was reached, and to help fund UN or other international peacekeeping forces, should they be required.

Japan carried through on its promises. Following the October 23, 1991 Final Act of the International Paris Conference on Cambodia among the Cambodian parties, Indonesia (as co-chair with France), and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, Japan promptly established diplomatic relations and ended economic restrictions with Cambodia and Vietnam. In November 1992, Tokyo offered Vietnam US$370 million in aid. Japan also took a leading role in peacekeeping activities in Cambodia. Japan's Akashi Yasushi, UN undersecretary for disarmament, was head of the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia, and Japan pledged US$3 million and even sent approximately 2,000 personnel, including members of the SDF, to participate directly in maintaining the peace. Despite the loss of a Japanese peacekeeper killed in an ambush, the force remained in Cambodia until the Cambodians were able to elect and install a government.


Japan - Relations with Russia


The 1980s saw a decided hardening in Japanese attitudes toward the Soviet Union. Japan was pressed by the United States to do more to check the expansion of Soviet power in the developing world following the December 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. It responded by cutting off contacts beneficial to the Soviet regime and providing assistance to "front line" states, such as Pakistan and Thailand. Under Nakasone, Japan worked hard to demonstrate a close identity of views with the Reagan administration on the Soviet threat. Japan steadily built up its military forces, welcomed increases in United States forces in Japan and the western Pacific, and pledged close cooperation to deal with the danger posed by Soviet power.

Although public and media opinion remained skeptical of the danger to Japan posed by Soviet forces in Asia, there was strong opposition in Japan to Moscow's refusal to accede to Japan's claims to the Northern Territories, known to the Japanese as Etorofu and Kunashiri, at the southern end of the Kuril Island chain, and the smaller island of Shikotan and the Habomai Islands, northeast of Hokkaido, which were seized by the Soviets in the last days of World War II. The stationing of Soviet military forces on the islands gave tangible proof of the Soviet threat, and provocative maneuvers by Soviet air and naval forces in Japanese- claimed territory served to reinforce Japanese official policy of close identification with a firm United States-backed posture against Soviet power. In 1979 the Japanese government specifically protested a build up in Soviet forces in Etorofu, Kunashiri, and Shikotan.

The advent of the Mikhail Gorbachev regime in Moscow in 1985 saw a replacement of hard-line Soviet government diplomats who were expert in Asian affairs with more flexible spokespersons calling for greater contact with Japan. Gorbachev took the lead in promising new initiatives in Asia, but the substance of Soviet policy changed more slowly. In particular, throughout the rest of the 1980s, Soviet officials still seemed uncompromising regarding the Northern Territories, Soviet forces in the western Pacific still seemed focused on and threatening to Japan, and Soviet economic troubles and lack of foreign exchange made prospects for Japan-Soviet Union economic relations appear poor. By 1990 Japan appeared to be the least enthusiastic of the major Western-aligned developed countries in encouraging greater contacts with and assistance to the Soviet Union.

Strains in Japan-Soviet Union relations had deep historical roots, going back to the competition of the Japanese and Russian empires for dominance in Northeast Asia. In 1993, nearly fifty years after the end of World War II, a state of war between Japan and Russia existed technically because the government in Moscow had refused in the intervening years to sign the 1951 peace treaty. The main stumbling block in all Japan's subsequent efforts to establish bilateral relations on what it called "a truly stable basis" was the territorial dispute over the Northern Territories.

During the first half of the 1950s, other unsettled problems included Japanese fishing rights in the Sea of Okhotsk and off the coast of the Soviet maritime provinces and repatriation of Japanese prisoners of war, who were still being held in the Soviet Union. Negotiation of these issues broke down early in 1956 because of tension over territorial claims.

Negotiations soon resumed, however, and the two countries issued a joint declaration in October 1956 providing for the restoration of diplomatic relations. The two parties also agreed to continue negotiations for a peace treaty, including territorial issues. In addition, the Soviet Union pledged to support Japan for UN membership and waive all World War II reparations claims. The joint declaration was accompanied by a trade protocol that granted reciprocal most-favored-nation treatment and provided for the development of trade.

Japan derived few apparent gains from the normalization of diplomatic relations. The second half of the 1950s saw an increase in cultural exchanges. Soviet propaganda, however, had little success in Japan, where it encountered a longstanding antipathy stemming from the Russo-Japanese rivalry in Korea, Manchuria, and China proper in the late nineteenth century, from the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5; and from the Soviet declaration of war on Japan in the last days of World War II, in violation of the Japanese-Soviet Neutrality Pact of 1941.

The Soviet Union sought to induce Japan to abandon its territorial claims by alternating threats and persuasion. As early as 1956, it hinted at the possibility of considering the return of the Habomai Islands and Shikotan if Japan abandoned its alliance with the United States. In 1960 the Soviet government warned Japan against signing the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security with the United States, and after the treaty was signed, declared that it would not hand over the Habomai Islands and Shikotan under any circumstances unless Japan abrogated the treaty forthwith. In 1964 the Soviet Union offered to return these islands unconditionally if the United States ended its military presence on Okinawa and the main islands of Japan.

Despite divergence on the territorial question, on which neither side was prepared to give ground, Japan's relations with the Soviet Union improved appreciably after the mid-1960s. The Soviet government began to seek Japanese cooperation in its economic development plans, and the Japanese responded positively. The two countries signed a five-year trade agreement in January 1966 and a civil aviation agreement as well.

Economic cooperation expanded rapidly during the 1970s, despite an often strained political relationship. The two economies were complementary, for the Soviet Union needed Japan's capital, technology, and consumer goods, while Japan needed Soviet natural resources, such as oil, gas, coal, iron ore, and timber. By 1979 overall trade had reached US$4.4 billion annually and had made Japan, after the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany), the Soviet Union's most important nonsocialist trading partner.

This economic cooperation was interrupted by Japan's decision in 1980 to participate in sanctions against the Soviet Union for its invasion of Afghanistan and by its actions to hold in obeyance a number of projects being negotiated, to ban the export of some high-technology items, and to suspend Siberian development loans. Subsequently, Japanese interest in economic cooperation with the Soviet Union waned as Tokyo found alternative suppliers and remained uncertain about the economic viability and political stability of the Soviet Union under Gorbachev. Japan-Soviet trade in 1988 was valued at nearly US$6 billion.

Japanese-Soviet political relations during the 1970s were characterized by the frequent exchange of high-level visits to explore the possibility of improving bilateral relations and by repeated discussions of a peace treaty, which were abortive because neither side was prepared to yield on the territorial issue. Minister of Foreign Affairs Andrei Gromyko of the Soviet Union visited Tokyo in January 1972--one month before United States president Nixon's historic visit to China--to reopen ministerial-level talks after a six-year lapse. Other high-level talks, including an October 1973 meeting between Prime Minister Tanaka Kakuei and Leonid I. Brezhnev, general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, were held in Moscow during the next three years, but the deadlock on the territorial issue continued, and prospects for a settlement dimmed. Moscow began to propose a treaty of friendship and goodwill as an interim step while peace treaty talks were continued. This proposal was firmly rejected by Japan.

After 1975 the Soviet Union began openly to warn that the Japanese peace treaty with China might jeopardize Soviet-Japan relations. In January 1976, Gromyko again visited Tokyo to resume talks on the peace treaty. When the Japanese again refused to budge on the territorial question, Gromyko, according to the Japanese, offered to return two of the Soviet-held island areas--the Habomai Islands and Shikotan--if Japan would sign a treaty of goodwill and cooperation. He also reportedly warned the Japanese, in an obvious reference to China, against "forces which come out against the relaxation of tension and which try to complicate relations between states, including our countries."

The signing of the Sino-Japanese peace treaty in mid-1978 was a major setback to Japanese-Soviet relations. Despite Japanese protestations that the treaty's antihegemony clause was not directed against any specific country, Moscow saw it as placing Tokyo with Washington and Beijing firmly in the anti-Soviet camp. Officially, both sides continued to express the desire for better relations, but Soviet actions served only to alarm and alienate the Japanese side. The 1980s Soviet military buildup in the Pacific was a case in point.

Changes in Soviet policy carried out under Gorbachev beginning in the mid-1980s, including attempts at domestic reform and the pursuit of détente with the United States and Western Europe, elicited generally positive Japanese interest, but the Japanese government held that the Soviet Union had not changed its policies on issues vital to Japan. The government stated that it would not conduct normal relations with the Soviet Union until Moscow returned the Northern Territories. The government and Japanese business leaders stated further that Japanese trade with and investment in the Soviet Union would not grow appreciably until the Northern Territories issue has been resolved.

By 1990 the Soviet government had altered its tactics. The Soviet Union now acknowledged that the territorial issue was a problem and talked about it with Japanese officials at the highest levels and in working-level meetings. Soviet officials reportedly floated a proposal to lease the Northern Territories and part of Sakhalin--once a colonial holding of Japan's--to Japan. Gorbachev and others also referred to a 1956 Soviet offer to return one of the three main islands (Shikotan, the smallest of the three) and the Habomai Islands, and there were indications that Moscow might be prepared to revive the offer. The Soviet Union emphasized that it would not return all the islands because of Soviet public opposition and the possible reawakening of other countries' territorial claims against the Soviet Union. The Soviet military reportedly opposed a return because the Kuril Islands provided a protective barrier to the Sea of Okhotsk, where the Soviet navy deployed submarines carrying long-range ballistic missiles.

The Soviet government also stepped up its diplomacy toward Japan with the announcement in 1990 that Gorbachev would visit Japan in 1991. Soviet officials asserted that their government would propose disarmament talks with Japan and might make more proposals on the Northern Territories in connection with the visit. Observers believed that Gorbachev might propose a package dealing with the islands, arms reduction, and economic cooperation. In January 1990, the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs shifted its position, which previously had rejected negotiations with the Soviet Union on arms reductions, indicating that Japan would be willing to negotiate. Ministry officials stated that the government would formulate policy on arms reduction in close coordination with the United States.

The government of Boris Yeltsin took power in Russia in late 1991 when the Soviet Union was dissolved. Once again, Moscow took a stand in firm opposition to returning the disputed territories to Japan. Although Japan joined with the Group of Seven industrialized nations in providing some technical and financial assistance to Russia, relations between Japan and Russia remained cool. In September 1992, Russian president Boris Yeltsin postponed a scheduled visit to Japan. The visit finally took place in October 1993. During the visit, although various substantive issues, including the Northern Territories and the signing of a peace treaty, were discussed, no significant improvement was seen in Japan-Russia relations.


Japan - United Nations


Japan regards international cooperation within the United Nations (UN) framework as a basic foreign policy principle. When Japan joined the UN in 1956, it did so with great enthusiasm and broad public support, for the international organization was seen to embody the pacifist country's hopes for a peaceful world order. Membership was welcomed by many Japanese who saw the UN as a guarantor of a policy of unarmed neutrality for their nation. To others, support for the UN would be useful in masking or diluting Japan's almost total dependence on the United States for its security. The government saw the UN as an ideal arena for its riskminimizing , omnidirectional foreign policy.

After the late 1950s, Japan participated actively in the social and economic activities of the UN's various specialized agencies and other international organizations concerned with social, cultural, and economic improvement. During the 1970s, as it attained the status of an economic superpower, Japan was called on to play an increasingly large role in the UN. As Japan's role increased and its contributions to UN socioeconomic development activities grew, many Japanese began to ask whether their country was being given an international position of responsibility commensurate with its economic power. There was even some sentiment, expressed as early as 1973, that Japan should be given a permanent seat on the UN Security Council with the United States, the Soviet Union, Britain, France, and China.

By 1990 Japan's international cooperation efforts had reached a new level of involvement and activism. Japan contributed about 11 percent of the regular UN budget, second only to the United States, which contributed 25 percent. Japan was particularly active in UN peacekeeping activities and in 1989, for the first time, sent officials to observe and participate in UN peacekeeping efforts (in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, and Namibia). Japan sent a small team to observe the February 1990 elections in Nicaragua. In 1992-93 Japan led UN supervision of the peace process and elections in Cambodia, providing approximately 2,000 people, which included members of the SDF.


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CITATION: Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress. The Country Studies Series. Published 1988-1999.

Please note: This text comes from the Country Studies Program, formerly the Army Area Handbook Program. The Country Studies Series presents a description and analysis of the historical setting and the social, economic, political, and national security systems and institutions of countries throughout the world.

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