Japanese Public Bureaucracy in the era of Globalization




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Japanese Public Bureaucracy in the era of Globalization


Paper presented in the International Academic Symposium on “Public Management in 21st century: Opportunities and Challenges,”

held by the Center for Public Administration of Zhongshan University

and Macau Foundation

Macau, China,

January 9-11, 2004


Masaharu Hori


Professor of Public Administration

Faculty of Law

Ritsumeikan University

56-1, Tojiin-Kita, Kita

Kyoto, 603-8577

JAPAN

hori@law.ritsumei.ac.jp


Abstract:

Japanese Public Bureaucracy (JPB) has dramatically adapted to the New Public Management (NPM) style since the late 1990s. In December of 2001, the Japanese government established the Guidelines for Reform of the Public Servant System, which “aimed at achieving fundamental reform of the public servant system from the standpoint of citizens” (Prime Minister Koizumi). The concept of NPM has already been introduced into the JPA through establishing Administrative Independent Corporations (Dokuritu Gyousei Houjin) and the Policy Evaluation System (Gyousei Hyouka Seido) for the Japanese central government.

Where is JPB heading for in the era of globalization?

As a specialist in comparative bureaucracy, Bernard S. Silberman, criticizing Max Weber’s famous hypothesis of state bureaucratic rationalization, pointed out the divergence of bureaucratic structures in developed countries, and then, questioning differences between the US and the UK, and Japan and France, considered rationalization as a response to political crisis and redefinition of the relationship between the public and politics. If so, I may claim the convergence of Japanese bureaucratic structure to the Anglo-Saxon type.

Also, according to David Held’s perspectives, I will try to explore the impact of globalization on JPB, and to reconsider Japanese administrative thinking in light of the Japanese way of adapting to foreign thinking since the opening of Japan to the world. From what has been discussed above, I am left with the following questions:

Why does not the Japanese Public Bureaucracy (JPB), explicitly or implicitly, reject the reform since it will result in more control from politicians? Why does JPB seem to be self-contradictory, maintaining the traditional bureaucratic identity of Rechtsstaat (administration proactively conducted by legal discipline) in spite of embracing managerialism focused on efficiency and effectiveness? How will the above newly reformed dichotomy between politicians and bureaucrats gradually evolve towards new governance based on civic engagement in Japan?



  1. Introduction: Japanese Public Bureaucracy in Transition

The Japanese people have a lot of experiences how they have passed traditional boundaries in Commodore Perry’s requests for opening the country in 1853 and General MacArthur’s demands for forcing them to accept democracy in 1945. And now, while seeing a globalizing world in culture, economics and politics, they should take account of attitudes and behavior of their former generations. And then, they should know that they have an opportunity to succeed in fully building an independent person to be worthy of the Japanese sovereign, when an impact of globalization can give them a major breakthrough in the paternalism and elitism of the governing people.

I already have explained a state of Japanese Public Administration and Bureaucracy in transition by the table 1 (Hori 2002).


Table 1 Are the assumptions of a traditional PA changing now? NPM JPA

(A) Self-sufficiency Yes Yes

Structure (B) Direct control    Yes   No

(C)Standardized establishment procedures Yes Yes

(D) Uniformity       Yes Yes

Function (E) Accountability upward Yes No

(F) An apolitical service  Yes Yes

Source Hori (2002)


JPA is really converging with the standards of administrative management influenced by NPM in North America and Western Europe for the foreseeable future. Christopher Hood (1996) has pointed out that “for the polar type labeled the Japanese way, there would be opportunity but no motive [to make a major shift toward NPM]” (p.281). However, now Japanese Public Bureaucracy (JPB) certainly has still held opportunity and motive mention. Whatever motive it has, the substantial progress seems to be painfully slow despite a current movement of bureaucrat-led reform. This is mainly because, as the cases in (B) and (E) provide the evidence, there is a higher ability of Japanese Public Bureaucracy.

In this paper I will try to explore meanings of JPB’s transition by applying Silberman’s framework of public bureaucracy to JPB, examining new strategy for 21century governance set by Japanese leading people in business, labour unions and academic, and exploring new perspectives of JPB in the era of globalization. Finally, I will show my answers about the rising questions in this discussion.


Bernard S. Silberman (1993), criticizing Max Weber’s famous hypothesis of state bureaucratic rationalization, points out the divergence of bureaucratic structures in developed countries. To put it actually, he thought the Weber’s ideal types are considered “not as a series of scalar indices of structure but rather as a description or definition of role characteristics.”(p.3) And then, he focuses on a rational bureaucracy, which has developed in both organizational and professional modes in spite of quite different polities and different stages of social and economic development (pp.14-15). He characterizes two modes: an organizational mode is that “the presence of rules governing the criteria for higher offices that stress entry into the organizational career prior to appointment to office,” (p.10) and a professional mode is that “the rule that professional or preprofessional training (not necessarily directly related to assuming bureaucratic roles) is the primary criterion for holding higher administrative office.” (p.12)

Finally, Silberman considers a rationalization as a response to political crisis (table2), and redefines the relationship between the public and the private (Table 3). In the former, he wrote that the rationalization process was equal not to a product of a general social system for maximizing social utility, but to a political process that re-states a meaning of nature of modern state. In the latter, he also wrote that when political and organizational leaders faced continual issues to be being incumbent at official positions, they specially reacted to them by “ad hoc rational strategic responses” (p.425), namely, thing that leaded an organizational rationalization in public and private sphere. In this paper, this schema is so interesting because it can be used as a framework of research for Public Bureaucracy.

Table2 Bureaucratic Structures


LEADERSHIP STRUCTURE

Social Network Party Structure
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