Never has postwar Japan needed strong, assertive leadership more — and never has its weak, rudderless system of governing been so clearly exposed or mattered so much…
Japan’s leaders need to draw on skills they are woefully untrained for: improvisation; clear, timely and reassuring public communication; and cooperation with multiple powerful bureaucracies.
Postwar Japan flourished under a system in which political leaders left much of its foreign policy to the United States and its handling of domestic affairs to powerful bureaucrats. Prominent companies operated with an extensive reach into personal lives; their executives were admired for their role as corporate citizens.
But over the past decade or so, the bureaucrats’ authority has been eviscerated, and corporations have lost both power and swagger as the economy has foundered. Yet no strong political class has emerged to take their place. Four prime ministers have come and gone in less than four years; most political analysts had already written off the fifth, Naoto Kan, even before the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster.
I wouldn’t quite put it that way, but the points are well-taken and the article is interesting throughout.