The Governing Triad: Models of Development and Policy-making

  • William R. Nester


How did Japan manage in just 40 years to develop from a war-devastated, poverty-stricken country into its present position as the world’s financial and technological superpower? A half dozen schools of thought have attempted to answer this question, but to varying extents the explanations they offer fall short of providing a completely satisfying understanding of Japan’s postwar development. The ‘Japan is unique’ and ‘neo-classical’ schools severely underestimate while the ‘Japan Inc’ school overestimates the role of the governing triad of bureaucracy, Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), and big business world (zaikai) in managing Japan’s development into an economic superpower. The ‘free ride’ and ‘developmental’ schools are much more realistic in analyzing where power lies and how it is used in Japan’s political economy, while presenting a range of factors behind Japan’s economic success. Yet, they too ultimately fail to explain the considerable changes that Japan’s political economy has undergone over the past 40 years.


Interest Group Liberal Democratic Party Opposition Parti Labor Federation Racial Purity 
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  1. 35.
    Kent Calder, ‘Japanese Foreign Economic Policy Formation: Explaining the Reactive State’, World Politics, vol. 40, no. 4, July 1988, pp. 530–1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© William R. Nester 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • William R. Nester
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Oriental and African StudiesUniversity of LondonUK

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