The Political ‘Miracle’

  • William R. Nester


Japan’s transformation from its mass poverty and war devastation of 1945 to its current position as the world’s greatest economic power has been guided by an extremely powerful state. By most measures, the post-1945 Japanese state is characterized as a highly democratic political system. The 1947 Constitution guarantees the ‘natural’ human freedoms of speech, assembly, and religion for all Japanese citizens, and created a parliamentary system in which they could express their political will. A half dozen parties compete in national elections which occur on average every two years. Although conservative parties have ruled Japan for all but eight months since 1945, they have governed at the will of the people. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has presided over rapid, continuous, relatively equitable economic growth that has transformed Japan into one of the world’s most developed countries. Less well-known but equally impressive has been the ability of Japan’s political system to deal successfully with such pressing problems as crime, pollution, poverty, and education. Throughout the postwar era, success has bred success: political stability allowed Tokyo to concentrate on achieving economic growth which in turn contributed to continued political stability and the ability to continue its growth policies while overcoming other social problems, and so on.


Prime Minister Liberal Democratic Party Opposition Parti Socialist Party Parliamentary System 
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  1. 9.
    Miles Fletcher, ‘Intellectuals and Fascism in Early Showa Japan’, Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 39, No. 1, November 1979, p. 51.Google 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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