Government policies are central to the realisation of government goals and initiatives. Before political can assume power, they are required to convince the electorate fully. This is based on agendas that address different needs of the electorate. In 2009, Democratic Party of Japan assumed power after defeating the long-serving LDP party. One of their agendas was to reform the mechanisms used in formulation of government policies.
Their main aim was to reduce bureaucratic influence and control over the process of formulation of government policies. The following paper explores the process of formulation of government policies in Japan. It provides insight into the role of different stakeholders in the process including the Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers, bureaucrats and other special interest groups. Finally, it provides a comparison with Britain’s policy making process.
Formulation of government policies in Japan
Japan’s government is headed by a Prime Minister. The Prime Minister is appointed from either Houses of Parliament and subjected to a vote. The successful candidate is thereby presented to the Emperor for attestation (Curtis, 2000). One of the Prime Minister’s functions is the appointment and dismissal of Cabinet ministers.
Therefore, the Prime Minister appoints individual whom in his view are representative of the party’s ideology. Under the constitution, the Prime Minister is allowed to appoint fourteen ministers only. However, under special circumstances, he is allowed to appoint up to seventeen ministers. Ministers oversee activities in various ministries.
Government policies in Japan mainly originate from government ministries. Government ministries mainly consist of bureaucrats who have wealth of information regarding various issues affecting the ministry (Nakamura & Joffe, 2011). Also, most bureaucratic institutions within Japan have useful resources which are crucial in crafting of policies geared towards legislation.
The process of formulation of government policy commences with the appointment of special advisory commissions (Curtis, 2000). These commissions comprise of experts from different fields. Commissions are used to give expert opinions and possible solutions to pertinent issues as raised by the ministry officials. Thereafter, the commission is required to submit a report containing recommendations including possible legislation that could be enacted in order to address issues as raised the ministry.
The second stage encompasses liaison between various ministries in order to establish jurisdiction and possibility of legislation. Senior ministry officials are involved and explore the jurisdiction of recommendations as indicated by the commission (Nakamura & Joffe, 2011).
This is used to avoid possible collision of needs between various ministries. Various institutions within the ministries are responsible for coming up with bills. Additionally, the ministry may seek assistance from other institutions with relevant resources. This institutions use such avenues to advance their interests.
Thereafter, bills are submitted Cabinet Legislation Bureau. It is the responsibility of the bureau to ensure that bills are in line with the constitution and past legislations as well (Nakamura & Joffe, 2011). In the final stage, the bill is submitted to the cabinet for approval. This entails a critical analysis of the content of the bill. The Cabinet under the leadership of the Prime Minister can recommend some amendments to the bill. The bill is, thereafter, presented to the Diet.
Comparison of Policy Making in Japan and Britain
There are several similarities between policy making in Japan and Britain. One similarity is the presence of interest groups. In Japan, interest groups come into play in the policy making process when they are contracted by ministries. This is primarily of resources available to them that are useful in the process of drafting bills. In Britain, interest groups have access to politicians (Grant, 2000). Using their resources, they are in position to draft bills that are represented to the House of Commons as private member bills.
Another similarity is the presentation of proposed bills to the Cabinet. In Japan, proposed bills are submitted to Cabinet for discussion before approval. Subsequently, they are submitted to the Duet for enactment into law. In Britain, the Prime Minister is charged with the responsibility of coordinating Cabinet activities (Grant, 2000). He appoints various Cabinet committees that are responsible for analysis of various bills before they are presented to the House of Commons.
However, there several differences between the policy making process in Britain and that in Japan. Government policy in Japan is geared towards addressing bureaucratic interests. Bureaucrats play a significant role in the policy making process. Based on the knowledge they have, they are in a position to influence the political leadership.
This is because political leadership relies heavily on their expertise on various matters pertaining legislation. In Britain, however, government policy making process is more inclusive. Therefore, ministers through are in a position to get information regarding pertinent issues regarding their bills from different stakeholders. Britain is a pluralist society thus no group is a position to dominate the policy making process (Grant, 2000).
Decreased bureaucratic control in Britain’s policy makes the process more efficient. Bureaucrats influence the government’s thus restricting input of other stakeholders. British government’s policy making process is more inclusive thus needs of various stakeholders are taken into account before the government can come up with a bill.
Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) efforts to break bureaucratic influence in government policy making process have not been successful. This has been caused by bureaucrats’ grip on key knowledge on important government issues. During LDP tenure, bureaucrats played a significant role thus accessed key government information. DPJ, therefore, has been forced to integrate them into their processes. Therefore, the government has to work closely with bureaucrats and thus attempt to reduce their influence gradually.
Curtis, Gerald L. (2000). The Logic of Japanese Politics. New York, N.Y.: Columbia University Press.
Grant, W. (2000). Pressure Groups and British Politics .London: Macmillan.
Nakamura, M., & Joffe, P. Differences of Policy Formulation Processes in Japan and U.S. Parliaments: Roles of the Cabinet, Congressional Staff, Government
Officials, Lobbyists, Parliamentarians, and Think Tanks. Retrieved from http://www.usjpri.org/en/reports/seminar/summary_20111103.pdf