Quiz 1: What is the similarity between Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gilard and ABC NEWS presenter Juanita Phillips? Answer: they change their own haircuts frequently.
Quiz 2: What is more changeable in Japan than their haircuts? Answer is: Japanese Prime Ministers.
Looking back at the history of Japan’s political world since the end of the Second World War, Japan formed 50 governments and produced 30 Prime Ministers (the incumbent Japanese PM Taro Aso is 59th Prime Minister and formed 92nd government). Amazing and Outrageous!
Nevertheless, Japan has completely restored the country from a devastated situation, especially economically, since the war, and is now ranked as the second largest economy.
One of the main reasons is the Japanese political landscape has been dominated by the Liberal Democratic Party since 1955, when the merger of the Liberal Party and the Democratic Party occurred and then their members organized the LDP.
The LDP almost monopolized Japanese political world which led to stable and consistent political management and administrative activities.
Most of the Japanese people seem to think the LDP greatly contributed to growing the economy at extremely fast pace.
Under the aegis of the Western countries and because of a large economic boom just after the end of Korean War in 1953, Japan could take the first step toward its reconstruction.
The 58th to 60th Japanese Prime Minister Hayato Ikeda suggested government-led and modestly planned economic policy in 1960. It was called “the income-doubling program”. And it became a starting point of the miraculous economic growth.
The 64 and 65 Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka proposed in 1972, “the plan to remodel the Japanese archipelago”.
It intended to construct highway and bullet train networks across Japan to promote higher industrialisation and settle the matter of excess concentration of population and industry in Kanto area, especially in Tokyo.
This construction-oriented project pushed up domestic demand and greatly vitalized Japanese economy.
These projects successfully came into effect under the leaderships of the LDP Prime Ministers and through every effort mainly by lawmakers, bureaucrats, and business leaders. Needless to say, they also enabled Japan to be an economic superpower in the world.
On the other hand, the LDP’s political monopoly had a lot of cozy ties with pressure groups, business organisations and bureaucrats. This partly disrupted fair and balanced provision of public service to the whole nation and caused political corruption and made light of the democratic political system.
In fact, Tanaka was involved with “Lockheed bribery scandal” in 1976, one of the biggest bribery scandals in Japanese political history although he had been respected as the greatest political leader in Japan at that time.
After the Japanese economic bubble burst, bureaucratic corruption and privileged golden parachutes came out, unreasonable business regulations and hierarchical industrial structures were to blame, and company-oriented social security system collapsed.
Until then, Japanese companies had offered employees a seniority system and lifetime employment and partly helped establish their pension fund. That is why Japanese companies played an important role in supporting Japanese social security system.
However, since the companies cannot support social security, the Japanese people want the government to play an active part instead of Japanese corporations.