In This Review

The Japanese Way Of Politics
The Japanese Way Of Politics
By Gerald L. Curtis
Columbia University Press, 1988, 300 pp

This is a landmark study of Japan's political system that debunks many myths and erases a number of stereotypes. It is likely to be the standard work on Japanese politics for many years to come. Curtis, a professor of government at Columbia University, rejects the notion of Japan as a monolith of economic and political conformity and presents a picture of a political system at once stable and yet highly flexible. With a wealth of detail he discusses changes in the party system, the policy priorities of the ruling Liberal Democratic party, and the role of party leaders in making public policy. The central idea is that of the political system's adaptability and especially the adaptability of the LDP. In 1955 the LDP was little more than a loose coalition of factions held together mainly by fear of the Socialists coming to power. Thirty years later the LDP is "a complex and differentiated organization whose whole had become greater than the sum of its factional parts."