Princeton University Library Catalog

The problem of bureaucratic rationality : tax politics in Japan / Junko Kato.

Kato, Junko, 1961- [Browse]
Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, 1994.
xiii, 327 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
Summary note:
  • Through a detailed account of the political battles over Japanese tax reform during the last two decades, Junko Kato draws an unconventional portrait of bureaucratic motivation, showing how fiscal bureaucrats exploit their unique technical knowledge to influence policymaking. Rejecting the notion that the monopolization of policy expertise leads to bureaucratic domination, Kato contends that bureaucrats seek to increase their influence upon politicians by strategically sharing information.
  • She also explores the reason for the relative strength of the bureaucratic organization in comparison to the governing party, whose interest in reelections and intra-party politics may pose dilemmas for individual politicians.
  • In 1989, the Japanese Diet enacted a broad-based consumption tax after two failed attempts and in the face of widespread public disapproval. Its passage was all the more remarkable for coming just as a series of dramatic financial scandals had begun to undermine popular support for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, foreshadowing its fall from power four years later.
  • Kato argues that skillful maneuvering by the Ministry of Finance, determined to ensure stable long-term revenues, was decisive in persuading a majority of legislators to oppose their constituents in endorsing an unpopular program of tax reform. Her careful analysis of the Japanese case holds important implications for the study of bureaucratic power and public policy in advanced industrial democracies elsewhere in East Asia and the West.
Bibliographic references:
Includes bibliographical references (p. 287-303) and index.
Ch. 1. Bureaucratic Rationality and Strategic Behavior: The Framework -- Ch. 2. Bureaucratic Rationality and Strategic Behavior: Japanese Tax Reform -- Ch. 3. Lessons for Bureaucrats: From the Proposal for a Tax Increase in the Late 1970s to Fiscal Reconstruction without a Tax Increase in the Early 1980s -- Ch. 4. Reframing the Tax Issue: The Ministry of Finance's Fiscal and Tax Policies in the Early 1980s -- Ch. 5. The Tax Reform Proposal in the mid-1980s: Uneasy Cooperation between Prime Minister Nakasone and the Ministry of Finance -- Ch. 6. The Third Attempt: introduction of the Consumption Tax and the Securities Trading Scandal -- Ch. 7. Conclusion: Bureaucracy, Party, and the Power of Rationality.
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