Japanese Prefectures and Policymaking

This small volume makes important contributions to both Japanese and comparative studies in the neglected but important field of intergovernmental relations. . . . The excellent review of the postwar evolution of local government shows that while the Occupation-imposed decentralized system suffered a 'reverse course' to become fairly docile and reliant on the national government for policy and support in the drive for economic development, it was not up to the prewar level of centralization.
Pacific Affairs

In this book, Steven R. Reed argues that studying only central administrations and national-level politics yields a picture of greater rigidity than actually exists in modern governments. There is not a simple dichotomy between centralization and local autonomy: many different relationships between levels of government are possible. Reed illustrates his point in nine detailed case studies in which he analyzes the governments of three of Japan's forty-seven prefectures. Reed interviews over one-hundred officials to reveal the innovative policymaking that exists at the local level.

Reed compares how each prefecture addresses pollution control, public housing, and access to the best high school education, and concludes that despite some inefficiency in the system, the results are usually very good. Japan's prefectures are important sources of governmental flexibility and responsiveness.

about the author

Steven R. Reed

Steven R. Reed is on the faculty of policy studies at Chuo University, Hachioji City, Tokyo, Japan.

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Steven R. Reed