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Monday, 5 March 2012

Book Review: Japanese Politics Today (From Karaoke to Kabuki Democracy)

Don't you think the picture is quite nice?
It's a kabuki actor singing karaoke(:
I picked this book up at Jurong Regional Library (this is one of the places I'll miss). And despite foreboding title, I picked it up for two reasons: a. the cover. b. I'm weird this way. And I supposed the fact that it was published last year had a big influence, since I'd like to know what's happening now and not what happened 10/15/20 years ago.

Just to get things clear, in karaoke democracy, "bureaucrats provided political leaders with scripts on policy statements. Leaders generally rendered those statements as their own and tried to convince voters that they deserved to be returned to power on the basis of their ideas and policies that delivered successful outcomes". What happens is that the bureaucrats are the ones directing policy and despite changing leaders, policy doesn't get changed.

On the other hand, in kabuki democracy, "politics becomes more interesting and colorful because political leaders seek - and bring - change to the political agenda. they have their own distinctive style, and consciously express their human qualities -emotions, personal preferences, and vulnerabilities - to skillfully connect with the people.

But honestly, I still don't quite understand it (there's a very good reason why I don't take political science). But I don't think it matters that much, because other than the introduction, I didn't really see these terms anywhere. What the book covers are topics such as the Prime Minister, the system of the Bureaucrats, Party Politics, the Farm Lobby, Journalism, etc.

Each chapter is like the little bear's porridge and furniture, just right. Any longer and I'll probably ended up with this sort of face:


And any less and I won't understand anything (as opposed to understanding about half of it now).

Although this book is quite hard to understand, I think it's worth reading. Basically, the politics in Japan is quite hard for people like me to understand. At least after reading this book, when I read articles/commentaries about Japan (specifically, its politics), I'll be able to understand just what these experts are talking about better.

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