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Japan's Administrative Elite

by Byung Chul Koh

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About Book

Gerald Chan, The Asian Journal of Public Administration
"A fine, in-depth treatment of an important subject which should attract the attention of those who are interested in public administration in Japan."

Richard Jerram, Millennium
"With the growing popularity of the revisionist approach to Japan, this book is particularly timely in providing an impartial and exhaustive analysis of the workings of the upper echelons of the Japanese civil service. . . . Many commonly held misconceptions about the Japanese systems are implicitly disproved."

Eamonn Fingleton, Far Eastern Economic Review
"This book is a thorough and intelligent account of what is undoubtedly the mainspring of Japan's uniquely effective economic system. As such it is a useful addition to important work in the field by Ezra Vogel, Chalmers Johnson and Robert Spaulding."

Book Description
A major player in Japanese society is its government bureaucracy. Neither Japan's phenomenal track record in the world marketplace nor its remarkable success in managing its domestic affairs can be understood without insight into how its government bureaucracy works--how its elite administrators are recruited, socialized, and promoted; how they interact among themselves and with other principal players in Japan, notably politicians; how they are rewarded; and what happens to them when they retire at a relatively young age. Yet, despite its pivotal importance, there is no comprehensive and up-to-date study of Japan's administrative elite in the English language. This book seeks to fill that gap.
Koh examines patterns of continuity and change, identifies similarities and differences between Japan and four other industrialized democracies (the United States, Britain, France, and Germany), and assesses the implications of the Japanese model of public management. Though many features of Japanese bureaucracy are found in the Western democracies, the degree to which they manifest themselves in Japan appears to be unsurpassed.
Koh shows that the Japanese model of public management contains both strengths and weaknesses. For example, the price Japan pays for the high caliber of its administrative elite is the stifling rigidity of a multiple track system, a system with second-class citizens and demoralized "non-career" civil servants who actually bear a lion's share of administrative burden. The Japanese experience demonstrates not only how steep the price of success can be but also the enduring effects of culture over structure.

About the Author
B. C. Koh is Professor of Political Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago.



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