Death of the 1955 system? Greatly exaggerated.

With Prime Minister Abe turning his attention and blame to the hapless bureaucrats in the Social Insurance Agency — those bureaucrats who have served as the fly in his constitution revision ointment — the Japan Times published a piece by Philip Brasor discussing the actual conditions within the agency, and the bureaucrats who lorded over citizens, namely the citizens who lacked the protection of company pensions.

Brasor’s point: “What the pension crisis teaches us is that the main task of bureaucrats is not service but self-preservation, which makes them actually quite human, and also a bit pathetic.”

Bureaucratic self-preservation is common to just about every bureaucracy in the world, but few bureaucracies enjoy the prestige and high status of Japanese bureaucrats. This is undoubtedly factor in the stunted development of Japanese liberalism. Both by undermining civil society and by co-opting politicians by helping them use the policy making system on behalf of private interests, bureaucrats have preserved their kingdom — and lorded over Japan’s citizens. The bureaucrats are not entirely to blame for this situation, of course. They have just done what generations of Japanese bureaucrats have done. The blame, instead, falls on the shoulders of Japanese politicians, many of whom are former bureaucrats, who have utterly failed to use the power of the legislature to provide oversight for the bureaucracy and demand accountability. And some blame too should be laid at the feet of the Japanese people, who have accepted, willingly or not, the system whereby elected officials and bureaucrats have cooperated to serve anything but the public interest.

Similar to my argument here, through an utter lack of accountability from inside or outside government, Nagatacho and Kasumigaseki have colluded to misgovern Japan. Change of government in 1993 by no means ended this system. And now the consequences of this collusion is being felt directly, even painfully, by Japanese citizens.

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