Management performance in Japan has shown significant improvements, moving up to position 15 (+6 ranks relative to SGI 2009).
The DJP government has taken steps to improve strategic planning and the efficacy of the prime minister’s authority, particularly in budgetary matters. It has also broadened the base of societal consultation by seeking advice from trade unions.
The government continues to struggle with efficiency in policy implementation, a problem further complicated by the fact that most recent prime ministers have not remained in office for long.
The capability to adapt to new challenges has been tested during the global financial turmoil. All-out institutional reform has not yet taken effect.
At rank 15, the steering capability of the Japanese executive has markedly improved (+8 ranks relative to SGI 2009).
The new DPJ-led government has sought to strengthen prime ministerial leadership and improve strategic government planning. Effective control over the budget is being transferred from the Ministry of Finance to the newly established National Strategy Office, chaired by the prime minister.
The number of policy evaluations performed has significantly increased.
The DPJ administrations have had close links to the trade union sector, shifting the focus of societal consultation away from the “iron triangle” (elected politicians, bureaucracy, business) of past LPD governments.
Policy communication, often through extremely detailed “white papers,” has long been a priority for Japanese governments.
At rank 21, policy implementation capacity in Japan has been undermined by a fast succession of governments.
Due to their short periods in office, the Hatoyama, Fukuda and Aso cabinets lacked the time to pursue their chosen agendas effectively.
Despite a formally powerful position, the prime minister can not always ensure ministerial compliance. The Cabinet Office offers a means of monitoring ministry activities.
Local and regional governments depend strongly on central government financial transfers. Local governments have only limited practical policy autonomy, as they are generally required to execute centrally determined policies. Local autonomy is guaranteed by the Japanese constitution, but the relevant passages are very short and quite unspecific.
At rank 21, Japan’s assessed institutional learning capacity has shown marginal improvement (+2 ranks) relative to the SGI 2009.
Reform processes are typically driven by domestic developments and interests, but international models or perceived best practices do play a role at times.
Japan was actively involved in the new G-20 mechanism as it sought to meet the challenges of global financial turmoil. As its part of the multilateral effort, Japan contributed an economic stimulus program of considerable size.
Institutional reform has been a major theme of debate for more than a decade, but post-Koizumi administrations have lacked the time to develop strong reform initiatives. A reform putting elected politicians in charge of the government apparatus is underway.
At rank 14, Japanese executive accountability has shown marginal improvements (+3 ranks) relative to the SGI 2009.
A substantial amount of information on policies and policy-making is publicly available, though many citizens feel dissatisfied, considering the information to be untrustworthy.
Parliamentary committees have substantial oversight powers, able to request government documents and summon ministers or experts.
The publicly owned media provides ample and in-depth information on policy issues. Parties have improved their ability to offer coherent policy proposals. Business interests are influential, but non-economic civil society organizations do not have a long tradition.