Policy communication has always been a priority for Japanese governments. Ministries and other governmental agencies have been very active in publishing regular reports, often called “white papers,” as well as other materials on their work. These materials are full of rich details, though observers have sometimes found the sheer quantity of brochures, data and other material bewildering. Ministries and other agencies have sometimes used public communication to stake their claims on specific policy areas. Another critique has been that policy statements have become rather vague. Particularly with respect to visions of the future economy, recent statements have been filled with terms such as “economic individualism” or “people´s power,” for which practical definitions have been difficult to ascertain.
A major departure by the DPJ from earlier communications policy is that politicians with ministry responsibility, particularly the ministers themselves, are now in charge of representing their issue area in the Diet and in press conferences. Ministers and other politicians have used various means to hold press conferences and communicate with the public, including the solicitation of direct feedback over the Internet. There have been cases in which the ministerial civil servants were not even aware that their minister was speaking to the public. While this may seem a refreshing departure from the previous regime’s somewhat stiff communication patterns, the new practices have not yet stabilized. Communication may actually have lost transparency as a result, although this could be seen as a typical transition-period problem.
DPJ: The Democratic Party of Japan´s Platform for Government, [as of 27 July 2009], http://www.dpj.or.jp/english/manife sto/manifesto2009.pdf
DPJ: Supplementary Sentences to Clarify Expressions in the DPJ Manifesto, 11 August 2009,