RIETI Symposium

Fiscal Reform of Japan: Redesigning the Frame of the State

Project Paper - Session 2

"Two Aspects of Japan's Bureaucratic System as Seen in Fiscal Procedures" (Abstract of Discussion Paper 04-J-007)

IIO Jun (RIETI Faculty Fellow / Professor of Government, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies)

Japan's parliamentary cabinet system is characterized by the juxtaposition of two kinds of organization. The official government organization ・a "bureaucratic cabinet system" as it may be called ・is primarily composed of the bureaucratic system on one hand, and the "ruling party or parties" formed by politicians playing a supplementary role on the other. Under this mechanism, fiscal discipline has been maintained by means of the organizational processes of the former. However, as democracy has taken root in Japan, bureaucrats have lost their legitimacy as a governing entity. And with this has gone the fiscal discipline. In order to carry through fiscal reconstruction under such circumstances, it is necessary to establish an unwavering political will to restore the fiscal health underpinned by a multiparty agreement rather than simply pursuing reform of the administrative structure. When this is accomplished, the fiscal management system would have to be reformed into one that is more targeted-oriented. In carrying out such reform, some sort of built-in mechanism for controlling each ministry's authority ・rather than simply transferring authority to each ministry through distributed management ・must be implemented so as to prevent bureaucratic turf-building from worsening. This is because it is necessary, as a means of warranting the aforementioned multi-party agreement, for bureaucrats to suppress their disposition of being eager to represent social benefits under the existing mechanism of bureaucracy and, instead, emphasize their role as an autonomous body that pursues national interests.

Original discussion papers in Japanese [PDF:52KB] >>