Why Japan Was Able to Build a Successful Democracy? Essay

October 14, 2020 by Essay Writer

Introduction

Economic, social and political development of a society is inevitably an outcome of proper design and pragmatic planning. In other words, there are many factors which are requisite for realization of development in any country. Good governance is one of the fundamental requirements necessary for enhancement of political and socioeconomic development of the greatest majority in a society. The form of government known as democracy though not perfect has been accepted by many societies committed to sustainable socioeconomic and political progress as a viable method of managing their public affairs. The purpose of this paper is to discuss why Japan was able to build her successful democracy, identify key differences between Japanese democracy and British and US democracies and establish whether Japan’s economic success has led to increased democracy or an increase in democratic capacity has led to increased economic performance?

Why Japan was able to build a successful democracy

Building a successful democracy is a long and protracted process whose pace depends on various factors which are usually unique to individual countries. From a historical point of view, even though democracy is not an absolutely new ideology to Japanese the role played by USA in Japan’s democratization process during its occupation of Japan cannot be downplayed (Nguyen, 2008).

Distribution of political power and its exercise, resources and wealth is certainly an important component of any political system that is fit to be regarded as democratic. Nguyen (2008), argues that without an occupational authority in the name USA, the level and scope of land reforms that took place in post-war Japan would not have taken place because of the immovable resistance of the old powerful elites and minority regimes.

According to Nguyen (2008), reorganization of land ownership and tenure essentially leveled Japanese society and narrowed the gap between the rich and the poor, establishing an environment where middle class could prosper socio-economically as well as politically. He further asserts that middle class was the cornerstone up on which Japanese democracy was built and protected from lovers and sympathizers of old socio-economic and political orders and other retrogressive forces.

However, it is important to acknowledge the crucial role that Japanese themselves have played in getting hold of democratic opportunities and market changes which have been key to building their successful democracy. In short, American guidance and in some instances imposition of antiviolence and democratic ideas , aggressive and liberal volunteer organizations and a vibrant and prosperous middle class forms the major pillars of the foundation up on which Japan has been able to build a successful democracy.

Differences between Japanese democracy and British & US democracy

Generally, democracy as a form of political system has universally expected and accepted fundamental tenets and features. However, different world democracies possess conspicuous unique and different features. Historically, Japanese democracy is relatively younger than British and American democracies which share a lot of similarities particularly in terms of practice and civil participation. For instance, in Britain and America universal suffrage was achieved long before the age of new imperialism in 19th century, while universal manhood suffrage in Japan was achieved in 1925 through pressures from liberal interest groups and labor unions (The Routledge, 2009). In Britain, democracy has come into being and developed alongside its uninterrupted socio-economic and political evolution.

On the other hand Japanese democracy was introduced by USA who occupied Japan during 19th Century. Japanese democracy is characterized by many people taking part in local and community –based volunteer groups and fewer people in national and international advocacy groups (The Routledge, 2009). In addition, in Britain and America democracies there are two major political parties which dominate politics with competition from other many political parties, in Japanese democracy there is one party that has dominated politics the better part of Japanese democratization history prompting some scholars like Ethan scheiner to argue that democratization in Japan has been achieved without competition (Scheiner, 2006).

Has Japan’s economic success led to increased democracy or has an increase in democratic capacity led to increased economic performance?

Economic empowerment is definitely critical to democratization of a people’s psychology and their socio-political institutions which are stepping stones towards realization of general development of a country. At the same time, increase in democratic capacity of a country is necessary and favorable to its economic progress and success. Thus, it is safe to argue that an increase in Japan’s democratic capacity has led to increased economic performance while that in turn has led to re-creation of Japanese democracy by a populace that is well fed and which has been emancipated from a peasantry mentality which can be a big stumbling block towards building a successful democracy. Therefore, replacement of Japanese traditional powerful elites and oligarchs with democratic institutions by the American Occupational government during 19th century played a critical role in accelerating Japanese economic success which allowed a vibrant and liberal middle class that has been in the forefront in creation and recreation of Japanese democracy to flourish (Nguyen, 2008).

Reference List

Nguyen, D. (2008). American Democratizing Intervention in Japan as a Non-paradigm for Iraq. Web.

Scheiner, E. (2006). Democracy without competition in Japan: opposition failure in a one-party dominant state. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

The Routledge. (2009). The Routledge Handbook of Japanese Politics. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.

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