It has become a cliché to assert that the Japanese state played an especially strong role in guiding the process of modernization. This assertion is rooted in two comparative judgments. The first is that the Meiji government opted to emulate authoritarian Germany rather than democratic Britain. The second is that Japan is one of many late-developing societies whose governments naturally assumed a forceful role due to their economic circumstances. This presentation challenges both of these comparative assumptions. It offers empirical evidence that casts doubt upon the applicability of the theory of late development to Japan, and it presents an alternative theory to explain the role of the modern Japanese state.
Gregory J. Kasza is Professor of Political Science and East Asian Languages & Cultures at Indiana University. His research interests include state-society relations, war and politics, the mass media, and welfare policy. An abiding goal of his work is to examine Japanese politics from a comparative viewpoint. His latest book is the widely acclaimed "One World of Welfare - Japan in Comparative Perspective".