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2011 Vol.2
The Role of Think Tanks in the Realization of Policy-Oriented Politics


The realization of policy-oriented politics has long been a main issue for the Japan Association of Corporate Executives (Keizai Doyukai), in which companies’ top executives participate as individuals. The most significant political reform realized in the postwar period, which was triggered by the Recruit scandal, was completed with the enactment of the so-called “four laws for political reform” in 1994. The reform was, however, insufficient for realizing policy-oriented politics. With regards to the mechanism for voter’ political participation, two challenges must be met: (1) government administration based on a manifesto during an election campaign (“manifesto politics”) and (2) the correction of disparities in the voter/representative ratio. In particular, the realization of manifesto politics would be effective in making it easy for voters to choose policies that they support. However, it cannot be achieved only with policy manifestoes put forward by political parties during election campaigns. Manifesto politics is realized only when the plan-docheck- act (PDCA) cycle of the relevant manifesto properly functions. In this respect, Japan, where organizations providing support for policy making are weak, faces a significant challenge in increasing the number and role of think tanks. In order to make the PDCA cycle of manifestoes function effectively, and to discover and train professionals who will work at organizations supporting policy making, it is critical to vitalize both political party think tanks and independent private nonprofit think tanks. Particularly, the emergence of independent private nonprofit think tanks as intermediaries between politics and voters is needed.