Team Hatoyama off to good start: ex-Blair adviser

by William Hollingworth

Kyodo News

changes (to strengthen the center) and what effect we felt they had. I briefed them on our meetings structures, forward planning functions, liaison within the government and also some of the structures we set up during major international crises.”

The DPJ has also taken a close look at how Labour presented its case to the electorate in the election manifesto. In 1997, Labour produced an eye-catching card for voters that listed five specific pledges designed to counter the impression that politicians are all hot air.

And this summer, the DPJ paid great importance to its manifesto with a series of pledges.

Campbell said, “The impression I gained was of people with a clear agenda for change but who knew that sometimes promising change is easier than making it happen.

“But I also sensed a real determination. I suppose if there was a single message I sought to impart it was the importance of clarity of objective, toughness of strategy and the necessity of clear leadership and teamwork.”

Now that the DPJ is in power, Campbell “senses” an attempt by the government to be more “strategic in communications” and to give “sharper and clearer messages.”

Christopher Hood, an expert in Japanese studies at Cardiff University, agrees the DPJ has taken a leaf out of Labour’s book in terms of communicating clear pledges to voters.

“The DPJ seems to be getting sharper at this,” he said. “This has been a general weakness in Japanese politics in the past so I would say it’s a refreshing change.

“Having said that, I think the DPJ will find and, in relation to dams for example, may already be finding, that sometimes reality steps in and they have to rethink pledges.”

The DPJ’s policy of suspending and reviewing the construction of new dams across the country has been deeply unpopular in some municipalities.

Hood is unsure to what extent British practices can be introduced in Japan, given the different political cultures and the long tradition of an all-powerful bureaucracy.

“I think the shift to reduce the influence of the bureaucrats will be an interesting one. If only Japan had a version of ‘Yes Minister’ and ‘Yes Prime Minister’ to watch!”

These BBC comedy programs showed how powerful civil servants were in comparison to their hapless political masters.