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Regarding Shinji Fukukawa’s Dec. 25 article, “Revitalizing national politics“: The problem of Japan as seen by an outsider like myself is that the Japanese give enormous respect to bureaucrats and officialdom. Such respect is very uncommon in many other countries. As in most countries, officials are not highly educated — usually holding just a bachelor’s degree — are not well read, and usually do not have expert knowledge in a field. Yet, they sit at the top of everything, even the Asian Development Bank and United Nations University, both of which are controlled by Japan. Are these officials the real source of Japan’s progress, or are they hampering Japan’s recovery?

This question is not answered by Japanese commentators who are angry with the government’s efforts to transfer power from bureaucrats to legislators. If the people’s representatives cannot suggest changes and monitor the progress of change, there will be no change, as the common tendency of officialdom is to carry on as usual. Moreover, the will of the people will become devoid of meaning, thus signifying the death of democracy.

When officials/bureaucrats become professors, deans and presidents of universities, new ideas cannot develop and people with new ideas are banished from the system. This is Japan’s real problem, which the Japanese may not be able to see.

dipak basu

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