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Studies of the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center
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Table Of Contents
Failed Democratization in Prewar Japan: Breakdown of a Hybrid Regime Author(s): Harukata Takenaka How and why does a semi-democratic regime-one that developed as a result of significant degree of democratization-collapse without experiencing further democratization? This book answers these questions through a case study of the collapse of the semi-democratic regime in prewar Japan. Japan's gradual democratization after the Meiji Restoration in 1867 led to the rise of the semi-democratic regime in 1918. It was characterized by the rule of party government and electoral participation by a significant portion of the population. Confronted with a series of threats from the military, it collapsed in 1932 after the May Fifteenth Incident. This book explains the collapse of this regime as a result of shift in the balance of power between the party government and the military. It focuses on Meiji Constitution's institutional constraints as well as legitimacy and the semi-loyalty of political parties and their memebers as factors that affected the relationship/ Although the Meiji Constitution placed the party government in a weak position institutionally with respect to the military, the high legitimacy that it claimed initially enabled it to sustain the regime from the outset. Gradually, however, its legitimacy eroded and political parties became semi-loyal to the regime, tolerating or encouraging the military's challenge against to it. This led to the collapse of the semi-democratic regime. Introduction Chapter abstract: The introduction presents the central question of the book: how and why does a semi-democratic regime collapse without experiencing further democratization? It defines the semi-democratic regime, a subtype of hybrid regimes. It then describes the book's two objectives in answering this question, which it attempts to achieve through a study of the literature on hybrid regimes as well as on prewar Japanese political development. The first is to widen our knowledge of the political dynamics of hybrid regimes. The second is to provide a comprehensive analysis of Japan's political development from the late 1910s to the early 1930s. Lastly, it refers to three comparable cases of semi-democratic regimes: Great Britain in the latter half of 19th century, Brazil between 1945 and 1964, and Thailand between 1978 and 1997. 1 Analytical Foundations Chapter abstract: This chapter examines various approaches to analyzing the collapse of semi-democratic regimes. It first examines whether it is possible to apply existing theories of democratization and regime change to explain such a collapse. Then it discusses the problems of these approaches and proposes an alternate analytical framework, arguing that the collapse of the prewar Japanese regime can be seen as gradual change in the relationship between the party government and the military. In other words, it can be analyzed as a process, in which democratic forces, political parties and party politicians supporting the regime, and non-democratic forces, the military opposing the regime, compete. The balance of power gradually shifted from the party government to the military. This chapter shows that it is possible to explain this shift by focusing on three factors: political institutions, regime legitimacy, and semi-loyalty. 2 Defining the Regimes of Prewar Japan Chapter abstract: This chapter has two objectives. First, it demonstrates that the regime that existed in Japan from 1918 to 1932 can be defined as semi-democratic. It argues that three distinct regimes-a competitive oligarchical one, a semi-democratic one, and a military authoritarian one-existed between 1889 and 1945. The first spanned 1889 to 1918, the second from 1918 to 1932, and the third from 1935 to 1945. Second, to illustrate the special nature of prewar Japanese democratization and the semi-democratic regime in prewar Japan, it compares democratization in Britain and Japan. In doin
Harukata Takenaka is a Professor, at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, Tokyo, Japan.