Studies of twentieth-century Japanese politics have largely ignored the impressive continuities between the prewar and postwar periods. Most accounts of the Occupation emphasize external American initiatives while dealing with the established Japanese leadership in rather one-dimensional terms. This article focuses on a dynamic group of prewar Japanese bureaucrats who survived the Occupation purge to play a key role in the postwar government's controversial labor policies. As higher civil servants of the Home Ministry (and the Ministry of Welfare after 1938), they had been responsible for formulating a policy toward the interwar labor union movement that mixed social reform and control. The author describes the ways in which these “social bureaucrats” perpetuated themselves and their distinctive approach to social stability in the postwar era. Their influence continues not only in the postwar Ministry of Labor but, more surprisingly, within the highest ranks of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

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