Bureaucrats have historically dominated many Asian polities, and Japan is no exception. Ever since the Meiji Restoration of 1868, public servants in national ministries have enjoyed special privileges and powers. They shaped Japan's emergence as an industrial state, they collaborated with militarists to govern during the wartime era, and they presided over Japan's postwar economic ascent. Only in recent decades has a bureaucratically dominant polity in Japan come under challenge. A more organized, affluent, and demanding populace has been one force encroaching on bureaucratic influence. The other has been a long-standing, increasingly experienced, and cautiously pragmatic contingent of Liberal Democratic party (LDP) leaders and legislators.

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