The aim of this volume is to evaluate the impact of the institutional changes introduced by the central government reforms on foreign policy making in Japan. The administrative reform was conceived and drafted by Prime Minister Hashimoto Ryutaro in 1996–1998, passed by the Diet under Prime Minister Obuchi Keizo in July 1999, and implemented under the Mori Yoshiro administration in January 2001. It was the first significant overhaul of the structure of the central government since the enactment of the National Administration Organization Law in 1948. Hashimoto’s aim was to strengthen the position of the prime minister vis-a-vis the bureaucrats and enhance his or her control over separate ministries.
The book examines the evolution of the role played by the prime minister and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) both in defining and implementing long-term diplomatic strategies as well as formulating ad hoc policies towards sudden problems and international crises. Particular emphasis is placed on diplomacy towards two countries that have been crucial in Japan’s foreign policy—the United States and People’s Republic of China (PRC). Through nine case studies it is investigated whether, and under what conditions, the central government reforms have strengthened the actual abilities of prime ministers and their closest entourages to independently formulate and implement foreign policies