Japan's Circle of Power

Legitimacy and Integration of a National Elite

  • Carmen Schmidt (Autor/in)


The concept of elites must be related to two important dimensions: democratic legitimacy and elite interpenetration as well as the distribution of power within these two dimensions. This paper develops model for analyzing elites and shows how it can be used to understand the nature of Japan's leadership. Using wide range of Who is Who publications, the incumbents of top positions within politics, bureaucracy, economy, pressure groups, and the mass media are investigated in accordance with the model presented in the theoretical part. The findings suggest that Japan's elite is not monopolistic. It neither consists of single closed master caste, nor is it clearly dominated by one partial elite. It is not pluralistic elite with fragmented centers of power and diverging interests drawn from diversity of socio-economic backgrounds. Instead, Japan is ruled by circle of power, which is held together by exclusive patterns of recruitment, mutual interests, interdependence, elite consciousness, and personal ties.