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UCRCA ReportArchive

What Is Missing in Japan?s Budget Policy Debates: Institution, Policy Analysis, and Policy Analysts

A nation?s capacity to govern depends on its capacity to budget. The budget is the most
important policy vehicle for affecting countries? economic and social priorities. The US public?s
strong participation in the budget process (via citizens? groups, think tanks and congressional
representatives) is the most resilient part of American democracy. The important step to
democratizing the budgeting process in the United States was the creation of a non-partisan,
independent, policy analysis institution: the Congressional Budget Offi ce (CBO).
The legislature can infl uence the budget by asking substantial questions and by debating priorities based on information provided by CBO.
These critical arguments are imperative in the budgeting process.
For democratic policy debates, policy-makers, especially politicians, should have information, data and numbers studied and developed by an institution which has strong analytical capacity.

Long term national fi nancial and budget reform in Japan?s government is inevitable due to the drastic growth of the aging population and declining birth rate, and long stagnated economy with huge disasters in 2011.
However, current budget debates in the parliament, unfortunately enough, only serve ideological and partisan politics, because of the lack of information,numbers, and policy options.
The reality of the Japanese policy arena is: no policy research, no analysis, and no evaluation.
The very concept of policy analysis and evaluation is still alien to, not only Japanese public, but also even policy-makers.
Politicians think that they can make policies with several days, or weeks? effort.
Regarding the budget policy making, the administration and the governing party have long been dependent on the power and knowledge of the Ministry of Finance.
Due to the one-party dominance of administration a long, there was no serious search for non-partisan, independent analysis and objective numbers.
In contrast with the United States, policy analysis is not an established discipline within Japanese academia, and until very recently Japanese university?s public policy school offered no structured policy analysis and evaluation.
No training ground has existed to nurture strong policy analysts either inside or outside of the government to carry out objective and practical policy research.
Japan needs to meet the challenges of the changing world and it can accomplish this by introducing democratic mechanisms with which Japan can build its own policy making capability.
A key ingredient in producing that capacity is, fi rst, to found a nonpartisan, subservient but independent of Parliament institution that is able to provide timely objective policy analysis and evaluation through the team efforts of policy analysts.
Founding the institution will be a breakthrough in democratizing the budget and policy-making in Japan.

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Updated date: 2012/10/23 -07:53 PM