Government-business relations in Japan : the deliberative councils (Shingikai) and the iron and steel industry, 1916-1934
Government-business relations in postwar Japan have received a considerable amount of attention, as also the often associated scandals and back room dealing in Japan have been a recurrent and topical issue in academic circles and the popular press. Yet, despite this attention, scholarly and otherwise, much less research has been undertaken on these issues in Japan before the Pacific War. Employing the detailed records of the shingikai or, Councils of Deliberation, discussions between business and government are traced to determine, in the first instance, the success of business in realizing its aims. These findings are located within the larger conceptual framework of the overt and covert interaction between government and business in policy formulation. An important historical perspective is therefore offered by the thesis in examining this case study, providing analysis of the historical continuum frequently left out in assessments by commentators on today's situation. The findings are that the shingikai forum was perceived by business as a place its views could be expressed and an opportunity to influence policy outcomes. The factors which determined the extent to which business could realize its goals were, among others, the political and economic circumstances in which the actors found themselves. Evidence indicates that business viewed itself as an independent actor in its negotiations with government. As both government and business were important stakeholders in the iron and steel industry, their interests did not always coincide which was observed, at least in one instance, to have led to heated debates and the amendment of the bill at hand. This finding challenges the prevailing view in the literature that the shingikai was co-opted by government to achieve its own policy ends.