The relationship between the Prime Minister and the governing party in Britain and Japan : a comparative analysis of responses to the oil crises 1973-1980
British and Japanese prime ministers have opposite reputations in policy-making, while sharing similar systemic backgrounds and formal power resources within the executive. Prime-ministers' power in policy-making within the executive was primarily promoted and circumscribed by their relationships with their governing parties and their strategic decisions over appointing ministers. Fourteen case studies on prime ministers' responses to the oil crises in foreign, fiscal and domestic oil policies between 1973 and 1980 found that the Japanese prime ministers exerted more power, while some British prime ministers faced more constraints, than might have been expected. Edward Heath, a British Conservative premier with clear control over the party, exercised power with minimal intervention. Kakuei Tanaka, an LDP premier, exhibited the institutional potential of the Japanese prime minister and the restraints on him, which derived from the existence of autonomous cabinet ministers, enjoying independent support within the party. James Callaghan, a British Labour premier, demonstrated the substantial power resources deployed by the British prime minister and the limits imposed by divisions in the governing party and the cabinet. Masayoshi Ohira, an LDP premier, emphasised ministerial appointment when confronted by hostile groups in the governing party. The main differences of formal power resources of the British and Japanese prime ministers were: the more significant constitutional position of the cabinet in Japan, the superior information network centred on the British prime minister, and the policy unit available to the British prime minister after 1974. Without the support of the governing party it was difficult for the prime ministers even to mobilise their power resources, whereas with its support they did not need to make explicit interventions to achieve their preferred policies. Principal-agent theory and two-level games were relevant for analysing prime-ministerial power in policy-making and party organisation.