Citizen Participation in Governmental Decision Making in Japan: A Review
Over the past decade citizens have become much more involved in several aspects of policy-making and governance. Public participation in decision-making is seen to generate more accountability, better performance, strengthening of democracy, and counters the influence of powerful dominant groups. The trend is increasing worldwide, and in Japan as well. In this paper we review the nature of public participation in Japan, with the aim to understand the dynamics and nuances of participation in a country with a distinct cultural heritage. A total of 36 papers specific to public participation in Japan (versus volunteerism) are reviewed, from five English publication databases. We acknowledge several meaningful and relevant articles published only in Japanese may have got missed in the review. The paper, therefore, may not be a comprehensive representation of the dynamics of participation in Japan. Nevertheless, the paper does provide cross sectional data of various types of situations faced by the Japanese citizens and the administration, and is one of the first reviews to explore the nature and dynamics of public participation in Japan.