Dora L. Hanna

Date of Defense



Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. Murray Scot Tanner

Second Advisor

Dr. Byron Earhart

Third Advisor

Dr. Kenneth Dahlberg


For students of Japanese politics, the Hosokawa government's late 1993 decision to liberalize the rice industry had something of a "David and Goliath" guality about it. The overwhelming majority of the literature on Japanese politics stresses the terrific power of special interest groups and bureaucrats, and would not lead us to expect general consumer or voter interests (let alone foreign interests) to triumph in a major political battle. Political scientists have pointed to many sources of this power. Peter P. Cheng (1990), for example, attributes much of the Japanese interest groups' influence to their ability to "create specific organizations for the very purpose of mobilizing votes, collecting political donations and conducting campaign activities" (p. 254). This disciplined organization is then used to influence the political parties. The agricultural interest groups are very wellknown for the influence they have on the political process. Cheng notes the importance of "role fusion" between the government and interest groups, which provides the interest groups with "institutionalized access to the policy process" (p. 252). These interest group-politician ties are tighter than would be legal under United States "conflict of interest laws." The agricultural cooperative system was actually created by the government and subsequently carries out many semi-official duties and is monitored by the government (Cheng, 1990). Such arrangements caused one commentator, Fujitani Chikuji (1992), to say that agricultural interest groups have an image of being the "government's right hand," and Cheng has labelled Japanese politics the "politics of interest" (Chikuji, p. 379; Chenge, p. 255).

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Campus Only