Executive, Ministries and Administrative Agencies
preeminence, Japanese officials, MITI, private enterprises, MOFA
Japanís ministries and agencies are staffed primarily by career civil servants. Most ministries have only two politically appointed postsóthe minister and one of two vice ministers. The influence of career ministry and agency officials is enhanced by several features of the organization of Japanís government. First, the size of the national civil service is relatively small compared to most other industrial democracies. The civil service also is highly professional, with potential employees subject to strict national examinations. Finally, nearly all civil servants in Japan spend their entire careers within a single ministry or agency. Although temporary transfers to other agencies have become common, there is little opportunity for permanent career change among public agencies or, until retirement, into private enterprises. Japanese officials thus develop a strong sense of identification and loyalty to the single ministry or agency in which they work. Each of these factors contributes to the cohesion and stability of Japanís ministries and agencies and thereby their political influence.
Some ministries wield more influence within the government than others. The Ministry of Finance (MOF) initially formulates the annual budget, which ensures its preeminence among all the ministries. The Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), which has jurisdiction over export and import policies as well as domestic industrial policy, is also very influential. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) is another top organization. The prestige of these ministries makes them highly sought-after places of employment and draws some of Japanís best minds to public service.
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