“The Afterlives of Post-War Japanese Prime Ministers” (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2018.1460389) is a new article at JCA, authored by Hugo Dobson of the School of East Asian Studies, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK and Caroline Rose of the Department of East Asian Studies, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK.
Despite growing interest over the last 20 years in the position and power of the Japanese prime minister, what he does after resigning from this position has been overlooked in the extant literatures in both English and Japanese. This is unfortunate because, to paraphrase former US President Bill Clinton, as an ex-leader “you lose your power but not your influence.” This article represents the first attempt to explore what post-war Japanese prime ministers have done after stepping down and what influence they have continued to exert. It does so by providing an empirical overview of the afterlives of Japan’s 33 post-war ex-prime ministers before then discussing the benefits and shortcomings of applying the comparative, conceptual literature on the role of former leaders in Western democracies to the specific case of Japan. After providing the necessary justification, it then focuses on three detailed and illuminating case studies of Nakasone Yasuhiro, Murayama Tomiichi and Fukuda Yasuo. It argues that Japanese prime ministers continue to exert influence in several informal ways.