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Top>Hakumon CHUO [2011 Autumn Issue]>[Open Campus]Mock lesson for everyone Interested in Chuo University in Chuo University

Hakumon CHUOIndex

[Open Campus]Mock lesson for everyone Interested in Chuo University

What is the role of the government?

Hiroko Kudo
Professor, Faculty of Law, Chuo University

The classroom was packed with high school students and their guardians who had come to listen to Professor Kudo's mock lecture under the theme of "What is the role of government?" Everyone waited while glancing at the schedule which had been distributed in advance. The lecture began with a discussion of the Great East Japan Earthquake.

The various roles of government

Professor Hiroko Kudo

"In addition to recovery plans, reconstruction policies and the construction of temporary housing, finding jobs for the unemployed and accepting displaced children and students are all roles of the government."-Professor Kudo began by explaining that the role of government after a major disaster is not limited only to plans and policies for reconstruction and recovery. Instead, she pointed out that the government's role is extremely varied, including the development of infrastructure in disaster areas, education and job placement.

Next, Professor Kudo referred to the second year of President Obama's term in the United States in order to illustrate the different roles of government in America and Japan. "Japan has almost realized a complete universal health care system," said the professor when discussing the American public's strong opposition to healthcare reform proposed by President Obama. "America has never realized such a system because each individual is considered to be responsible for his or her own health in America. This is very different from the Japanese idea that individual health should be insured by society."

Professor Kudo then gave the following easy-to-understand explanation regarding the difference between political science and the study of public administration: "Political science is a theoretical study of political phenomenon. In contrast, the study of public administration focuses on how the government is operated.

Historical transformation from a watchman state

Professor Kudo continued her lecture by discussing historical changes in the role of government. She defined three phases: the watchman state, the welfare state and small government, and the management state.

During the first phase of watchman state (1800 to 1930), the government did not interfere in the lives of citizens. Such government was referred to as laissez-faire. During the second phase of welfare state"(1930-1900), the urbanization caused by the industrial revolution caused government to enter a number of areas such as infrastructure development and social security. However, this form of government caused an expansion of government institutions and government budgets, thus resulting in a financial deficit. This led to a revision into small government (1980 to 1990) through privatization and the relaxation of regulations.

Professor Kudo then explained the third stage of management state (1990 to the present), where the services and assets normally supplied by the government are instead supplied through a network composed of institutions such as NPOs, volunteer groups and corporations.

The final topic discussed was the regulations imposed by government in order to correct market mistakes. Based on the two broad classification of social regulations and financial regulations, Professor Kudo explained how the government see-saws back and forth between regulation and relaxing of regulations. She pointed out how current government is starting to become involved in various fields such as tobacco regulations and alcohol regulations.

Future government will shift towards a management state

In closing, Professor Kudo discussed the big society proposed by British Prime Minister Cameron, describing how government will ultimately shift to a management state which mobilizes organizations such as NPOs and volunteer groups. She stated her opinion that a portion of roles previously fulfilled by the government will be entrusted to private corporations and NPOs, and that construction will continue for a network of mutual cooperation.

(Student Reporter: Motomu Araki, 1st year student, Faculty of Letters)