This essay seeks to explain the political power of the commissioned postmasters in the context of their participation in one of postwar Japan's most enduring iron triangles. I show how the postmasters have evolved into an electoral ally of the Liberal Democratic Party and how their relationship with national bureaucrats complements that partnership. These political and bureaucratic linkages have enabled the postmasters to prevent significant reform of the postal system. To assess the implications of post office politics for Japanese politics more broadly, I explore the postmasters' evolution, processes contributing to the institutionalization of the triangular alliance in the postal services sector, the postmasters' electoral activities, and the alliance's impact on Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro's recent efforts to privatize postal services.


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pp. 281-313
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