Being the prime minister in Great Britain is a valiant duty. The prime minister in Great Britain is essentially the head of the government and thus has a great deal of power. He or she plays an integral part in the politics of the country and are widely known around the world. The prime minister of Japan on the other hand plays a much reduced role in the Japanese government does not garnish nearly as much power. They are not nearly as well known as British prime ministers, party due to the fact that they are merely “keepers of the helm” and only stay in power for an average of 18 months (McCormick 2007, 140). While Great Britain and Japan have similar forms of parliamentary democracy, their prime ministers have differing amounts of power and support.
The British and Japanese prime ministers have the same basic powers. They both oversee government policies, have the power of appointment, and have the power to hold elections (McCormick 2007, 143). The British prime minister specifically uses this power to call the House of Commons and to appoint his or her cabinet, which are both very important towards bolstering their support and power (McCormick 2007, 95). The Japanese prime minister is also able to elect their own cabinet, but their cabinet does not play nearly as strong of a part in the government as the British cabinet, thus they do not have as much power backing them.
One of the foundations behind the British prime minister’s power is that they are the leader of their political party (McCormick 2007, 95). The prime minister is elected based upon being the leader of the party with the most seats in the House of Commons. The House of Commons is a fairly important part of the British government, and thus having a majority of the members favoring the prime minister naturally gives him or her a good deal of power. The prime minister must call elections of the House of Commons at least once every five years, but they are allowed to call them at any point during those five years. This means he or she can call the elections at a time when it seems favorable to his or her party, basically ensuring their party wins the most seats and they stay in power. The prime minister also has support of the cabinet, which they are allowed to elect without any restrictions, so this adds to the foundation of support behind them. The cabinet intrinsically also owes their loyalty to the prime minister (McCormick 2007, 98).
The Japanese prime minister is not necessarily the leader of their party, which already shows a discrepancy in the support behind the British and Japanese prime ministers. Instead of becoming prime minister through a majority seating the House of Commons, the Japanese prime minister is elected by popular vote through the Liberal Democratic Party (McCormick 2007, 141). Whoever wins the most support out of all the factions becomes the prime minister. This person could be from any faction, which means they may not necessarily be from the most represented faction. Coupled with the fact that the elected person may not even be the president of their own faction, this means the prime minister can be under much scrutiny, and their terms are often terminated prematurely. The prime minister does have the power to appoint their own cabinet much like the British prime minister, but the Japanese cabinet is smaller and has less power (McCormick 2007, 143). There are also limits placed on the Japanese prime minister’s power by “the bureaucracy, factions within political parties, party leaders, and the consensus style of Japanese politics” (McCormick 2007, 140). These variables contribute to the discrepancy in power between British and Japanese prime ministers.
Armed with overwhelming power and support, the British prime minister is better able to concentrate on working for towards betterment of the state and govnerment. The British prime minister takes part in numerous endeavors, such as setting the national political agenda, appointing ambassadors, managing crises, and being an overseas representative of Britain (McCormick 2007, 95). It is much easier for them to pursue these types of things when they have the backing of both the House of Commons and the cabinet. The Japanese prime minister on the contrary must be slightly more concerned for themselves than a British prime minister would because they have less stability (McCormick 2007, 143). This means they are not able to achieve as much as a British prime minister, and they typically do not leave a notable mark on the government. Often times they are not even able to have their own individual policies. The Japanese prime minister does serve a role in helping to create policies and elect new officials, but they simply do not have as much influence as the British prime minister does.