Abstract: This book examines a key question of modern Japanese politics: why the Meiji oligarchs were unable to design institutions capable of protecting their power. The authors question why the oligarchs chose the political institutions they did, and what the consequences of those choices were for Japan's political competition, economic development, and diplomatic relations. Indeed, they argue, it was the oligarchs' very inability to agree among themselves on how to rule that prompted them to cut the military loose from civilian control--a decision that was to have disastrous consequences not only for Japan but for the rest of the world. Paperback edition, with corrections, 1998. Awarded Luebbert Award, for best book in Comparative Politics, American Political Science Association. Translated and republished as: Nihon seiji to goriteki sentaku [Japanese Politics and Rational Choice] (Tokyo: Keiso shobo, 2006).