As the international system began its transformation with the end of the Cold War in the 1990s, Japan and Russia were two societies also in the process of internal transformation. Changes were in large part brought about by the demise of the Soviet Union and the ending of the bipolar confrontation that had so shaped the global political order, as well as the domestic systems in place in Japan and Russia for the previous fi ve decades. Dramatic domestic change in either country would have been diffi cult to undertake in the atmosphere of the Cold War. The Cold War acted as a brake on political development in each nation, as the necessities of maintaining a strong posture in the face of global confrontation (in Japan’s case under the wing of the United States) circumvented debate about transforming domestic processes and institutions that were clearly outdated.