In Japan, as in all other developed industrial nations, the role of government has expanded dramatically during this century. This expansion has particularly affected local governments, which have become responsible for providing a wide range of public services. As discussed in Chapter 1, there is a body of literature that sees the impact of the welfare state as a critical factor altering traditional patterns of central–local relations in Western industrialised nations. What then is the relevance to Japan of the findings and conclusions in the literature? In Japan, like other developed industrial nations, the expansion of state activity has not been in the form of the growth of a single entity but the increasing density of relationships among branches and levels of government. This may be the common pattern, but the type and direction of the changes would differ with countries, because of differences in developmental paths, which stem from the different environment of the new states.