Public Management Accounting in Japan: Case Study of the National Tax Agency in the Ministry of Finance

Ohnishi, Junya

In the management accounting world, the so-called “Japanese Management Accounting” has been renowned, much like the Toyota Production System (TPS), target costing, and more. The main purpose behind these techniques’ development is the constraint of less capital. Turning our eyes to public sectors, Japanese governments, i.e., central and local governments, have both enormous debt and huge deficits. In the future, therefore, Japanese governments should instead employ harsh constraints under reduced budgets. Such limited resources would make the government more efficient and more effective. In this context, there are many possibilities within public sectors in Japan to utilize unique measures such as “Japanese Management Accounting.”

The essence of this paper is to challenge practices of public management accounting in Japan, especially focusing on the National Tax Agency (NTA) in the Ministry of Finance (MOF). Based on historical background, the agency has had the three sacred treasures, i.e., office workload measurement systems, continuous improvement (kaizen activities), and unification and simplification of documents (now known as the Information and Communication Technology (ICT)), all influenced by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the U.S. Some management accounting techniques have also been introduced to these practices. After careful considerations, this paper will address certain findings regarding practices in the NTA, along with future challenges in public management accounting and public and fiscal administration.

Keywords: public management accounting, the National Tax Agency (the NTA), Japanese Management Accounting, Influence by the U.S., office workload measurement system, continuous improvement, kaizen activity, Activity-Based Costing (ABC), Activity-Based Management (ABM), strategy map, management accounting technique

Geographic Areas


  • thumnail for WP 383.Public Management Accounting in Japan.pdf WP 383.Public Management Accounting in Japan.pdf application/pdf 933 KB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
Center on Japanese Economy and Business
Center on Japanese Economy and Business, Graduate School of Business, Columbia University
Center on Japanese Economy and Business Working Papers, 383
Published Here
May 26, 2022