This is what I wrote a few years ago. I still see some but essential difference between Minshushugi and Democracy.
When I was in the US, at the "Business and Society" class, an American class mate made an impressive suggestion. She expressed the world without Democracy was where one cannot walk streets with her head up.
Later, I learned the Democracy is more than a mere political decision-making system. It means that one accept the other's presence and existence. It means that one permit others to live, to survive and to share social commons. The Democrasy is a reciprocal process. A person has to interven each other to live their lives at the moment he or she was born. In this manner, I believe Democracy has some ethical aspects. At the same time, ethics is the way to coordinate interests among the community members.
On the other hand, "MINSHUSHUGI," which is a Japanese counter word to Democracy. Minshushugi sounds a little different in Japanese people from the Democracy. Actually, the definition of "MINSHUSHUGI" is a little narrower than that of Democracy. It only means the way to social decision making system. Or, it means the village where group of oldmen decide everything.
By the way, Mr. Joi Ito wrote very charming essay titled "Weblogs and Emergent Democracy." It shows how our net community affects the real world by emergent power and I found a new hope of Democracy and MINSHUSHUGI.[blog] Life and the Democracy « HPO:BlogDrive