In Denmark as well as the US and many other European countries Lean has developed from being a production system in the private sector to becoming a public administration management tool. Critics call it a panacea, but Lean is without any doubt a buzz word in public administration circles and applied many places. However, there has been very little academic focus on Lean as a public administration management tool, and no one has before questioned why Lean originating in Japan has not been adopted in the Japanese public administration. Lean advocates claim that Lean can be adopted everywhere. This is obviously not the case, as we argue in this article focusing on Japan.