Japanese Politics: Changes And Continuity
By F. Quei Quo
Professor Emeritus, Simon Fraser University
#To be presented at the Founding Meeting of British Columbia Political Science Association, May 6, 1995 at Vancouver, B.C., CANADA.
Draft copy for panel discussion only, not permitted for other use.
INTRODUCTION During the last eighteen months Japan had change of government three times and every time with different coalition of parties and groups. The most shocking events were the end of the 38 years uninterrupted one party domination by the Liberal Democratic Party (Jiminto, hereafter as LDP) in the Summer of 1993 and the revival of the LDP to power by way of a coalition with the traditional opponent the Socialist party of Japan (Nihon Shakaito, hereafter as JDS) in June, 1994. The decline of LDP's popularity was a well- known fact, but no one predicted it's oust from power as the oppositions had always failed to form a solid united front. Even after the general election of June 1993 the LDP remained the major party with far greater number of seats than the others though slightly short of a majority. Under the normal circumstance one would expect the LDP to form a minority government by coopting the support of one of the small opposition groups, but it didnot happen. To the surprise of many, all the oppositions, with the exception of the Japan Communist Party (Nihon Kyosanto, hereafter as JCP) joined to form the first non-LDP Government in recent political history of Japan. Although the new coalition government was able to introduce a few important pieces of legislation it fell victim of scandals and political maneuverings. In June 1994 the LDP and JDS formed the most unlikely coalition with a socialist prime minister, leaving the world wondering whither Japan. These rapid and unexpected changes render most writings on Japanese politics either irrelevant or outdated.1 What has changed and what may not change? This paper intends to fill the information gap as well as to analize the reasons for such rapid changes. Causes for changes will be seen from the perspectives of personalities and system level problems. The former deals with the internal issues of struggle for power among ambitious political leaders that used to take the shape of factional politics but nowadays often appear in the maneuvering of alliance and defection. The latter is an attempt to identify structural problems of organizations and institutions in the Japanese political system. Especially important is an evaluation of the political system in view of the changed and still changing international and domestic environment. In the words of one Japanese political scientist the Japanese political system designed after World War II is no longer capable of "governing."2 If it was the case, perhaps a new constitutional-making is needed for a new Japan in a new era. This paper intends to cover four topics: 1. Problems of the 1955 System, 2. Politics of Reforms, 3. Politics of Realignment and 4. Politics of the Future 1. Problems Under the 1955 System In 1955 when the merger of both the conservative groups and the left-wing parties took place, it was expected by many that Japan would be moving towards a two-major party system represented by the newly formed conservative Liberal Democratic Party on the right and the Japan Socialist Party, also newly formed by joining together of the socialists on the left, except the Japan Communist Party which was then still a radical revolutionary group. However, contrary to the expectation, the left groups were soon to split again (1959) between the Democratic Socialists, a moderate group in favor of maintaining the Mutual Security Treaty with the US and the Socialists who insisted on the unconstitutionality of Japan's involvement in any military affairs. Then, there was the emergence of the Komei Party (1961) which had the religious Soka Gakkai as its parent body succeeding in getting supports from the urban middle-class and the youth lost in the rapid urbanization. Because of the failure of the socialists to become an effective opposition to challenge the LDP, the party system of Japan came to be known as one and a half party system. For a long time, the Japan Socialist Party was unable to threaten the LDP from its power but it still managed to claim more than one-third of the seats in the House and thereby blocking the conservatives from any effort to amend the Constitution which requires a two-third majority. (INSERT The TABLE of Historical Record of Party Strength here) The non-realization of a two-major party system has resulted in the un-interrupted rule of the LDP until the Summer of 1993. In the meantime Japanese politics was compressed into factional strife within the LDP and collusion with the opposition politicians in the Diet. One election after another the Japanese voters were able to express their pleasure or displeasure with the LDP by electing more or fewer numbers of LDP legislators but never able to challenge the LDP 's supremacy. Since the LDP was the only party able to form a government the logic became apparent that the one who controls the LDP controls the government. Factional politics inside the LDP therefore became the major battle field to win the power. One who aspires to become the Prime Minister must first become a faction leader and then win the game of coalition of factions in the LDP. On the part of the organized interests, the LDP had become the only meaningful political ally and they were forced to finance that party's political activities. Even the labor unions which were traditionally supporters of the socialist groups began to wonder if it might be more beneficial to the organizations' interests by unleashing themselves from the ties with the ineffective permanent opposition parties like the JSP and the SDP(Minshato, the Social Democrats). Factional politics within the LDP was transformed into money-politics by 1970's, especially under the influence of one of its leaders Kakuei Tanaka. It was Tanaka who has found the formula of "power comes from number and number can be bought with money." Until then the LDP's factional politics usually revolved around a political leader who is supported by 50 or so fellow politicians aspiring to become the main-stream within the party to share the spoils. To become the main-stream means to ally with other factions to capture the post of Prime Minister. With huge political fund Tanaka was able to buy enough supports to defeat the heir-apparent Fukuda and succeeded Sato to become the first commoner prime mister of Japan in 1972. Although Tanaka was soon to be arrested for the Lockheed kick-back scheme, he remained the most powerful figure in the LDP politics until mid1980's when a majority of his followers deserted him to form the Takeshita faction. Tanaka's design was to enlarge his faction to more than one-half of the LDP legislative group and he saw the Japanese electoral system conducive to his design. Under the Japanese Electoral System the medium-size constituencies elect from 2 to 6 members of the House of Representatives. The system makes candidates from the same party compete against each other for supports in the same constituency. Thus, the electoral organization and supports a candidate can rely on for certain is often not that of the party but that of the highly personalized koenkai. Each candidate, therefore, seeks a political boss-faction leader, for campaign support and political funding. After being elected he naturally joins the faction of the political boss for future support in the election as well as for sharing of spoils in money and position. Because of the difficulty in maintaining the unity and heavy financial burden in supporting the followers, it used to be said that the ideal size of a faction is somewhere around 50 in number.3 Tanaka broke this common belief and succeeded in enlarging his faction to 130, slightly less than one-half but always more than one-third of the LDP legislators. The implication was serious. It meant no LDP government could be formed or continue to survive without the blessing of the Tanaka faction! It was this implication that kept Tanaka in power behind the scene as the king- maker for many successive governments even after his departure from the political front line. Indeed, there have been many attempts to rectify the defects of LDP's factional politics in the past. To regulate political fund by law and to elect the LDP presidency by party supporters at large rather than by the LDP legislators are two major reforms attempted by PM Mike, the man nick-named Mr. Clean who succeeded Tanaka. More lately, PM Kaifu attempted to rectify the electoral system by introducing a single-member constituency system and to strengthen the Political Fund Regulatory Law but to no avail. The basic problem is that none of these political leaders and their governments could survive without the blessing of the old Tanaka faction. Once they pull out their supports the government fell! The changes can come only from within, and yet, so much vested interests had been created within the intertwined old system of corruption no one seemed willing to take the risk. Back in 1972 when Tanaka's Lockheed scandal exploded, a group of young LDP legislators led by Kono Yohei, left the party to form the New Liberal Club that seemed to be rather popular with the young electorate. The New Liberal Club, however, never succeeded in their efforts to attract more fellow politicians to join and eventually was dissolved. The 1955 System amended by the practice of LDP's factional politics led to the interpretation that the strife among factions to become the main-stream was, in essence, equivalent to a two-party, or multi-party system having different groups alternating in power. Such interpretation must be invalidated by the emergence of domination of one faction within the LDP. The practice of the Tanaka faction, and later on by its succeeding Takeshita-Kanamaru faction, was to create a duality in the power structure of the party. The duality of de facto and de jure power structure gave birth to many governments headed by leaders of smaller factions who served as the Prime Minister without much power in reality. The governments headed by Suzuki and Nakasone were identified as governments under the shadow of Tanaka Kakuei; while the ones headed by Uno, Kaifu and the last one by Miyazawa were also known as the puppet governments of the Takeshita-Kanamaru faction. The largest faction often controls the post of secretary-general of the party and several key cabinet posts. In fact, every LDP government in the past was a coalition government of several factions. Consequently Japan might have appeared to have had political stability because of the uninterrupted rule of one party, yet, in reality all governments in recent years had been rather fragile and short-lived because of the factional politics within the LDP. According to the analysis of some insiders, the decline of LDP actually started in the House of Councilors Election in 1989 when the party lost its majority in the upper chamber of the legislature. The electoral failure was a clear indication of the voters' indignation at the LDP's corruption as being exposed in the Recruit Case. Yet, in the subsequent general election the LDP won a comfortable majority in the House of Commons. Thus the situation was a little awkward for the party in power; nevertheless, it was able to override the objections from the upper House. In retrospect the party was mistaken in the reading of the wishes of the voters, said a LDP leader recently. Since the 1989 Upper House Election also saw increase in the socialists seats the LDP leaders thought the issue was the consumption tax only. It is now commonly acknowledged that there was a very serious distrust in politics in general, and in LDP particularly due to the endless expose of scandals involving influence-peddling in exchange of political contributions. In summary, the 1955 system led Japanese politics to a system of irresponsibility due to the failure of the opposition. That in turn led to the birth of a system of corruption under which all players benefited from the pay-offs of a growing economy. Pork-barreling among the legislators in the government grants and public works benefited the special interests and the constituencies they represent. In exchange the legislators received supports in votes and money. The bureaucrats also got the benefits of well-paid post-retirement second jobs either in the public or private corporations over which they used to exercise regulatory and advisory power. Even the opposition members received windfalls occasionally by cooperating with the ruling LDP.4 By the end of the 1980's, on average the oppositions' votes against Government Bills never exceeded 10%, with the exception of the JCP. 5 Was it an emergence of consensus in Japanese society or was it a result of satisfactory political dividends for all of those concerned? The expose of one scandal after another in recent years certainly has awaken those who received little or no benefits from the system. More seriously the system began to be challenged by outsiders, the US in particular who found the Japanese system a source of unfair competition in international economy. The external pressure, known as gaiatsu in Japan became a moving force calling for change to the system. Problems of the 1955 system can also be analyzed from a broader perspective such as change in international environment from Cold War Age to an age of peaceful economic competition, change in domestic conditions that Japan has now graduated from the stage of industrialization, and change in generation that the social and political norms of the younger politicians are different from that of their elders and so forth. Leaving further detailed analysis somewhere else, suffice it to say here that the 1955 system is no longer capable of dealing with the problems of the 1990's and the Japanese voters are now prepared to accept changes. The other side of the coin is that the system has now fulfilled its task and is due for reforms. The maturity of Japanese industries and the increasing objection to the unfair competition from overseas, for example, now renders the holy-trinity among the LDP, the bureaucracy and the industries and businesses ineffective. But, what kind of change should come first and how to bring about the changes, not even the Japanese political leaders are certain. 2.POLTICAL REFORMS Among the changes talked about two reforms stand apparent : the electoral system and regulation over political fund. In fact both of these issues have been around for sometime. Previous LDP prime ministers had even attempted to introduce changes but only met strong oppositions from within the LDP and even the opposition parties. The question is simply that no one is prepared to give-up the vested-interest in the old system. The opposition parties were never in favor of introduction of a single-member constituency system which obviously would favor the major party like the LDP ; so were many LDP legislators who were afraid of losing their political fortune under a new system. The same is true with the regulation of political fund. While the LDP relies heavily on the contribution of the businesses and industries at all levels-the central party, the faction bosses, and individual legislators; the Socialists needed the support from the organized labor unions. Consequently the regulation brought about under the Miki Administration in 1975 was a very much diluted version of the regulative intention. In 1992 this issues flared-up again because of the arrest of Knanmaru Sin, the Vice President of LDP and the king-maker behind the scene since the departure of Tanaka and Takeshita. It was revealed that Kanamaru was involved in the meeting with the boss of the right-wing Yakuza organization to stop the latter from harassing Takeshita who was then a candidate to succeed PM Nakasone. Furthermore, the President of the Sagawa Express who made the arrangement for Kanamaru also provided him with a half billion yen political fund. With the departure of Kanamaru as the boss of the major faction, and naturally as the man behind the throne in the LDP Government the struggle for power succession started within the Kanamaru-Takeshita faction. At the same time the public was infuriated with another political scandal involving the ruling party. The battle of succession led to the split between Ozawa Ichiro, the heir-apparent in the eyes of Kanamaru and the rest of the faction within the LDP. Because of his strong personality Ozawa was not liked by most of his fellow LDP members. The faction chose another man-Obuchi Keizo to be its leader. Ozawa then enticed many young LDP legislators to follow him in the revolt against his own Government when a vote of non-confidence was brought against the Miyazawa regime. Nevertheless, Ozawa and his group left the LDP under the pretense that his old party was incapable of and unwilling to bring about the much needed reforms. PM Miyazawa was unable to exercise his leadership to contain the revolt and would subsequently dissolve the House upon the passage of a vote of non-confidence. During the election many more LDP members deserted the party and formed their new party and groups, all appealing to the voters for reforms and blaming the LDP for its inability to keep previous promises to reform. The Coup of June 1993 and the Reformists Governments On June 18, 1993 the vote of non-confidence against the Miyazawa Cabinet passed the House of Commons by a vote of 255 vs. 220 due to the revolt of 45 LDP members against its own party. 6 The revolt was led by the Hata Group within the ruling LDP with the support of mainly the younger generation LDP politicians who were disgruntled with the slowness of the party's efforts in political reforms. Back in 1980 the Ohira Cabinet of the LDP also fell because of the coup on the part of a small number of fellow LDP members in the House. However, when PM Ohira dissolved the House and appealed to the voters in the general election the LDP won a land-slide majority to prolong its un- interrupted ruling of the nation since 1955.7 Unlike the case of 1980, the Japanese media in the Summer of 1993 all celebrated the fall of the Government and predicted a dawn in Japan's party politics. The Asahi editorial page welcomed the call for a general election and predicted the end of "decades of one-party domination."8 Interviews with the nation's leading political scientists also reported an unanimous prediction that the whole political system of Japan, including the voters themselves would be under a "most critical evaluation" ever happened in the post-war Japanese political history.9 After the General Election all the oppositions, except the Communists stood together to block the revival of a LDP government, though the party remained the largest winner in seats and only short of the necessary majority by a few.(See, TABLE 1). The new Government formed by a grand coalition of eight parties, nicknamed "rainbow government" because of the varieties of political colors and inclinations, managed to elect Mr. Morihiro Hosokawa as the first non- LDP premier since 1955. Although the Hosokawa Government was to be succeeded by Tsutomu Hata, leader of the Renewal Party in eight months due to the Premier's involvement with the Sagawa Scandal10, it marked the beginning of new politics for Japan. The Hata Government, in turn, was forced to relinquish the power in four months due to defection of the socialists from the grand coalition. Subsequently in June, 1994 a new coalition of strange bed- fellows was formed between the LDP and the JDS(formerly JSP) headed by Mr. Tomiichi Murayama, leader of the socialist camp. It is commonly known that Japanese politics is going through a transitional period from one-party domination to a multi-party system; but, whether it will be a two-major party system, three major parties plus splinters, or just many minor parties no one knows. All believe that under the new electoral law that incorporates both proportional representation system and single-member constituency system, political forces of Japan are to be compelled into regrouping themselves most likely into only a few political parties. It was this urge to expedite the reformation of his groups into a new political party that prompted Ozawa, the real power-broker in the anti-LDP coalition game to proceed rather hastily to strike a Reformists Union without sufficient consultation with the fellow JDS in the early Spring of 1994. The short-lived Hosokawa Government, however, set Japanese politics on the course of no-return. First, the regime managed to identify clearly the areas of reforms needed for a new Japan. They include restructuring of Japanese economy, changes of political system, and a new approach in international affairs. How to reinstate vitality into the post-bubble economy? How to reform the corrupted system of 1955 in Japanese politics? How to respond to the expectation of Japan by the rest of the world? Hosokawa regime next went ahead with a determination to address these problems. His style of politics was unlike the traditional "opal color" willy-nilly. When he said "no" to President Clinton, he really meant "no," not "yes." He managed to reach a consensus among all parties in the substance of a new electoral law and new regulation over political fund. His trips to Korea and China with official apologies to the former victims of Imperial Japan marked a new relationship with the Asian neighbors. In the coalition he shifted more and more towards Ozawa for the two shared a determination to act swiftly. The unfortunate incident of his mid-night announcement to introduce a welfare-tax which he had to retract later marked his parting with the old ally and his cabinet secretary Takemura of the Sakigake Group. Even when he decided to step down not too many of his close associates were informed until the very last minute. The Reformists' idea, as expressed in Ozawa' book11 is quite different from the ones held by Hosokawa. Under the title of "Futsu no kuni ni nare(Be An Average State)" Ozawa argues that Japan has to think and do things like most other nations do. In other words, Japan can survive in today's world only by accepting the norms of the international society rather than clinging on to its own idealism, according to Ozawa. His proposed changes include: i) more emphasis on participation in the peace-making of the world , ii) more UN centered positive activities, but keeping US-Japan axis as the basis, iii) special leadership role for Japan in Asia, iv) promote more universal free-trade under the GATT system and if possible, to create an International Trade Organization under the UN., and v) more Japanese leadership via ODA and environmental programs. It won't be too far- fetched if we conclude that Ozawa's approach is simply to share the world leadership with the US. . In contrast, Hosokawa wants Japan to be proud of its peace-loving Constitution and advocates a move from the "passive pacifism" to an assertive pacifism in international affairs.12 Using Article IX of the Constitution as a testing ground, Ozawa is a nationalistic revisionist more like exPM Nakasone of LDP rather than Hosokawa who is an international pacifist closer to the left-wing of the JDS. The two, however, resembles each other in the plans for domestic reforms. Both saw the need to change the electoral law, to strengthen regulation over political fund, to decentralize and deregulate. It is Ozawa's insistence on leadership that impressed Hosokawa though himself fell victim of over-doing it. As of July 18, 1994 (Asahi) distribution of seats in the legislature is as follows: TABLE 1. STANDING OF PARTIES IN THE LEGISLATURE House of Commons 511 House of Councilors 252 LDP 200 LDP 95 JDS(socialists) 74 JDS(socialists) 68 Sakigake 21 Sakigake -- Kaishin(Reformists ) 126 Shin Ryoku-fu kai 38 Shinsei(Renewal) 62 Shinsei(Renewal) 14 Nihon Shin (JNP) 33 Nihon Shin (JNP) 4 Minsha(JDS) 19 Minsha(JSD) 8 Jiyu 7 Minkakuren 10 Kaikaku Kai 4+1* Sports 2 Komei 52 Komei 24 JCP(Communists) 15 JCP(Communists) 11 Kohsi Kai 6 Ni-in Club 5 Mirai 5 Liberal 5 Independents 10 Independents 6 Vacant 2 *1 categorized as Others. 3. The Game of Coalition and the Murayama Government The displeasure of the JDS within the Reform Group coalition came mainly from the left-wing of the party. The strong leadership of the group by Ozawa Ichiro of the Renewal Party and Ichikawa Yuichi of the Komei Party-known as the ichi-ichi line, offends the more progressive and elderly socialists who also resented Ozawa's nationalistic but pro-American approach in international affairs. On June 23, 1994 after the care-taker Hata Cabinet completed the mission of finalizing the annual national budget it is the LDP's turn to challenge the government with a vote of non-confidence motion. Knowing that the Sakigake had already parted with the Reform Group and the JDS's left-wing was displeased with the ichi-ichi line,the LDP's attempt was to rattle the rainbow coalition. Facing the challenge the Reform Group had the choice of either conceding to the JDS's demands in policy area or to dissolve the House. The former would tantamount to giving-in the coalition leadership to JDS; while the latter would mean another election under the still unchanged electoral system that would naturally favor the bigger parties, especially the LDP. Since neither of the choice was desirable, Ozawa resorted to his usual strategy of "seduction of ambitious politicians from the enemy camp." His reasoning was rather simple. Should the Reform Group concede to the JDS's left-wing it only prolongs the instability of the coalition. By not conceding to the JDS's demands it would once for all force the JDS to split itself openly and the Reform Group would only keep the loyal right- wing of the socialists. At the same time, the regrouping of the Reformists would provide another opportunity for desertion of LDP members, especially the ambitious faction bosses like Watanabe Michio and reform-minded Kaifu Toshiki and their followers. So, by absorbing the right-wing of JDS and the left-wing of LDP Ozawa hoped to form a real reformists new party. The result would be tri-polarization of political parties--the conservative old LDP on the right, the progressive old JDS on the left, and his new Reformists Group at the center. His intrigue was to entice Watanabe Michio, the man aspired to succeed Miyazawa but defeated by Kono Yohei in the bid for the LDP presidency to join the Reform Group. However, when it became evident that not too many followers would join Watanabe in the desertion Ozawa became reluctant of offering him the prime-ministerial post should the coalition government remain in power. In the meantime, the LDP took a similar strategy to entice the left-wing of the JDS by offering Murayama, chairman of the party the prime post in the new government should there be a LDP-JDS coalition. Ozawa's expectation of the split of JDS was betrayed by the inability of Kubo Wataru, the party's secretary-general and the leader of the right-wing to convince his fellow members. When the official position of JDS shifted to an alliance with the LDP, Ozawa's Reformists drafted Kaifu Toshiki, a former PM and one of the most reform-minded LDP leaders to stand as their candidate to lead the next government. On June 29, four-day after the resignation of the Hata Cabinet the House voted for Murayama to form a new LDP-JDS coalition government. The show- down was 241 for Murayama and 220 for Kaifu. The second ballot that pushed Murayama over the one-half majority was 261 against Kaifu's 214. At its outset the Murayama regime, unlike Hosokawa received a rather low support-rating in the opinion poll. To most people the LDP-JDS alliance was a marriage of incompatibles; they have only one goal in common--to capture the power! Yet, Murayama's swift move in the policy declaration surprised many. First, he abandoned the traditional anti-American and anti-military stance of the JDS by consenting to the constitutionality of Japan's self-defense establishments.13 The new government has also pledged to settle the hitherto unresolved post-war problems. In this regard, Murayama, like Hosokawa traveled to several Asian countries and expressed remorse of Japan's war-time behavior in those occupied areas. Compensations for the men and women drafted from the former colonies by the Imperial Army to serve as combatant and non-combatant personnel are now being discussed. Obviously there had been give-and-take between the leaders of LDP and the JDS in the policy area. Because of the LDP's dead wish to get back in power, in the game of coalition this time around the JDS seems to be holding the "casting vote." As long as the reconciliation between the LDP and the Reformists group remains unlikely the JDS will continue to influence the stability of government until a new election is held and the results known. TABLE 2. OPINION POLLS OF PARTY SUPPORTS (ASAHI, July 20, 1994) LDP JDS Shinsei Komei N.Shin Saki. DSP JCP Jiyu July, 94 38 % 15 10 4 6 6 3 3 1 May,94 34 15 14 4 5 7 3 3 1 Feb.,94 33 13 11 4 12 7 2 3 1 Dec.,93 32 13 12 4 14 4 2 4 - Sept.93 32 12 12 5 17 5 2 3 - It was reported that the main decrease in the supports for the Shinsei (the Renewal Party) came from the young female respondents in their late 20's and early 30's.The poll also indicates the public's low expectation of the new government headed by Mr. Murayama. Only 18% of the respondents think the administrative reforms are possible under the new government. Nor do the public expect much change in the US-Japan relations. The public's main concern has since the collapse of the "bubble economy" been the revival of economic prosperity. 4.NEW ELECTORAL SYSTEM FOR THE HOUSE OF COMMONS The new legislation now makes the House of Commons a mixture of proportional and constituency representation system. The House will consist of 300 legislators elected from single-member constituencies and 200 legislators from 11 different blocs elected on the basis of party list proportionally allocated according to the votes parties receive. (See TABLES 4 & 5 below) The new legislation is a compromise among political parties since the different representation system favors different parties. The minor parties would like to have more seats allocated under the proportional representation system; but the major parties want more under the single-member constituencies. The compromise was in both the numbers of seats allocated for each category of representation as well as in the adoption of a "bloc" rather than "national" proportional representation for the parties. Theoretically, the bloc system is not advantageous for a minor party with nation-wide support, though it will help small parties with strong local bastion. TABLE 4, Allocation of Seats For Regions Under Party-List Proportional Representation for the House of Commons Hokaido 9 Tohoku 16 Hokuriku/Shinetsu 13 Kita Kanto 21 Tokyo 19 Minami Kanto 23 Tokai 23 Kinki 33 Chugoku 13 Shikoku 7 Kyushu 23 Total 200seats. TABLE 5, Allocation of Seats For Single Member Constituencies By Prefectures for the House of Commons Hokkaido 13 Ibaraki 7 Shiga 3 Kagawa 3 Aomori 4 Tochigi 5 Kyoto 6 Ehime 4 Iwate 4 Gunma 5 Osaka 19 Kochi 3 Miyagi 6 Saitama 14 Hyogo 12 Fukuoka 11 Akita 3 Tokyo 25 Nara 4 Saga 3 Yamagata 4 Chiba 12 Wakayama 3 Nagasaki 4 Fukushima 5 Kanagawa 17 Tottori 2 Kumamoto 5 Niigata 6 Yamanashi 3 Shimane 3 Oita 4 Toyam 3 Gifu 5 Okayama 5 Miyazaki 3 Ishikawa 3 Shizuoka 9 Hiroshima 7 Kagoshima 5 Fukui 3 Aiichi 15 Yamaguchi 4 Okinawa 3 Nagano 5 Mie 5 Tokushima 3 The Reformist Group has now merged together calling itself Shin-sin tou (adopted New Frontier Party as its official English title) and elected Kaifu as its leader with Ozawa as the Party Secretary-General. Candidates for the constituencies are being named. Since the merger has taken place from the top-down it still leaves many problems at the local levels unsolved. Thus, for example, the Komeito Councilors are still identified as Komeito and the fate of Minshato's party organ and staffs are still unknown. The one who suffers most now is the JDS which is a party of the coalition Government with LDP. Will the party split? Yamagishi's attempt to create a new party seems to have failed as his supporting labor organizations have now withdrawing their endorsement of the idea. Although the LDP is indicating that in some constituencies they may work together, it is doubtful that the JDS's Congress will approve of it. Should it stay as one party under the new electoral system it may be the party most confusing to the voters in terms of its identity and consequently may suffer most in votes-getting. 5.NEW POLITICAL FUND REGULATION A survey conducted by the Asahi among 100 House of Representative LDP members a few years ago indicate that an average of 100 million yen is spent for annual activities-offices, constituency public relations, transportation and communications, and an average of 300 million yen for each election. To finance this the reposndents depend 39% on contributions from industries and businesses,17% from sponsored party's income, 15% on individual contributions, 12% on their own fund, 9% on the faction and 8% on loans. (Asahi, April 5-11, 1989, series of articles under the title Seijika no Dairokoro /Purse of Politicians). As TABLE 6 shows, most parties depend their financial sources on contributions from industries and business, and the labor organizations. The so-called "loans" are often a disguised contribution as they might be forgiven later. Nor does the official report filed under the old law reflect the complete financial realities of political parties.(See TABLE 7). Table 6 Structure of the Party's Income Party From Business From Loans From Membership From Pol.Contrib. Jap. Comm. Party 90.1% 0 @4.5% LDP @13 37.2 @ 14 34.1 Komeito 79.1 10 JDS(Socialist) 47.6 @10 25 Minsha(Dem.Soc ) 18 4 20 48.9 Nihon Shin(New) 3 51.5 4 20 Shinsei(Renewal) 5 64.5 Sakigake 83.7 5 Table 7 INCOME & EXPENSES REPORTED BY POLITICAL PARTIES, 1993 Party Income % change Expenses %change Jap. Comm. Party ´ 32,319 mil. -3.9 ´31,771 mil. -0.3 LDP 26,854 5.2 25,392 1.3 Komeito 14,461 7.8 13,462 11.7 JDS(Socialist) 7,199 8.1 7,289 8.3 Minsha(Dem.Soc ) 2,556 1.6 2,656 10.0 Nihon Shin(New) 1,165 91.1 947 68.0 Shinsei(Renewal) 807 435 Sakigake 478 306 KokuminSK(LD ) 9,730 -27 9,652 -29.2 Seiwa K(Minsha) 752 -13.7 938 -9.3 Minshu SK(New) 88 145.1 53 2964 The new law now stipulates that grants from Public Fund will be allocated to political parties that have elected more than 5 to the Diet, or have elected at least one member and polled more than 2% of the votes cast in the previous election of either House of the Diet. The Grand Total Amount available from the Public Fund is set as Y250 per population based on census. Grant to political parties is limited to not more than two-third of the party's actual spending in the previous fiscal year. Industries, businesses and organizations are allowed to give not more than Y500,000 political contribution per year. Estimates by Asahi Shimbun (March 5, 1994) grants to the parties under the new rule will give: LDP...´12653 million, JDS...´6551 million, Komei...´3251 million, Shinsei...´2287 million, Nihon Shin...´1897 million, JCP...´1848 million, Minsha...´1202million, Sakigake...´494million.that totals to.´30.9 billion. The Political Fund Regulation now requires identification by name of those who purchase more than 1 million yen dinner-party tickets. It also prohibits any government employee to be involved in the sales of ticket and also prohibit any purchase of more than 1.5million for any one party by any individual. For a ticket of 20,000 yen party the cost is usually at 3,000 yen the rest of them goes to the politician/party's coffer.(See, for example, Table 8). In general, political parties and politicians are happy with the new provision of support coming from public fund as it assures them considerable amounts of income annually. The trend is clear that the industries and businesses are step-by-step reducing their political contributions. It is enlightening to hear one of its leaders in a nation-wide TV debates on the issue immediately after the 1993 general election that asking the participating political leaders:"We are prepared to stop political contribution instantly; but can your party survive?" A complete stopping of political fund from organized business, industries, and labor, therefore, will be reviewed only five years later! Table 8, Income through Sales of Dinner Party Tickets, examples Name/Party Party/Faction Income Expenses Balance Abe, Shinzo LDP, Mitsuzuka 296mill. yen 53million yen 243million yen JDS(Socialist) 211 66 145 Yamazaki, T. LDP, Watanabe 156 20 136 Minsha(DemSoc.) 125 25 100 Harada, Y. Shinsei(Renewal) 73 13 60 Matsuda, Y Shinsei 72 4 68 Maeda,T. Shinsei 66 27 39 Will the changes in political fund regulation affect the corrupted practice of the past? It remains to be seen. However, one is certain now that the party's central organ will have more control over its members since the public fund is coming to the party as such. With the changes in the electoral law, this may reduce the chances for faction bosses. Conclusion: Speculating for the future To say that Japanese politics is in a state of flux or in transition is easy; but to speculate for the future is only possible from the changing data available to a researcher from day to day. The most recent survey data reveals a surprising increase in the numbers of "independent" voters. The so-called non-party supporter has now become the largest category--57% of the respondents in several opinion polls conducted in the months of March and April this year. This revolt against the political parties was evidenced by the April 10, 1995 gubernatorial election of Tokyo and Osaka. In both instances, the candidates jointly supported by the major parties were defeated hand-down by the "non- partisan independent" candidates. 14 Clearly enough, Japanese voters are both confused and disappointed by the changes in the political realignments and the reforms of recent years. Strange as it may sound, a tentative conclusion from the changes described in this paper is that they are leading the Japanese voters away from party politics! The following chart of the lineage of parties and groups will show how confusing the flow has been in the past two to three years. Lineage of Parties and Groups: LDP---Miyazawa Faction Kanamaru Faction----Obuchi Keizo ----Ozawa & Hata Group---Renewal Party---Reformists Group-----Shinsin Party(New Frontier) Watanabe Faction---------------------------------------------???----------Reformists Group ?---LDP Komoto-Kaifu Faction------------------------------------------------------Reformist Group------Shinsin Party Hosokawa (a former LDP)---formed Nihon shinto (Jap. New Party)---Reformists Group-----Shinsin Party Takemura ----------------------formed Sakigake Group--------------------Reformists Group-----Sakigak JDS (the Socialists)---------------------------------------------------------------------Reformists Group-----JSP/or split?? Komeito------------------------------------------------------------------------- Reformists Group-----Shinsin Party(with exception) DSP(the Social Democrats)----------------------------------------------------Reformists Group-----Shinsin Party(with exception) In a national sample survey conducted by Asahi Shimbun in March the impacts of confusion and disappointments caused by the changes are clear.(See the followings.)15 Question. Are you satisfied with the current politics? Do you have any complaint? Satisfied----------------6 % Rather satisfied-------25 Dissatisfied------------59 Others/NA-------------10 Question. Where do you think lays the major problems in current politic? Policy------------------19% Politicians-------------45 Political Parties-------12 Bureaucrats------------16 Others/NA------------8 Question. Which one of the following words you think most representing the current politics in Japan? Stability------------------5% Confusion-------------20% Trust----------------------6 Stagnation-------------12 Flexibility----------------3 Irresponsible----------28 Vitality-------------------2 Others/NA------------- 1 Uncertainty-------------20 A follow-up survey demonstrates that the LDP was able to retain 64% of its supporters in the 1993 General Election; however, it now has only 45% of them remains with the party. In the 1993 General Election 11% of them become independent voters while 15% of them switched to support Hosokawa's Japan New Party. Now 76% of those who went to support Hosokawa in 1993 are identifying themselves as "non-partisan independent" voter. In the case of JSP, it was able to retain 59% of its traditional supporters in 1993 but the number has now dwindled down to 33%. During the election 20% of the socialist supporters went to support the Japan New Party, but most of them are now "non-partisan independents." Clearly the greatest political disappointment between 1993-5 is the "let down" by Hosokawa's Japan New Party. Among the former Japan New Party supporters 61% of them now claim themselves non party supporters and only 18% of them say they are going to support the New Frontier Party. Again, we have the evidence that the political realignments have been taking place only at the top level among the party politicians in their maneuvering for power without grass-roots support. All of this trend has made most commentators and researchers wonder about the future of party politics in Japan, though the reform laws now enacted are intended to bring about a healthy party politics. However, my interpretation is: when the "dust" is settled party politics will revive. The new electoral system and the parliamentary cabinet system will compel Japanese political behavior to be "party-oriented." The sudden increase in the numbers of non partisan independent voter simply means the strong disgust at the confusion and uncertainty. Once the political realignments are settled the voters will follow. In the meantime, the increase of non-partisan independent voters should be considered a maturity stage in the democratization of Japan. The less ideologically or traditionally committed in their support for a political party, the more will they compel political parties to be both responsive and responsible. The unified election for local governments also resulted in the following national statistics in terms of party support: Votes for Local Assemblies By Political Parties16 LDP 38.9% (46.6) New Frontier 6.8% (n/a) JDS 11.6 (15.1) Sakigake 0.5 (n/a) JCP 6.6 (6.5) Independents 26.1 (20.7) Komei 6.4 (6.4) Others 3.1 (1.1) #() indicates statistics for the same election three years ago. It is also noteworthy that among the 13 governors elected 9 of them are former senior bureaucrats, a traditional pattern in Japanese local politics. Thus, indicating that in Tokyo and Osaka the metropolitan voters may have gone against the institution of political party, other parts of the country remain little affected. Furthermore, the new public fund to support political parties will definitely place candidates running as an independent with disadvantages. In concrete terms, two parties will stay firm: the LDP and the newly formed New Frontier Party. The former's popularity is in decline, but still the major political force. The latter tends to attract support of the younger generation, though still suffering from the unpopularity of Oazwa's sometimes rude speech pattern. It is the Japan Socialist Party(JDS) that holds the balance for the future. It suffered most in the 1993 General Election and will suffer more in the forthcoming election. To remain as one party or to split into two, either way the socialists camp will not be a major political force in Japanese politics anymore. Nevertheless, the group will be the balancer since neither the LDP nor the New Frontier may be able to get a majority seat in the election to come. Both the LDP and the JDS need to reconsider their respective political platforms adopted many decades ago. Now the Cold War Age is over and the division between the "conservatives and the progressives" (known as ho-kaku tairitsu) along the lines of foreign affairs has become meaningless. The economic condition also affords no opportunity for a confrontation between the capital and the labor. Most problems facing Japan are "national" rather than sectoral. Conditions are inducive to the emergence of Japanese nationalism and signs are abundant though the contents of which need to be defined rather carefully. 1. Because of the emrgence of a coalition non-LDP Government, "most of the system and practices of the 1955 System that came out of the LDP's one-party domination have now collapsed," said a renown political columnist Minoru Morita; see his Renritsu Seiken:Watakushi no Hosokawa Naikaku Ron (Coalition Government:My thesis on Hosokawa Cabinet), Nippon Hyoron-sha, Tokyo, 1993, p.8. 2. Yabuno, Yuzo Nihon Seiji no Mirai Koso (The Future of Japanese Politics), PHP Kenkyusho, Tokyo, 1994. 3. See, Fukui, Haru, How the Conservative Rules 4. See, Hamada, Koichi, 5. For example, see the following statistcs: Voting of Oppositions re. Gov't. Bills* (House of Commons 1984-1988) Opposed to the Bill 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 SDJ/KM/DSP/JCP 22.9 19.5 9.6 9.7 6.7 SDJ/KM/DSP - - - - 1.3 SDJ/KM/JCP 5.7 3.9 - - 1.3 KM/DSP/JCP 1.4 - - - - DSP/JCP - - 1.4 - - SDJ/JCP 17.1 18.2 12.3 4.2 2.7 SDJ 1.4 3.9 1.4 1.4 1.3 JCP 21.4 31.2 30.1 30.6 41.3 _______________________________________________________ Unanimity 30.1 23.3 45.2 54.1 45.4 Gov't Bill submitted 84 84 87 100 83 Nos. of Bill passed 70 77 73 72 75 % of passage 83.3 91.7 83.9 72.0 90.4 * From the Asahi Shimbun, 1988/05/26,p.4. This statistics indicates first of all a decline in the united front among the oppositions. The decline, however, does not seem to be caused by the split among the oppositions themselves. In light of the increase in the numbers of vote passed by unanimity it-the decline, is perhaps caused more by the oppositions willingness to support the bills introduced by the Government. The only exception being the Japan Communist Party. It is either the JCP has become more radical and ideological, and therefore, become less acceptable to other oppositions, or the other oppositions have moved more towards the LDP in policy matters. The answer obviously is the latter. As mentioned somewhereelse, the JCP itself has shifted considerably its policies towards the "right" as did the others but not as fast nor as far as the others. Most importantly, the statistics indicate the degree of consensus in Japanese politics in recent years. Another possible explanation is the success of the Managers(whips?) of the Parties especially of the LDP that they were able to ironout the differences for the parties before the final voting. Even if it were so, it only proves that there has been more common denominators among the parties than before. Incidentally the rate of Private Members Bill passage is less than 6% most of the time. A private member bill requires 20 member to cosponsor it. (For the House of Councilors it is 10.) Should the bill involves budgeting it requires 50 to co-sponsor it.( 20 for the H.C.) 6. The voting in the House was as follows: no. of seats absent in favor of n/c agaist LDP 274 18(2)* 39 217 SDJ(Socialists) 140 1(1) 139 Komei 46 1(1) 45 JCP 16 16 DSP 13 1(1) 12 Indp. 8 4 3 Vacant 15 Total 512 21(5) 255 220 *() shows absent due to sick-leave 7. For details of the 1980 Coup and General Election see, F. Quei Quo, "Party Politics in Japan:The June 1980 Election," in Modern Asian Studies(Cambridge Univ. Press), 16, 2 (1982), pp.251-276. 8. Asahi Simbun, June 19, 1993. 9. Ibid. 10. The Sagawa Corp. has been investigated for its illegal political fund contribution to several political bosses of the LDP. It was revealed there was some unreported contribution to Mr. Hosokawa while he was the Governor of Kumamoto. 11. See, Ozawa, Ichiro, Nihon Kaizou Keikaku (Plan for Restructuring of Japan), Kodansha, Tokyo, 1993. 12. See, Hosokawa, Morihiro (ed.), Nihon Shin-to : Sekinin aru Henkaku (Japn New Party : Responsible Reforms), Toyo Keizai Shinpo-sha, Tokyo, 1993. 13. See Murayama's Statements before the Special Session of the Diet, July 18, 1994 and July 20, 1994. To be specific, his statement was that: "I would like to preserve the US-Japan mutual security system and also to develop a necessry minimum self-defense force exclusively devoted to the defence of the country and to review the operation in light of the changing international circumstances" and "I believe the self-defense forces of minimum necessity exclusively devoted to national defence is constitutional." This change of policy was officially approved by the DSJ's annual Congress on September 6, 1994. 14. In Tokyo Mr. Ishihara, a former Cabinet Secretary for many regimes was defeated by Mr. Aoshima, a former Councilor who did the least in campaigning. In spite of the strong endorsation by the LDP, Sakigake and the Socialists, Ishihara lost by 1.7 to 1,23 million votes. In Osaka a similar situation was witnessed by the victory of the "independent" candidate Mr. Yokoyama, a fomer coucilor and also a popular comdin. (1.6 vs. 1.14 million votes.) 15. Asahi Shimbun, March 13, 1995. 16. Yomiuri Shimbun, April 10, 1995.