Japanese Politics: Changes And Continuity

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.

	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either irrelevant or outdated.1 What has changed and what  may not change?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 

	(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 

  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 

  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 

  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 

   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 


	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 

 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:

House of Commons	                           
511	House of Councilors	                           252
200	        LDP	                             95
74	        JDS(socialists)	                             68
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
52 	        Komei	                             24
JCP(Communists)	                             11
       Kohsi Kai	                               
6	        Ni-in Club	                              
5	        Liberal	                              
10                  	        Independents	                              
 *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 

	LDP	JDS	Shinsei    	Komei	N.Shin	Saki.	DSP	JCP	Jiyu
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 


	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             
Tokai                   23	Kinki                      33	Chugoku                    
Shikoku                 7	Kyushu                  23	
                                                                      Total             200seats.

TABLE 5, Allocation of Seats For Single Member Constituencies By Prefectures
for the House of Commons

13	Ibaraki                  
7	Shiga                     
3	Kagawa                 
4	Tochigi                 
5	Kyoto                    
6	Ehime                   
4	Gunma                  
5	Osaka                  
19	Kochi                    
6	Saitama                
14	Hyogo                 
12	Fukuoka              
3	Tokyo                 
25	Nara                      
4	Saga                      
4	Chiba                  
12	Wakayama            
3	Nagasaki               
5	Kanagawa           
17	Tottori                  
2	Kumamoto             
6 	Yamanashi            
3	Shimane                
3	Oita                       
3	Gifu                      
5	Okayama               
5	Miyazaki               
3	Shizuoka              
9	Hiroshima              
7	Kagoshima            
3	Aiichi                  
15	Yamaguchi            
4	Okinawa                
5	Mie                       
5	Tokushima            

	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. 


	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	
)	           18	          4	                  20	                48.9
Nihon Shin(New)	             3	         51.5	                    4	                20
Shinsei(Renewal)			                    5	                64.5
Sakigake		        83.7		                  5


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
)	        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	
)	        9,730	                 -27	        9,652	                  
Seiwa K(Minsha)	           752	                 -13.7	           938	                    
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
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
Question. Where do you think lays the major problems in current politic?
		Political Parties-------12
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

	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 

	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, 
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.