Contemporary Japanese Politics

Contemporary Japanese Politics: Institutional Changes and Power Shifts

TOMOHITO SHINODA
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 352
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/shin15852
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  • Book Info
    Contemporary Japanese Politics
    Book Description:

    Decentralized policy-making power in Japan had developed under the long reign of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). In the1990s, institutional changes were introduced, fundamentally altering Japan's modern political landscape. Tomohito Shinoda tracks these slow yet steady changes to today in the operation of and tensions between Japan's political parties and the public's behavior in Japanese elections, as well as in the government's ability to coordinate diverse policy preferences and respond to political crises.

    Electoral reform in 1994 resulted in the selection of Junichiro Koizumi, an anti-mainstream politician, as prime minister in 2001, initiating a power shift to the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) and ending LDP rule. Shinoda also details these government and administrative institutional changes and reveals how Prime Minister Koizumi took advantage of such developments to practice strong policymaking leadership. He also outlines the new set of institutional initiatives introduced by the DPJ government and their impact on policymaking, illustrating the importance of balanced centralized institutions and bureaucratic support.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-52806-1
    Subjects: Political Science, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Figures and Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. A NOTE ON CONVENTIONS
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. List of Abbreviations and Japanese Terms
    (pp. xv-xx)
  7. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-10)

    When the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) assumed leadership of Japan’s government in September 2009, the country’s political scene experienced a drastic change. Among Japan scholars there had been an ongoing debate in the 1990s whether Japanese politics was really changing. Scholars using the political culture approach saw changes in Japanese politics throughout the postwar period as less significant, given the backdrop of the continuing reign of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).¹ On the other hand, institutionalists predicted that the 1994 electoral reform would change the Japanese political scene. Proponents of change were in the minority.² The 2009 power shift...

  8. 1 JAPANESE POLITICS UNDER THE LDP
    (pp. 11-46)

    Japan’s political traditions developed under the long reign of the Liberal Democratic Party. Some were rooted in Japanese culture before the Second World War, and many others were developed under the postwar political institutions to create veto players against the government’s policy initiatives. To understand the veto players and how the government sought to change them after the 1990s, it is important to understand the initial logic of institutional choice and the developments under the LDP government.

    The basic framework of Japan’s political institutional setting was formed under the American Occupation. During World War II the U.S. government studied and...

  9. 2 THE POLITICS OF INSTITUTIONAL REFORM
    (pp. 47-75)

    In June 1988 the Asahi Shimbun carried a story about the corruption involving the vice mayor of Kawasaki City, who profited from dealing the unlisted stocks of Recruit Cosmos, a subsidiary of the Recruit Corporation, the prices of which were destined to inflate when the stocks were listed in the market. A couple of weeks later, the newspaper reported that former prime minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, LDP secretary general Shintarō Abe, Finance Minister Kiichi Miyazawa, and Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita had also received stock, either in their own name or in the name of their secretaries. Later it was found that...

  10. 3 INSTITUTIONAL CHANGES AND KOIZUMI’S LEADERSHIP
    (pp. 76-117)

    Following the institutional changes in the electoral system, the Diet, and the government in the 1990s, Japanese politics observed significant structural modifications. These circumstances brought about the birth of the Junichirō Koizumi administration. Koizumi would have had little chance to become prime minister under the traditional LDP factional politics. By taking advantage of the changes introduced by Hashimoto’s administrative reform, he altered the Japanese government decision making.

    During the five and a half years of his term, Koizumi successfully streamlined the public sector; privatized special public corporations, government financial institutions, and, most important, the postal services; and resolved the nonperforming...

  11. 4 ELECTORAL CHANGES AND THEIR IMPACT
    (pp. 118-152)

    In the previous chapter we saw how institutional changes affected the decision-making process and strengthened the prime ministerial leadership under the Koizumi government. As described, the 1994 electoral system change shifted the power balance within the LDP, contributing to the establishment of the Koizumi administration. The electoral modifications also brought structural changes outside of the government, which eventually created a power shift that led to the DPJ government in September 2009. This chapter explores how the electoral changes affected Japan’s political system.

    The LDP greatly benefited from the malapportionment under the old multimember-district election system, which overrepresented rural districts. As...

  12. 5 HATOYAMA’S ANTIBUREAUCRATIC STANCE
    (pp. 153-182)

    As DPJ president, I sincerely would like to express gratitude to the people. . . . Forty days during this summer, I believe that many voters seriously thought about the future. If that is true, the victor of this election and this power shift must be you, the people,” stated Yukio Hatoyama in his victory declaration speech on election day on August 30, 2009, which saw his party unseat the longtime ruling LDP. In the speech, Hatoyama proclaimed that there were three meanings to the shift. First, it meant the alteration of the government. The LDP’s long dominance was the...

  13. 6 KAN’S STRUGGLE IN THE GOVERNMENT AND THE DPJ
    (pp. 183-214)

    After Prime Minister Hatoyama announced his resignation on June 2, 2010, public and media attention swiftly shifted to the question of who would be his successor. Ichirō Ozawa engaged in his last task as DPJ secretary general, setting up an election for a new party president. As this election was due to the midterm resignation of the party president, the leadership selection would be decided by votes of DPJ Diet members only.

    On the same day that Hatoyama resigned, Deputy Prime Minister Naoto Kan met with him to inform him that he would run for the party leadership. Kan also...

  14. 7 INSTITUTIONS AND POLITICAL LEADERSHIP
    (pp. 215-229)

    Although Japan has a political framework similar to that of many parliamentary democracies, it has developed a set of unique traditions, which created different types of veto players. While the constitution’s framers emphasized legislative supremacy over the executive, the postwar purge of many political leaders and the American decision to occupy Japan with the existing bureaucracy in place made the bureaucracy the cornerstone of policy making. In addition, the narrow interpretation of collective responsibility of the cabinet led to a requirement for unanimous consent for cabinet decisions. This unanimous consent rule, along with bureaucratic supremacy, limited the prime minister’s power...

  15. EPILOGUE: DEVELOPMENTS UNDER THE ABE CABINET
    (pp. 230-236)

    As a result of the LDP’s landslide victory in the general election, Shinzō Abe again became the prime minister on December 26, 2012. Abe formed his cabinet, which he named a “crisis-busting cabinet.” In his first cabinet in 2006, he appointed many of his close associates to cabinet and subcabinet positions. As a result, a series of scandals and controversial remarks by cabinet members provoked public outrage and weakened his cabinet. This time, Abe appointed competent LDP members to the key cabinet positions, including former prime minister Tarō Asō as both deputy prime minister and finance minister, Yoshihide Suga as...

  16. APPENDIX 1
    (pp. 237-238)
  17. APPENDIX 2
    (pp. 239-240)
  18. NOTES
    (pp. 241-284)
  19. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 285-318)
  20. INDEX
    (pp. 319-328)