Democratic Party of Japan

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Democratic Party
President Banri Kaieda
Secretary-General Akihiro Ohata
Spokesperson Yoshiaki Takaki
Councilors leader Akira Gunji
Representatives leader Banri Kaieda
Founded 27 April 1998 (1998-04-27)
Merger of Democratic (1996-98)
Good Governance
New Fraternity
Democratic Reform
Headquarters 1-11-1 Nagata-cho, Chiyoda, Tokyo 100-0014, Japan
Membership  (2012) 326,974
Ideology Social liberalism
Social democracy (minority)
Political position Centre
International affiliation Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats (observer)[1]
Colors Red and black (informally)
59 / 242
57 / 480
Prefectural assembly members[2]
455 / 2,725
Municipal assembly members[2]
1,074 / 32,070
Politics of Japan
Political parties

The Democratic Party of Japan (民主党 Minshutō?) is a centrist[3] political party in Japan founded in 1998 by the merger of several opposition parties. After the 2009 election, the DPJ became the ruling party in the House of Representatives, defeating the long-dominant Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and gaining the largest number of seats in both the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors.

After winning a landslide victory in 2009, it was ousted from government by the LDP in the 2012 general election. It retained 57 seats in the lower house, and still had 88 seats in the upper house. During its time in office, the DPJ was beset by internal conflicts and struggled to implement many of its proposed policies, an outcome described by political scientists as the "paradox of political change without policy change."[4] Legislative productivity under the DPJ was particularly low, falling to levels unprecedented in recent Japanese history according to some measures.[5] However, the DPJ implemented a number of progressive measures such as the provision of free public schooling through high school and increases in child-rearing subsidies.[6]

It is not to be confused with the now-defunct Japan Democratic Party that merged with the Liberal Party in 1955 to form the Liberal Democratic Party. It is also different from another Democratic Party, which was established in 1947 and dissolved in 1950.



The Democratic Party call their philosophy Democratic Centrism (ja:民主中道 minshu-chūdō?), which was determined in the first party convention on April 27, 1998.[7]

View of the status quo[edit]

The Democratic Party claim themselves to be revolutionary in that they are against the status quo and the current governing establishment. The Democratic Party argue that the bureaucracy and the size of the Japanese government is too large, inefficient, and saturated with cronies and that the Japanese state is too conservative and stiff. The Democratic Party wants to "overthrow the ancient régime locked in old thinking and vested interests, solve the problems at hand, and create a new, flexible, affluent society which values people's individuality and vitality."[8]

Political standpoint[edit]

We stand for those who have been excluded by the structure of vested interests, those who work hard and pay taxes, and for people who strive for independence despite difficult circumstances. In other words, we represent citizens, taxpayers, and consumers. We do not seek a panacea either in the free market or in the welfare state. Rather, we shall build a new road of the democratic center toward a society in which self-reliant individuals can mutually coexist and the government's role is limited to building the necessary systems.[8]


Democratic Centrism pursues the following five goals.[8]

  • Transparent, just and fair society
The Democratic Party seek to build a society governed with rules which are transparent, just and fair.
  • Free market and inclusive society
While the party argue that the free market system should "permeate" economic life, they also aim for an inclusive society which guarantees security, safety, and fair and equal opportunity for each individual.
  • Decentralized and participatory society
The party intend to devolve the centralized government powers to citizens, markets, and local governments so that people of all backgrounds can participate in decision-making.
The Democratic Party proclaim to hold the values in the meaning of the constitution to "embody the fundamental principles of the Constitution": popular sovereignty, respect for fundamental human rights, and pacifism.[8]
  • International relations based on self-reliance and mutual coexistence
As a member of the global community, the party seek to establish Japan's international relations in the fraternal spirit of self-reliance and mutual coexistence to restore the world's trust in the country.[8]

Policy platforms[edit]

The DPJ's policy platforms include the restructuring of civil service, monthly allowance to a family with children (¥26,000 per child), cut in gas tax, income support for farmers, free tuition for public high schools, banning of temporary work in manufacturing,[9] raising the minimum-wage to ¥1,000 and halting of increase in sales tax for the next four years.[10][11]



The DPJ has some political factions or groups, although they are not as factionalized as the LDP, which has traditionally placed high priority on intra-party factional alignment. The groups are, from the most influential to the least influential:

  • Seiken kōyaku wo Jitsugen suru kai (lit. 'Association for the Realization of Political Promises'): formed by defectors from LDP and led by former party leader Yukio Hatoyama, has about 30 conservative lawmakers in the Diet. Former name is 'Seiken kotai wo Jitsugen suru kai'.[12]
  • Kuni no katachi kenkyūkai 国の形研究会(lit. 'Country Form Research Society'): led by Party President Naoto Kan. Is a liberal leaning faction. About 20 members.[12]

The Independent’s Club is a minor political party which forms a political entity with the DPJ in both chambers of the house.

Presidents of DPJ[edit]

The Presidents of Democratic Party of Japan (ja:民主党代表 Minshutō Daihyō?), the formal name is 民主党常任幹事会代表 (Minshutō Jyōnin-Kanji-Kai Daihyō?).

No. Name Term of office Image Election results
Took Office Left Office
1 Naoto Kan
菅 直人
Kan Naoto
27 April 1998 18 January 1999 Naoto Kan cropped 3 Naoto Kan 2 20110129.jpg unchallenged
18 January 1999 25 September 1999 Naoto Kan - 180
Shigefumi Matsuzawa - 51
Abstention - 8
2 Yukio Hatoyama
鳩山 由紀夫
Hatoyama Yukio
25 September 1999 9 September 2000 Yukio Hatoyama.jpg Yukio Hatoyama - 182
Naoto Kan - 130
9 September 2000 23 September 2002 walkover
23 September 2002 10 December 2002 Yukio Hatoyama - 254
Naoto Kan - 242
3 Naoto Kan
菅 直人
Kan Naoto
10 December 2002 18 May 2004 Naoto Kan cropped 3 Naoto Kan 2 20110129.jpg Naoto Kan - 104
Katsuya Okada - 79
4 Katsuya Okada
岡田 克也
Okada Katsuya
18 May 2004 13 September 2004 Katsuya Okada-Public speaking-2-20050409.jpg unchallenged
13 September 2004 17 September 2005 walkover
5 Seiji Maehara
前原 誠司
Maehara Seiji
17 September 2005 7 April 2006 Maehara Crop.jpg Seiji Maehara - 96
Naoto Kan - 94
Abstention - 3
6 Ichirō Ozawa
小沢 一郎
Ozawa Ichirō
7 April 2006 12 September 2006 Ichiro Ozawa cropped 3 Yoshitaka Kimoto and Ichiro Ozawa 20010718.jpg Ichirō Ozawa - 119
Naoto Kan - 73
12 September 2006 21 September 2008 walkover
21 September 2008 16 May 2009 walkover
7 Yukio Hatoyama
鳩山 由紀夫
Hatoyama Yukio
16 May 2009 4 June 2010 Yukio Hatoyama.jpg see election 2009
Yukio Hatoyama - 124
Katsuya Okada - 95
8 Naoto Kan
菅 直人
Kan Naoto
4 June 2010 14 September 2010 Naoto Kan cropped 3 Naoto Kan 2 20110129.jpg see election Jun 2010
Naoto Kan - 291
Shinji Tarutoko - 129
14 September 2010 29 August 2011 see election Sep 2010
Naoto Kan - 721
Ichirō Ozawa - 491
9 Yoshihiko Noda
野田 佳彦
Noda Yoshihiko
29 August 2011 21 September 2012 Yoshihiko Noda-3.jpg see election 2011
Yoshihiko Noda - 215
Banri Kaieda - 177
21 September 2012 25 December 2012 Yoshihiko Noda - 818
Hirotaka Akamatsu - 154
Kazuhiro Haraguchi - 123
Michihiko Kano - 113
10 Banri Kaieda
海江田 万里
Kaieda Banri
25 December 2012 Incumbent Banri Kaieda Minshu IMG 5409 20130706.JPG Banri Kaieda - 90
Sumio Mabuchi - 54

Election results[edit]

All-time highest values are bolded

General election results[edit]

Election Leader # of candidates # of seats won # of Constituency votes  % of Constituency vote # of PR Block votes  % of PR Block vote
2000 Yukio Hatoyama 262
127 / 480
16,811,732 27.61% 15,067,990 25.18%
2003 Naoto Kan 277
177 / 480
21,814,154 36.66% 22,095,636 37.39%
2005 Katsuya Okada 299
113 / 480
24,804,786 36.44% 21,036,425 31.02%
2009 Yukio Hatoyama 330
308 / 480
33,475,334 47.43% 29,844,799 42.41%
2012 Yoshihiko Noda 267
57 / 480
13,598,773 22.81% 9,268,653 15.49%

Councillors election results[edit]

Election Leader # of seats total # of seats won # of National votes  % of National vote # of Prefectural votes  % of Prefectural vote
1998 Naoto Kan
47 / 252
27 12,209,685 21.75% 9,063,939 16.20%
2001 Yukio Hatoyama
59 / 247
26 8,990,524 16.42% 10,066,552 18.53%
2004 Katsuya Okada
82 / 242
50 21,137,457 37.79% 21,931,984 39.09%
2007 Ichirō Ozawa
109 / 242
60 23,256,247 39.48% 24,006,817 40.45%
2010 Naoto Kan
106 / 242
44 18,450,139 31.56% 22,756,000 38.97%
2013 Banri Kaieda
59 / 242
17 7,268,653 13.4% 8,646,371 16.3%

See also[edit]


  1. ^ CALD, Observer Parties
  2. ^ a b Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications: Prefectural and local assembly members and governors/mayors by political party as of December 31, 2011
  3. ^ The Democratic Party of Japan is widely described as centrist:
  4. ^ Phillip Y. Lipscy and Ethan Scheiner. 2012. "Japan under the DPJ: The Paradox of Political Change without Policy Change." Journal of East Asian Studies 12(3): 311-322.
  5. ^ Kenji E. Kushida and Phillip Y. Lipscy. 2013. "The Rise and Fall of the Democratic Party of Japan." in Kenji E. Kushida and Phillip Y. Lipscy eds. Japan Under the DPJ: The Politics of Transition and Governance. Stanford: Brookings/Walter H. Shorenstein Asia Pacific Research Center.
  6. ^ Japan in Transformation, 1945-2010 (2nd edition) by Jeff Kingston
  7. ^ Out Basic Philosophy - Building a free and secure society on The Democratic Party of Japan's website accessed on May 12, 2010.(Japanese)
  8. ^ a b c d e Out Basic Philosophy - Building a free and secure society on The Democratic Party of Japan's website accessed on 17 May 2008.
  9. ^ Ryall, Julian (2009-08-27). "Japan election: unemployed turn on the government". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 1 May 2010. 
  10. ^ Hiroko Tabuchi (2009-08-03). "Opposition Woos Japan's Voters With Costly Vows". New York Times. 
  11. ^ Fujioka, Chisa (2009-08-21). "Japan opposition may score landslide win: media". Reuters. 
  12. ^ a b c d e 民主代表選 鳩山氏が優位、岡田氏は参院に照準, Asahi Shimbun, 16 May 2009

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]