History of the Liberal Democratic Party (Japan)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

This is a History of the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan.



Launching convention, 15 November 1955

The LDP was formed in 1955 as a merger between two of Japan's political parties, the Liberal Party (自由党 Jiyutō?, 1950–1955, led by Shigeru Yoshida) and the Japan Democratic Party (日本民主党 Nihon Minshutō?, 1954–1955, led by Ichirō Hatoyama), both right-wing conservative parties, as a united front against the then popular Japan Socialist Party. The party won the following elections, and Japan's first conservative government with a majority was formed by 1955. It would hold majority government until 1993.

The LDP began with reforming Japan's foreign affairs, ranging from entry into the United Nations, to establishing diplomatic ties with the Soviet Union. Its leaders in the 1950s also made the LDP the main government party, and in all the elections of the 1950s, the LDP won the majority vote, with the only other opposition coming from the left-wing, made up of the Japan Socialist Party and the Japanese Communist Party.

From the 1950s through the 1970s, the United States Central Intelligence Agency spent millions of dollars attempting to influence elections in Japan to favor the LDP against more leftist parties such as the Socialists and the Communists,[1][2] although this was not revealed until the mid-1990s when it was exposed by The New York Times.[3]

1960s to 1990s[edit]

For the majority of the 1960s, the LDP (and Japan) were led by Eisaku Sato, beginning with the hosting of the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, and ending in 1972 with Japanese neutrality in the Vietnam War and with the beginning of the Japanese asset price bubble. By the end of the 1970s, the LDP went into its decline, where even though it held the reins of government many scandals plagued the party, while the opposition (now joined with the Komeito (Former)) gained momentum.

In 1976, in the wake of the Lockheed bribery scandals, a handful of younger LDP Diet members broke away and established their own party, the New Liberal Club (Shin Jiyu Kurabu). A decade later, however, it was reabsorbed by the LDP.

By the late 1970s, the Japan Socialist Party, the Japanese Communist Party, and the Komeito along with the international community used major pressure to have Japan switch diplomatic ties from the Republic of China to the People's Republic of China. During the 1980s, the LDP was responsible for Japan's unprecedented economic growth, and the successful economy.

Headquarters of the LDP in Tokyo.

By the early 1990s, the LDP's nearly four decades in power allowed it to establish a highly stable process of policy formation. This process would not have been possible if other parties had secured parliamentary majorities. LDP strength was based on an enduring, although not unchallenged, coalition of big business, small business, agriculture, professional groups, and other interests. Elite bureaucrats collaborated closely with the party and interest groups in drafting and implementing policy. In a sense, the party's success was a result not of its internal strength but of its weakness. It lacked a strong, nationwide organization or consistent ideology with which to attract voters. Its leaders were rarely decisive, charismatic, or popular. But it functioned efficiently as a locus for matching interest group money and votes with bureaucratic power and expertise. This arrangement resulted in corruption, but the party could claim credit for helping to create economic growth and a stable, middle-class Japan.

Out of power[edit]

But by 1993, the end of the miracle economy and other reasons (e.g. Recruit scandal) led to the LDP losing its majority in that year's general election.

Seven opposition parties—including several formed by LDP dissidents—formed a government headed by LDP dissident Morihiro Hosokawa of the Japan New Party. However, the LDP was still far and away the largest party in the House of Representatives, with well over 200 seats; no other party crossed the 80-seat mark.

In 1994, the Socialists and New Party Sakigake left the ruling coalition, joining the LDP in the opposition. The remaining members of the coalition tried to stay in power as a makeshift minority government, but this failed when the LDP and the Socialists, bitter rivals for 40 years, formed a majority coalition. The new government was dominated by the LDP, but it allowed a Socialist to occupy the Prime Minister's chair until 1996, when the LDP's Ryutaro Hashimoto took over.


In the 1996 election, the LDP made some gains, but was still 12 seats short of a majority. However, no other party could possibly form a government, and Hashimoto formed a solidly LDP minority government. Through a series of floor-crossings, the LDP regained its majority within a year.

The party was practically unopposed until 1998, when the opposition Democratic Party of Japan was formed. Since then the opposition has been gaining momentum, especially in the 2003 and 2004 Parliamentary Elections.

In the dramatically paced 2003 House of Representatives elections, the LDP won 237 seats, while the DPJ won 177 seats. In the 2004 House of Councillors elections, in the seats up for grabs, the LDP won 49 seats and the DPJ 50, though in all seats (including those uncontested) the LDP still had a total of 114. Because of this electoral loss, former Secretary General Shinzo Abe turned in his resignation, but Party President Koizumi merely demoted him in rank, and he was replaced by Tsutomu Takebe.

On 10 November 2003, the New Conservative Party (Hoshu Shintō) was absorbed into the LDP, a move which was largely because of the New Conservative Party's poor showing in the 2003 general election. The LDP formed a coalition with the conservative Buddhist New Komeito.

The LDP remained the largest party in both houses of the Diet, until 29 July 2007, when the LDP lost its majority in the upper house.[4]

In a party leadership election held on 23 September 2007, the LDP elected Yasuo Fukuda as its President. Fukuda defeated Taro Aso for the post, receiving 330 votes against 197 votes for Aso.[5][6] However Fukuda resigned suddenly in September 2008, and Aso became Prime Minister after winning the presidency of the LDP in a 5-way election.

In the 2009 elections, the LDP was roundly defeated, winning only 118 seats—easily the worst defeat of a sitting government in modern Japanese history, and also the first real transfer of political power in the post-war era. Accepting responsibility for this severe defeat, Aso announced his resignation as LDP president on election night. Sadakazu Tanigaki was elected leader of the party on 28 September 2009,[7] after a three way race, becoming only the second LDP leader who was not simultaneously prime minister.

Presidents of the LDP[edit]

With the exception of Yohei Kono and Sadakazu Tanigaki, every President of the LDP (自由民主党総裁 Jiyū-Minshutō Sōsai?) has also served as Prime Minister of Japan.

No. Name Term of office Image Election results
Took Office Left Office
Interim President Committee
- Ichirō Hatoyama
鳩山 一郎
Hatoyama Ichirō
15 November 1955 5 April 1956 52 HatoyamaI.jpg
Bukichi Miki
三木 武吉
Miki Bukichi
Bukichi Miki.jpg
Banboku Oono
大野 伴睦
Ōno Banboku
Taketora Ogata
緒方 竹虎
Ogata Taketora
28 January 1956 Ogata Taketora 1-2.jpg
Tsuruhei Matsuno
松野 鶴平
Matsuno Tsuruhei
10 February 1956 5 April 1956 Tsuruhei Matsuno.jpg
1 Ichirō Hatoyama
鳩山 一郎
Hatoyama Ichirō
5 April 1956 14 December 1956 52 HatoyamaI.jpg
2 Tanzan Ishibashi
石橋 湛山
Ishibashi Tanzan
14 December 1956 21 March 1957 Tanzan Ishibashi.jpg
3 Nobusuke Kishi
岸 信介
Kishi Nobusuke
21 March 1957 14 July 1960 Nobusuke Kishi Dec 14, 1956.jpg
4 Hayato Ikeda
池田 勇人
Ikeda Hayato
14 July 1960 1 December 1964 Hayato Ikeda.jpg
5 Eisaku Satō
佐藤 榮作
Satō Eisaku
1 December 1964 5 July 1972 Eisaku Sato 1960.jpg
6 Kakuei Tanaka
田中 角榮
Tanaka Kakuei
5 July 1972 4 December 1974 Tanaka Cropped.jpg
7 Takeo Miki
三木 武夫
Miki Takeo
4 December 1974 23 December 1976 Takeo Miki Small.jpg
8 Takeo Fukuda
福田 赳夫
'Fukuda Takeo
23 December 1976 1 December 1978 Takeo Fukuda 1977.jpg
9 Masayoshi Ōhira
大平 正芳
Ōhira Masayoshi
1 December 1978 12 June 1980 Masayoshi Ohira at Andrews AFB 1 Jan 1980 walking cropped 2.jpg
Eiichi Nishimura
西村 英一
Nishimura Eiichi
12 June 1980 15 July 1980
10 Zenko Suzuki
鈴木 善幸
Suzuki Zenkō
15 July 1980 25 November 1982 Suzuki Zenko small.jpg
11 Yasuhiro Nakasone
中曾根 康弘
Nakasone Yasuhiro
25 November 1982 31 October 1987 Yasuhiro Nakasone in Andrews cropped.jpg
12 Noboru Takeshita
竹下 登
Takeshita Noboru
31 October 1987 2 June 1989 Takeshita very small.jpg
13 Sōsuke Uno
宇野 宗佑
Uno Sōsuke
2 June 1989 8 August 1989 Sosuke Uno 1977.png
14 Toshiki Kaifu
海部 俊樹
Kaifu Toshiki
8 August 1989 30 October 1991 Toshiki Kaifu 1991.jpg
15 Kiichi Miyazawa
宮澤 喜一
Miyazawa Kiichi
31 October 1991 29 July 1993 Kiichi.jpg
16 Yōhei Kōno
河野 洋平
Kōno Yōhei
31 October 1991 29 July 1993 Kono Yohei 1-2.jpg
17 Ryutaro Hashimoto
橋本 龍太郎
Hashimoto Ryūtarō
1 October 1995 24 July 1998 Hashimoto Ryūtarō.jpg
18 Keizō Obuchi
小渕 恵三
Obuchi Keizō
24 July 1998 5 April 2000 Keizo Obuchi cropped 2.jpg
19 Yoshirō Mori
森 喜朗
Mori Yoshirō
5 April 2000 24 April 2001 Mori Yoshirō.jpg
20 Junichiro Koizumi
小泉 純一郎
Koizumi Jun'ichirō
24 April 2001 20 September 2006 Koizumi 2010 cropped.png 2001:
Junichiro Koizumi - 298
Ryutaro Hashimoto - 155
Tarō Asō - 31

Junichiro Koizumi - 339
Shizuka Kamei - 139
Takao Fujii - 65
Masahiko Kōmura - 54

21 Shinzō Abe
安倍 晋三
Abe Shinzō
20 September 2006 26 September 2007 Abe Shinzō.jpg see election Sep 2006
Shinzō Abe - 464
Tarō Asō - 136
Sadakazu Tanigaki - 102
22 Yasuo Fukuda
福田 康夫
Fukuda Yasuo
26 September 2007 22 September 2008 Yasuo Fukuda 26 April 2008.png see election 2007
Yasuo Fukuda - 330
Tarō Asō - 197
23 Tarō Asō
麻生 太郎
Asō Tarō
22 September 2008 16 September 2009 Taro Aso in World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos (cropped).jpg see election 2008
Tarō Asō - 351
Kaoru Yosano - 66
Yuriko Koike - 46
Nobuteru Ishihara - 37
Shigeru Ishiba - 25
24 Sadakazu Tanigaki
谷垣 禎一
Tanigaki Sadakazu
28 September 2009 26 September 2012 Tanigaki Sadakazu cropped.jpg see election 2009
Sadakazu Tanigaki - 300
Taro Kono - 144
Yasutoshi Nishimura - 58
25 Shinzō Abe
安倍 晋三
Abe Shinzō
26 September 2012 Incumbent Shinzo Abe cropped.JPG see election 2012
Shinzō Abe - 108
Shigeru Ishiba - 89


  1. ^ Weiner, Tim (1994-10-09). "C.I.A. Spent Millions to Support Japanese Right in 50's and 60's". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-12-29. 
  2. ^ "Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, Vol. XXIX, Part 2, Japan". United States Department of State. 2006-07-18. Retrieved 2007-12-29. 
  3. ^ Johnson, Chalmers (1995). "The 1955 System and the American Connection: A Bibliographic Introduction". JPRI Working Paper No. 11. 
  4. ^ Norimitsu Onishi; Yasuko Kamiizumi; Makiko Inoue (2007-07-29). "Premier's Party Suffers Big Defeat in Japan". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-07-29. 
  5. ^ "Fukuda Chosen to Replace Abe as Japan's Prime Minister", VOA News, September 23, 2007.
  6. ^ "Fukuda wins LDP race / Will follow in footsteps of father as prime minister", The Daily Yomiuri, September 23, 2007.
  7. ^ Sadakazu Tanigaki Elected LDP President http://english.cri.cn/6966/2009/09/28/1781s519095.htm# Retrieved 2009-10-06.