History of the Liberal Democratic Party (Japan)
This is a History of the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan.
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, although this was not revealed until the mid-1990s when it was exposed by The New York Times.
1960s to 1990s
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.
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
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.
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. 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, after a three way race, becoming only the second LDP leader who was not simultaneously prime minister.
Presidents of the LDP
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|
|15 November 1955||5 April 1956|
|28 January 1956|
|10 February 1956||5 April 1956|
|5 April 1956||14 December 1956|
|14 December 1956||21 March 1957|
|21 March 1957||14 July 1960|
|14 July 1960||1 December 1964|
|1 December 1964||5 July 1972|
|5 July 1972||4 December 1974|
|4 December 1974||23 December 1976|
|23 December 1976||1 December 1978|
|1 December 1978||12 June 1980|
|12 June 1980||15 July 1980|
|15 July 1980||25 November 1982|
|25 November 1982||31 October 1987|
|31 October 1987||2 June 1989|
|2 June 1989||8 August 1989|
|8 August 1989||30 October 1991|
|31 October 1991||29 July 1993|
|31 October 1991||29 July 1993|
|1 October 1995||24 July 1998|
|24 July 1998||5 April 2000|
|5 April 2000||24 April 2001|
|24 April 2001||20 September 2006||2001:
Junichiro Koizumi - 298
Ryutaro Hashimoto - 155
Tarō Asō - 31
|20 September 2006||26 September 2007||see election Sep 2006
Shinzō Abe - 464
Tarō Asō - 136
Sadakazu Tanigaki - 102
|26 September 2007||22 September 2008||see election 2007
Yasuo Fukuda - 330
Tarō Asō - 197
|22 September 2008||16 September 2009||see election 2008
Tarō Asō - 351
Kaoru Yosano - 66
Yuriko Koike - 46
Nobuteru Ishihara - 37
Shigeru Ishiba - 25
|28 September 2009||26 September 2012||see election 2009
Sadakazu Tanigaki - 300
Taro Kono - 144
Yasutoshi Nishimura - 58
|26 September 2012||Incumbent||Shinzō Abe - 108
Shigeru Ishiba - 89
- 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.
- "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.
- Johnson, Chalmers (1995). "The 1955 System and the American Connection: A Bibliographic Introduction". JPRI Working Paper No. 11.
- Norimitsu Onishi; Yasuko Kamiizumi; Makiko Inoue (2007-07-29). "Premier's Party Suffers Big Defeat in Japan". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-07-29.
- "Fukuda Chosen to Replace Abe as Japan's Prime Minister", VOA News, September 23, 2007.
- "Fukuda wins LDP race / Will follow in footsteps of father as prime minister", The Daily Yomiuri, September 23, 2007.
- Sadakazu Tanigaki Elected LDP President http://english.cri.cn/6966/2009/09/28/1781s519095.htm# Retrieved 2009-10-06.