Komeito (1964-1998)

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For the currently active political party, see Komeito.
Founded 17 November 1964
Dissolved 7 November 1998
Succeeded by New Komeito Party
Ideology Populism,
Political position Centre
Politics of Japan
Political parties

The Kōmeitō (公明党), also known as Clean Government Party or CGP, was a political party in Japan. It was centrist, sometimes also classified as centre-left.


Kōmeitō was originally the Kōmei Political League, a section of the Sōka Gakkai, an organization that promotes Nichiren Buddhism.

From 1955 to 1967, the Sōka Gakkai backed and got elected many candidates in local assembly politics: 51 out of 52 were elected in 1955; and, by 1967, close to 2,000 were elected.

In 1957, a group of Young Men's Division members campaigning for a Gakkai candidate in an Osaka Upper House by-election were arrested for distributing money, cigarettes, and caramels at supporters' residences, in violation of elections law, and on July 3 of that year, at the beginning of an event memorialized as the "Osaka Incident," Daisaku Ikeda was arrested in Osaka. He was taken into custody in his capacity as Sōka Gakkai's Youth Division Chief of Staff for overseeing activities that constituted violations of elections law. He spent two weeks in jail and appeared in court forty-eight times before he was cleared of all charges in January 1962.[1]

The League of the Sōka Gakkai also backed candidates to the Upper House where three members were elected in 1956, a number that has since increased (25 members in 1967; 47 in 1969).

In 1964, the president of the Sōka Gakkai, Daisaku Ikeda, decided to split the Sōka Gakkai (the religious body) from the League (political body). Thus was created the Kōmeitō.

In 1968, fourteen of its members were convicted of forging absentee ballots in Shinjuku, and eight were sentenced to prison for electoral fraud. In the 1960s it was widely criticized for violating the separation of church and state, and in February 1970 all three major Japanese newspapers printed editorials demanding that the party reorganize. It eventually broke apart based on promises to segregate from Soka Gakkai.[2][3][4]

In the 1980s Akahata discovered that many Soka Gakkai members were rewarding acquaintances with presents in return for Komeito votes, and that Okinawa residents had changed their addresses to elect Komeito politicians.[5] In 1969, the Kōmeitō became the third political party in Japan.

It was usually supportive of the Japan Socialist Party, and opposed the LDP (Liberal Democratic Party), the major ruling party at that time.

Kōmeitō did quite well, and in 1993, when the LDP was for the first time declared an opposition party, the Kōmeitō became one of the ruling parties, headed by the liberal Japan New Party, but which also included the Democratic Socialist Party, Japan Renewal Party, the New Party Sakigake, and the Japan Socialist Party. In 1994, the latter two parties left the coalition, and in July they took over the rule, making another coalition with the LDP. The Kōmeitō was again thrown into opposition.

On December 5, 1994, The Kōmeitō split into two parties. The Lower House chairs and some of Upper House chairs formed Kōmeitō New Party, and five days later, they joined into the New Frontier Party. The others, i.e. local assembly members and the rest of the Upper House chairs, formed Kōmei and independent friend of the New Frontier Party.

In 1998, however, the New Frontier Party dissolved, and former Kōmeitō members formed New Peace Party and Reform Club. They merged with Kōmei in the same year and then became known as the NKP (New Kōmeitō Party). The NKP adopted a more conservative agenda than the former Kōmeitō and in 1999 they supported the ruling party, the LDP.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://www.has.vcu.edu/wrs/profiles/SokaGakkai.htm
  2. ^ Ikuo Kabashima, Gill Steel Changing Politics in Japan 2012 Page 38 "Fragmented Opposition: Other Parties Other smaller parties include Komeito (the party officially became known as New Komeito in 1998), a party that Soka Gakkai formed in 1964 from its precursor, the Komei Political League."
  3. ^ John McCormick Comparative Politics in Transition 2011- Page 179 "Clean Government Party (CGP) (Komeito) New Komeito is the political wing of Soka Gakkai, Japan's largest lay Buddhist ..."
  4. ^ Jeffrey Haynes Routledge Handbook of Religion and Politics Page 17 "Talking to young Japanese people one normally gets very little sense of enthusiasm about Buddhism, and few people seem to take seriously the notion that the New Komeito Party is a Buddhist political party. The Komeito or 'Clean Government Party' ..."
  5. ^ Yōichi, Kira (1986). Sōka Gakkai nanatsu no daizai : jitsuroku (Shohan. ed.). Tōkyō: Shin Nihon Shuppansha. ISBN 4406013881. 
  6. ^ Hiroshi Aruga, "Sōka Gakkai and Japanese politics", in Global citizens, the Sōka Gakkai Buddhist Movement in the world