From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from New Komeito Party)
Jump to navigation Jump to search

President Natsuo Yamaguchi
Secretary-General Yoshihisa Inoue
Councillors leader Yuichiro Uozumi
Founded November 17, 1964; 53 years ago (1964-11-17)
Merger of Kōmeitō
New Peace Party
Reform Club
Headquarters 17 Minamimoto-machi, Shinjuku, Tokyo 160-0012, Japan
Ideology Conservatism[1]
Cultural conservatism[2]
Political position Centre-right[3]
Religion Soka Gakkai[4]
29 / 465
25 / 242
Prefectural assembly members[5]
206 / 2,614
Municipal assembly members[5]
2,735 / 30,101

Komeito (公明党, Kōmeitō), formerly called New Komeito (abbreviated NKP), is a political party in Japan founded by members of the Nichiren Buddhist-based new religious movement Soka Gakkai.[6]

Komeito originally formed in 1964, it was formed as a result of a merger between the historic Kōmeitō party and the New Peace Party on 7 November 1998. The three characters 公明党 have the approximate meanings of "public/government" (公 kō), "light/brightness" (明 mei), and "political party" (党 tō). The combination "kōmei" (公明) is usually taken to mean "justice" or "fairness". The word "New" was not part of the Japanese name, but was used in English to distinguish the party from its predecessor. In September 2014 the party changed its English name from New Komeito back to Komeito.[7][8]

After the 2012 general election, the party held 31 seats in the lower house and 19 seats in the upper house. The number of lower house seats increased to 35 after the 2014 general election[9] and to 25 seats[10][11] in the upper house after winning 14 in the 2016 general election.[12] In the July 2017 Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election, the Komeito garnered a total of 23 seats,[13][14] 1 up from the previously held 22 seats.[15] The party lost 6 seats, down to 29 seats in the lower house after the 2017 general election.[16]


Komeito's declared mission is to pioneer "people-centered politics, a politics based on a humanitarianism that treats human life with the utmost respect and care".[17] Domestically, the party proposals include reduction of the central government and bureaucracy, increased transparency in public affairs, and increased local (prefectural) autonomy with the private sector playing an increased role. In accordance with its public affairs transparency platform, it was reported that since September 2016, the Komeito conducted independent analyses for possible environmental contamination of the proposed Toyosu market site.[18] The Komeito officially raised its environmental concerns later regarding Toyosu market during the October 5, 2016 Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly Session. In response, newly appointed Tokyo Governor, Yuriko Koike cited possible disciplinary action towards those responsible for the Toyosu project.[19] With regard to foreign policy, the Komeito wishes to eliminate nuclear arms and armed conflict in general. However, in July 2015, Komeito backed prime minister's Shinzō Abe's push for expanded military powers[20] although playing a moderating insider role in this development.[21] Religious scholar and political analyst Masaru Satō explains that in postwar Japan there were two major parties, the Liberal Democratic Party representing financial interests and large corporations and the Japan Socialist Party largely advocating the interests of labor unions. There was no single party that represented people who belonged to neither such as shop owners, housewives, etc. Until the appearance of the Komeito Party, such people were left on the sidelines.[22]

Relationship with Soka Gakkai[edit]

Komeito regards the Soka Gakkai as a "major electoral constituency",[23] having formally separated from the religious group and revised both its platform and regulations in 1970 to reflect a "secular orientation."[24]:117 Observers continue to describe Komeito as the Soka Gakkai's "political arm",[25] however, and critics contend the relationship violates the separation of religion and politics enshrined in Article 20 of the Japanese Constitution.[26] The leadership and financing of the two groups are currently said to be independent.[24]:123–27 Both groups report having occasional liaison meetings, characterizing them as informational and "open to the media."[23][27] Numerous Japanese religious groups have established political parties in Japan, but statistics scholar, Petter Lindgren states that "None have however been more successful than Soka Gakkai."[28] “In spite of how many authors reiterate the 1960s-era image of Komeito as a party of Gakkai members only (e.g. Baerwald, 1986; Stockwin, 1989; Richardson, 1998; Curtis, 1999; Yoshikawa, 1999; Sado, 2005), scholars who look more closely at the Gakkai and Komeito know that the popular image of the party’s exclusivity is inaccurate. Komeito partisans account for about half of the party’s electoral support.”[29]

Party organ[edit]

The party organ of Komeito is the Komei Shinbun. It is published by the Komei Organ Paper Committee,[30][31] and has also published a regional Hokkaido edition in the past.[32]


Opposition before 1993[edit]

Komeito's predecessor party, Kōmeitō, was formed in 1962, but it initially formed in 1954 as the Kōmei Political League. It lasted until 1998.

In 1957, a group of Young Men's Division members campaigning for a Soka Gakkai candidate in an Osaka Upper House by-election were arrested for distributing money, cigarettes, and caramels at supporters' residences, in violation of election 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 Soka Gakkai's Youth Division Chief of Staff for overseeing activities that constituted violations of election law. He spent two weeks in jail and appeared in court forty-eight times before he was cleared of all charges in January 1962.[33]

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.[34][35][36]

In the 1980s Shimbun 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.[37]

Anti-LDP coalition government: 1993–1994[edit]

Kōmeitō joined the Hosokawa and Hata anti-LDP coalition cabinets in 1993 and 1994. After the collapse of the anti-LDP and anti-JCP governments (非自民・非共産連立政権) and the electoral and campaign finance reforms of 1994, the Kōmeitō split in December 1994: The "New Kōmei Party" (公明新党, Kōmei Shintō) joined the New Frontier Party (NFP) a few days later in an attempt to unify the splintered opposition.[38] The other group, Kōmei (公明), continued to exist as a separate party. After the dissolution of the NFP in December 1997, former Kōmeitō members from the NFP founded two new groups: the "New Peace Party" (新党平和, Shintō Heiwa) and the Reimei Club (黎明クラブ, "Dawn Club") in the House of Councillors, but some ex-Kōmeitō politicians such as Shōzō Azuma followed Ichirō Ozawa into the Liberal Party. The Reimei Club merged into the New Peace Party a few weeks later in January 1998. Finally, in November 1998, Kōmei and New Peace Party merged to re-establish Kōmeitō (referred to in English now as "New Komeito" – the party's name is just Kōmeitō as before the 1994 split).

The Japan Echo alleged in 1999 that Soka Gakkai distributed fliers to local branches describing how to abuse the jūminhyō residence registration system in order to generate a large number of votes for Komeito candidates in specific districts.[39]

Coalition with the Liberal Democratic Party since 1999[edit]

Komeito activists canvassing in front of Himeji Castle.

The current conservative, more moderate and centrist party was formed in 1998, in a merger of Kōmei and the New Peace Party. Since then it has joined coalition with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which need Komeito to maintain majority in the Diet, and did well in the 2000 and 2001 parliamentary elections.

The LDP-Liberal coalition expanded to include the New Komeito Party in October 1999.[40] New Komeito has been (and continues to be) a coalition partner in the Government of Japan since 1999 (excluding 2009–2011 when the Democratic Party of Japan was in power). As such, New Komeito supported a (temporary) change to Japan's "no-war constitution" in order for Japan to support the 2003 invasion of Iraq.[41]

In the 2003 and 2004 Diet elections, the NKP did well, thanks to an extremely committed and well organized voter base coming from Soka Gakkai. The party shares its support base with the LDP, made up of white collar bureaucrats and rural populations, but also gains support from religious leaders. However, on 27 July 2005, NKP's Secretary General said that his party would consider forming a coalition government with the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) if the DPJ gained a majority in the House of Representatives. On 8 August 2005, then-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi dissolved the Lower House and called for a general election, due to the rejection on some of the members of LDP for efforts to privatize Japan Post. The incumbent LDP-New Komeito coalition won a large majority in the 2005 general election.

Natsuo Yamaguchi became the party's leader on 8 September 2009 after the party and their coalition partner LDP suffered a major defeat in the 2009 general election and became an opposition party since 1999. New Komeito lost ten seats, including that of party leader Akihiro Ota and general secretary Kazuo Kitagawa. On 8 September 2009, Yamaguchi replaced Ota as president of New Komeito.[42]

On 16 December 2012 general elections, the LDP/New Komeito coalition secured Supermajority back into Government; former party chief Akihiro Ota (Ohta) is currently Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.[43] The party had also gained seats in general elections.

In July 2015, Komeito backed prime minister Shinzō Abe's push to change the constitution to "give Japan’s military limited powers to fight in foreign conflicts for the first time since World War II".[attribution needed] This legislation, supported by the United States, would allow the "Self-Defense Forces to cooperate more closely with the U.S. by providing logistical support and, in certain circumstances, armed backup in international conflicts" and "complements guidelines in a bilateral agreement governing how Japanese and United States forces work together, which was signed by the two nations" earlier in 2015.[44]

Presidents of Komeito (2014 to Present)[edit]

No. Name Term of office Image
Took office Left office
1 Natsuo Yamaguchi 8 September 2009 (Elected during NKP era) Incumbent Natsuo Yamaguchi 201404.jpg

Presidents of New Komeito Party ("NKP") (1998–2014)[edit]

No. Name Term of office Image
Took office Left office
1 Takenori Kanzaki 7 November 1998 30 September 2006
2 Akihiro Ota 30 September 2006 8 September 2009 Transportation Deputy Secretary Porcari at APEC Ministerial Meeting (Akihiro Ota crop).jpg
3 Natsuo Yamaguchi 8 September 2009 September 2014 (party changed name to "Komeito", but continued to stay in office) Natsuo Yamaguchi 201404.jpg

See also[edit]


  • Ehrhardt, George, Axel Klein, Levi McLaughlin and Steven R. Reed (2014) (Eds.): Kōmeitō – Politics and Religion in Japan. Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley
  • Fisker-Nielsen, Anne Mette (2012), Religion and Politics in Contemporary Japan: Soka Gakkai Youth and Komeito, Routledge 


  1. ^ Filus, Dorothea M. (2010), "Interreligious Education and Dialogue in Japan", International Handbook of Inter-religious Education, Part One, Springer, p. 788 
  2. ^ Fisker-Nielsen, Anne Mette (2012), Religion and Politics in Contemporary Japan: Soka Gakkai Youth and Komeito, Routledge, p. 32 
  3. ^ Fisker-Nielsen, Anne Mette (2012), Religion and Politics in Contemporary Japan: Soka Gakkai Youth and Komeito, Routledge, p. 86 
  4. ^ Metraux, Daniel A. (1996), "The Soka Gakkai: Buddhism and the Creation of a Harmonious and Peaceful Society", Engaged Buddhism: Buddhist Liberation Movements in Asia, State University of New York Press, p. 386 
  5. ^ a b Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications: Prefectural and local assembly members and governors/mayors by political party as of December 31, 2017
  6. ^ Matsutani, Minoru, "Soka Gakkai keeps religious, political machine humming", The Japan Times, 2 December 2008, p. 3
  7. ^ Staff writer(s)/no by-line (2014-09-28). "New Komeito drops 'New' from its name". Japan Today. Retrieved 2017-04-28. 
  8. ^ "Komeito removes 'New' from party name". Japan Times Ltd. Jiji. 2014-09-25. Retrieved 2 February 2017. 
  9. ^ Kyodo, Staff Report (15 December 2014). "Abe tightens grip on power as ruling coalition wins 325 seats in Lower House election". The Japan Times Ltd. Retrieved 1 February 2017. 
  10. ^ Osaki, Tomohiro (11 July 2016). "LDP-led ruling bloc, allies clear two-thirds majority hurdle in Upper House poll". The Japan Times Ltd. Retrieved 1 February 2017. 
  11. ^ "2016 House of Councillors election result infographics". The Mainichi Newspapers. 12 July 2016. Retrieved 1 February 2017. 
  12. ^ Sieg, Linda; Funakoshi, Minami (11 July 2016). "Japan's ruling bloc wins landslide in upper house election". Thomson Reuters. Retrieved 1 February 2017. 
  13. ^ Sieg, Linda (3 July 2017). "Japan PM's party suffers historic defeat in Tokyo poll, popular governor wins big". Thomson Reuters. Reuters. Retrieved 5 July 2017. 
  14. ^ Osaki, Tomohiro (2 July 2017). "Koike's camp clobbers Abe's LDP in historic Tokyo assembly election". Japan Times Ltd. Staff Writer. Retrieved 5 July 2017. 
  15. ^ "LDP trailing Koike's Tomin First no Kai in Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly race: poll". Japan Times Ltd. Kyodo. 25 June 2017. Retrieved 5 July 2017. 
  16. ^ "2017 Japan post-election analysis". 
  17. ^ (New Komeito, 2002)
  18. ^ "Tokyo gov't investigating underground water at Toyosu fish market site". GPlusMedia Inc. 16 September 2016. Retrieved 19 October 2017. 
  19. ^ "Koike vows to punish officials who botched Toyosu market". The Asahi Shimbun Company. 6 October 2016. Retrieved 19 October 2017. 
  20. ^ Soble, Jonathan (16 July 2015). "Japan Moves to Allow Military Combat for First Time in 70 Years". Retrieved 19 March 2018 – via NYTimes.com. 
  21. ^ Mette Fisker-Nielsen, Anne (November 1, 2016). "Has Komeito Abandoned its Principles? Public Perception of the Party's Role in Japan's Security Legislation Debate". The Asia Pacific Journal: Japan Focus. 14 (21, #3). 
  22. ^ Sato, Masaru (2017). A Transforming Force. Japan: Daisanbunmei-sha, Inc. p. 30. 
  23. ^ a b "About Us: On Politics and Religion". Komeito. Retrieved 16 November 2016. 
  24. ^ a b Aruga, Hiroshi (2000). "Chapter 4: Soka Gakkai and Japanese Politics". In Machacek, David; Wilson, Bryan. Global Citizens. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-924039-6. 
  25. ^ Métraux, Daniel A. (1994). The Soka Gakkai Revolution. Lanham: University Press of America. pp. 42, 55. 
  26. ^ Okuyama, Michiaki (Spring 2010). "Soka Gakkai As a Challenge to Japanese Society and Politics" (PDF). Politics and Religion. IV (1): 84. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-02-26. After its religious orientation was criticized by journalists and questioned in the Diet around 1970, Komeito declared that it would follow the constitutional principle of the separation between religion and state, officially separating Soka Gakkai and Komeito. But this issue continues even today as one of the targets of criticism against Soka Gakkai and Komeito. 
  27. ^ Soka Gakkai Annual Report 2015 (Report). Soka Gakkai Public Relations Office. 1 February 2015. p. 72. 協議会では、公明党から、党の方針、態度、決定等について説明があり、それに対して学会が意見、要望を述べる。[At the council, Komeito explains the party's policies, attitudes, decisions, etc., and the Gakkai gives opinions and requests.] 
  28. ^ Lindgren, Petter Y. (2016). "Komeito's security ideals and collective self-defense: betwixt pacifism and compromises". East Asia (33): 235. doi:10.1007/s12140-016-9256-8. 
  29. ^ Ehrhardt, George (1 April 2009). "Rethinking the Komeito Voter". Japanese Journal of Political Science. 10 (1): 10–11. doi:10.1017/S1468109908003344. Retrieved 20 October 2017. 
  30. ^ "公明 (Komei)". NDL-OPAC (National Diet Library - Online Public Access Catalog). National Diet Library of Japan. Retrieved 2 July 2016. 
  31. ^ "公明新聞. Kōmei shinbun". WorldCat. OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc. Retrieved 2 July 2016. 
  32. ^ "公明新聞 北海道版 (Komei Shinbun - Hokkaido edition)". NDL Search. National Diet Library [of Japan]. Retrieved 2 July 2016. 
  33. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-05-12. Retrieved 2015-02-19. 
  34. ^ Ikuo Kabashima, Gill Steel Changing Politics in Japan 2012 Page 38 "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."
  35. ^ 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 ..."
  36. ^ 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' ..."
  37. ^ Yōichi, Kira (1986). Sōka Gakkai nanatsu no daizai : jitsuroku (Shohan. ed.). Tōkyō: Shin Nihon Shuppansha. ISBN 4406013881. 
  38. ^ Tun-Jen Cheng, Deborah A. Brown Religious Organizations And Democratization: Case Studies 2006 Page 279 "The demise of the Shinshinto into a variety of new splinter parties, including a revived Komeito (now called "New Komeito"), and increasing public dissatisfaction with the LDP-created political chaos. This situation was compounded by the ..."
  39. ^ Endou, Kôichi (August 1999). "The Kômeitô: A Virus Infecting the Body Politic". Japan Echo. Archived from the original on May 26, 2000. Retrieved 28 April 2014. 
  40. ^ Politics of Japan#Political Developments since 2000
  41. ^ Daniel M. Kliman Japan's Security Strategy in the Post-9/11 World 2006 Page 79 "As the linchpin of the ruling coalition, New Komeito would have borne direct responsibility for the Japanese government's failure to visibly participate in the war on terror. Internalized gaiatsu therefore exercised greater influence over New Komeito lawmakers than their DPJ counterparts..."
  42. ^ The Japan Times Ailing New Komeito taps policy chief as new boss 8 September 2009 Retrieved on 8 August 2012
  43. ^ "Akihiro OHTA (The Cabinet) - Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet". www.kantei.go.jp. Retrieved 19 March 2018. 
  44. ^ Soble, Jonathan (16 July 2015). "Japan Moves to Allow Military Combat for First Time in 70 Years". Retrieved 19 March 2018 – via NYTimes.com. 

External links[edit]