Politics of Japan

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Politics of Japan

日本の政治 (Japanese)
Polity typeUnitary[1] parliamentary
constitutional monarchy[2]
ConstitutionConstitution of Japan
Legislative branch
NameNational Diet
TypeBicameral
Meeting placeNational Diet Building
Upper house
NameHouse of Councillors
Presiding officerHidehisa Otsuji, President of the House of Councillors
Lower house
NameHouse of Representatives
Presiding officerFukushiro Nukaga, Speaker of the House of Representatives
Executive branch
Head of State
TitleEmperor
CurrentlyNaruhito
AppointerHereditary
Head of Government
TitlePrime Minister
CurrentlyFumio Kishida
AppointerEmperor (Nominated by National Diet)
Cabinet
NameCabinet of Japan
Current cabinetSecond Kishida Cabinet (Second Reshuffle)
LeaderPrime Minister
AppointerPrime Minister
HeadquartersNaikaku Sōri Daijin Kantei
Judicial branch
NameJudiciary
Supreme Court
Chief judgeSaburo Tokura
SeatSupreme Court Building
The National Diet Building in Tokyo

Politics of Japan are conducted in a framework of a dominant-party bicameral parliamentary constitutional monarchy, in which the Emperor is the head of state and the Prime Minister is the head of government and the head of the Cabinet, which directs the executive branch.

Legislative power is vested in the National Diet, which consists of the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors. The House of Representatives has eighteen standing committees ranging in size from 20 to 50 members and The House of Councillors has sixteen ranging from 10 to 45 members.[3]

Judicial power is vested in the Supreme Court and lower courts, and sovereignty is vested in the people of Japan by the 1947 Constitution, which was written during the Occupation of Japan primarily by American officials and had replaced the previous Meiji Constitution. Japan is considered a constitutional monarchy with a system of civil law.

Politics in Japan in the post-war period has largely been dominated by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which has been in power almost continuously since its foundation in 1955, a phenomenon known as the 1955 System. Of the 31 prime ministers since the end of the country's occupation, 24 as well as the longest serving ones have been members of the LDP.[4] Consequently, Japan has been described as a de facto one-party state.[5] According to the V-Dem Democracy indices Japan was 2023 the 23rd most electoral democratic country in the world.[6]

Constitution[edit]

Legitimacy[edit]

The creation and ratification of this current document has been widely viewed by many geopolitical analysts and historians as one that was forced upon Japan by the United States after the end of World War II.[7]

Although this "imposition" claim arose originally as a rallying cry among conservative politicians in favour of constitutional revision in the 1950s, and that it wasn't "inherently Japanese", it has also been supported by the research of several independent American and Japanese historians of the period.[7][8]

A competing claim, which also emerged from the political maelstrom of the 1950s revision debate, holds that the ratification decision was actually the result of apparent "collaboration" between American occupation authorities, successive Japanese governments of the time, and private sector "actors".[9]

Government[edit]

The Imperial Palace in Tokyo has been the primary residence of the Emperor since 1869.

Article 1 of the Constitution of Japan (日本国憲法, Nihon-koku kenpō) defines the Emperor (天皇, Tennō)[10] to be "the symbol of the State and of the unity of the people". He performs ceremonial duties and holds no real power. Political power is held mainly by the Prime Minister, Cabinet, and other elected members of the National Diet. The Imperial Throne is succeeded by a paternal male member of the Imperial House as designated by the Imperial Household Law.

The chief of the executive branch and head of government, the Prime Minister (内閣総理大臣, Naikaku Sōri-Daijin), is appointed by the Emperor as directed by the National Diet. They are a member of either house of the National Diet and must be a civilian. The Cabinet (内閣, Naikaku) members are nominated by the Prime Minister, and are also required to be civilian. With the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in power, it has been convention that the President of the party serves as the Prime Minister.

Legislature[edit]

Japanese constitution states that the National Diet (国会, Kokkai), its law-making institution, shall consist of two Houses, namely the House of Representatives (衆議院, Shūgiin) and the House of Councillors (参議院, Sangiin). The Diet shall be the highest organ of state power, and shall be the sole law-making organ of the State. It states that both Houses shall consist of elected members, representative of all the people and that the number of the members of each House shall be fixed by law. Both houses pass legislation in identical form for it to become law. Similarly to other parliamentary systems, most legislation that is considered in the National Diet is proposed by the cabinet. The cabinet then relies on the expertise of the bureaucracy to draft actual bills.

The lower house, the House of Representatives, the most powerful of the two, holds power over the government, being able to force its resignation. The lower house also has ultimate control of the passage of the budget, the ratification of treaties, and the selection of the Prime Minister. Its power over its sister house is, if a bill is passed by the lower house (the House of Representatives) but is voted down by the upper house (the House of Councillors), the ability to override the decision of the House of Councillors. Members of the lower house, as a result of the Prime Minister's power to dissolve them, more frequently serve for less than four years in any given terms.

The upper house, the House of Councillors, is very weak and bills are sent to the House of Councillors only to be approved, not made. Members of the upper house are elected for six-year terms with half the members elected every three years.

It is possible for different parties to control the lower house and the upper house, a situation referred to as a "twisted Diet", something that has become more common since the JSP took control of the upper house in 1989.

Political parties and elections[edit]

Several political parties exist in Japan. However, the politics of Japan have primarily been dominated by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) since 1955, with the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) playing an important role as the opposition several times. The DPJ was the ruling party from 2009 to 2012 with the LDP as the opposition. The LDP was the ruling party for decades since 1955, despite the existence of multiple parties. Most of the prime ministers (presidents of the LDP) were elected from inner factions of the LDP.

House of Councillors[edit]

11
5
1
39
2
10
27
119
21
1
12
PartyNationalConstituencySeats
Votes%SeatsVotes%SeatsWonNot upTotal
after
+/–
Liberal Democratic Party18,256,24534.431820,603,29838.74456356119+6
Nippon Ishin no Kai7,845,99514.8085,533,65710.41412921+5
Constitutional Democratic Party6,771,91412.7778,154,33015.3310172239+7
Komeito6,181,43211.6663,600,4906.777131427–1
Japanese Communist Party3,618,3436.8233,636,5346.8414711–2
Democratic Party for the People3,159,6575.9632,038,6553.8325510New
Reiwa Shinsengumi2,319,1574.372989,7161.861325+3
Sanseitō1,768,3853.3312,018,2153.800101New
Social Democratic Party1,258,5022.371178,9110.340101–1
NHK Party1,253,8722.3611,106,5082.080112+1
Burdock Party193,7240.370000New
Happiness Realization Party148,0200.280134,7180.2500000
Japan First Party109,0460.21074,0970.140000New
Kunimori Conservative Party77,8610.150111,9560.210000New
Ishin Seito Shimpu65,1070.120204,1020.380000New
First no Kai284,6290.540000New
Children's Party50,6620.100000New
Japan Reform Party46,6410.090000New
Kyowa Party41,0140.080000New
Free Republican Party33,6360.060000New
Metaverse Party19,1000.040000New
Party to Realize Bright Japan with a Female Emperor10,2680.020000New
Smile Party5,4090.010000New
Party to Know the Truth of Renewable Energy3,8680.010000New
Peace Party3,5590.010000New
Tenmei Party3,2830.010000New
Party to take over U.S. military base in Okinawa to Tokyo3,0430.010000New
Wake Up the Japanese Party2,4400.000000New
Nuclear Fusion Party1,9130.000000New
Independents4,285,3608.0655712–5
Total53,027,260100.005053,180,012100.00751251232480
Valid votes53,027,26097.0253,180,01297.29
Invalid/blank votes1,626,2022.981,479,0202.71
Total votes54,653,462100.0054,659,032100.00
Registered voters/turnout105,019,20352.04105,019,20352.05
Source: Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications

House of Representatives[edit]

Constituency Cartogram

Many polls had predicted a weakened LDP or even a complete loss of government control in the elections,[11] with one poll by The Japan Times suggesting the party would lose around 40 seats. Though the LDP did lose 25 seats compared to the previous elections, they comfortably maintained their single-party majority in the Diet.[12][13]

The opposition coalition of CDP, JCP, SDP and Reiwa Shinsengumi failed to increase its seat share, suffering a net loss of thirteen seats compared to the outgoing parliament. The CDP itself remained the largest opposition party, finishing second with 96 seats; although this marked an increase on the 55 seats won by the original CDP in the 2017 elections, the party had held 109 seats going into the elections following the merger with the Democratic Party for the People. The JCP lost two seats going from 12 to 10, the SDP kept its one constituency seat in Okinawa, and Reiwa Shinsengumi increased its seats from one prior to the election to three.

The Osaka-based Nippon Ishin no Kai saw a strong third-place finish with 41 seats, a net gain of 30. The party won all seats in Osaka prefecture, except for four where they did not stand a candidate. The party also finished first in the Kinki Proportional Block.[14]

PartyProportionalConstituencyTotal
seats
+/–
Votes%SeatsVotes%Seats
Liberal Democratic Party19,914,88334.667227,626,23548.08187259–25
Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan11,492,09520.003917,215,62129.965796New
Nippon Ishin no Kai8,050,83014.01254,802,7938.361641+30
Komeito7,114,28212.3823872,9311.52932+3
Japanese Communist Party4,166,0767.2592,639,6314.59110–1
Democratic Party for the People2,593,3964.5151,246,8122.17611New
Reiwa Shinsengumi2,215,6483.863248,2800.4303New
Social Democratic Party1,018,5881.770313,1930.5511–1
NHK Party796,7881.390150,5420.2600New
Shiji Seitō Nashi46,1420.08000
Japan First Party33,6610.0609,4490.0200New
Yamato Party16,9700.03015,0910.0300New
New Party to Strengthen Corona Countermeasures by Change of Government6,6200.0100New
Kunimori Conservative Party29,3060.0500New
Love Earth Party5,3500.0100New
Nippon Spirits Party4,5520.01000
Reform Future Party3,6980.0100New
Renewal Party2,7500.0000New
Party for a Successful Japan1,6300.0000New
Independents2,269,1683.951212–10
Total57,465,979100.0017657,457,032100.002894650
Valid votes57,465,97997.5857,457,03297.55
Invalid/blank votes1,425,3662.421,443,2272.45
Total votes58,891,345100.0058,900,259100.00
Registered voters/turnout105,224,10355.97105,224,10355.98
Source: Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications

By prefecture[edit]

Prefecture Total
seats
Seats won
LDP CDP Ishin Komeito DPP JCP SDP Ind.
Aichi 15 11 3 1
Akita 3 2 1
Aomori 3 3
Chiba 13 9 4
Ehime 4 4
Fukui 2 2
Fukuoka 11 8 2 1
Fukushima 5 2 3
Gifu 5 5
Gunma 5 5
Hiroshima 7 5 1 1
Hokkaido 12 6 5 1
Hyōgo 12 8 1 1 2
Ibaraki 7 5 1 1
Ishikawa 3 3
Iwate 3 2 1
Kagawa 3 1 1 1
Kagoshima 4 2 1 1
Kanagawa 18 11 7
Kōchi 2 2
Kumamoto 4 3 1
Kyoto 6 2 2 1 1
Mie 4 3 1
Miyagi 6 4 2
Miyazaki 3 2 1
Nagano 5 4 1
Nagasaki 4 3 1
Nara 3 1 1 1
Niigata 6 2 3 1
Ōita 3 2 1
Okayama 5 4 1
Okinawa 4 2 1 1
Osaka 19 15 4
Saga 2 2
Saitama 15 12 3
Shiga 4 4
Shimane 2 2
Shizuoka 8 5 2 1
Tochigi 5 4 1
Tokushima 2 1 1
Tokyo 25 15 8 1 1
Tottori 2 2
Toyama 3 3
Wakayama 3 2 1
Yamagata 3 3
Yamaguchi 4 4
Yamanashi 2 2
Total 289 187 57 16 9 6 1 1 12

By PR block[edit]

PR block Total
seats
Seats won
LDP % CDP % Ishin % Komeito % JCP % DPP % RS %
Chūgoku 11 6 43.4% 2 18.4% 1 9.2% 2 14.0% 0 5.5% 0 3.7% 0 3.0%
Hokkaido 8 4 33.6% 3 26.6% 0 8.4% 1 11.5% 0 8.1% 0 2.9% 0 4.0%
Hokuriku–Shinetsu 11 6 41.8% 3 22.0% 1 10.3% 1 9.2% 0 6.4% 0 3.8% 0 3.2%
Kinki (Kansai) 28 8 25.7% 3 11.6% 10 33.9% 3 12.3% 2 7.8% 1 3.2% 1 3.1%
Kyushu 20 8 35.7% 4 20.1% 2 8.6% 4 16.5% 1 5.8% 1 4.4% 0 3.9%
Northern Kanto 19 7 35.2% 5 22.5% 2 10.0% 3 13.3% 1 7.2% 1 4.8% 0 3.9%
Shikoku 8 3 39.2% 1 17.2% 1 10.2% 1 13.7% 0 6.4% 0 7.2% 0 3.1%
Southern Kanto 22 9 34.9% 5 22.3% 3 11.7% 2 11.5% 1 7.2% 1 5.2% 1 4.1%
Tohoku 13 6 39.5% 4 24.1% 1 6.3% 1 11.1% 1 7.1% 0 4.8% 0 3.5%
Tokai 21 9 37.4% 5 22.1% 2 10.3% 3 11.7% 1 6.1% 1 5.7% 0 4.1%
Tokyo 17 6 31.0% 4 20.1% 2 13.3% 2 11.1% 2 10.4% 0 4.7% 1 5.6%
Total 176 72 39 25 23 9 5 3

Party-list vote by prefecture[edit]

Prefecture LDP CDP Innovation Komeito JCP DPFP Reiwa SDP
Aichi 35.9 22.4 11.0 11.3 6.4 5.7 4.4 1.3
Akita 45.4 21.1 5.6 10.8 5.9 5.2 2.7 2.3
Aomori 43.2 23.8 4.4 11.0 7.9 2.5 3.3 2.7
Chiba 35.5 22.1 11.2 12.4 7.0 5.3 3.8 1.4
Ehime 41.1 18.6 9.9 14.2 5.2 4.4 3.3 2.1
Fukui 45.9 20.9 9.1 9.5 5.3 3.6 3.4 1.1
Fukuoka 33.0 19.3 11.1 17.3 6.5 4.4 4.3 2.5
Fukushima 37.9 25.7 5.3 11.2 7.2 5.2 3.8 2.3
Gifu 40.3 20.6 10.0 11.6 6.2 5.0 3.8 1.2
Gunma 38.4 20.2 9.3 14.3 7.3 3.5 3.6 1.9
Hiroshima 45.9 17.0 10.4 12.3 4.9 3.5 2.8 1.9
Hokkaido 33.6 26.6 8.4 11.5 8.1 2.9 4.0 1.6
Hyogo 27.4 13.4 32.1 12.3 6.2 3.0 3.3 1.2
Ibaraki 38.1 20.2 9.9 14.1 5.7 5.9 3.7 1.3
Ishikawa 44.1 18.4 14.4 8.7 4.5 3.5 3.1 1.9
Iwate 35.5 29.2 4.6 9.2 8.0 5.2 3.8 3.1
Kagawa 39.9 13.1 8.7 11.7 4.5 16.4 2.5 2.0
Kagoshima 41.3 20.7 7.7 14.3 4.6 3.1 3.2 3.6
Kanagawa 34.2 22.2 12.5 10.8 7.4 5.2 4.3 1.9
Kochi 38.0 21.7 6.1 15.0 10.4 3.0 3.0 1.5
Kumamoto 40.8 19.1 7.2 17.1 4.3 3.9 3.5 2.5
Kyoto 29.2 13.7 23.0 9.8 13.2 5.1 3.7 1.1
Mie 36.3 25.0 9.1 13.8 5.3 3.9 3.9 1.2
Miyagi 37.4 22.9 10.0 11.4 7.3 3.9 3.5 2.3
Miyazaki 38.9 17.2 9.1 16.2 5.3 5.3 2.8 3.5
Nagano 35.0 26.3 9.1 10.3 8.9 3.9 3.4 2.0
Nagasaki 37.1 19.7 7.2 15.7 4.8 8.7 3.0 2.5
Nara 30.6 13.9 28.1 11.8 7.0 3.5 2.7 1.1
Niigata 43.9 24.2 6.5 8.7 6.1 4.0 3.0 2.3
Oita 36.5 22.4 7.6 14.1 5.3 3.8 3.5 5.3
Okayama 37.8 19.8 9.7 15.9 6.3 4.7 3.0 1.4
Okinawa 23.8 20.2 6.0 20.9 9.7 3.1 5.9 8.6
Osaka 20.4 9.0 42.5 13.4 7.6 2.2 2.8 1.0
Saga 41.4 25.8 6.1 12.8 3.8 3.4 3.2 2.1
Saitama 32.5 23.6 10.2 13.3 8.4 4.9 4.1 1.6
Shiga 35.1 15.8 21.2 8.7 7.3 5.1 4.2 1.5
Shimane 42.5 22.0 7.4 12.7 5.8 3.5 2.9 2.1
Shizuoka 39.3 20.9 9.7 11.3 5.6 7.0 3.6 1.3
Tochigi 38.1 24.5 10.3 11.7 4.5 4.2 3.6 1.6
Tokushima 35.8 15.6 17.0 14.4 6.9 3.9 3.8 1.2
Tokyo 31.0 20.1 13.3 11.1 10.4 4.7 5.6 1.4
Tottori 36.5 23.7 7.9 16.5 6.0 3.2 3.5 1.6
Toyama 45.7 12.7 18.4 8.4 5.0 3.5 2.9 2.2
Wakayama 33.8 11.1 21.5 15.8 7.2 5.7 2.6 0.9
Yamagata 41.7 20.9 5.1 12.4 6.0 6.9 3.4 2.3
Yamaguchi 49.6 14.7 7.4 14.4 5.4 2.8 3.5 1.4
Yamanashi 39.7 24.8 6.0 11.7 6.5 4.5 4.1 1.5
Japan 34.7 20.0 14.1 12.4 7.3 4.5 3.9 1.8

Policy making[edit]

Despite an increasingly unpredictable domestic and international environment, policy making conforms to well established postwar patterns. The close collaboration of the ruling party, the elite bureaucracy and important interest groups often make it difficult to tell who exactly is responsible for specific policy decisions.

Policy development in Japan[edit]

After a largely informal process within elite circles in which ideas were discussed and developed, steps might be taken to institute more formal policy development. This process often took place in deliberation councils (shingikai). There were about 200 shingikai, each attached to a ministry; their members were both officials and prominent private individuals in business, education, and other fields. The shingikai played a large role in facilitating communication among those who ordinarily might not meet.

Given the tendency for real negotiations in Japan to be conducted privately (in the nemawashi, or root binding, process of consensus building), the shingikai often represented a fairly advanced stage in policy formulation in which relatively minor differences could be thrashed out and the resulting decisions couched in language acceptable to all. These bodies were legally established but had no authority to oblige governments to adopt their recommendations. The most important deliberation council during the 1980s was the Provisional Commission for Administrative Reform, established in March 1981 by Prime Minister Suzuki Zenko. The commission had nine members, assisted in their deliberations by six advisers, twenty-one "expert members," and around fifty "councillors" representing a wide range of groups. Its head, Keidanren president Doko Toshio, insisted that the government agree to take its recommendations seriously and commit itself to reforming the administrative structure and the tax system.

In 1982, the commission had arrived at several recommendations that by the end of the decade had been actualized. These implementations included tax reform, a policy to limit government growth, the establishment in 1984 of the Management and Coordination Agency to replace the Administrative Management Agency in the Office of the Prime Minister, and privatization of the state-owned railroad and telephone systems. In April 1990, another deliberation council, the Election Systems Research Council, submitted proposals that included the establishment of single-seat constituencies in place of the multiple-seat system.

Another significant policy-making institution in the early 1990s was the Liberal Democratic Party's Policy Research Council. It consisted of a number of committees, composed of LDP Diet members, with the committees corresponding to the different executive agencies. Committee members worked closely with their official counterparts, advancing the requests of their constituents, in one of the most effective means through which interest groups could state their case to the bureaucracy through the channel of the ruling party.

Post-war political developments in Japan[edit]

Political parties had begun to revive almost immediately after the Allied occupation began because of surrender of Japan in World War II. Left-wing organizations, such as the Japan Socialist Party and the Japanese Communist Party, quickly reestablished themselves, as did various conservative parties. The old Rikken Seiyūkai and Rikken Minseitō came back as, the Liberal Party (Nihon Jiyūtō) and the Japan Progressive Party (Nihon Shimpotō) respectively. The first postwar general election was held in 1946 (women were given the franchise for the first time in 1946), and the Liberal Party's vice president, Yoshida Shigeru (1878–1967), became prime minister.

For the 1947 general election, anti-Yoshida forces left the Liberal Party and joined forces with the Progressive Party to establish the new Democratic Party (Minshutō). This divisiveness in conservative ranks gave a plurality to the Japan Socialist Party, which was allowed to form a cabinet, which lasted less than a year. Thereafter, the socialist party steadily declined in its electoral successes. After a short period of Democratic Party administration, Yoshida returned in late 1948 and continued to serve as prime minister until 1954.

Even before Japan regained full sovereignty, the government had rehabilitated nearly 80,000 people who had been purged, many of whom returned to their former political and government positions. A debate over limitations on military spending and the sovereignty of the Emperor ensued, contributing to the great reduction in the Liberal Party's majority in the first post-occupation elections (October 1952). After several reorganizations of the armed forces, in 1954 the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) were established under a civilian director. Cold War realities and the hot war in nearby Korea also contributed significantly to the United States-influenced economic redevelopment, the suppression of communism, and the discouragement of organized labor in Japan during this period.

Continual fragmentation of parties and a succession of minority governments led conservative forces to merge the Liberal Party (Jiyūtō) with the Japan Democratic Party (Nihon Minshutō), an offshoot of the earlier Democratic Party, to form the Liberal Democratic Party (Jiyū-Minshutō; LDP) in November 1955, called 1955 System. This party continuously held power from 1955 through 1993, except for a short while when it was replaced by a new minority government. LDP leadership was drawn from the elite who had seen Japan through the defeat and occupation. It attracted former bureaucrats, local politicians, businessmen, journalists, other professionals, farmers, and university graduates.

In October 1955, socialist groups reunited under the Japan Socialist Party (JSP), which emerged as the second most powerful political force. It was followed closely in popularity by the Komeito, founded in 1964 as the political arm of the Soka Gakkai (Value Creation Society), until 1991, a lay organization affiliated with the Nichiren Shōshū Buddhist sect. The Komeito emphasized the traditional Japanese beliefs and attracted urban laborers, former rural residents, and women. Like the Japan Socialist Party, it favored the gradual modification and dissolution of the Japan-United States Mutual Security Assistance Pact.

Political developments since 1990[edit]

The LDP domination lasted until the National Diet Lower House general election on 18 July 1993, in which LDP failed to win a majority. A coalition of new parties and existing opposition parties formed a governing majority and elected a new non-LDP prime minister, Morihiro Hosokawa (leader of Japan New Party), in August 1993. His government's major legislative objective was political reform, consisting of a package of new political financing restrictions and major changes in the electoral system. The coalition succeeded in passing landmark political reform legislation in January 1994.

In April 1994, Prime Minister Hosokawa resigned. Prime Minister Tsutomu Hata (leader of Japan Renewal Party) formed the successor coalition government, Japan's first minority government in almost 40 years. Prime Minister Hata resigned less than two months later. Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama (leader of JSP) formed the next government in June 1994 with the coalition of JSP, the LDP, and the small New Party Sakigake. The advent of a coalition containing the JSP and LDP shocked many observers because of their previously fierce rivalry.

Prime Minister Murayama served from June 1994 to January 1996. He was succeeded by Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto (president of the LDP), who served from January 1996 to July 1998. Prime Minister Hashimoto headed a loose coalition of three parties until the July 1998 Upper House election, when the two smaller parties cut ties with the LDP. Hashimoto resigned due to a poor electoral performance by the LDP in the Upper House elections. He was succeeded as party president of the LDP and prime minister by Keizō Obuchi, who took office on 30 July 1998. The LDP formed a governing coalition with the Liberal Party in January 1999, and Obuchi remained prime minister. The LDP-Liberal coalition expanded to include the New Komeito Party in October 1999.

Political developments since 2000[edit]

Prime Minister Obuchi suffered a stroke in April 2000 and was replaced by Yoshirō Mori. After the Liberal Party left the coalition in April 2000, Prime Minister Mori welcomed a Liberal Party splinter group, the New Conservative Party, into the ruling coalition. The three-party coalition made up of the LDP, New Komeito, and the New Conservative Party maintained its majority in the Diet following the June 2000 Lower House elections.

After a turbulent year in office in which he saw his approval ratings plummet to the single digits, Prime Minister Mori agreed to hold early elections for the LDP presidency in order to improve his party's chances in crucial July 2001 Upper House elections. On 24 April 2001, riding a wave of grassroots desire for change, maverick politician Junichiro Koizumi defeated former prime minister Hashimoto and other party stalwarts on a platform of economic and political reform.

Koizumi was elected as Japan's 56th Prime Minister on 26 April 2001. On 11 October 2003, Prime Minister Koizumi dissolved the lower house and he was re-elected as the president of the LDP. Likewise, that year, the LDP won the general election, even though it suffered setbacks from the new opposition party, the liberal and social-democratic Democratic Party (DPJ). A similar event occurred during the 2004 Upper House election as well.

In a strong move, on 8 August 2005, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi called for a snap general election to the lower house, as threatened, after LDP stalwarts and opposition DPJ parliamentarians defeated his proposal for a large-scale reform and privatization of Japan Post, which besides being Japan's state-owned postal monopoly is arguably the world's largest financial institution, with nearly 331 trillion yen of assets. The election was scheduled for 11 September 2005, with the LDP achieving a landslide victory under Junichiro Koizumi's leadership.

The ruling LDP started losing hold in 2006. No prime minister except Koizumi had good public support. On 26 September 2006, the new LDP President Shinzo Abe was elected by a special session of the National Diet to succeed Junichiro Koizumi as the next prime minister. He was Japan's youngest post-World War II prime minister and the first born after the war. On 12 September 2007, Abe surprised Japan by announcing his resignation from office. He was replaced by Yasuo Fukuda, a veteran of LDP.

In the meantime, on 4 November 2007, the leader of the main opposition party, Ichirō Ozawa announced his resignation from the post of party president, after controversy over an offer to the DPJ to join the ruling coalition in a grand coalition,[15] but has since, with some embarrassment, rescinded his resignation.

On 11 January 2008, Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda forced a bill allowing ships to continue a refueling mission in the Indian Ocean in support of US-led operations in Afghanistan. To do so, PM Fukuda used the LDP's overwhelming majority in the Lower House to ignore a previous "no-vote" of the opposition-controlled Upper House. This was the first time in 50 years that the Lower House voted to ignore the opinion of the Upper House. Fukuda resigned suddenly on 1 September 2008, just a few weeks after reshuffling his cabinet. On 1 September 2008, Fukuda's resignation was designed so that the LDP did not suffer a "power vacuum". It thus caused a leadership election within the LDP, and the winner, Tarō Asō (Shigeru Yoshida's grandson) was chosen as the new LDP president on 24 September 2008, he was appointed as the 92nd Prime Minister after the House of Representatives voted in his favor in the extraordinary session of the National Diet.[16]

Later, on 21 July 2009, Prime Minister Asō dissolved the House of Representatives and general election was held on 30 August.[17] The election results for the House of Representatives were announced on 30 and 31 August 2009. The opposition party DPJ led by Yukio Hatoyama (Ichirō Hatoyama's grandson), won a majority by gaining 308 seats (10 seats were won by its allies the Social Democratic Party and the People's New Party). On 16 September 2009, the leader of DPJ, Hatoyama was elected by the House of Representatives as the 93rd Prime Minister of Japan.

Political developments since 2010[edit]

On 2 June 2010, Hatoyama resigned due to lack of fulfillments of his policies, both domestically and internationally[18] and soon after, on 8 June, Akihito, Emperor of Japan ceremonially swore in the newly elected DPJ's leader, Naoto Kan as the 94th prime minister.[19] Kan suffered an early setback in the 2010 Japanese House of Councillors election. In a routine political change in Japan, DPJ's new leader and former finance minister of Kan Cabinet, Yoshihiko Noda was cleared and elected by the National Diet as 95th prime minister on 30 August 2011. He was officially appointed as prime minister in the attestation ceremony by Emperor Akihito at the Tokyo Imperial Palace on 2 September 2011.[20]

Noda dissolved the lower house on 16 November 2012 (as he failed to get support outside the Diet on various domestic issues i.e. consumption tax, nuclear energy) and general election was held on 16 December. The results were in favor of the LDP, which won an absolute majority in the leadership of former prime minister Shinzo Abe.[21] He was appointed as the 96th Prime Minister of Japan on 26 December 2012.[22] With the changing political situation, earlier in November 2014, Prime Minister Abe called for a fresh mandate for the Lower House. In an opinion poll the government failed to win public trust due to bad economic achievements in the two consecutive quarters and on the tax reforms.[23]

The general election was held on 14 December 2014, and the results were in favor of the LDP and its ally New Komeito. Together they managed to secure a huge majority by winning 325 seats for the Lower House. The opposition, DPJ, could not manage to provide alternatives to the voters with its policies and programs. "Abenomics", the ambitious self-titled fiscal policy of the current prime minister, managed to attract more voters in this election, many Japanese voters supported the policies. Shinzō Abe was sworn as the 97th prime minister on 24 December 2014 and would go ahead with his agenda of economic revitalization and structural reforms in Japan.[23]

Prime Minister Abe was elected again for a fourth term after the 2017 general election.[24] It was a snap election called by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.[25] Abe's ruling coalition won a clear majority with more than two-thirds of 465 seats in the lower house of Parliament (House of Representatives). The opposition was in deep political crisis.[26]

In July 2019, Japan had a national election. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) of Prime Minister Abe won a majority of seats in the upper house of Parliament (House of Councillors). However, Abe failed to achieve the two-thirds majority, and the ruling coalition could not amend the constitution.[27]

Political developments since 2020[edit]

On 28 August 2020 following reports of ill-health, Abe resigned citing health concerns, triggering a leadership election to replace him as prime minister.[28] Abe was the longest-serving Prime Minister in the political history of Japan.[29]

After winning the leadership of the governing Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, a close ally of his predecessor, was elected as the 99th prime minister of Japan by the National Diet on 16 September 2020.[30] He became the first prime minister appointed by Emperor Naruhito at the Tokyo Imperial Palace. Suga's response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, as the architect of the GoTo tourism program criticised for helping the virus spread,[31] along with high case numbers in April 2021 ahead of the Tokyo Olympics has since negatively affected perceptions of his administration.[32] On 2 September 2021, Suga announced that he would not seek reelection as LDP President, effectively ending his term as prime minister.[33] On 4 October 2021, Fumio Kishida took office as new prime minister. Kishida was elected leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) previous week. He was officially confirmed as the 100th prime minister following a parliamentary vote with appointment by Emperor Naruhito at Tokyo Imperial Palace.[34] On 31 October 2021, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) held onto its single party majority in the general election.[35][36]

On 8 July 2022, former prime minister Shinzo Abe was shot and killed at a campaign rally in Nara for the 2022 Japanese House of Councillors election.[37] State funeral of Abe was held on 27 September at Nippon Budokan.[38]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain. Japan: A Country Study. Federal Research Division.
  1. ^ Heslop, D. Alan. "Political system - National political systems". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Retrieved 11 June 2020.
  2. ^ "Japan – The World Factbook". Cia.gov. Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 11 June 2020.
  3. ^ Philip Laundy - Parliaments in the Modern World page 109
  4. ^ 升味準之輔; Masumi, Junnosuke (1985). Gendai seiji : 1955-nen igo (Shohan ed.). Tōkyō: Tōkyō Daigaku Shuppankai. ISBN 978-4130330268. OCLC 15423787.
  5. ^ "Japan as a One-Party State: The Future for Koizumi and Beyond". www.wilsoncenter.org. Wilson Center. Archived from the original on 15 February 2021. Retrieved 9 February 2023.
  6. ^ V-Dem Institute (2023). "The V-Dem Dataset". Retrieved 14 October 2023.
  7. ^ a b McNelly, Theodore (December 1952). "American Influence and Japan's No-War Constitution". Political Science Quarterly. 67 (4): 589–598. doi:10.2307/2145143. JSTOR 2145143. Retrieved 8 February 2022.
  8. ^ Kades, Charles L. (1989). "The American Role in Revising Japan's Imperial Constitution". Political Science Quarterly. 104 (2): 215–247. doi:10.2307/2151582. JSTOR 2151582. Retrieved 8 February 2022.
  9. ^ Boyd, Patrick J. (22 March 2014). "Reasoning Revision: Is Japan's Constitution Japanese?" (PDF). Journal of Asia-Pacific Studies (Waseda University). Retrieved 25 January 2022.
  10. ^ Professor Yasuhiro Okudaira notes a misnomer in the use of the word "Emperor" to describe the nation's living state symbol. In Okudaira's view, the word "Emperor" ceased to be applicable when Japan ceased to be an empire under the 1947 Constitution. "Thus, for example, the Imperial University of Tokyo became merely University of Tokyo" after World War II. He would apparently have the word tennō directly taken for English use (just as there is no common English word for "sushi". Yasuhiro Okudaira, "Forty Years of the Constitution and its Various Influences: Japanese, American, and European" in Luney and Takahashi, Japanese Constitutional Law (Univ. Tokyo Press, 1993), pp. 1–38, at 4.
  11. ^ "Polls Say Ruling LDP May Lose Outright Majority: Japan Election". Bloomberg.com. 29 October 2021. Retrieved 1 November 2021.
  12. ^ Murakami, Sakura; Park, Ju-min; Takenaka, Kiyoshi (1 November 2021). "Japan's Kishida defies expectations as ruling LDP easily keeps majority". Reuters. Retrieved 1 November 2021.
  13. ^ Sugiyama, Satoshi (19 October 2021). "LDP projected to retain majority in election but lose 40 seats". The Japan Times. Retrieved 1 November 2021.
  14. ^ McCurry, Justin (1 November 2021). "Japan election: rightwing populists sweep vote in Osaka". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 November 2021.
  15. ^ "DPJ leader Ozawa hands in resignation over grand coalition controversy – Japan News Review". japannewsreview.com. Archived from the original on 9 November 2007. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  16. ^ "JT". The Japan Times. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  17. ^ "Critical election to come - The Japan Times". japantimes.co.jp. 22 July 2009. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  18. ^ [1] Archived 5 June 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ "Japan's new PM Naoto Kan names cabinet". The Daily Telegraph. 8 June 2010. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  20. ^ "JT". The Japan Times. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  21. ^ http://www3.nhk.or.jp/daily/english/20121216_39.html[permanent dead link]
  22. ^ http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20121226x1.html[dead link]
  23. ^ a b "Abe re-elected prime minister - News - NHK WORLD - English". Archived from the original on 24 December 2014. Retrieved 24 December 2014.
  24. ^ "Shinzo Abe gains big victory in Japan election". Financial Times. 22 October 2017.
  25. ^ "Japan's snap election explained". BBC News. 22 October 2017.
  26. ^ "Japan's Abe hails landslide victory in snap election". 22 October 2017.
  27. ^ "Shinzo Abe declares victory in Japan election but fails to win super majority". 22 July 2019.
  28. ^ "Shinzo Abe: Japan's PM resigns for health reasons". BBC News. 28 August 2020.
  29. ^ "Japanese PM Shinzo Abe resigns for health reasons". BBC News. 28 August 2020. Retrieved 28 August 2020.
  30. ^ "Yoshihide Suga elected Japan's new prime minister succeeding Shinzo Abe". BBC News. 16 September 2020.
  31. ^ "Japan PM Suga may curb tourism campaign to fight COVID-19 as approval rating drops". CNA. Archived from the original on 1 January 2021. Retrieved 29 April 2021.
  32. ^ "Virus surge, by-election losses put Suga's future in question". Japan Today. Retrieved 29 April 2021.
  33. ^ Rich, Motoko (3 September 2021). "Japan's Prime Minister Will Step Aside After Just a Year in Office". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  34. ^ "Fumio Kishida takes office as Japan's new Prime Minister - CNN". 4 October 2021.
  35. ^ Park, Ju-min; Slodkowski, Antoni; Takenaka, Kiyoshi (November 2021). "Japan PM Kishida, strengthened by election win, lays out broad policy plans | Reuters". Reuters.
  36. ^ "Net Official Development Assistance In 2004" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 January 2012. Retrieved 23 May 2006. (32.9 KiB), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 11 April 2005. Retrieved 14 May 2006.
  37. ^ "Shinzo Abe: Japan ex-leader assassinated while giving speech". BBC News. 8 July 2022.
  38. ^ "State funeral for Shinzo Abe held in Tokyo amid controversy". The Guardian. 27 September 2022.

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