Japanese Politics and Political Parties

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Japanese politics until 1994 has always been characterised by a single party dominance; this party is the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). The LDP ruled the country for more than three decades, it in fact stayed in power from 1955 to 1994. With the defeat of LDP in 1994 and the creation of a new electoral reform the stale Japanese political situation, characterised by a confused voting system and by a weak central body was reshaped and most of its typical element's functions were changed.

This essay aims to analyse the structure of the 1994 electoral reform and the changes that occurred in the LDP structure and policy-making after this reform. The study is organised in two parts: the first is about the electoral reform itself and the political environment of the following years; on the other hand, the second part analyses the principal changes occurred after the reform respectively in the LDP internal structure and in the policy-making processes.

The 1994 electoral reform and the political situation of the 1990s

The extremely long LDP-domination period was characterised by a weakness in the central legislative body and by the lack of strong opposition parties (Inoguchi, 1997).

The July 1993 elections can be considered the most significant elections in the history of japanese elections since 1955, since its result significantly changed Japanese politics trend for the first time (Purnendra in Inoguchi, 1997).

During the post-Cold War years the socialists abandoned their opposition towards the Article IX of the Constitution regarding the Us-Japan security Treaty, losing its role of main opponent of LDP.

Japanese political situation in the 1990s was a very confused one; political parties were splitted, change...

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...item800.html) In the same years Bureaucrats were involved in a large number of scandals such as the use of public money for their entertainment and a scandal regarding HIV infected blood (Madoka Nakamura “The changing policy environment in Japan” in Colebatch, K. “The work of policy: an international survey).

In the 1955 system bureaucrats worked in very close contract with zoku, who were politicians grouped in 'tribes' and whose importance were fundamental in the old political system. Representing various policy areas, zoku lawmakers had close relationships also with interest groups; these relationships were one of the most important features of the “bottom-up” policy-making system, in which most of the policies were started by the bureaucracy. The new policy-making system promoted by Koizumi was aimed at erasing this zoku-bureaucracy decisional power (Uchiyama).
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