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The institutional landscape of Japanese Politics

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  • 1. THE INSTITUTIONAL LANDSCAPE OF JAPANESE POLITICS by Alisa Gaunder
  • 2. Three periods of Japanese political system
    • 1945-55 – immediate postwar period;
    • 1955-93 – “1955 system”;
    • 1994 – present – post-political reform period.
    • The 1955 system was characterized by LDP dominance, economic growth and a cohesive and powerful bureaucracy.
  • 3.
    • An overview of the institutions that prevailed under the 1955 system,
    • A description of the political and administrative reforms enacted in the 1990s and a brief discussion how these reforms have influenced politicians, political parties, the prime minister, the bureaucracy and the policymaking process.
  • 4. OUTLINE
    • The institutions of the “1955 system”
    • The Diet;
    • The prime minister;
    • The electoral system;
    • Political parties;
    • Political funding and electioneering;
    • Political reform in the 1990s;
    • The effect of political reform
  • 5. The Diet
    • National Diet – Japanese legislative body;
    • Article 41 of the constitution – the Diet “shall be the highest organ of state power, and shall be be the sole law-making organ of the State”.
  • 6. The Diet House of Representatives House of Councillors 4 year term, more frequently serves less than four years 6 year term, with half members elected every three years Ultimate control of the passage of the budget, the ratification of treaties and the selection of the prime minister After 1989 to block regular legislation outside the budget and treaties
  • 7. The prime minister
    • Formal powers: The head of the cabinet, has the power to appoint and dismiss the cabinet ministers, is granted the support of the cabinet secretariat, and has the power to dissolve the Lower House of the Diet and call for new elections.
    • Informal powers, including the prime minister`s support base in the party, popularity, influence over the bureaucracy, ties to the opposition parties, and experience.
  • 8. The electoral system
    • 1955 system – the electoral system for Lower House was a multiple-member district system with a single nontransferable vote (MMD/SNTV) – multipartyism with one dominant party, the LDP.
    • The disadvantages - made it more difficult for parties to run the “right” number of candidates and divide the vote equally among them => over- nomination and under-nomination.
  • 9. 1983 – from MMD/SNTV to proportional representation (PR) list => to make the contests more party-centered, but increased competition for party list ranking. 2000 – from PR to an open list system which allows voters to select either or party or individual candidate in the PR ballot.
  • 10. Political funding and electioneering
    • 1955 system
    • (1990)
    • A limited number of television and radio appearance, a certain number of handbills and posters, internet is a medium accommodated by the government
    • Policy forced the voter to rely on web information from unofficial sources.
    • 1975 - the revision of PFCL (Political Funds Control)
    • Created an upper limit on contributions from corporations
    • Amount of corporations and individual contributions were restricted, but the number of political organizations that could receive donations was not.
  • 11. Political parties
    • 1950-60 – one and half party system;
    • 1970 – one party system with multipartyism;
    • 1990 – electoral reform
  • 12.
    • LDP ( Liberal Democratic Party) – is the conservative party, less ideologically driven. Main goal - to stay in power.
    • Support base (1955) – farmers and rural communities, industry/corporate Japan, small business, construction and self-employed.
    • One of the main reasons the LDP was able to stay in power from 1955-93 was its ability to adjust its policies in response to new economic and politic realities, “crisis and compensation” strategy.
    • JSP (Japan Socialist Party ) – was the progressive party on the left with strong ties to public sector union.
    • Support base – public service labor unions, small business, professionals, intellectuals and farmers.
    • DSP (1960) – exclusive worker support and creating a broader base.
    • Main support – private sector. Dissolved in 1994.
    • The Komeito or CGP – political arm of Buddhist lay organization, to promote “cleaner”, less corrupt politics. Supported world peace, humanitarian socialism, progressive taxes and the nationalization of key industries. Base – women, youth and underclass.
    • JSP – most ideological party, extreme left informed by Marxism-Leninism. Base – women, youth, doctors, lawyers, nontraditional supporters of Communist parties.
  • 13. Political reform in the 1990s
    • Electoral system and political funding reform – revision to the Public Office Election Law replaced the MMD/SNTV system with a combined single-member district (SMD) and proportional representation (PR) system;
    • Diet related administrative reform – 1) eliminated the government committee member system, 2) created senior vice-ministers and parliamentary secretaries;
    • Central government reforms – to increase the efficiency, accountability and transparency of government agencies.
  • 14. The effects of political reform weaken incentives for pork barrel politics; the reduction of money politics and corruption; combined electoral system allowed new party arrangements; changes in the internal organization of parties; the cabinet reform have increased the potential influence of prime minister; the Diet-related reforms increased the power of politicians vis-à-vis bureaucrats; reduced the role of bureaucrats
  • 15. Thank you for attention!