Party Politics in Japan: Political Chaos and Stalemate in the 21st Century
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Routledge Contemporary Japan Series
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Pork barrel politics has declined, as the party list campaigns require less effort by individuals for fundraising, and the effort must go on the party. However, as individual candidate campaigns still exist, there is some engagement still in pork barrel spending. However, rather than the electoral reform significantly attributing to the decline of pork barrel politics, it can be seen that the overall decline is a result of demographic changes and economic pressures on the government budget.
The electoral reforms did not directly reduce corruption, although the decline of pork barrel politics led to a decline in corruption, as pork barrel projects were used in the past to win votes from the residents of a district. However, the main cause to decrease corruption came from the revision of the Political Funds Control Law , which were created to establish transparency of the funding that parties receive. However, even with the revision, there are loopholes that still exist, such as through vague wording, utilizing koenkai or the culture of Japanese gift-giving.
Due to the party list side of the voting system, voters were encouraged to think about parties over individual candidates' personalities. The single-member districts of the electoral reform also decreased the intraparty factional competition within the LDP, as only one candidate per party was allowed in each district.
With only one candidate, rather than looking at the differences between the candidates from the same party voters chose based on party alone. This encouraged consolidation of the party system into two parties. Later, it became clear that the ratio of voters who put a higher priority on the individual candidate decreased under the new single-member district system.
The DPJ also started to create party manifestos, which outlined the party's ideology and objectives. This was useful to distinguish itself from the LDP and to write out and explain their goals to the public. The LDP then followed and created its own party manifesto. Creating party manifestos forced parties to come up with coherent ideologies and to centralize and unify themselves, which led to a more party-centered type of campaign.
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Due to these reforms, campaigns became party centered. The reforms made sure that all public financing for campaigns and all private contributions went to the party rather than specific individuals. Other non-reform influences aimed at a more party centered campaign include demographic shifts, urbanization, and the LDP's reduced ability to spend government resources.
Politicians could no longer only focus on their small constituency and thus pork barrel projects decreased. Urbanization called for the need to use broad-based policies for urban voters. As the needs of urban voters vary significantly, and a single candidate cannot appeal to the majority of voters as easily as they could in a rural constituency with generally similar needs. Furthermore, the LDP could not longer easily spend government resources on different candidates within a single party because of the poor economy and increasing government debt.
It was necessary instead to centralize campaigns in order to limit their expenses. The "best loser" system in the party list side is a Japanese idiosyncratic rule.
Books by Akira Nakamura (Author of Party Politics in Japan)
To decide who will receive a seat in the party list side, the candidates who lose the most narrowly in the single-member district side of the election are given priority. Thus, candidates have an incentive to win with by the largest margin possible in their own districts. To do this, candidates will still use tactics to try to appeal themselves as an individual candidate in the case that the party they belong to does not win votes enough votes and they need to rely on the "best loser" system.
Despite the electoral and campaign reforms to minimize or eradicate koenkai , a financial support network for politicians, they still exist post-reform. As koenkai are valuable means of funding for candidates, it is not something they would like to easily give up. The incumbents simply align their koenkai to new boundaries, and attract new organizations in the new constituency. The candidates use their individual appeals to gain these voters.
Although the campaign reform only allows funding to go to the party, loopholes still exist to contribute directly or indirectly to a specific candidate. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. LDP: seats. Shamin: 70 seats.
Komeito: 51 seats. Shinseito: 55 seats. Communist: 15 seats. DSP: 15 seats. Sakigake: 13 seats. SDF: 4 seats. Nipponshin: 35 seats. Other: 30 seats. New Frontier Party: seats. DPJ: 52 seats. Social Democratic: 15 seats. Communist: 26 seats. Sakigake: 2 seats. Democratic Reform Party: 1 seat.
The Triumph and Fall of The Democratic Party of Japan
Other: 9 seats. DPJ: seats. Komeito: 31 seats. Communist: 20 seats. Conservative Party: 7 seats. Liberal Party: 22 seats. Social Democratic: 19 seats. Other: 21 seats.
Komeito: 21 seats. Communist: 9 seats. Social Democratic: 7 seats. Nationalist Party: 3 seats. Your Party: 5 seats. Other: 8 seats. Blueprint for a new Japan kaizo keikaku. Japan: Kodansha. Governing Japan: divided politics in a resurgent economy. Blackwell Publishing. Japan Transformed.