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Week 13 (Dec 1 and 3). Changing Japanese Politics

Changing Japanese Politics I: "Koizumi magic"

by Go Murakami

Tradition: Updates of Japanese Politics I

What is 事業仕分け [jigyōshiwake]?

Jigyo shiwake: New system by Hatoyama gov. in which non-bureaucrat body examines the public projects to cut down the "inefficient" budget.


  1. Pick up budget 447 items which “look like” inefficient or unproductive.
  2. Aim at reducing 3 trillion yen.
  3. 仕分け人 ("shiwakenin") examine each project in an hour or so.
  4. Recommend abolishment, review, or continue of the project.
  5. Receive some backlash from various groups.


Today's point

  1. Koizumi acquired a leadership, when LDP was in crisis.
  2. Koizumi did a gamble in the 2005 election, resulting in a massive electoral success.
  3. DPJ steadily grew as an only viable alternative to LDP.



  1. Background: How and why Koizumi appeared
  2. Koizumi’s rise to power
  3. Koizumi fever and the 2001 HOC election
  4. Koizumi’s policies
  5. End of Koizumi fever and the 2003 HOR + 2004 HOC elections
  6. Koizumi’s gamble and magic results of the 2005 HOR election


0. Overview: Percentage of seats by party (HOR elections)

1. Background: How and why Koizumi appeared

3 key elements that led to Koizumi’s revival…

  1. LDP changed its election rules to a 2-step process: votes in all 47 prefectural chapters first, then vote among LDP Diet members.
    • Pref. chapters = 141 votes (47 x 3),
    • Diet votes = 346 MPs.
    • Total College = 487.
  2. Kato no ran: Koichi Kato’s self-destruction in Dec 2000 (failed attack on Mori).
  3. Collapse in PM Mori’s popularity in 2001, ahead of UH elections.

Mori Yoshiro (森 喜朗)

  • Became PM by the negotiation by LDP leaders in a secret room.
  • Leader of Mori faction (Cont. Mitsuzuka)
  • An architect of the current PR system (HOR).
  • 「日本は天皇を中心とする神の国」"Japan is a divine nation with the Emperor at its center" (May 2000)
  • 「無党派層は寝ててくれればいい」 "If non-partisans are not interested in politics, it would be great if they just stay home and sleep on an election day." (June 2000)
  • Loves playing golf when he should do his job.

June 2000 HOR election results

  • LDP and Komei lost seats, while DPJ won a lot.
    • LDP: 271 --> 233; Komei 42 --> 31; DPJ: 95 --> 127.
  • LDP lost significantly in urban areas.
  • More split votes of SMD and PR.
  • Mori stayed in power despite the loss.
  • DPJ is still weak, but two party competition pattern emerged in this election

Source: Thies (2002).

Support rate of Mori Cabinet (%) (Yomiuri Shimbun)

Source: Yomiuri Shimbun (various years)

  • 8.6% of support rate in February 2001.
  • Criticized as 「蜃気楼内閣」(mirage cabient)

USS Greenville crashed Ehime-maru on February 9th, 2001.

  • Nine students and teachers were killed.
  • Mori was playing golf when the news reached the Cabinet Offica at 10AM.
  • He came back 4 hours later.
  • Unfortunately for him, the media heavily reported this, and criticized him as "not qualified as a PM."
    • --> Mori dropped his support significantly, and stepped down.


2. Koizumi's rise to power

Koizumi ran for the LDP leadership contest for the third time.

  • Manga here [in Japanese]

Jun'ichiro Koizumi (小泉純一郎)

  • VERY eloquent and charismatic.
  • “奇人・変人” (odd person)
  • 2nd Generation MP.
  • Min. of Health and Welfare twice in 1988 and 1996.
  • 1992: Min. of Post and Telecom. Already starts to advocate privatization of Postal Savings.
  • Ran for the LDP leadership contest twice in 1995 and 1998.

Koizumi’s pledges:

  • No structural reforms, no economic recovery.
  • Good-bye to old LDP-style faction politics.
  • “I’m going to break up LDP!!”

LDP Leadership contest (April 24, 2001)

Jun'ichiro Koizumi
Ryutaro Hashimoto
Taro Aso
Shizuka Kamei
(Bowed out, and supported Koizumi)

Source: LDP (2009). 「党のあゆみ・総裁選挙」

3. Koizumi fever and the 2001 HOC election

Highest support rate since Hosokawa!!

  • 87.1% support in April 2001 (Yomiuri); 78% (Asahi); and 85% (Mainichi). Great start!
  • Party support for LDP also increased 27.2% --> 37.8% (Yomiuri)

Koizumi fever!! Popular items

  • Junchan-manju (Junichiro's pie)
  • Shishiro (LDP-authorized dolly)
  • E-mail newsletter, "Lion's heart"

Election under Koizumi I (2001): A success.

Koizumi’s early political moves (Preparation for the 2001 election):

  • April 26 Cabinet: Koizumi ruffles feathers of LDP (especially Kamei) by breaking usual LDP norms, also advocating end of factions.
  • Appointed Makiko Tanaka as Foreign Minister
  • Election Preparation, double ticket Koizumi-Tanaka.

July 2001 HOC election results

  • LDP recovered (gained 64 out of 121).
  • DPJ didn’t lose. It actually gained seats (22--> 26).
  • Most small parties (SDP, JCP and CP) declined.
  • Koizumi said "I'm going to break down LDP!", but also said "Please vote for LDP!?"

Source: Min. of Internal Affairs and Communications (2009)

4. Koizumi’s policies

His big slogan (or a buzz word): 聖域なき構造改革 [Seiiki naki kōzōkaikaku]
Structural reforms without sanctuaries

  1. No reforms, no growth.
  2. If private sectors can handle, let it handle. (--> Economic neo-liberalism)
  3. If local governments can handle the policies, let them handle. (--> Decentralization)

Key person: Heizo Takenaka

  • Former Prof. of Policy Management, Keio Univ.
  • Former member of the Obuchi’s Economic Strategy Council).
  • 2001-2003 Min. of Economic and Fiscal policy.
  • 2002-2003 Min. of Finance.
  • 2003-2005 Min. of State for Special Mission (Finance).
  • 2004-2006 Member of HOC.
  • Hobby: Structural reform.

Source: Heizo Takenaka’s official webpage.

Overall Score Cards:

  • Inherited administrative changes that empowered Kantei
  • Demonstrated new political style, new party management- showed that Japanese institutions can be more Westminister-like
  • Pushed some economic liberal reforms, but failed on some others - still enough change to reveal a growing social gap
  • Nudged foreign policy in a more nationalistic way (bad relations with China) and strengthened US-Japan alliance

Details of policies

Economic reforms:

  1. 30 trillion yen/year cap of bond.
  2. Postal Reforms (privatization of post office).
  3. Financial Reforms, bad loans disposal.

Foreign policies:

  1. Stronger US-Japan alliance: Support for war in Afghanistan, troops in Iraq, Missile Defense
  2. Opened link with NK but backtracked after hostage crisis
  3. Cooled down the relationship with China with Yasukuni visit.
  4. Increased top down political leadership (Kantei mark)


5. End of Koizumi fever and the 2003 HOR + 2004 HOC elections

Tanaka—Suzuki battle.

Results: Draw. Koizumi dismissed Tanaka, and Suzuku had to resign LDP and MP for his own scandals.
Logic: 喧嘩両成敗 (Both sides in quarrel be punished)

Source: Yomiuri (2009); JNN (2009)


DPJ and LP (Ozawa's party) merged in July 2003.

Purpose: Beat LDP and change the government in the next election.

November 2003 HOR election results

  • LDP lost some (244 --> 240), but stayed in power thanks to Komei.
  • DPJ steadily grew (138 --> 177).
  • This means that the substantive percentage of SMD votes still went to LDP (43.9%) compared to DPJ (36.7%).
  • But more PR votes went to DPJ (37.4%) than LDP (35.0%)
  • Obvious two party system and two party competition pattern (LDP + DPJ share 86.3% of all the seats, compared to 75% in 2000).
  • Most small parties (SDP, JCP and CP) declined.

Source: Schaap (2005, p. 140)

November 2004 HOC election results

  • LDP lost again, but said “We beat DPJ (with Komei)!”
  • DPJ steadily continued to grow (38 --> 50 seats).
  • Pension plan issue (未納問題: Non-payment of pension fee) became hot with scandals (e.g. Fukuda, Kan, Ozawa, and even Koizumi!).

Source: Min. of Internal Affairs and Communications (2009)


6. Koizumi’s gamble and magic results of the 2005 HOR election

Now Koizumi (and LDP) is in trouble... So he decided to do a gamble.

Koizumi’s long-term mission:

郵政民営化法案(Postal privatization bill)

  • Divide three Postal office-related works into four companies and process privatization in 10 years (2007-2017).
    • Three postal office-related works are: 1. postal services, 2. banking, and 3. insurance
    • Four companies run a business of 1. postal services, 2. banking, 3. insurance, or 4. retailing the above three using post offices.
  • Strong opposition by many post office tribe LDPs.
  • Forcibly passed within LDP without consensus.
  • Passed in HOR on July 5th by 5 votes.
  • Blocked by some LDP defectors in HOC on July.
  • 37 LDP HOR MPs, and 22 LDP HOC MPs voted against the bill.

Koizumi had repeatedly said,

Koizumi: “Votes against privatization of post office is vote of non-confidence to the Koizumi government!”

After the bill was blocked by his LDP colleagues, he said

Koizumi: “OK, I’ll dissolve the HOR, and ask people!”

Mori (Koizumi's faction boss) and Aoki (LDP leader in HOC) tried to persuade Koizumi NOT to have an election with divisive condition (which looks like a political suicide), but Koizumi said

Koizumi “You can kill me, but I'm going to do this.”

And dismissed Shimamura Min. of Agriculture, who were against the idea, and dissolved the HOR. He declared,

Koizumi: “This election is all about whether the post office should be privatized or not!!”


Koizumi show: Deploying 刺客 (assassins)

  • Koizumi didn’t allow defectors to run for the election as LDP candidates.
  • Of 37 LDP defectors
    • 4 formed 国民新党 (People’s New Party);
    • 3 formed 新党日本 (New Party Nippon);
    • 3 gave up running; and
    • the rest (27) ran as independent.
  • The media focused on the battles between defectors and assassins!

Defectors: Kamei and Watanuki (PNP)

Koizumi show: examples of assassins

  • Yukari Sato against Seiko Noda
  • Satsuki Katayama against Minoru Kiuchi
  • Takafumi HOrie against Shizuka Kamei?? --Well, they got carried away a bit...

Policy discussion? Manifesto? ---Quite limited.

  • LDP's slogan: “Don’t stop the structural reform.”
  • DPJ's slogan: “Never give up Japan.”

Breakdown of press interviews by issues

Koizumi (LDP): 16min. 30 sec.

Okada (DPJ): 12 min. 13 sec.

Did people care? –Yes, and no.

“When you vote, which would you consider as the most important issue?”

  • Single-choice answer
  • In the early August, 20% (at best) chose the issue of privatizing Post office as the most important issue.
  • Compared to “Pension and healthcare” (33%), Economy and employment (24%), this is still lower.
  • The relative importance of privatization of PO grew over time from May (11%), July (15%) to the early August (20%) as Koizumi advertize this issue. --> Obviously some agenda setting effect!!

Source: JNN (2009)

The 2005 election results--A massive LDP victory.

September 2005 HOR election results

  • LDP won a large number (296 seats), 2/3 of all seats (327) with Komei (31).
  • DPJ lost significantly (177 --> 113)
  • LDP gained more votes than DPJ not only in SMD, but also in PR (38.2% to DPJ's 31.0%).
  • DPJ’s SMD vote % did not significantly reduce. 36.7% in 2003, and 36.4% in 2005. (*Watch out: new 22 SMD candidates ran in new districts.)
  • DPJ suffered a lot in urban areas, where its strength lied.
  • Some defectors still survived!

Source: Maeda (2005, p. 625)

Election under Koizumi III (2005): A “magic”?

As the result, Okada stepped down from the DPJ leader.

Koizumi magic??

  1. Effect of high expectations for Koizumi gov. on voting for LDP in 2001 election (Ikeda 2004).
  2. But high expectations were slowly replaced by evaluations of Koizumi gov. and LDP in 2003 and 2004 elections (Ikeda 2005; Yamada 2005).
  3. Koizumi’s single-issue election drama swayed voters’ mind and the electoral results.



  1. 1. Koizumi saved LDP in its crisis.
    • Mori was a terribly unpopular PM.
    • People were dissatisfied with the old LDP politics.
  2. Koizumi’s gamble paid off, sustaining LDP in power for another 4 years.
  3. Two party system seems entrenched.
    • DPJ grew as the only viable option to LDP.
    • Komei and LDP was stuck each other.


Changing Japanese Politics II:
“DPJ’s landslide victory in the 2007 and 2009 elections”

by Go Murakami

Tradition: Updates of Japanese Politics I

After the Jigyoshiwake…

  • Interests grps, bureaucrats, and even some cabinet members started pressuring the government for a possible “revival” of the budget/project.
    • Min. of Welfare and Labor, Nagatsuma accepted to give up the 328 billion yen, but said that 19/51 projects are “hard to abolish.”)
  • Hatoyama makes a final (political) decision with other Cabinet members by December 30th.
  • Meanwhile, Hatoyama said that he considers breaking initial policy proposals in Manifesto—e.g. Child benefits.
    • Child benefits: Initial promise was that DPJ will distribute 26,000 yen per month per child to all the households with children under 16 (junior high school students).
    • This requires the budget of 2.3 trillion yen.

[Difficult Question]

Is child benefits more important than building super computers for the future Japan?

Meanwhile, Hatoyama is going to create another agency/institutions:


  • Ask people and bureaucrats directly whether there are wasteful/inefficient projects.
  • Possible punishment of bureaucrats, when they committed to illegal activities, such as accounting fraud, etc.
  • Start from January 2010
  • Details are not clear yet.
  • Does this work? Or is this just another performance?


Today's point

  1. 3 PMs failed to succeed Koizumi’s popularity, or restructure LDP to sustain in power. LDP’s popularity was expired.
  2. Multiple conditions enabled DPJ to win in both elections in 2007 and 2009.



  1. Review of the 2005 election
  2. Koizumi’s successor: Abe and the 2007 election
  3. The second white knight? Fukuda
  4. The last card: Aso
  5. DPJ’s landslide victory in the 2009 election
  6. Review of DPJ
  7. Why DPJ could win two elections


1. Review of the 2005 election

(See above notes)

Koizumi stepped down voluntarily. Now…

How long does this magic continue??

“Post” Koizumi issue: Who will succeed him?

麻垣康三 (Asagakikozo; Aso, Tanigaki, Fukuda, and Abe).


2. Koizumi’s successor: Abe and the 2007 election

Shinzo Abe (安倍晋三)

  • Young (1954-). 52 years old, when he became a PM. (The first PM born after the WWII.)
  • Born in a “political family.”
    • Father: Abe Shintaro (Former Min. of Foreign Affairs)
    • Grandfather: Nobusuke Kishi (Former PM)
    • Great ant: Eisaku Sato (Former PM)
  • Koizumi’s favorite.
  • A landslide victory in the LDP leadership contest (66% of votes with 3 candidates (Aso and Tanigaki)
  • Had a very good start. High support rate next to Koizumi (70.0% Yomiuri; 63% Asahi).

What Abe tried to do:

  • More centralization of power (to PMO), creation of NSC.
  • Aim at a bit abstract policy goals (“beautiful country”, “Breakaway from the post-war regime”, etc.).
  • Patriotic education reforms.
  • Change the Constitution (esp. Article 9)

What Abe achieved:

  • Mixed initial results: Success on foreign policy front, but people unsure about the rushed education reform.
  • Less powerful than Koizumi vs LDP: readmitted 11 postal rebels and saw support rate fall.
  • Set up the procedures to change the constitutions
    •  Procedural, not substantive changes.
  • Eventual disaster in July 2007 after lots of scandals.
    • E.g. Toshiaki Matsuoka (Then-Min. Agriculture) for his fraud accountant. The media focused on his suspicious spending of 5 million yen to “Yallah-yallah-yallah mineral water” --> Committed suicide.

Support rate of Abe gov. (Sep. 06 to Jul. 07)

Source: Nikkei Research (2009)

2007 HOC election: A landslide DPJ’s victory

July 2007 HOC election results

  • DPJ beat LDP by almost doubling its seats (32 --> 60).
  • LDP lost almost half of its seats (64 --> 37)
    --> Resulted in ねじれ国会 (“twisted” or divided Diet)
  • Abe was hospitalized and stepped down, after being criticized severely.


3. The second white knight?—Yasuo Fukuda

Yasuo Fukuda (福田康夫)

  • Another 2nd generation politician.
    • Father: Takeo Fukuda (PM: Dec. 1976 – Dec. 1978), who had a hawkish stance in foreign policy, but responsible for peaceful principles of Fukuda Doctorin in Manila 1977 and the Japan-China Peace and Friendship Treaty in 1978.
  • Came to power in September 2007 after Abe left in disgrace.
  • Basically succeeds the Koizumi’s tight fiscal policy.
  • Pro-international (multilateral) cooperation.
  • Emphasis on the relationship with Asian countries (especially China)
    • Criticized Koizumi’s Yasukuni visit, and didn’t visit Yasukuni when he was a PM, although he was said to have visited personally before.

    --> Successful foreign policy: China and Korea, with continuous strong US alliance.

Support rate of Fukuda gov. (Sep. 07 to Aug. 08)

Source: Nikkei Research (2009)

Why couldn’t Fukuda revitalize Japan?

  • “Twisted Diet”: Inherited the divided Diet and never had a chance to introduce bills (only bill passed is refueling bill by the HOR 2/3 override).
    • Initially, Ozawa (DPJ) was willing to cooperate with Fukuda (around October-November), but changed his policy due to the internal pressure.
    • DPJ decided to oppose cooperate with LDP, and blocked virtually all the bills.
  • Fiasco over BOJ and gas tax.
    • BOJ: Fukuda appointed Toshiro Muto or Koji Tanami, but DPJ rejected them for their “Min. of Finance-colored” backgrounds. No president until DPJ agree to store Masaaki Shirakawa.
  • Criticized for reassertion of traditional bureaucratic style and lack of leadership.
  • Fukuda suddenly stepped down.


4. LDP’s last card: Taro Aso

Aso Taro (麻生太郎)

  • Another xth generation politician.
  • Grandfather: Shigeru Yoshida (Former PM), Grand-grand father: Toshimichi Okubo
  • Catholic, but went to Yasukuni sometimes (not during this PM duty.)
  • Hawkish in foreign policies.
  • Prefers economic growth to tight fiscal policies (did not follow Koizumi’s tight fiscal policy).
  • Prefers reading manga to Kanji.

Aso’s duty: To dissolve an election as long as his support rate is higher.

But financial crisis occurred (Fall 2008)...

So he continued PM, and distributed handouts

  • Goodies to everyone: about 15,000 yen to individuals in April 2009.
    • 26.9 trillion yen in total!!

Why did he do this?

  • LDP’s secret polls in October based on 300 districts suggest that the party will lose significantly.
    • LDP-Komeito coalition will have 235, below majority threshold of 241
  • He probably thought that he should wait until his support rate and LDP popularity will improve eventually by this economic crisis management.

Results: Support rate of Aso gov. (Sep. 08 to July. 21)

Source: Nikkei Research (2009)

And its results: Plucking Aso down (Aso oroshi)—Internal criticisms

  • LDP MPs worried that LDP will lose worse, if Aso continues his government.

Then its results: Losing Aso and rising Hatoyama.


5. DPJ’s landslide victory in the 2009 election

August 2009 HOR election results

  • A complete overturn of the previous seats distr.
  • LDP: 300 --> 119, whereas DPJ: 115 --> 308
  • Komei and JCP lost all the SMD seats.

Source: Yomiuri Online (2009)

  • More visually at individual district-level from Asahi.com, it was a complete reversal of seats: from this (2005) to this (2009).

Big LDP and Komei MPs who lost in this election

Ratio of margin of loss*
Major former posts
Shoichi Nakagawa
Hokkaido 11
Former Min. of Finance.
Taku Yamasaki
Fukuoka 2
Former secretary general of LDP
Takashi Sasagawa
Gunma 2
Former Chief of the LDP Council
Toshiki Kaifu
Aichi 9
Former PM
Hakuo Yanagisawa
Shizuoka 3
Former Min. Wealth and Labor/Finance Service
Fumio Kyuma
Nagasaki 2
Former Min. of Defense
Akihiro Ohta
Tokyo 12
Former leader of Komei
Tetsuzo Fuyushiba
Hyogo 8
Former Min. of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism
Kazuo Kitagawa
Osaka 16
Former secretary general, current vice president of Komei

* Ratio of margin of loss = [(Vote of runner-up candidate) / (Vote of an elected candidate)] * 100 (%), by which the candidates listed at the same rank in the party PR list will be rank orderd, and the candidates with the higher ratio will be elected as "zombies" (Fukkatsu-tosen).

Source: Asahi.com (2009); 総務省 (2009)

Even Fukuda was close to lose…

District: Gunma 4 results:

Fukuda (LDP): 103,852 (51.9%)
Miyake (DPJ): 91,904 (45.9%)
Morita (Other): 4,315 (2.2%)

  • Fukuda used to beat the opponent massively—earned about 63% of votes (118,517) compared to about 30% of votes (56,364) of votes by a DPJ candidate in the 2005 election.
  • Miyake was re-elected as a zonbi in PR.

DPJ side of story: Social democratic policies

From DPJ Manifesto 2009:

  • Its slogan: “Change!” (政権交代) … Doesn’t this sound familiar??
  • “Put people before concrete”--Social welfare rather than constructions.
  • Child care allowance,
    • 550,000 yen temporary fee for birth, 26,000 yen/month for each child until graduating junior high school; 120,000 to 240,000 yen/year allowance to the private high school children.
  • Minimum Pension payment.
    • Minimum of 70,000 yen/month payment for everyone.
  • Minimum wages
    • 800 yen nationwide. Possibly 1,000 yen if the economy allows.
  • Securing rights of temp. workers
    • Prohibit temporary staffing to the manufacturing industry or employment for less than 2 months.

Wow, it promises a lot. Can they manage?

Interesting public opinion polls

“Do you think the LDP/DPJ can secure the finance to meet the promised policies?”

Source: Asahi.com (2009)

But the policy positions seem quite different between DPJ and LDP.

Mean policy positions of party candidates in 2009.

Another DPJ Side of story: "Ozawa children" or "assasins" to LDP/Komei leaders which attracted media attentions:

Common (often) denominators: Young, female, good-looking, and Ozawa has strong influences.


Faction or "group" leader
Apprx. number
Ozawa (Isshinkai)
Former SPJ
Former DSP
1 (independent?)


6. Review of DPJ

Lineage of DPJ

  • Amalgam of various opposition and mainstream party members with different roots
  • But most leaders used to be in LDP.
    • Ozawa (LDP --> Japan Renewal Party (JRP) --> New Frontier Party (NFP) --> Liberal Party --> DPJ
    • Okada (LDP --> JRP --> NFP --> Democratic Party --> DPJ)
    • Hatoyama (LDP --> Sakigake --> Democratic Party --> DPJ)

Brief history of DPJ since its foundation

  • Started in 1996 as a party of liberal reform targeting urban voters.
  • Home for Sakigake remnants and socialists – links with unions.
  • Merged with LP (2003) – targeted anti-Koizumi anti-reform LDP traditionalists in rural areas (2007 UH)
  • A diverse party spectrum, but a surprising new internal coherence with burst of new candidates over recent years.

Policy preferences and ideological discrepancies

  • DPJ has a wider distribution than LDP in 2003.
  • There is an internal split on some major issues (i.e. Constitutional ammendments, Overseas SDF deployment, Fiscal reform, etc.)


7. Why DPJ could win two elections

1. Long-term frustration with the LDP politics

  • Corruptions
  • Political inertia
  • Faction politics

2. Koizumi’s structural reforms angered traditional (rural) supporters and the socially vulnerable.

3. Economic recession

  • Financial crisis in 2008

4. Development of DPJ as the credible alternative to LDP.

  • Kan-Hatoyama idealism with Ozawa realism
  • Increased cooperation/coalition with SDP.
  • Increasing party identifiers

Some evidences--Frustration.

Support rate of 3PMs—Abe, Fukuda, and Aso.

  • The initial support rate drops as the LDP PM is replaced (Abe: 71% --> Fukuda 59% --> 53%)
  • The initial enthusiasm withers very quickly: The support drops to 20-30% range witin one year.

Source: Nikkei Research (2009)

Some evidences--Economic recession.

Annualized real GDP growth rate (change from the previous quarter, seasonally adjusted).

  • The Aso government started when the economy was very bad.

Source: Cabinet Office (2009)

Some evidences--DPJ's viability.

  • DPJ steadily increased the number of candidates it fielded in SMD.
    • If there are no DPJ candidates, it means that they can't vote for DPJ in SMD, because they don't have a choice.
    • If voters do not have a choice to vote for SMD, some argue that they are less likely to vote for DPJ in PR.
  • DPJ decreased the number of districts where opposition parties compete by cooperating with other minor parties (mainly SDPs).
    • The two-party competition situation has become prevalent.

Number of districts where parties fielded a candidate


* NDCOP: Number of districts with competing opposition parties except JCP.

Source: Somusho (2009); Asahi.com (2009)

“Duverger’s law is working in Japan!” (by Reed)

Mean LT Index 
% of districts where gov. versus opposition party 

LT Index (Laakso and Taagepera’s index) = 1/Σvi^2, meaning the effective number of candidates.

Source: Reed (2007); Yomiuri Online (2009)

Yearly averaged percentage of party support

  • The figure is the averaged percentage of party support (mostly monthly polls)
  • DPJ's average support rate increased from 9.2% to 12.2% in 2003; then 20.8% in 2005 to 25.1% in 2009 (before the election).

Source: JNN (2009)


  1. Three post-Koizumi PMs failed to stop the growing unpopularity of LDP.
    • Abe failed to succeed in Koizumi’s popularity;
    • Fukuda couldn’t pass any bills;
    • Aso didn’t dissolve the Diet soon.
  2. Some conditions enabled DPJ to win in both elections in 2007 and 2009.


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