Term Paper: Japanese Politics

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Japanese Politics Float

Under the Occupation (led by the United States), Japan underwent legislative changes that aimed to provide a more representative political system in the society. Through the Occupation Japanese political system was centered in the executive and legislative branches. Created in 1947, the previously known Imperial Diet became the National Diet; it was composed of two legislative bodies, which are the House of Representatives (Shugi-in) and House of Councillors (Sangi-in).

The National Diet became the sole holder of political power in Japan. The Emperor, like the monarchy in Britain, was retained but has little function and influence over the country's political affairs. As replacement to the Emperor, the Prime Minister assumed the premiere ruler's functions. Nevertheless, being a representative political system, the National Diet has the bulk of legislative control in the country.

The House of Councillors is composed of members of the Upper House; however, despite its higher stature than the House of Representatives (Lower House), it has limited power when compared to the Lower House. The Lower House has the power to choose the Prime Minister, as well as accomplish legislative tasks such as the enactment of laws, approval of budgets, proposition of amendments, and check-and-balancing government activities. Though the Upper House can delay or not readily approve the proposed bills from the Lower House, its power can only go so far as to implement delays, but it does not have the power to affect or intervene the passage and implementation of these proposed bills. The Lower House still determines the bills that will become laws. From this distribution of powers and the nature of the political system in Japan, it became apparent that the Grand Alliance (U.S. And Britain) intended to prevent Japan from assuming an authoritarian regime, as it once had been during the Second World War.

Japan's political party system had been strong in nature even before U.S. occupied the country and introduced political changes in it. Japan under the Imperial Diet had already been composed of the two-party system, and during the early 20th century (1918), the country had already been undergoing shifts politically towards being a constitutional government wherein power was concentrated among members of the Lower House.

When post-war Japan adopted the new National Diet political system, its two-party system had become a multi-party system, what with the proliferation of new alliances in politics resulting from various partnerships and associations in business (Japanese politics and business were strongly interrelated during this period). Mobilization of votes begin at the political party-level, wherein each political party aimed to garner the most number of votes in order to capture the most number of seats in the Lower House or House of Representatives. Through the years, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) had dominated both the Lower and Upper Houses; however, this trend of political dominance shifted during the latter part of the 20th century (circa 1996), when the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) was formed to challenge LDP and its stronghold in the Lower House. These shifts in political power in the Lower House based on the multi-party system reflected that mobilization of vote begins through political parties and ends with the capturing of seats in the Lower House, where the power of the National Diet is centered.

The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), being the oldest and strongest political party in Japan in the 1960s, had dominated Japanese politics for the next three decades (until 1996). Throughout its reign as the majority party of the Lower House, other political parties had been created, challenging the control of LDP of the House of Representatives.

One of these political parties was the Social Democratic Party, which was created as an opposition to the LDP and its pro-capitalist principles. The SDP was among the earliest political parties to be formed in opposition to LDP, which was formed in 1947. Other political parties were formed, interestingly, only after five decades from SDP's inception; in the 1990s, Japan had fully become a multi-party system.

Other political parties include the New Party Sakikage (1993), which was a coalition formed by LDP dissenters; the New Frontier Party (1995) was composed of socio-political organizations that formed together to create a political party that challenged political control that LDP, SDP, and Sakikage held; and the Japanese Communist Party, though created in 1922, emerged only as an active political party in 1990. The Democratic Party of Japan had been significant in Japanese politics because it was able to abolish LDP's dominance in the Lower and Upper Houses, and in the 1998 Upper House election, DPJ was able to distribute control among various political parties (representatives) with the radically low voter turn-out and confidence on LDP. LDP shared the Lower and Upper House seats -- that is, Diet control -- along with SDP and DPJ.

Two classification of parties emerged to be the characteristic of Japan's political parties: mass and catch-all parties.

Mass parties were formed outside of the Parliament, maintain an open membership, and subsist to an ideology to entice people to become members. The objective of mass political parties is to have as many members as possible, centering on diversity and the ideal that the larger number, the most representative the political party is. An example of a mass political party was the Liberal Democratic Party, Democratic Party of Japan, and Sakikage.

Catch-all political parties, meanwhile, is characterized by their subsistence to a high-degree of ideology. That is, these political parties are associated with the ideologies they stand for. Most popular of this kind of political party are socialist- and Communist-centered organizations. In Japan, the Socialist Democratic Party and Japanese Communist Party are examples of catch-all political parties due to each party's belief in the socialist and Communist ideologies, respectively.

From these observations in the creation and development of Japanese politics from being two-party to multi-party system, it was evident that the country's political history after WWII was based only on two objectives. First, political parties were formed to contest the capitalist ideologies that Japan subsisted to after the war, hence the creation of catch-all political parties like the SDP and JCP. Second, political parties were formed as opposition to the long-reigning LDP. This reflected how the most political parties were formed mainly to put an end to LDP-led politics, that is, LDP will lose its control of the National Diet, specifically the House of Representatives.

Japan, being the most highly-industrialized country in the Asian region, has a characteristically corporatist politics due to the strong interrelation of politics and business (economics) in the country.

This generalization was generated after analyzing the trends in which Japanese political parties have subsisted to businesses and corporations in order to generate funding for their political activities. After securing a seat or position in the diet, these Japanese politicians benefit these sponsor businesses and corporations by granting them special favors such as ease in securing business licenses, among others.

The Liberal Democratic Party was an example of a political entity which has cultivated a corporatist nature to its politics. The LDP being the oldest and strongest political party in Japan, it dominated and controlled the Diet for many years since the emergence of 20th century. As the 20th century prepared for the coming of the 21st century, LDP had been the focus of political scandals, wherein its strong connections with businesses and corporations revealed that Japanese politics was controlled not by the LDP, but its sponsor businesses instead. In 1998-2001, it was found that LDP had been involved in the long history of corruption and bribery from businesses and corporations in exchange for a promise in deregulation in specific sectors of the business/economic society (e.g., banking and financing and manufacturing).

The social structure of Japan at present was not as hierarchical and stratified as it was during the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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"Japanese Politics."  Essaytown.com.  May 10, 2005.  Accessed July 19, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/japanese-politics/5184037.