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Unformatted text preview: THE FALL OF THE LDP IN 1993 In June 1993, a political earthquake hit Japan. 39 LDP MPs voted against PM Miyazawa in a vote of confidence. Miyazawa then dissolved the parliament and called for new elections in July 1993. The LDP then lost the July 1993 elections. For the first time in 38 years the new PM came from another party. There were many reasons why the LDP lost but the # 1 reason was corruption. The beginning of the end for the LDP came with the Sagawa Kyubin (trucking company) scandal in February 1992. Almost all LDP politicians were involved in the scandal plus many from other parties as well. In 1992, Miyazawa's predecessor, PM Takeshita, got millions of illegal campaign contributions from the LDP gangster kingmaker, Kanemaru Shin. The latter was tried for accepting hundreds of millions in bribes and for being a master briber himself. 2 groups of LDP Diet members who voted against Miyazawa in the June 1993 noconfidence vote quit the LDP to form two new political parties. The new PM of the nonLDP 7party (all except LDP and JCP) coalition government was Hosokawa Morihiro of the Japan New Party. He had been a member of the LDP since 1971 when he was first elected to the HC with the support of Tanaka Kakuei. The new government's # 1 platform issue was to "solve the connection between politicians and big business," that is, deal with the issue of Japan's "money politics" or corruption. It failed to deal thoroughly with this issue. In April 1994 PM Hosokawa was forced to resign because of an alleged illicit relationship he had with a mobconnected trucking company. The most important reform that the Hosokawa government was able to enact was reform of the HR electoral system in March 1994. Japan adopted an electoral system like Germany's. 300 seats are elected in SMDs and (today) 180 in PR seats for a total of 480 MPs. After the Hosokawa government fell in April 1994, the next nonLDP government lasted only 8 weeks. Then what was left of the LDP returned to the government under a Socialist PM and another LDP splinter party. In January 1996 another coalition government led by the new LDP leader Hashimoto Ryutaro came to power. By autumn of 1997 Hashimoto's LDP no longer needed coalition partners to control the HR. But the Asian Financial Crisis and the deepening recession in Japan emboldened the opposition parties in May 1998 to reorganize into loose coalitions in anticipation of the July 1998 HC election. This led to a crushing defeat for the LDP and resulted in Hashimoto stepping down as PM. Two nonentities as PM followed in quick succession, Obuchi and Mori. Finally, in desperation, Koizumi Junichiro was selected as PM in April 2001. FACTIONS IN THE LDP The real leaders of the LDP have been the heads of its four or five major factions. Each has its own organization and source of funds. So the LDP is really a coalition of smaller parties (factions or habatsu) that differ not in terms of ideology--all are conservative--nor in terms of goals--all seek to capture the PM office and its patronage powers. The only significant difference between factions is the identity of the faction head. Faction leaders maintain support of the membership by providing campaign funds, political favors, and Cabinet positions. It is an oyabunkobun relationship. Up until recently the four or five faction leaders in the LDP were the kingmakers, the only politicians who counted in Japan. Everyone else followed the faction leaders. The existence of factions leads to a very restricted group of people who become LDP Diet MPs. The LDP parliamentary delegation is male dominated and extremely unrepresentative. 25 percent are former bureaucrats, about 40 percent are sons, other relatives, or former secretaries of LDP MPs. An even larger group percentage of them come from Tokyo University. It is true, however, that since the 1990s factions have become less important. Individual MPs have their own koenkai; LDP MPs pass on their koenkai to relatives or loyal staffers. Japanese politicians are expected to give gifts of money to their clients when the latter marry or suffer a death in the family, etc. Also Japanese politicians are expected to deliver pork barrel in the form of new roads, bridges, etc., to their constituencies. So money is very important in Japanese politics. A LDP candidate spends upwards of $1 million to get elected; sitting MPs must raise $30,000$60,000 a month to build war chests for the next election. In the 1990 HR election some $1 billion was spent as compared with $445 million in U.S. congressional elections. ...
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- Spring '08