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Lower House Election Provides Little Drama as LDP Stays in Power

The forty-seventh House of Representatives election on December 14, 2014, saw the ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and Kōmeitō retain their two-thirds majority in the lower house by combining to capture 326 seats, an unchanged number. The much-expected gains of the LDP failed to materialize as the party lost four seats, slipping from 295 to 291. Coalition partner Kōmeitō managed to…
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What Japan’s Farmers Really Need Is FreedomAsakawa Yoshihiro

While welcoming Prime Minister Abe’s decision for Japan to participate in the TPP free trade talks, agricultural journalist Asakawa Yoshihiro takes issue with the Abe administration’s farming policy, calling for bold moves to free Japan’s farmers and food producers.
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Japan in Pursuit of Westminster DemocracyTakenaka Harukata

Since the 1990s Japan has undertaken a raft of political reforms designed to foster more efficient and effective government. Takenaka Harukata assesses the outcome of these institutional changes, the lingering obstacles to majoritarian democracy in Japan, and the implications for policymaking under the second Abe cabinet.
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Abe’s Mandate; China’s Face-off with ASEANShiraishi Takashi

The election on July 21 for the House of Councillors resulted in a major victory for the Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner, the New Kōmeitō. The two ruling parties together won 76 of the 121 contested seats, giving them a solid majority in the upper house (they already hold more than two-thirds of the seats in the House of Representatives).(*1) The LDP won in 29 of the 31 single…
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The Role of the Kantei in Making PolicyMakihara Izuru

The Prime Minister’s Official Residence, known as the Kantei, can be thought of as Japan’s answer to the White House: it serves as both home and headquarters to the nation’s chief executive, and its name is a metonym for that top government office. But until relatively recently, a powerful bureaucracy and a tradition of decentralized decision making, added to the inherent constraints of Japan’s parliamentary system, had reduced the Kantei to little more than an onlooker in the actual policymaking process. Makihara Izuru traces the development of “Kantei leadership,” from the dawn of the LDP’s hegemony in 1955 to the present.
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Tokyo Election; Xi-Obama Meeting; G8 SummitShiraishi Takashi

In the June 23 election for the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly, all 59 of the Liberal Democratic Party’s candidates won. This is the biggest number of seats the LDP has taken in the past 10 elections for the 127-member chamber, topping the 56 it won in 1977 and 1985. The New Kōmeitō, the LDP’s partner in the ruling coalition at the national level, came in second; it fielded 23 candidates, and as wi…
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Japan-US Relations: The Need for Commitment and Restraint

Abe Shinzō’s new administration has made a promising start in its dealings with the United States, including an inaugural summit with President Barack Obama that laid the groundwork for Japan’s participation in negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. The bilateral relationship faces numerous issues, though, whose outcome remains to be seen. We asked former ambassador to the United States Fujisaki Ichirō to share his thoughts.
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Decentralization: Who Is It For?Takenaka Harukata

Decentralization of power has been on Japan’s agenda for 20 years, but how much real progress has been achieved? We interviewed Katayama Yoshihiro, who won high marks for his performance as governor of Tottori Prefecture (1999–2007) and who promoted decentralization as a member of Kan Naoto’s cabinet (2010–11).
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Abe’s Agenda on Three FrontsKitaoka Shin’ichi

In order to deal with the difficult issues Japan faces domestically and internationally, Prime Minister Abe Shinzō will need to display leadership and promote realistic policies without getting tied up in ideology.
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Acting with an Eye to HistoryKawashima Shin

Having won an overwhelming majority in the Lower House in the recent general election, the Liberal Democratic Party has returned to power in partnership with the New Kōmeitō. Prime Minister Abe Shinzō’s new government has already started to draw up a raft of new policies with a focus on the economy as it attempts to deal with the numerous domestic and international challenges facing Japan. As the …
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