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Timeline for February 2014

Japanese athletes experience success and disappointment in Sochi; a new governor defeats antinuclear candidates to win election in Tokyo; and record snowfall brings chaos to parts of Japan. Look back on the top Japanese news stories of February 2014.

Ishihara Shintarō’s New Party and the “Third Force” in Japanese PoliticsHitora Tadashi

Eighty-year-old Ishihara Shintarō has put the cat among the pigeons again, announcing that he will resign from his position as governor of Tokyo in order to form a new political party and stand as a candidate in the next elections for the House of Representatives. Ishihara caused an international furor earlier this year with his plans for the metropolitan government to purchase the disputed Senkak…

An Uncertain Year Ahead Following the Leadership ElectionsMasuzoe Yōichi

Leadership elections for Japan’s two largest political parties took place in September 2012. While Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko easily retained control of the governing Democratic Party of Japan, the contest was considerably more eventful for the opposition Liberal Democratic Party. The incumbent president, Tanigaki Sadakazu, withdrew from the competition, leaving a battle between five contenders…

Consumption Tax Bill Repercussions Have Just BegunGotō Kenji

As we all know, the last phase of deliberations over the consumption tax bill took place on August 8, at a meeting between Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko of the Democratic Party of Japan and Tanigaki Sadakazu, leader of the opposition Liberal Democratic Party.(*1) It was then that Noda promised Tanigaki that he would dissolve the lower house and call a general election “soon,” persuading Tanigaki t…

Gearing Up for the General ElectionMasuzoe Yōichi

Setting aside their political differences, the Liberal Democratic Party, the New Kōmeitō Party, and the Democratic Party of Japan joined together to pass a bill in the Diet for a comprehensive reform of the taxation and social security systems. Leading up to this, Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko promised LDP President Tanigaki Sadakazu(*1) that he would dissolve the Diet to hold a snap general ele…

The Political Significance of Noda’s Consumption Tax HikeTakenaka Harukata

The package of bills that will raise the consumption tax was passed by the House of Representatives at the end of June. Political parties that had opposed each other came together to pass the bills. Political scientist Takenaka Harukata discusses some of the reasons for this sequence of events.

The New Parties’ Political ImpactHitora Tadashi

Chances for Coalition and Cooperation

In the second half of 2012, with an eye on the potential political landscape following a general election, Japan’s ruling and opposition parties will escalate their leadership struggles in preparation for a possible early dissolution of the Diet. The ruling Democratic Party of Japan and the opposition Liberal Democratic Party are both s…

From Local Juggernaut to National Leader—Can Hashimoto Make the Leap?Machidori Satoshi

Osaka Mayor Hashimoto Tōru is one of several dynamic young local leaders bent on building a national organization capable of making a splash in the next general election. Analyzing this phenomenon in the context of Japan’s dual political system, Machidori Satoshi asks whether the charismatic, confrontational style that has served Hashimoto and his ilk so well at the local level can translate into success in the national arena.

Why Japanese Politics Is at a StandstillTakenaka Harukata

In recent years, the problem of a “divided government,” in which the ruling party or coalition lacks a sufficient majority in either chamber of the Diet to get laws passed, has brought antagonism between the main parties to boiling point and paralyzed the political process. One of the main reasons for this sorry state of affairs is the role played in the Japanese political system by the House of Councillors. Professor Takenaka Harutaka provides the background.

“Iron Triangle” of Policymaking Persists Under DPJ GovernmentMasuzoe Yōichi

What is the process for deciding on policy in Japan? Who has the most power when it comes to determining policy—politicians, bureaucrats, or special interest groups?  This question was examined by numerous scholars during the long period of rule by the Liberal Democratic Party. Their research unearthed certain patterns. Under the Policy Affairs Research Council of the LDP during its rule, commi…

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