Libmonster ID: JP-1211

Japan Keywords:political systemDPJN. Kan

The crushing defeat of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in the House of Representatives elections on August 30, 2009 and the formation of the Government of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) were epochal for the entire political system of the country.

However, the disillusionment of many voters in the DPJ, the forced resignation of Prime Minister Yu. Hatoyama and the failure of the Democrats in the elections to the upper house of parliament on July 11, 2010 showed that the country's path to a radical renewal of the country's political system will be long and thorny. In the DPJ itself, there is a sharp struggle for power. Current Prime Minister Naoto Kan won the re-election of the party leader on September 14, 2010 with the support of 206 Democratic parliamentarians against 200 from former DPJ Secretary General and Chairman Ichiro Ozawa.

D. V. STRELTSOV

Doctor of Historical Sciences

Japan's current political system is a fragile structure with an uncertain future: it can be transformed into a classic two-party system, but it can also return to its old ways - to the consensual "1955 system" based on the dominance of one party.

This process is taking place against the backdrop of serious economic and social problems that Japan has been trying to cope with with varying success over the past two decades, trying to adapt to the requirements of the information society and globalization.

THE LONG DEMISE OF THE 1955 SYSTEM

The DPJ's victory in 2009 reflected many significant changes in the country's political life.

Since the formation of the LDP in 1955, no opposition party has come to power in a general election. The short period of power of the "seven-party coalition" in 1993-1994 did not lead to the transfer of power to the opposition party as a consolidated political force capable of offering an effective alternative to the model of the ruling power of the Liberal Democrats. Even after the collapse of the 1955 system, the political process revolved around the LDP, which, although forced to form coalitions with the Socialist Party of Japan (SPJ) and later with the New Komeito, did not lose its status as the dominant party.

The change of power showed, first of all, the failure of the previous political paradigm, in which individual deputies with personal "support societies" and a baggage of personal connections were more important subjects of the political process than political parties. The elections demonstrated the weakening of the phenomenon of "personally oriented, party-indifferent electorate", which is included in all textbooks of Japanese political science.

It is also important that the DPJ, having a higher level of centralization of governance throughout the country and local organizations, performed more consolidated and organized in the elections, in this sense responding to the concept of "political party" more than the LDP.

The elections also demonstrated qualitatively new requirements for political cadres. The DPJ is clearly superior to the LDP for the reason that its deputies are younger in age, more educated (in particular, it has more graduates of the most prestigious Tokyo State University), its representatives have richer practical work experience (the share of people from the state bureaucracy is higher).

The trend of the time was also the demand for non-professional deputies who do not have strong family or clan roots in the political world, and those are more numerous among Democrats. The demand for non-professional politicians has grown especially in an environment where the majority of the electorate is made up of so-called floating votes that are not tied to any particular political force. In the eyes of such voters, a deputy's lack of political experience is not a disadvantage. On the contrary, the DPJ's opportunity for non-professionals to enter politics freely has become one of the most important factors in the world.

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factors that increase its popularity.

As far as the LDP is concerned, it has not recovered from the heavy defeat it suffered in the 2009 elections and continues to experience a systemic identity crisis, the most severe since its foundation in 1955. The main problem of the LDP is its inability to carry out radical internal reforms that would allow the party to adapt to the current situation and improve its political situation. enter the elections as a consolidated political force capable of forming a programmatic and ideological alternative to the DPJ.

Among the main problems of the LDP, most experts call the lack of strong leaders who can lead the party masses, the inability to do away with the old factional structure that does not meet the requirements of the time, and the reliance on traditional, outdated methods of attracting votes, mainly due to the personal connections of current deputies, a significant part of whom are used to "inheriting" the electoral district. The LDP candidates mainly appealed to the negative emotions of the voters, their fear of losing state subsidies and other benefits. The agitation of many Liberal Democrats was reduced to a simple formula: "If you don't elect me, you will be left without state support." This alienated the most active and change-hungry part of the electorate from the LDP.

Even after going into opposition, the LDP failed to put forward competitive and constructive programs to solve the most acute problems facing Japan in the socio-economic field, as well as in ensuring national security.

The Liberal Democrats ' election platform was based mainly not on putting forward their own political alternatives, but on criticizing the DPJ and trying to make the most of its mistakes. Huge complaints, including among ordinary party members, were caused by the LDP's parliamentary tactics, which disproportionately featured obstructionist methods, in particular the boycott of plenary sessions in both houses of parliament. It is not surprising that despite all the mistakes of the Democrats, the LDP rating continued to remain at a consistently low level of 15-16% during the year.

The existence of an acute crisis in the LDP was confirmed by the flight from its ranks after the failed elections in 2009 of the most promising political figures who did not see a future for themselves within the old party structure. In a short time, K. Yoshano, K. Hatoyama (brother of Prime Minister Yu. Hatoyama), T. Hiranuma, I. Masuzoe and other figures, many of whom were among the founders of new political parties.

A number of experts even started talking about the prospect of a possible split of the LDP into several small parties.

HOPES FOR A TWO-PARTY SYSTEM

In general, the DPJ's rise to power has brought the country to a kind of political fork: whether it will follow the path of a two-party system or whether some new modification of the traditional consensual democracy, which has become entrenched in the political practice of the LDP's "one-and-a-half-party" rule, will be found.

The idea of forming a full-fledged two-party system, which implies a change of parties in power as a result of parliamentary elections, has been maturing in the country's political elite for quite a long time.

Since the early 1990s, the reformist wing of the LDP has expressed concern that maintaining the party's monopoly on power entails the risk of political corruption, stagnation, rejection of any reforms and inability to ensure the country's competitiveness in a rapidly changing world. The political reform of 1994 itself was put at the service of the idea of bipartisanship, which made it possible to significantly increase the role of party brands in the political process.

It is worth recalling that the concept of a regular change of power was not alien to the entire political tradition of the period after the Meiji Revolution. This concept was largely based on the political modernization of the Taisho and Showa eras, aimed at introducing elements of British-style parliamentary democracy into the political model.

One of the "fathers" of Japanese parliamentarism, Yukio Ozaki, wrote back in 1911, justifying the need to introduce a two-party system: "As soon as the parties gain experience in gaining power and going into opposition, they will be able to fully get used to the two-party system and turn into one of the two main parties. This is how constitutionalism should work. " 1


* As a result of the revolution (restoration) Meiji (1867-1868) overthrew the power of the Tokugawa shoguns and restored the power of Emperor Mutsuhito, who headed the government, which carried out a number of radical socio-economic transformations. According to the tradition borrowed from China, the history of Japan is divided into periods of the reign of the emperor, each of which is assigned a euphonious symbolic name. The era of Mutsuhito's rule (1867-1912) was officially called Meiji (Enlightened Rule), Yoshihito (1912-1926) - Taisho (Great Justice), Hirohito (1926-1989) - Showa (Enlightened World) (editor's note).

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The principles of the two-party system were tested in practice in the mid-1920s, when two successive parties, Seiyukai and Minseito, were established on the political Olympus. The electoral law of 1925 itself, which guaranteed each of them a certain minimum of representation in Parliament, was the result of a compromise based on an understanding of the intrinsic value of the principle of regular change of power.

Many Japanese viewed the DPJ victory with great hope as a symptom of the long-awaited arrival of a two-party model and started talking about the" 2009 system "as opposed to the" 1955 system", which was based on one dominant party. We were optimistic not only about the change of power within the framework of a democratic procedure, but also about the fact that the coming to power of a new political force, as it seemed at the time, was not accidental and represented a radical renewal of the entire political system.

The post-war model of consensual democracy was based on the search for acceptable solutions based on consensus within the ruling party, between parliamentary parties, and between certain groups of the ruling elite, represented by members of Parliament, the business community, and the top bureaucracy of ministries and departments. Achieving unity of opinion within a consensual democracy is much more valuable than making decisions without first "hoeing the roots", only using institutional governance mechanisms.

In a consensual democracy, it is more difficult to show political leadership and make strong-willed political decisions aimed at implementing a certain concept (strategy), because in the process of "agreeing", finding consensus and reaching a compromise, the essence of the decision is often emasculated.

The main role in consensual democracy is played not by political leaders, but by "backbenchers", members of inter-party" deputy clans " specializing in pushing bills through parliament in a certain area of public administration. The entire political process was closed and non-public.

An alternative to the consensual model is the British Westminster model of democracy, in which the Cabinet of Ministers is at the center of decision-making. Having adopted this model as a role model, the DPJ actively undertook to reform the political decision-making system. It was assumed that the Cabinet of Ministers would become the key actor in shaping state policy, while party and bureaucratic structures were assigned mainly a technical role.

However, the implementation of the scenario of Japan's transition to a "post-consensual" model of democracy turned out to be far from as simple as it seemed during the euphoria of autumn 2009.

A whole complex of objective and subjective factors contributed to this.

MY HOPES WERE NOT TO BE FULFILLED

First of all, in 2009-2010, the socio - economic situation in the country continued to deteriorate amid the global financial and economic crisis.

The sluggish economic environment made the situation in the corporate sector more difficult, and consequently had a negative impact on the situation of employees. This was also compounded by the lack of any significant progress in the fight against unemployment, the level of which practically did not decrease, hovering around the 5% mark.

The problem of temporary employment continued to be very acute: most companies in the manufacturing sector of the economy, following a restructuring policy during the crisis, increased the share of non-permanent employees with low wages and social security in their staff. In some regions of the country, the salary of such employees was even lower than social benefits. Real incomes of the population continued to fall, the share of the poor increased, and the problem of providing pension funds with stable financial sources was not solved, despite the election promises of the Democrats.

Despite the much-publicized reform of the budget planning system, the Government of Yu. Hatoyama was unable to reverse the unfavorable trends associated with the growing state budget deficit. It is estimated that the total amount of debt owed by the central government and local governments will reach 860 trillion yen* by the end of fiscal 2010 (April 2011), which will account for about 180% of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) - the worst indicator among the developed economies of the world2.

The absolutely abnormal situation in the state finances inherited from the LDP is clearly demonstrated by the structure of the revenue side of the budget in 2010 fiscal year. The volume of tax revenues in it amounted to 37 trillion yen, while the amount of government bonds issued to cover the deficit increased to more than 44 trillion yen (48% of the budget revenue side)3. More than 22% of the budget expenditures are allocated for servicing the national debt.

The mood of voters was also affected by dissatisfaction with the DPJ's policy of continuing structural reforms, in particular, the reduction of a number of infrastructure and other projects involving huge expenditures of budget funds. As a result of this reduction, the interests of a large segment of employees of corporations focused on government orders suffered.

DPJ leader Hatoyama's failure to meet his commitment to the United Nations has also had an impact.-


* $1 is about 85.4-85.5 yen (ed. note).

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vo concerning the United States Army Air Base in Futemma (Japan). Okinawa). Hatoyama was never able to find an acceptable option for the Japanese and American sides with the transfer of the base, which was, in fact, an admission of his own impotence and caused great damage to the authority of the DPJ as a whole. The base remained in place.

A number of subjective factors related to the deterioration of the DPJ party leaders ' image in the eyes of ordinary voters also overlapped with this.

The political consequences of scandals involving violations of the laws on political foundations, in which both party leaders - DPJ Chairman Yu. were involved, were particularly strong. Hatoyama and General Secretary I. Ozawa. Hatoyama was accused of being negligent in processing political donations received from his own mother. Ozawa, for his part, has come under fire over allegations by the Tokyo Prosecutor's Office that he misused the 2004 acquisition of real estate by his personal political organization. Although the prosecution charges against both politicians were eventually dropped (their personal secretaries were brought to justice), the credibility of the party leaders significantly decreased, which could not but affect the DPJ's popularity in society.

Disillusionment with the DPJ was evidenced by the "small party phenomenon" - a rapid process of establishing and consolidating new political parties in the political arena, positioning themselves as an alternative to both the DPJ and the LDP. In addition to the previously founded All Party (Minna no to) and the New People's Party, the Rise Up Japan Party (Tachyagare Nihon) and the New Reform Party were formed less than a year after the change of power in Japan.

These parties, which became the refuge of ambitious politicians, sought to occupy a new niche in the political space, positioning themselves as a"third force". Their leaders tried to increase their personal political capital by taking advantage of the elections to the House of Councillors in the summer of 2010. They expected to "sell themselves" to the greatest advantage either by joining the ruling coalition after some bargaining, or by merging with the DPJ, provided they received significant posts in its party leadership.

Against the background of these processes, there was a significant decrease in the level of support for the DPJ cabinet. If in September 2009, immediately after the formation of the new government, it reached more than 75%, then by mid-May 2010 it had fallen to 21% 4.

Under these circumstances, the DPJ leadership was forced to replace branded figures representing the" face " of the party and go to the upper house elections with a new image.

On June 2, 2010, the resignation of Party Chairman Hatoyama and General Secretary Ozawa was announced. After the appointment of N. Kang to the post of chairman, the party's ratings slightly increased.

ANOTHER HOPE: KAHN AND THE THIRD WAY

Naoto Kan is a new type of Japanese politician who enjoys the sympathy of the broad masses of voters.

He became the first Prime Minister since 2001 who does not belong to one of the family political clans. Unlike his predecessors as Prime Minister, S. Abe, Y. Fukuda, T. Aso and Yu. Hatoyama, and a descendant of postwar heads of government. As a layman in politics who had gained experience working for the grass roots movement (a non-governmental organization), Kang appealed to ordinary Japanese people as a politician who built his career entirely with his own hands, unlike many deputies who "inherited" a seat in parliament from their parents or other relatives. Many voters also liked the fact that before becoming a member of Parliament in 1980, Kang lost three times in elections, which indicates his fighting qualities.

Kahn's political orientation also corresponded to public sentiment. A left-leaning politician, he positioned himself as both a "liberal" and a social Democrat. After the DPJ came to power, Kang emerged as the main ideologist of administrative reform, aimed at strengthening the role of government in public decision - making and, ultimately, building a full-fledged Westminster system of democracy.

Kang's choice as DPJ leader sent a message to the anti-conservative, critical-minded sections of the electorate hoping for their support.

After changing its leadership, the DPJ came to the elections to the House of Councillors with new electoral programs ("manifestos") in the areas of economy and finance, social policy, administration and foreign policy. The DPJ's basic approach to economic strategy was contained in the Hatoyama Cabinet's policy document entitled "A New Growth Strategy", as well as in Kan's policy speech to Parliament on June 11, 2010.

The concept of the "third way"is central to both documents.

This concept appeared in DPJ software installations as early as 1998, shortly after the meeting of the then DPJ leader N. Kahn with

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the head of the British Labour government, Tony Blair. It is based on the idea of combining a strong social policy of the state with the government's commitment to market principles, while rejecting the neoliberal tools of state regulation of the economy.

The concept of the" third way "was positioned by DPJ ideologists as a specific way of development, fundamentally different from both the" first way "- the" distributive "policy of the LDP era of power, which is based on reliance on" traditional values", and from the Dz conducted by the cabinet.Koizumi in 2002-2006 a neoliberal course on structural reforms, mainly based on the experience of the United States.

According to Kahn, the "first Way" is an ideology of active state fiscal incentives for the corporate sector, distributing huge government orders, conducting large-scale public works, and artificially keeping inefficient companies afloat. At the same time, in Japan, the social component of the "first way" is to transfer to private corporations the main burden of social responsibility for employees, including recruitment, wages, health and pension insurance, etc.

In contrast, Koizumi's "second way "was characterized by radical market fundamentalism, maximum deregulation of the economy, attempts to denationalize the postal service, and other principles characteristic of the neoliberal (in the United States and Great Britain called" neoconservative") model of the economy.

As for the "third way", its distinctive feature, according to DPJ ideologists, is a combination of measures to reduce the budget deficit, a policy of balanced economic growth focused on creating a "low-carbon society", and building a viable social welfare system.

According to the authors of the concept, it is the accelerated development of the social sphere with the help of state allocations that should underlie economic growth. The "third way" involves increasing the tax burden on the population, which will provide social programs with the necessary financial sources. The calculation is based on the fact that a developed social system will increase personal consumption and give an incentive to economic activity, which, accordingly, will lead to the creation of new jobs.

The DPJ's pre-election documents set out long-term public policy goals that are planned to be achieved by 2020: expanding domestic demand by 120 trillion yen, creating about 5 million new jobs, ensuring sustainable economic growth at an average annual rate of at least 2% in real terms and 3% in nominal terms, and balancing the state budget. 5.

The New Growth Strategy lists priority areas of state policy, including environmental protection, health care, energy, anti-deflation policy, and reducing the state budget deficit.

The DPJ program attaches great importance to Japan's economic integration with Asian countries, priority development of tourism, development of environmental technologies, assistance to families with children and elderly citizens of the country, etc. It is noteworthy that the DPJ program focuses on economic growth opportunities related to the specific demand that an aging population creates, for example, in the areas of health care, home care for the elderly and sick, tourism, etc. 6

TAX STUMBLING BLOCK

An important part of the DPJ's election platform was taken up by promises related to the implementation of comprehensive tax reform. The "Growth Strategy" declared a reduction in corporate taxes, which in Japan reached the highest level among the developed economies of the world. It was proposed to gradually reduce the aggregate corporate tax rate from the current 40% to 30% or even 25%, which is expected to significantly increase the international competitiveness of Japanese companies.

The issue of raising the tax on consumer goods became of key importance in the elections. It largely determines the success of the DPJ's entire economic program, which involves aggressively pumping public funds into the social sphere. The fact is that income and corporate taxes, which formed the basis of the budget revenue base, are becoming less reliable sources of tax revenues in the context of the financial and economic crisis.

At the same time, the consumer tax has a number of important advantages over other taxes. First of all, its size does not change significantly depending on the economic situation. It is also important that the burden of the consumer tax is distributed relatively proportionally.-

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the country's population, which increases the degree of its legitimacy in the eyes of the public. Finally, the tax rate in Japan is only 5%, which is significantly lower than in most Western countries (about 25% in the Scandinavian countries, 16-20% in Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom).

However, raising the consumer tax rate turned out to be a much more difficult task than it seemed at first glance.

Back in the 50s of the last century, a broad public discussion was held in Japan on the issue of taxes on individuals, as a result of which a general vector of development of the country's tax system was set, which is characterized by an increased burden of corporate taxes and a reduced burden of individual taxes. The introduction of a 3% consumer tax in 1989 and its increase to 5% in 1997 were extremely painful for Japanese voters and even led to the resignation of the government. Given this particular mentality of the Japanese, the Party promised in its pre-election manifestos for the 2009 elections not to raise the consumer tax until the end of the current term of the lower house in 2013.

However, after Hatoyama's resignation on June 2, 2010, The DPJ came up with the idea of conducting a radical revision of the entire tax system, including the consumer tax, in the near future. Kang said that among other measures to change the tax system, the party is going to consider the LDP's proposal to raise the consumer tax rate to 10%.

In his keynote speech, he outlined the areas where it is planned to allocate additional budget revenues received from the increase in the consumer tax. We are talking about their active investment in socially-oriented sectors of the economy: healthcare, care for bedridden patients and older persons.7

When analyzing the economic program of the Democrats, many Japanese people have the greatest doubts about the practical compatibility of the policy of sustainable economic growth, strengthening public finances and building a viable social security system.

Raising the consumer tax seems natural as a means of strengthening the financial system and implementing active social policies. But will it create an incentive for economic growth? Logically, an increase in the tax burden on the population can, on the contrary, become a factor in reducing domestic demand, which will inevitably affect the pace of economic development. In any case, it is clear that such diverse and contradictory tasks require unconventional solutions, the implementation of which will require great political will on the part of DPJ leaders.

As for the foreign policy aspects in the DPJ's election platform, they occupied a peripheral place in them. Security issues, including the fight against the threat of nuclear terrorism, climate change, infectious diseases, etc., although they were voiced, but were pushed into the background, giving priority to the socio-economic agenda.

Foreign policy issues were addressed in the manifestos mostly in the context of ensuring conditions for economic growth. For example, the issues of "free trade zones" with Asian countries, protection of intellectual property, etc. were indicated in the sense that their solution will become one of the factors for the development of the national economy.

During the election campaign, the DPJ emphasized the need to develop relations with Asian countries. The Japan-US Security Treaty was highly regarded as a factor for ensuring stability in Asia, contributing to the achievement of Japan's goals in this region. Continuing to emphasize the idea of an equal partnership between the two countries, the DPJ leaders acknowledged that in the face of instability in East Asia, as well as a tightening of financial policy, Japan will remain dependent on the US nuclear deterrent potential. On the sensitive issue of the US Futemma base, the DPJ manifesto stated that the party would "do everything possible to ease the burden on Okinawa Prefecture that it bears in connection with the Japan-US agreement." 8

FAILED ELECTIONS

Despite some gains from the change of leader of the Democratic Party of Japan, the July 11, 2010 elections to the upper house of Parliament were discouraging for the party. The DPJ lost 10 seats, reducing its total number of deputies in the Chamber of Councillors from 116 to 106.

At the same time, the elections brought success to the Liberal Democratic Party, increasing the number of its mandates in the upper house by 13-to 84 deputies. The debut of the Party of All, which won 10 parliamentary seats at once, was also successful. Other parties have hardly changed their representation. The New Komeito Party won 9 seats, the Communist Party of Japan (CPJ) - 3 seats, the Social Democratic Party of Japan (SDPJ)-2 seats, the Get Up Japan Party and the New Reform Party - 1 each.

The LDP showed the best results in single-member districts operating on the scale of individual prefectures. It was in such districts, where the application of the principle of majoritarianism left no chance for any "third force", that the rivalry between the two largest parties was clearly manifested. While the LDP lost in 23 out of 29 single-member districts in the 2007 House of Councillors elections, the DPJ failed to win in only 10 of the previous elections. The DPJ's losses in single-member constituencies could not even compensate for the new seats it won in the national electoral district.

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Elections have shown that their outcome can depend on small details and such subjective moments as, for example, the clumsiness of the leader of the nation in the public arena.

Most revealing in this regard was Kang's statement about the DPJ's intention to raise the consumer tax rate to 10%. Although, according to public opinion polls, the majority of Japanese people currently support the idea of raising the consumer tax (according to a survey conducted by the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper in June 2010, 66% of respondents agreed with the tax increase, while 29% were against it)9, many voters were offended by Kan's rather peremptory statement, which did not reflect on the fact that It is not supported by any arguments and contradicts the DPJ's earlier repeatedly expressed promises. Many blamed Kahn for not even bothering to publicly justify the tax hike. The Prime Minister himself admitted the mistake, saying at a press conference after the election: "My statements about the consumer tax gave the impression that I raised this topic spontaneously... My preliminary explanations were insufficient. " 10

Some potential DPJ supporters turned their backs on it at the last moment because the Democrats never fulfilled many of their campaign promises made in 2009. This applies, for example, to the transfer of the Futemma database, the introduction of child allowances in the amount of 26 thousand yen per month per child (stopped at 13 thousand yen), as well as the abolition of fees for using high-speed highways. Many voters who had the pamphlets with the manifestos of 2009 in their hands could calculate with apothecary accuracy which of the promises were fulfilled within the specified time frame and in full, and which were not.

By the way, the fact that the manifestos of 2009 were too populist was indirectly recognized by the Democrats themselves. In the elections to the upper house, they came out with a completely different format of the election platform, which has become much less detailed. Unlike the manifestos of 2009, it also lacked specific deadlines for implementation. However, they failed to fully regain the trust of the electorate, which felt deceived. As Asahi newspaper political commentator Ts. Watanabe noted, "the voters put on the brakes hard, stopping any attempts by the DPJ and N. Kang to recklessly move forward." 11

Taking into account the votes of the New People's Party, the ruling coalition retained only 109 seats in the upper house, which is significantly less than the required majority of 122 seats. As a result, a situation has emerged where the upper and lower chambers are controlled by opposing political forces.

All this significantly complicated the prospects for implementing the promises made in the DPJ's pre-election manifestos. To ensure the viability of the government, the Democrats faced an urgent need to find new coalition partners, introduce their representatives to the cabinet and form a new coalition government. This task is complicated by the fact that almost all parties that can be considered potential partners of the DPJ in the coalition, before the elections, repeatedly opposed blocking with it. This was stated by the leader of the All Party, I. Watanabe, and the head of the Komeito Party, N. Yamaguchi. And as long as they keep their word.

As a result, the DPJ is essentially without allies at this stage.

THORNY PATH TO BIPARTISANSHIP

The domestic political situation in Japan in 2010 makes us think about the prospects for the formation of a two-party system in the Land of the Rising Sun.

The DPJ's experience of more than a year in power has shown that the path to bipartisanship is much more complex and unpredictable than it might have been expected. The historical fork has not yet been reached, and the road remains open both for movement in the direction of the British-style Westminster system and for a return to traditionalist consensual democracy.

At the same time, the Japanese political system still retains some characteristic features that do not allow us to speak with confidence about the prospects for the formation of a two-party system.

First,there is no ideological divide on fundamental issues between the main parties that claim to be systemically important, which would make it possible to divide the two parties into "conservative" and "liberal".

This is especially evident in relation to the foreign policy agenda. The DPJ and LDP programs concerning the Japan-US security Treaty, Asian integration, climate warming, the threat of nuclear proliferation and other "new threats" do not have any fundamental differences. There are also similarities on many issues of financial, tax, and economic policy. The only exception is the approach to social functions of the state: while the LDP adheres to the theory of minimizing social obligations of the state, the DPJ supports the idea of a" social welfare state", tested in the Nordic countries.

In these circumstances, it is difficult for a politically motivated voter to make a conscious choice based on ideological rather than personal preferences, and it is difficult for parties to form a cohort of "solid votes", which is an important attribute of the two-party system.

Secondly, political practice still shows the lack of traditions of loyalty of deputies to the party banner (other than the CPJ). As before, deputies can easily "re-register" their work.-

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they "wander" to the camp of their rivals if they feel a personal advantage for themselves, as was demonstrated by many LDP deputies.

Political polarization is also hindered by the willingness of these parties to join the most unnatural coalitions in the interests of opportunistic interests, and often to sacrifice basic principles. For example, the discussion of the possibility of a "grand coalition" between "irreconcilable" rivals - the DPJ and the LDP-does not belong to the realm of fiction (this, for example, happened in the fall of 2007, when Prime Minister Y. Fukuda conducted relevant back-room negotiations with the DPJ General Secretary, I. Yu. Ozawa). At the same time, even a theoretical formulation of the question, for example, about the coalition of Labor and conservatives in the UK or Democrats and Republicans in the United States would make one doubt the sobriety of its author's judgments.

Third, the situation with the parliament after the July 2010 elections also works against the establishment of bipartisanship. The high conflict-related nature of this structure and its inefficiency in terms of the main parliamentary function - ensuring the continuity of the legislative process - were clearly demonstrated in 2007 - 2009, when the upper house was controlled by the Democratic Party, and the lower house was controlled by the LDP. Periodic failures in the adoption of key laws several times caused an acute political crisis and forced the resignation of 3 LDP governments.

For the DPJ, as the ruling party, the current situation was even more unfavorable, since before the change of power, the LDP-Komeito coalition had a qualified majority in the lower house, which allowed it to override the upper house's veto on ordinary bills and ignore this opinion on budget issues. And now the ruling coalition does not have such a majority.

And the dissolution of the lower house and the holding of early elections would almost certainly lead to a significant loss of DPJ seats in parliament, which would further undermine its position as the ruling party, and even deprive it of power.

Thus, the DPJ is forced to hold on to the status quo for as long as possible, until the next general election in 2013.A rather fragile and unstable political structure has emerged, which will largely be maintained due to the DPJ's willingness to make concessions and compromises. With a high degree of probability, it can be said that such methods as backroom negotiations, bidding, power games and other forms of non-public struggle will become more important in political practice.

The DPJ, under pressure from the LDP, will probably have to significantly revise some of its pre-election" manifestos", and even give up the most expensive promises for the state budget. The DPJ's promises to preserve the full amount of child benefits, eliminate fees for the use of high-speed roads, and provide targeted subsidies to farmers are very likely to fall under the reduction.

For example, the DPJ's child benefit policy of 13,000 yen per month per child, which will require 2.7 trillion yen in annual expenditures and the adoption of a special law, will be very difficult to implement.12

Political battles will also unfold over the tax reform bill. The DPJ will have to devote much more time and effort to justifying it in parliament and the media, and possibly make significant amendments under pressure from both coalition partners and opposition forces. For example, among the small parties that the Democrats can at least theoretically count on as coalition partners, there is no consensus on raising the consumer tax. So, the New Reform Party of Japan and the Get Up Japan Party are in favor of raising taxes, the SPD is definitely against it, while the All Party and the New People's Party try not to express their position at all.

The Cabinet of Ministers will also become much more vulnerable to external pressure, including from the "backbenchers" from its own party, and its hands will be largely tied in relation to new political initiatives.

The high degree of volatility of the party-political system, which is determined by the instability of the inter-party balance of power in parliament, the ideological blurring of the parties ' program settings, the kaleidoscopic nature of cabinet changes and their leaders, and the instability of political coalitions - all this poses a permanent threat to the formation of bipartisanship.

One thing is clear: the road to a two-party system in Japan will be long and tortuous.

Ultimately, it seems that success will depend on how well this system responds to the profound changes in the economy and society caused by the needs of modern innovative development and globalization.


1 Cit. by: Asahi Shimbun. 17.08.2009.

2 Yomiuri shimbun. 20.06.2010.

3 Ibid.

4 Asahi shimbun. 18.05.2010.

5 Yomiuri shimbun. 21.06.2010.

6 Yomiuri shimbun. 20.06.2010.

7 Ibid.

8 Yomiuri Shimbun. 18.06.2010.

9 Yomiuri shimbun. 20.06.2010.

10 Asahi shimbun. 12.07.2010.

11 Asahi shimbun.13.07.2010.

12 Ibid.


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