Libmonster ID: JP-1268
Author(s) of the publication: YOSHIHITO KARIBE
Educational Institution \ Organization: Institute of Self-Government Problems (Yokohama)

Candidate of Historical Sciences, Director of the Institute of Self-Government Problems (Yokohama)

In September 2006 Koizumi Junichiro resigned as Prime Minister of Japan and Chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). The eventful "Koizumi five - year plan" has come to an end, forcing politicians and political scientists - and not only in Japan-to think about the fate and future of conservatism in this country. Abe's new prime minister, Shinzo, has positioned himself as a conservative reformer, and opponents have already dubbed him a " hawk." One thing is certain: this is the successor of Koizumi's political course, which the Prime Minister himself chose. Political power in Japan remains in the hands of conservatives, continuity remains, but the LDP, like the whole of Japan, is going through difficult times. And all the problems of today are rooted in the past.

The most characteristic feature of Japanese political life after World War II is that the post of Prime minister was held almost exclusively by the leaders of the LDP or other conservative parties, including the Liberal and Democratic Parties, which merged in 1955 to form the modern LDP. The exception was the short-lived rule of the Socialists in 1947-1948. (Katayama Tetsu Cabinet) and the coalition cabinets of Hosokawa Morihiro and Hata Tsutomu in 1993-1994, in which there were no representatives of the LDP. However, the last two cabinets were formed and led by politicians who left the ranks of the Liberal Democrats during the era of the party's structural crisis, and the subsequent coalition government led by the Chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Japan (SDPJ), Murayama Tomiichi, was fully controlled by the Conservatives. Since 1996, the LDP has once again maintained its monopoly on cabinet formation, although it is forced to do so in a coalition with several small parties. 2 The underlying reason for the break in the period of LDP monopoly rule was not the crisis of the conservative ideology or political system, but only the party's structural restructuring.3

The monopoly dominance of conservatives in Japanese politics and government, which has no analogues in developed industrial countries, is explained by many reasons, including the support of their course by the country's business elite, the media, a significant part of the public and the world community. 4 However, in a parliamentary democracy, it was, of course, impossible without the support of the broad masses of the people. The Conservatives have managed to win this support - stronger and more permanent than that of the French Gaullist Party, the British Tory Party, or the Christian Democrats in Germany. How did they do it?


One of the main "secrets" of the unique longevity of the Japanese conservatives ' power was their populist policy of distributing profits among the potential electorate. In short, the Liberal Democrats were more willing to share their profits with the people than their conservative counterparts in Europe or the United States5. The elitist philosophy of pre-war Japan's ruling circles gave way after the war to populist tactics of rapid response to internal and external challenges, which proponents see as pragmatism, while opponents see as opportunism. Conservatives, of course, cannot ignore the will of financial leaders.-

* In this article, Japanese names are written according to Japanese rules - first name, then first name.

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However, they placed the main political stake within the country on the owners and employees of small and medium-sized enterprises, peasants, and residents of regions, including remote and underdeveloped ones. This happened in the first post-war years and continued until recently. Only the Koizumi administration began to back away from this course. For how long?

The redistribution of profits in the form of subsidies, subsidies, tax preferences, and public works financed from the state budget "fed" groups of the population with middle and below-average incomes, making them the main electoral base of the LDP in elections and depriving left-wing opposition parties of the chance to attract these social strata to their side. At the same time, Liberal Democrats often intercepted promising slogans and concepts from the opposition, primarily in the field of improving public welfare, and implemented them using administrative resources and budget funds. Not always economically effective, this policy ensured national unity and internal political stability, so the country's financial and industrial circles, as a rule, unconditionally supported it6.

It is indisputable that Japan, which suffered a crushing defeat in World War II, achieved tremendous success precisely under the leadership of liberal-democratic cabinets. Russian researcher E. V. Molodyakova rightly notes: "All the achievements of Japan - grandiose economic successes, reaching new frontiers of scientific and technological progress, a relatively low level of unemployment and inflation, all the achievements in the field of social democracy, which aims to establish equality and justice in society, as manifested by social insurance systems, state social services, etc.-are associated with a constant presence in the country. the conservative Liberal Democratic Party is in power. This creates a persistent stereotype that such achievements are inextricably linked to the correct strategic choice of the ruling party. " 7

The monopoly rule of the Conservatives was not cloudless. During the post-war years, Japan was repeatedly shaken by political, economic and social crises that seriously threatened the political dominance of the LDP and the conservative camp as a whole. Let's recall the main ones. The strengthening of leftist, including radical and anti-government sentiments during the occupation years (1945-1952) prompted conservatives in the difficult post-war reconstruction environment to adopt a policy of profit-sharing, primarily in rural areas and in remote regions, which laid the foundation for their political base on the ground. The socio-political crisis surrounding the conclusion of the revised Japanese-American "security treaty" in 1960 forced the Liberal Democrats to take a number of decisive steps to meet the demands of peasants and small and medium-sized businesses, as well as to accelerate the creation of a modern social security system. The " Nixon Shock "(recognition by the United States of the PRC without prior consultation with allied Japan) and the "oil shock" of the early 1970s, followed by corruption scandals that compromised a number of leaders The LDP, starting with Prime Minister Tanaka Kakuei, has pushed the ruling circles to adopt more active regional development policies in order to overcome the imbalance between them. This allowed conservatives to overcome the negative effects of the decline in their popularity in the 1970s. Conservatives responded sensitively to all external and internal challenges and sought to eliminate the crisis as quickly and effectively as possible, if it could not be prevented. In relatively quiet years, they reduced the amount of distributed profits, but never completely abandoned this policy. The most serious test for them was the economic and political events of the 1990s: the collapse of the" bubble economy"*, directly related to the consequences of profit-sharing policies, in 1991 led to a split in the ranks of the LDP and the formation of new parties, which in 1993 for the first time since 1955 formed a government without its participation. The coalition cabinets were short-lived and unstable, and their leaders and leading ministers came from the same conservative background, but the incident was a serious warning, showing that the LDP as a party is experiencing a serious structural and organizational crisis.

Many influential and promising conservative politicians-Ozawa Ichiro, Hatoyama Yukio, as well as former Prime Ministers Kaifu Toshiki and Hata Tsutomu-left the LDP and began building their own party. However, the weakening of the LDP, which resulted in a decrease in the number of its deputy mandates, eventually benefited it. First, the ranks of this excessively swollen and clumsy party, which from the very beginning suffered from factional confrontations8, were cleared of the most active dissidents and became more monolithic. Secondly, in the Parliament and other bodies

* Bubble economy - the operation of a specific mechanism of economic growth based on rising stock and land prices. The creation of the "soap bubble" in the second half of the 1980s was a manifestation of such fundamental weaknesses of the Japanese economy as a lack of domestic demand and excessive cash inflows due to the hypertrophied export orientation and high level of personal savings of the population.

page 26

The Conservatives ' position on local self-government has generally strengthened. This can be seen at least from the fiasco of the Social Democratic Party of Japan (SDPJ), which has always been significantly inferior to the LDP in terms of the number of parliamentary seats, but forced to reckon with itself. Now it has become a marginal political force, which in the event of a complete transition to a majority system is likely to lose all representation in parliament. Therefore, the issue of creating a system of two conservative parties in Japan, which could transfer political power to each other, while maintaining the overall continuity of the strategic course, was on the agenda.

Since its inception, the LDP has differed from the conservative parties of the leading industrial countries in its size and the presence of a large number of factions, which is why the Japanese political system has often been called "one-and-a-half-party". Absolute dominance in parliament ensured that the LDP leader was automatically elected to the post of prime Minister, but an agreement on his candidacy was reached within the party only after fierce disputes and compromises. The experience of the two-party system of developed democracies has prompted conservative leaders in Japan to think about the feasibility of using it.


One of the most active supporters of the transition to a system of two conservative parties is the prominent politician Ozawa Ichiro, formerly General Secretary of the LDP (1989-1991), and currently the leader of the Democratic Party, the leading opposition force. After ostentatiously leaving the LDP in 1993, Ozawa, who was considered one of the most promising leaders of the party, moved to independent party building. He didn't hesitate to say: "It is necessary to eliminate the Socialist Party as the main opposition party"9, calling for this to be done by switching to the system of small electoral districts implemented in 1994 with his participation as the "gray cardinal" of the Hosokawa and Hata cabinets. This reform dealt a fatal blow to the political future of the Social Democrats. As for the Communist Party of Japan (CPJ), it has always been and remains an eternal minority, or rather an outcast, of big politics, which conservatives can ignore.

Ozawa's strategic goal for many years has been to ensure that conservatives, whether formally members of the LDP or not, concentrate as many seats as possible in their hands. This would allow them to implement a comprehensive program of reforms (first of all, amendments to the constitution) aimed at turning Japan into a "normal" country, including with a "normal" army - not only a powerful economic country, but a real great power, not bound by any restrictions.10 This view is held by many conservatives, but not many dare to express it with such directness and aggressiveness as Ozawa, who has a reputation in the Japanese media for being a tough and unscrupulous politician.11 He calls the creation of a second conservative party based on the democratic ideology a tactical goal.12 It is difficult to say whether Ozawa - as the leader of the opposition - has a chance of becoming prime minister, but he continues to exert a significant influence on the political life of the country in general and on the leadership of the LDP in particular. Therefore, the Ozawa factor cannot be discounted.

Another proponent of the system of two strong conservative parties transferring power to each other and thus fully controlling state policy is the LDP elder, former Prime Minister Nakasone Yasuhiro, who retains considerable political influence despite the advanced age of 13. He spoke about the need to create such a system back in the very beginning of the 1990s14, when the Liberal Democrats formed the government on their own. The LDP crisis has only reinforced this view. Nakasone, who is also a long-time and staunch supporter of constitutional reform, has repeatedly expressed approval of Ozawa's ideas, but has never positioned himself as a supporter or patron of Ozawa. The strategic course of Nakasone and his entourage, which is outlined in the program book "State Strategy of Japan in the XXI Century" 15, which has already been translated into a number of foreign languages, should also be taken into account when analyzing the possible political future of Japanese conservatives.

Hatoyama Yukio (grandson of the former Prime Minister) and Naoto Kan, the ambitious founders of the Democratic Party created in 1998 by combining different opposition forces, are both from the LDP! - they have repeatedly stated that in the near future the two-party system will become a reality in Japan, and their party is able to first push the LDP in the elections, depriving it of its monopoly on political power, and is ready to take responsibility for the formation of the cabinet and the implementation of large-scale reforms. Voters, however, are still in no hurry to grant her ta-

page 27

There is another possibility, which was especially noticeable in the 2005 general election: the Democrats remained the second party in terms of the number of seats, but they have no chance of forming a government without the Liberal Democrats. Perhaps this realization won Ozawa the majority of votes in the 2006 party leadership election - it is the hope of an old, sophisticated pragmatist politician who was known in the LDP as a " genius of election campaigns."

At the same time, the success of the Democratic Party clearly highlights weaknesses in the position and policy of the LDP. "The elections (June 2000 - E. K.) showed a 'split in Japan', "wrote the influential Nihon Keizai newspaper. - The confrontation between cities and provinces on the issue of public works has become obvious. Urban voters said 'no' to waste in public enterprises, which explains the LDP's stagnation and the success of the Democratic Party in the capital and other cities, and the province dependent on this continues to provide strong support to the Liberal Democrats " 16. If we proceed from the interests of the conservative camp in a broad sense, the maximum coverage of the electorate can be achieved by two parties that reflect the interests of different groups of the population, but strive for stability and consensus. The main strategic goal of the conservatives - the actual elimination of Social Democrats and communists from the political arena-can be considered achieved.

The business community, which traditionally supported the LDP, of course, could not stay away from what was happening. After the November 2003 elections, Chairman of Japan's most influential Federation of Economic Organizations (Nippon Keidanren) Okuda Hiroshi positively assessed the preservation of a stable majority of votes in parliament for the parties of the ruling coalition - that is, first of all, for the Liberal Democrats-but at the same time spoke with approval of the success of the Democratic Party. He noted "signs that the era of two major parties may come to Japan" and even mentioned the possibility of financial support from large entrepreneurs not only from the LDP, as before, but also from the Democrats. 17 Such recognition is worth a lot! However, the Democrats ' failure in the September 2005 election has also led businesses to question their political future.


Another significant factor that directly affects the future of the LDP and the conservative camp as a whole is the formation of a capable political elite for the XXI century. As a result of the general elections of recent years, the LDP has introduced many new, relatively young deputies to parliament (including through the" voluntary-forced "departure of veterans, such as former Prime Ministers Nakasone and Miyazawa), whom journalists aptly dubbed "Koizumi children". The political "father" sees in them not only the driving force behind the planned reforms, but also the key to a new future for the LDP, in which he hopes to overcome factional differences and make the party more monolithic. "If any faction opposes me," Koizumi said shortly after his election as LDP chairman, "I, as party leader, will take measures to eliminate that faction." 18 He even threatened to "destroy" the LDP in its current form. Resorting to all possible means, Koizumi managed to expel those who disagreed with his course from the party - for example, we will point to Kamei Shizuka, the leader of one of the factions, and the charismatic politician from Hokkaido Suzuki Muneo, who are now trying to engage in independent party building-and then made every effort to defeat the dissidents in the elections.

However, the system of small electoral districts, in which the party affiliation of candidates is more important than the strength of their ties with the voters of this district, could not but affect the nature of new people's deputies. Columbia University professor J. Curtis wrote in this regard: "Now (in Japan. - E. K.) the number of politicians who do not know the art of political activity, do not have connections and a base in the electoral districts where they are running, and do not have the experience that would allow them to be useful in their parliamentary post has increased strikingly."19 This opinion of an authoritative expert should be listened to.

This is not to say that all the "children of Koizumi" are only submissive executors of his political will and do not represent anything as independent politicians. Time will show their value as deputies. Another thing to note is the continuing tradition of" inheriting " a place in politics in general and in electoral districts in particular, which pass from father to son

page 28

or son-in-law, less often from an older brother to a younger one. The key to success of a candidate is first of all a good pedigree, even if he has not yet proved himself in any way. Even such "cool" reformers as Hashimoto and Ozawa, Koizumi and Hatoyama did not abandon the practice of inheritance. Typical "heirs" are the current Prime Minister Abe Shinzo (grandson of Prime Minister Kishi Nobusuke and son of LDP General Secretary Abe Shintaro, Kishi's son-in-law), his main rival in the LDP leadership election in September 2006, Fukuda Yasuo (the prime minister's son), charismatic but not very successful in politics Tanaka Makiko (daughter Prime Minister), as well as former Prime Minister Takeshita's younger brother and former Prime Minister Obuchi's young daughter, who did not show themselves in any way. In some cases, the practice of "inheritance" ensures continuity of the political line, in others it leads to a decline in the quality of politics, its readiness to serve both national interests and the needs of local voters. The precept of Japanese conservatism elder Nakasone :" I want politicians to have the quality of forward thinking " 20 remains relevant today. The Koizumi Five-Year Plan changed the spirit of Japanese politics in many ways. There is a clear departure from the traditional principles of harmony and consensus towards individualism and competition not only at the institutional level, but also at the personal level. The traditional Japanese dorm model was not based on the antagonism of winners and losers, but on their interaction within the changed conditions, where the loser could also find his place. Previously, this principle was clearly implemented in the formation of liberal-democratic cabinets, where all major factions, including those opposed to the Prime minister, were usually represented. Now the conditions have become tougher, but the personal responsibility of each politician has also increased.

The political future of the LDP as the leading force of Japanese conservatism depends on how it can combine large-scale administrative and financial reforms based on partial abandonment of profit-sharing policies, while preserving the political and electoral base in the regions.

The political future of Japanese conservatism as a whole depends on whether the country will have an effective two-party system that can be compared with the American, British or German ones.

The political future of Japan as a whole depends on the formation of a new generation of the ruling elite, which will fully take into account national interests, effectively respond to internal and external challenges, and at the same time remain representative of the interests of the broad masses of citizens.

1 Successful characterization of Koizumi as a politician was given at the beginning of his premiership: Ramses V. Meivrik na fonte khroniki current'nykh eventii [Meivrik on the background of chronicles of current events]. Yapon: ekonomika, politika, obshchestvo na zare XXI V. [Japan: economy, Politics, Society at the dawn of the XXI century].

2 On the dominant role of Conservatives, regardless of their formal party affiliation, in coalition cabinets: Kusano Atsushi. Renritsu seiken. Nihonno seiji: 1993. (The coalition government. Japanese Politics: 1993). Tokyo. Bungei shunju, 1999.

3 This is the opinion of leading political scientists in Japan, for example: Kitaoka Shinichi. Jiminto. Seikentono 38 nan. (LDP: 38 years in power). Tokyo. Yomiuri simbunxia, 1995.

4 Convincingly shown in comprehensive studies: Sato Seizaburo, Matsuzaki Tetsuhisa. Jiminto seiken. (LDP Board). Tokyo. Chuo koronsha, 1986; Kyogoku Junichi. Nihonno seiji. (Japanese policy). Tokyo. Tokyo daigaku shupankai, 1983.

Takanami Masa. 5 Kodo sange kokkano rieki seiji katei. (Profit policy in advanced industrial states). Tokyo. Toyota zaidan josei kenkyudze, 1981.

6 Convincingly shown: Noguchi Yukio. Zaikai (Financial Circles). Tokyo. Keikusha, 1984; Koga Junichiro. Keidanren: Nihono ugokasu zaikai shinku tanku. (Keidanren: a financial "brain trust" that moves Japan). Tokyo. Sintesya Publ., 2000.

Molodyakova E. V. 7 Japan: Trade Unions and Society, Moscow: Vostochnaya literatura Publ., 1994, p. 5.

Uchida Kenzo. 8 Habatsu (Factions). Tokyo. Kodansha, 1983.

9 Ozawa Ichiro tanken. (A study on Ozawa Ichiro). Tokyo. Asahi shimbunsha, 1991. p. 200.

Ozawa Ichiro. 10 Nihon kaizo keikaku. (Japan's Transformation Plan). Tokyo. Kodansha, 1993. At the same time as Ozawa, the then de facto leader of the LDP, Hashimoto Ryutaro, announced his reform program. Vision of Japan. Munenakani seisaku arite. (Conscious politics). Tokyo. Besutoserazu, 1993. I note that both books were immediately translated into English.

11 An interesting political portrait of Ozawa: Hokkaido shimbun. 28.04.1994.

12 Nihon keizai. 29.11.1999.

13 Born in 1918, he was a permanent member of the House of Representatives from 1947 to 2003, and served as Prime Minister from 1982 to 1987. At the request of Koizumi, he withdrew his candidacy before the 2003 elections.

Nakasone Ya., Murakami Ya., Sato S, Nishibe P. 14 After the Cold War. Moscow, Progress-Univers Publ., 1993, pp. 310-312.

Nakasone Ya 15 State Strategy of Japan in the XXI century, Moscow, Nota Bene, 2001. Nakasone's book "State Strategy of Japan in the XXI century" has been translated into Russian. It defines the main directions of economic, political, social, scientific and informational development. ed).

16 Nihon keizai. 03.07.2000.

17 Nihon keizai. 11.11.2003.

18 The Japan Look. 2002. N 3.

19 Tokyo Shimbun. 2.04.2006.

Nakasone Ya 20 Edict. op. p. 135.


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