Japan’s Multi-Party Reform Alliance – Tokyo Review


At first glance, the last general election in Japan on October 31 did not appear to bring any major change in Japanese politics. Post-election comments range from accentuating the decision The success of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), the rise of the conservative reformist party Isshin no Kai, as good as boost to Komeito’s fortune. Most of them focus on the relative success of the Japanese right. However, understanding election results simply by placing each party on a left-right binary cannot explain everything.

Perhaps no party illustrates Japan’s breaking of this political mold better than the Komeito. As a party rooted in the Sokka Gakkai Buddhist movement, any left-right specter would place the Komeito from right to center-right because of its religious affiliations. Yet the party supports a wider social protection system, legalization of same-sex marriage, and shares the pacifist antimilitarism of the left parties. Understanding Japanese politics by dividing up parties that support reforming or maintaining Article 9 of the post-war Japanese “pacifist” constitution, intended to prevent remilitarization of the island nation, also offers insight. limit. To consider Komeito’s opposition to article 9 reforms, for example. It contrasts sharply with his membership in the coalition with the vaguely pro-amendment LDP. As a result, speculation that an LDP “strengthened” and empowered by a “conservative” Ishin will open the door to a constitutional review is false – if anything, the door is as closed as it always has been. summer.

The reality is that almost all Japanese parties are either clearly opposed to the review or have ambiguous views on the constitutional review despite the relative subject domination in the American media. There is even a lack of consensus among internal PLD factions on what exactly the revision should entail. Despite its description by some commentators as a party clearly in favor of the revision, the PLD officially takes a cautious stance on the subject, by supporting “reforms” to legally define the Self-Defense Forces, leaving room for maneuver to local candidates.

Despite efforts to adapt Japanese politics to a spectrum like those of Western democracies, none of the frameworks usually offered by foreign media provide a clear picture of Japanese politics.

Thus, despite efforts to adapt Japanese politics to a spectrum like those of Western democracies, none of the frameworks usually offered by foreign media provide a clear picture of Japanese politics, which is underpinned by a capitalist consensus of welfare and of foreign policy focused on autonomy. Instead, the fundamental question that drives Japanese politics, whether among factions of the PLD or among smaller and more ideologically coherent opposition parties, is how to reform this system, if reform is to be gradual. or progressive and whether the liberal Western or traditional Japanese conceptions of politics and society should predominate.

The traditionalist group in Japanese politics, such as the Komeito and the PLD factions that support Kishida Fumio, are politicians who value Japan’s long-standing political support for the family structure, take a community approach to business and work, and value a measure of autonomy in Japan’s foreign relations. Such views usually translate into opposition to structural economic reforms and a more assertive foreign policy in line with the American alliance. In particular, “traditionalism” does not necessarily translate into social conservatism in the American or European sense. In fact, traditionalist parties like the Komeito are far more acceptance of LGBT rights than their Western counterparts, but with a view to broadening the structure of the Japanese family.

Reformists, on the other hand, are in favor of updating Japan’s traditional socio-economic system to allow for greater economic competitiveness, global reach, and modernization. Whether viewed as center-left or right in the Western sense, each is promoting updating of Japan’s social contract rather than trying to fit modern aspects of Japanese life into a traditional setting. These reformists include the LDP factions that support Kono Taro, Isshin no Kai, and smaller opposition parties like Tomin First, affiliated with Yuriko Koike, and Reiwa, a leftist upstart.

Yet electoral considerations predominate even when more ideologically coherent coalitions may be tempting in other circumstances. If the issue is Article 9 reform, then the potential formation of a security-conscious coalition between reformist and militarist factions within the PLD with opposition parties like Ishin may seem obvious, theoretically replacing the ” Komeito’s pacifist palliative on security legislation. The problem is, Komeito’s electoral machine is almost essential to increasing the LDP’s share of the vote, while Ishin competes directly for the LDP’s constituent voters. If a neoliberal reformist like Kono Taro had won the PLD leadership elections, it would be plausible that the party would abandon Komeito for Ishin, if he had given priority to rearming Japan in the face of China’s rise by creating a reform. rather hawkish than traditional. conservative coalition in favor of the reform of article 9 on the continued electoral support of the Komeito.

Yet when threatened by the prospect of an ascendant Reform-Hawkish leader in Kono Taro, Article 9 reform forces within the LDP split along traditionalist rather than reformist lines. In the recent internal leadership elections, for example, “far-right” candidate Takaichi Sanae supported Kishida Fumio vs. Kono Taro after his elimination in the first round despite Kono’s support for amending Article 9. In fact, his views were widely regarded as a power of attorney for those of the former prime minister and party leader Abe Shinzo himself.

As a result, it seems that the only real way to reform Article 9 lies outside the traditionalist leadership of the PLD. Rather, reform advocates should form a like-minded coalition of reformist political interests beyond PLD cadres. In this scenario, a reformist coalition could pursue Article 9 reform while maintaining other iconic post-war Japanese political traditions, potentially securing the support of liberal and central opposition elements. -left who are open to the reform of article 9 but are wary of the intentions of the PLD. . This includes the “reformist centrist” People’s Democratic Party (DPP) whose leader Yuichiro Tamaki has advocated for Article 9 reform as a means of ruling in the LDP. At present, the only Japanese politician with political and moral capital to head such an eclectic reformist party coalition is Kono Taro, but it remains, for now, a political flight.

For American targets in the Indo-Pacific, this result is both positive and negative. On the one hand, US policymakers and Japanese observers would likely deplore a return to gloomy opposition governance. The stability and reliability of Japanese politics are highly regarded for its ability to pursue regional initiatives, and previous opposition governments have been lackluster. But without a change in the basic policy framework, traditionalists seem likely to block not only any update to Article 9, as well as the kind of meaningful defense reforms needed to strengthen Japan’s deterrent capacity against it. ‘a rising China.

While there are things to take away from the election, political currents suggest that as long as the traditional LDP-Komeito axis of power, led by Kishida, remains, there is little real chance of reforming the article. 9 and discussion on a strengthened Japanese defense position. will probably be ruled by inertia.









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