Lecture #5-The Democratization of Japan Part II
• From 1890 and onward, Japan adopted the Meji constitution. You see a
slow transition to democracy with an executive dominant system.
• Growth of expectations that executive would hold accountable
• Increasing inclusiveness of participation as the franchise expands
o Pattern of political change that is alike 1890s Middle Kingdom
• Evolution of democratic norms is interrupted by the Depression and
the rise of Right winged Conservatives.
• Resumption towards democracy was very different in 1945. The
American occupation was not so analagmous.
• John Dower’s magisterial study “embracing defeat”documents the
enthusiasm of Japan to accept Americans.
• Made Americans think that their reforms were very successful.
• Innocent idealism of American reformers who were ignorant of
Japanese history turned out to know very well what was required for
Japan. (interesting irony)
• Administrations in the Occupation came out of the army. Many
Japanese first generation were trained In war
• Americans put into place many things that are required for democracy
in the institutions, constitution, land reforms, got rid of feudalism,
created emergence of unions etc…
• Fragility of this experiment is excessive ambitions; tempered by Cold
o Helped consolidated democracy as Americans had to back away
from extreme destabilization. (The Cold War)
• We are left with the sense that democracy was transplanted in the
wrong way and that is why it is dysfunctional.
• Japan’s attitudewas very pessimistic and negative about democracy.
Expressed in an uncertain language. Ernie Tam
• Contrast this to the Thais’ positive embrace of democracy. Weakness
of Japan’s democracy is traced back to the system Americans designed
o No involvement from the Japanese themselves and as a result,
does not feel connected to the system.
• LDP dominance and implication of one party rule.
• Interestingly enough, the Chinese in perpetuating their one party rule,
they looked at the Japanese model. 1995-2009 (exception 1993), the
LDP’s record as the dominant ruling party is without parallel.
o Just like Israeli Party (30 years)
• What kind of democracy does Japan have?
o 2002 and 2003 data in the wake of Japan’s nuclear crisis, there is
a wave of discussions that would reveal fundamental alienation.
• Rapid alternation between Prime Ministers for the LDP leaders.
• Major dysfunctional: system that has an inherent weakness on Prime
Ministers. (no strong leader)
• Only other party that approached the record of Japan’s LDP party rule
is social democratic party of Sweden (65 years)
• LDP was dominating Japanese Politics for 54 years.
• The implications for the quality of Japanese democratic practice.
• Why was the LDP so dominant?
o External factors like Cold War
o Legacies from earlier periods
o Opposition marginalized from the beginning and adopted radical
measures. Ernie Tam
o Nature of Japan’s electoral systemSingle vote transferable
systemMultimember districts where you were required to voted
for individual candidates not party.
Manipulated the system
• Increasingly adverse environment in terms of stagnant growth, high
level of corruption, environmental degradation was the result from the
• Declining popular support for LDP
o Explains the weaknesses of the opposition parties rather than
the strength of the LDP.
• In the 1955 system, (pre 94 and psot 94), Pre 94, in relatively small
districts, you voted for the person. The LDP in these electoral