Weak opposition is a cancer in Japan’s political system
18 September 2016
Author: Gerald Curtis, Columbia University
For close to 40 years after 1955, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) dominated Japan’s competitive party system. Opposition parties were not able to mount a successful challenge to LDP rule at the national level, but they had an important impact on policy and the political process. Japan had one dominant party but not a one-party system.
The opposition was strong enough to prevent the adoption of many policies for which the LDP fought hard — constitutional revision, government financial support for the controversial Yasukuni shrine and the reintroduction of prewar morals education. Broad popular support for the Japan Socialist Party’s (JSP) positions on rearmament and on defending the liberties enshrined in the constitution made it impossible for the LDP to implement key policies it espoused in its initial party platform in 1955.
Half a century later, the LDP is again pushing these policies forward with renewed vigour.
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