How Electoral Reform Boomeranged

Otake Hideo, ed.

This volume presents the research and insights of six authors concerning the first general election in Japan’s House of Representatives since the passage in 1994 of a political and electoral reform law. The October 1996 election was seen by reformers as a litmus test for the new law, which they thought would alter the style of campaigning in Japan. Campaign strategies dependent on the clout of an individual candidate’s koenkai, or personal support group, were expected to give way to strategies emphasizing party-based electioneering.

The essays collected here conclude that actual campaigning style remained mostly unchanged. authors focus on individual politicians of varied standing within the Diet, their koenkai in both urban and rural areas, and the large companies and their unions that endorse candidates. Five appendices explain the election system and political reform, give the distribution of seats under the new Lower House electoral system, show the election standings for 1993 and 1996 and party realignment between 1955 and 1996, and list abbreviations of political parties.

This publication was the result of a study on the “Japanese Politics in the New Era,” which was carried out as part of the Global ThinkNet Fellows program.


1. Overview
Otake Hideo, Professor of Political Science, Kyoto University
2. How a Diet Member’s Koenkai Adapts to Social and Political Changes
Otake Hideo
3. Nukaga Fukushiro: Climbing the Ladder to Influence
Yamada Masahiro, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Kwansei Gakuin University
4. The Enduring Campaign Networks of Tokyo’s Shitamachi District
Park Cheol Hee, Ph.D. Candidate, Columbia University
5. Political Realignment in Hyogo and Okayama
Tani Satomi, Professor of Political Science, Okayama University
6. The End of Competitive Coexistence: Large Companies and Their Unions
Niwa Isao, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Toyama University
7. Anatomy of the 1996 Lower House Election
Kataoka Masaaki, Associate Professor of Political Science, Keio University
Yamada Masahiro
Copyright © 1998 Japan Center for International Exchange. All Rights Reserved.
ISBN 4-88907-018-4; 200 pages; paper