Power Shuffles and Policy Processes

Hideo Otake, ed.
March 2000

The Liberal Democratic Party’s (LDP) 38-year monopoly on ruling power ended suddenly in the summer of 1993. The collapse of one-party dominance ushered in the era of coalition governments in Japan. From 1993 to the first half of 1999, the reins of government were held by three types of coalitions: non-LDP coalitions, a coalition that included the LDP and its long-time ideological opponent the Social Democratic Party of Japan (SDPJ), and a coalition of the LDP and a new conservative Liberal Party. During this period as many as 18 political parties appeared on and disappeared from the political stage.

This shuffling of power from one party-dominance to multiparty coalitions and from coalition to coalition affected the policy-making process in general and for certain issues in particular. In this first English-language study of the coalition era, seven Japanese political scientists present in-depth analyses of the political change and policy-making processes in Japan in the 1990s. Specific cases of policy making discussed are the establishment of long-term health care for the elderly, administrative reform of public corporations, and division of the telecom giant Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation. Also included is a comparative analysis of the policy-making processes of the LDP and two coalition governments. authors examine the structural changes in Japanese politics during the 1970s and 1980s that were the prelude to the party system change in the 1990s. Such factors as new policies aimed at the realignment of voters, structural reform and policy changes in the SDPJ, and the rise of both a new generation of politicians and new forces outside the political establishment are seen as having had significant influence.

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
Hideo Otake, Professor of Political Science, Kyoto University
2. The Establishment of Long-Term Care Insurance
Mikiko Murase Eto, Professor of Law, Hosei University
3. The Reform of Public Corporations
Masahiko Tatebayashi, Assistant Professor of Law, Kansai University
4. The Battle over the Breakup of NTT
Ikuko Toyonaga, Associate Professor in Comparative Politics, Kyushu University
5. Characteristics of the Decision-making Structure of Coalitions
Naoto Nonaka, Professor of Political Science, Gakushuin University
6. Political Realignment and Policy Conflict
Hideo Otake
7. Failed Reform and Policy Changes of the SDPJ
Toshimitsu Shinkawa, Professor of Modern Political Analysis, Hokkaido University
8. Generational Change and Political Upheaval
Shuichi Wada, Program Officer, Japan Center for International Exchange
Copyright © 2000 Japan Center for International Exchange. All Rights Reserved.
ISBN 4-88907-035-4; 240 pages