«by Dyron Keith Dabney A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Political Science) ...»
The 2000 General Election Despite his resounding defeat in 1996, Usami vowed to try again. His experience in a losing campaign had convinced him that he had not paid enough attention to Type A campaigning that necessitated building an organizational infrastructure. He started working on building ties with local politicians and groups, particularly small businessmen, and was having some success. However, his prospects in the Tokyo 3rd were looking increasingly bleak. In 1996, even running as an incumbent, he had gotten
still, Matsubara, who had run a fairly close second as an NFP candidate in 1996, succeeded in getting the official DPJ nomination for 2000. Usami’s decision not to desert the dying Sakigake in the 1996 campaign meant he forfeited any chance to gain the nomination for 2000 ahead of the much stronger Matsubara.
Accordingly, a few months (March) before the start of the official campaign in 2000, Usami decided to switch to Tokyo 4th (the formal announcement of switch was in April). The DPJ had backed a weak candidate in that district in 1996 and was willing to nominate Usami. While Usami no longer resided in the Tokyo 4th district, he still had ties to the district since it was part of the bigger district he had represented from 1993 to
1996. Thus, the Tokyo 4th district represented a possible avenue back into the Diet for Usami.
His candidacy for the 4th district in 2000, however, was complicated and compromised by events that occurred between 1998 and 2000. In 1998, the easy winner in the Tokyo 4th district in the 1996 general election, four-term LDP incumbent Arai Shokei, committed suicide following disclosure of his involvement in a political scandal.
The seat left open by Arai’s death was filled by LDP candidate Morita Kensaku in a competitive by-election with DPJ candidate Matsubara Jin.65 Morita was a formidable LDP incumbent to beat for the 4th district SMD seat in 2000.
However, it appeared at the time that Morita would not be a factor in the 2000 race because the LDP denied him the official party nomination and asked him to run instead in the PR tier (where in effect he could be guaranteed a seat). The reason was so 65 Usami was not among the contestants competing for the open seat since chose to run for the Upper House scheduled only months apart the same year (his bid for an Upper House seat was unsuccessful).
That was a move by the national party to help keep Koumeitou in the governing coalition—Koumeitou was very resentful that its loyal voters had helped elect LDP candidates but the LDP was being no help in getting its candidates elected. The coalition strategy was to squeeze out the competition and win both the SMD and PR seats. As a former talento with broad popularity, and a former Upper House member, Morita was well-positioned to win a PR seat. Moreover, as a former Lower House member with a strong CGP-Soka Gakkai support base, Endo was equally well-positioned to take the SMD seat in the 4th district.
Usami figured that many LDP voters in effect would not want to vote for the Soka Gakkai, and they might be available for him to pick up along with voters who would be attracted to the DSP label. However, he realized it would be tough, as he said quite
frankly in an interview:
I decided to “return” to the 4th district, so to speak. After all, Tokyo 4th district was part of the old Tokyo 2nd district which I represented between 1993 and 1996.
There were people, of course, who still remembered me when I served as a Lower House representative for Tokyo 2nd district. But, about thirty percent of the electorate has changed, that is, migrated in or out of Ohta ward since 1996 (July 12, 2000 interview).
Usami went on to explain that many of his natural constituency—young, educated, nonpartisan voters—had moved to other cities or other wards in Tokyo. The voters who remained—older, partisan, or conservative voters—were not as willing as younger voters to offer Usami their support. “Turnout for the 1996 Lower House election was about 50 percent, which meant that I could rely on about 20 percent of voters at best to support me in the next general election,” stated Usami (February 14, 1997 interview).
Type B campaigning, but both the lessons of his loss in 1996 and the fact that he was
now a candidate of a real political party, pushed him into moving more toward Type A:
I reluctantly ran an election campaign geared towards support from organization and local politicians (soshiki wa atte shimatta). I did not want local politicians’ support, but because I was backed by the DPJ, I didn’t have much choice. They were assigned to my campaign office. I really had not learned how to personally make use of local politicians so, in my mind, they were not an especially strong component of my election strategy. I still think I can do better on my own (July 12, 2000 interview).
He went on to say:
They [local politicians] were difficult to manage. They helped me gain votes, but they also were responsible for the loss of votes. Since I was not accustomed to relying on local politicians, I was not confident about how to direct them in my campaign. They did not really know me, and I did not really know them since I had not had much contact in the 4th district. What’s more, they did not know my campaign style, so they could not effectively promote my candidacy.
It is clear from these remarks that Usami’s Type A efforts were half-hearted. He did get support from the DPJ keiretsu (five local DPJ politicians along with their kouenkai) and Rengo labor unions, but they were not very effective since he failed to fully incorporate them into his campaign strategy.
Usami’s reluctance to fully adopt the Type A strategy highlights his selfawareness of the fit of the Type B strategy for his campaign. As a candidate who strongly and more naturally identified with the Type B strategy, Usami hoped to benefit from the DPJ label as the true opposition party, which carried some weight in 2000. The ruling coalition was in bad repute, with poor economic conditions and the unpopularity of Prime Minister Mori. Moreover, many conservative voters were suspicious of the Soka Gakkai and so reluctant to support a Koumeitou candidate.
undercut by a surprising development. That was that Morita Kensaku, the LDP incumbent, simply refused to go along with LDP headquarters and bow out of the SMD race. In common with many politicians, he regarded even a sure PR seat as inferior. He resolved to run as an independent—a dramatic event that was heavily covered by the media. That allowed Morita to portray himself as an underdog who had been unfairly treated by the political establishment. “Japanese people have this interesting affection for the underdog, (hangan biiki),” explained Usami. “Morita was able to manipulate the public into thinking the LDP was a bully.” “If Morita had not run as an independent candidate for the SMD seat, LDP supporters would have voted for me instead of the Koumeitou candidate in 2000 race,” proclaimed Usami (July 12, 2000 interview).
Morita skillfully played on this underdog image as well as his advantage as an incumbent, and kept hold of most of the substantial organizational resources of LDP candidates as well (indeed, his intensive Type A campaigning apparently led him into election law violations). He won the election in a walk, with 92,711 votes to 59,487 for the governing coalition’s official candidate, the Koumeitou’s Endo. Usami polled just under 50,000 votes (see Table 4.4) and finished third.
Genba Kouichirou was born in 1964 in what is now Tamura City in Fukushima into a sake-brewing family that was well entrenched in local politics. Both his grandfathers had been mayors, and Genba himself married the daughter of Satou Eisaku (not the former Prime Minster, an LDP politician who had served in the Upper House before becoming the governor of Fukushima since 1988). After graduating from the law faculty at Sophia University Genba immediately entered the Matsushita Institute of Government and Management. During his studies he made a field trip to Arkansas and got to meet the governor—future president—Bill Clinton (even today he proudly includes the picture on his website and in his Nagatocho office). He wasted little time entering politics upon graduating from MIGM, and won a seat in the prefectural assembly in 1991 at age 26, the youngest in the prefecture’s history. As presented in Table 4.5, Genba even garnered more votes than the incumbent LDP rival. Only two years later Genba decided to run for national office.
The 1993 General Election Fukushima is a rural prefecture, and the LDP had long been the most powerful party in the 2nd district, having won at least three seats in all the elections since its founding. However, the Socialists had also maintained representation in the district, and
(out of a total vote of 458,000). The top three vote-getters in 1990 were all from the LDP, led by 76 year old Itou Masayoshi, who had been in the Diet since 1963.
Along with the national political turmoil in 1993, the Fukushima 2nd district underwent some changes with respect to its Lower House representatives. Two incumbents retired (and died thereafter): Itou of the LDP and one of the JSP members.
The number-two vote getter in 1990, Watanabe Kouzou, an LDP powerhouse and fixture in the Diet since 1969, left the LDP in 1993. Watanabe traded in the political safety his past three cabinet appointments and influential membership with the Takeshita faction afforded him for membership in the new LDP splinter party, the Shinsei Party. Along with fellow veteran LDP incumbents like Ozawa Ichirou and Hata Tsutomu, he ran as a Shinsei Party candidate in the general election later that year.
This political fluidity in both the national and the local scene favored a newcomer candidate. Genba almost certainly could have gotten an official nomination from one of the other two new parties, the JNP and Sakigake, and given his connections he might have had a shot at an LDP nomination to replace Itou. However, Genba preferred to run as an independent—a time-tested strategy for young conservative politicians breaking into an election district.66 For one thing, graduates of the Matsushita Institute were predisposed to be skeptical of the establishmentarian LDP. For another, in 1993 criticism against the LDP was at such a high pitch that even in a very conservative district the 66 The election campaign famously described by Curtis (1971) was by a conservative independent. In the classic pattern, all know that a successful candidate would join the LDP upon entering the Diet, and obtain an official nomination in the following election. Indeed, Arai Hiroyoshi had run as a conservative independent in 1990 and finished as runner-up; the LDP gave him an official nomination in 1993 and he won.
victories in election districts that would justify backing an additional candidate for office.
Running as a conservative independent fit in well with Genba’s basic electoral strategy. Unlike the other two districts we have discussed, Fukushima 2nd and other similarly rural districts had quite high turnout. Moreover, its population was older than the average rural district because so many young people had moved to cities for jobs or a more vibrant social setting. That meant that the constituencies that Matsuzawa and Usami had targeted, younger non-voters, were a relatively scarce target constituency for Genba. Instead, Genba focused on voters who had voted for the LDP in past elections.
Many of these voters had been turned off by repeated LDP scandals, and could be pursued to vote for a young, energetic candidate like Genba who shared their general ideology but did not carry the LDP label.
As Genba saw it, his conservative independent candidacy offered him two main advantages: Firstly, it did not alienate non-partisan voters. Secondly, it did not offend LDP patrons. Essentially, Genba’s progressive-conservative political orientation and partisan independence made him an attractive candidate for LDP and non-LDP supporters alike.
Genba’s electoral strategies combined elements of Type A and Type B campaigning. On the Type B side, as with our other two candidates, Genba’s main concern was projecting an image that would be attractive to voters, and by and large he chose the same sort of image as Usami and Matsuzawa. Given that he was only 29 years old and was running against the establishment, he inevitably emphasized his vitality and bringing new blood into politics. Unlike Usami and Matsuzawa, however, Genba did not
salutatory expression in front of public venues in Fukushima 2nd district just are not efficient tactics of public outreach due to relatively limited daily traffic and patronage.
This being the case, Genba expressed his vitality through frequent door to door political activities. Genba claimed that he built his support base one by one through his door to door visits. The door to door visits intensified during the official campaign period. This intensified version, referred to as rouraa sakusen, was a well-coordinated final blitz of support gathering during the campaign period.
Another Type B strategy for Genba was to emphasize issues in his talks, both in public and to kouenkai groups. Mainly these were the same issues about the need for reform at the national level that were being emphasized by the new parties of the time.
As might be expected of a Matsushita Institute graduate, he tended to go into detail about policy issues, to the extent that one of his aides cautioned him that he was outrunning the interest of his audience, who (as seen by local politicians anyway) did not care much about issues—at least not as much as they cared about the person presenting the issues.