«by Dyron Keith Dabney A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Political Science) ...»
That is, voters’ attention to issues followed their attention to the personality, or image of the candidate. Such door-to-door campaigning used by Genba is actually a mix of Type A and Type B campaigning. Obviously the candidate cannot campaign on his own. If he has volunteers either accompanying him or canvassing on his behalf, as was true of Usami, his behavior is representative of the Type B strategy. However, Genba enlisted local notables in this effort. Gathering votes through local notables’ canvassing activities was one facet of his Type A strategy.
ties to the LDP and local LDP politicians during his tenure on the prefecture assembly.
Moreover, although Genba was not an official member of the LDP, he was no stranger to the party or its politics due to his immediate and extended families’ roles and participation in local politics. Having two former mayors as grandfathers and the current incumbent governor as his father-in-law certainly was a big help in local vote mobilization (Genba received more votes than any other candidate in Koriyama city, Sato Eisaku’s hometown). His family’s micro-level sake distillery business provided ties to local agricultural and business interests on the one hand, and access points to local and national organizations on the other. These included the Chamber of Commerce that organized small and medium businesses (Shougyoukai), the Rotary Club, the Junior Chamber of Commerce of younger businessmen, and the association of local construction companies. Such organizations often remained officially neutral in MMD elections for fear of antagonizing other conservative candidates (Curtis, 1971), but if activated they were potent sources of organizational votes that extended the electoral network. In an interview after the 1993 general election, Genba credited the Shougyoukai in particular with gathering votes for him. He also mentioned senior-citizen groups and religious organizations, who supported him informally though not making an official endorsement.
Needless to say, Genba also put a lot of effort into organizing his personal kouenkai. A big contrast with our other two candidates was the proportion of public speeches at railroad stations and the like to private talks to kouenkai chapters and local clubs—the latter was far higher for Genba. These talks are not aimed at reaching uncommitted voters or convincing anybody, rather they are intended to solidify the
favors to local politicians who used the speaking engagement as opportunities to advance their political credibility with voters since they always were in charge of introducing the candidate to the public assembled. Likewise, these local notables, who served as officers of the kouenkai, were responsible for recruiting members in their localities.
In the 1993 election campaign, compared to Matsuzawa and Usami, Genba looked very much the rural politician who relied on the Type A strategy. Compared to other candidates in Fukushima, however, Genba appeared rather “modern,” and even innovative in his use of the Type B strategy, particularly his careful construction of a personal image, and issue-based campaigning. In interviews after the campaign, Genba indicated that he had hoped to run much more of a Type B campaign, using the sorts of strategies he had learned at the Matsushita Institute (or perhaps Arkansas). However, the situation in rural Fukushima soon made it clear to him that it would be both difficult and unproductive to run a full-scale Type B campaign. With respect to hubs of activities (e.g., shopping plazas, parks and train stations), there simply was not a market for a retail style of campaigning in Genba’s district. That is, the Type B strategy was inefficient at and insufficient for getting out the vote. Indeed, realities on the ground forced him to pay a good deal of attention to the Type A strategy.
In the election itself, the big winner was Watanabe, who picked up almost 20,000 votes from his 1990 performance to finish number one by a big margin. This record was typical for incumbent Shinsei Party candidates, whose defection from the LDP to run under a new, reformist label, according to Reed, was worth around 30,000 votes (see Reed, 2003). The fact that the Socialists lost votes—from 105,000 to 75,000 across two
lost an average of 40,000 votes in 1993, albeit from their inflated votes in 1990, and the party lost half its seats. Two of those were in Fukushima (where they would probably have easily won at least one seat if they had only run one candidate).
Ironically enough, the big winner in Fukushima was the LDP. As in 1990, three LDP candidates were elected: two incumbents, and a new, relatively young candidate, Saito Bunshou, who inherited enough of the retired Itou’s vote to finish second. Of course, the other two winners were Watanabe, who until a few months earlier had been an LDP stalwart, and Genba, who had deep LDP ties, cooperated with the LDP in the prefectural assembly, and campaigned very much in the mode of a newcomer LDP candidate. Genba finished third with 55,096 votes, a very credible victory (see Table 4.6). Arai narrowly won the fifth seat, with 47,476 votes.
When he entered the Diet, Genba joined the New Party Sakigake (he delayed official membership with Sakigake until December 1993), the other new breakway party from LDP. Being part of a party is important for committee assignments and other
running as a conservative independent was preferably to obtaining the Sakigake nomination prior to the election, as he certainly could have if he chose. His choice was a different one than that made by our other two candidates, Usami and Matsuzawa, who could have run as independents, but chose to go with one of the new parties (Shinsei for Matsuzawa, Sakigake for Usami). The reasons might have been idiosyncratic, but it is worth pointing out that running under a party label is much more advantageous in urban (or suburban) areas than in a rural prefecture like Fukushima.
The 1996 General Election Prior to the 1994 election reform the Fukushima 2nd district had been composed of five cities and ten counties. In response to the 1994 election reform, the old Fukushima 2nd district became the new Fukushima 2nd, 3rd and 4th districts. In 1996, Genba Kouichirou competed in the new Fukushima 3rd district. The new Fukushima 3rd district consisted of two cities, Shirakawa and Sukagawa, and five counties, Iwase, NishiShirokawa, Higashi-Shirokawa, Ishikawa, and Tamura—his home town. This change in district size, as well as the switch from MMD to SMD, was as big a challenge for Genba as it was for our other two candidates.
The first challenger was party affiliation: Genba had been preparing to run in the next general election as a Sakigake candidate (as in fact Usami did), but just a month before the election he pulled out of the party and instead got an official nomination from the Democratic Party of Japan. Genba left Sakigake primarily because he was worried about the image and viability of the party. Although his support was more candidate
headed towards decline. He anticipated that the DPJ’s broad popularity and popular leadership would be helpful in his 1996 re-election campaign.
However, Genba and his staff repeatedly admitted that any new support generated by the DPJ would be modest at best simply because “the DPJ wind had not quite reached all parts of Fukushima.” If anything, voters were more charmed by the political high ground taken by the leaders and co-founders of the DPJ, Kan Naoto and Hatoyama Yukio (like Genba both former Sakigake members), than they were by the policy platform of the DPJ. The key message to be taken from Genba’s unceremonious change from Sakigake to the DPJ is that the voters really did not much care, if they even noticed.67 The fact that Genba continued to drive around in a car that still carried the Sakigake Party name (staff members did not get around to changing the party name affixed on the side of the car until the start of the official campaign) suggests the triviality of the switch from Sakigake to the DPJ among Genba’s supporters. Both Genba and Matsuzawa had come to realize that voters were willing to grant them a fair amount of latitude with their party affiliation, given the historical impermanence of opposition parties, as long as they consistently identified with opposition parties. In fact, Matsuzawa was convinced that voters had punished certain incumbent politicians in a number of election districts for flip-flopping between opposition parties and the LDP between the 1993, 1996 and 2000 general elections (July 11, 2000 interview).
In the 1996 Lower House election four candidates vied for the Fukushima 3rd district SMD seat, but two, a Communist and an independent, were minor contenders 67 The same was true for Matsuzawa. Supporters just did not seem to care. Matsuzawa’s multiple party memberships were due to the short-life of the parties.
really was fought between Genba and Arai Hiryoshi, also an LDP incumbent from the old Fukushima 2nd district.68 Like Genba, Arai was from Tamura County, and became a very young prefectural assemblyman from that district. Arai had also unsuccessfully contested the 1990 general election as an independent. After losing, he started a popular radio program, which according to a Genba staff member effectively added to his local reputation as a charismatic personality.
These two candidates expose the subtle influences of personality and image on voters in Fukushima 2nd district. Arai possessed the better personality (he also was a persuasive public speaker), but Genba possessed the better physical appearance in that he looked the part of a political leader—a commanding 6’1’’ compared to the 5’3” Arai.69 Arai’s substantial local roots made him a formidable Type A candidate, and as an incumbent and indeed the sole LDP candidate in a traditionally LDP prefecture he would have access to major organizational resources as well as a comfortable party label. His good connections in the national LDP (he had been secretary to an Upper House LDP member), along with Itou’s retirement in the 2nd district solidified his official nomination for the 1993 general election. Genba was an interesting contrast: also an incumbent, with strong local roots, but attached to a political party with more Type B appeal, based on the image of the leaders, than Type A organizational resources.
Genba knew that he needed a larger slice of the electorate in 1996 (albeit a smaller electorate) than in 1993, and he put a lot of effort into maximizing his personal 68 Interestingly, the NFP party, which had absorbed the CGP and DSP, did not post a candidate in the 2nd district.
69 Arai was more comfortable making public appearances than Genba. His radio broadcast experiences equipped him with communication tricks to rally the troops. By admission of some of his own staff, Genba was not as polished of a communicator or speaker as Arai.
represented a much larger part of the district, though that was mitigated by Tamura also being Arai’s home town. Genba worked on developing his kouenkai and electoral keiretsu, and strengthening his relationship with the Chamber of Commerce, agricultural groups and other professional and vocational associations.
Genba also was able to arrange an exchange of organizational support with his 1993 opponent Watanabe Kouzou, who now competed in the new 4th district in 1996.
Watanabe handed over his jiban in Nishi-Shirakawa, Higashi-Shirakawa, Ishikawa, Iwase and Tamura counties, and Shirakawa and Sukagawa cities, in exchange for Genba’s jiban in Minami-Aizu, Kita-Aizu, Yama, Kawanuma and Onuma counties, and Aizuwakamatsu and Kitakata cities. The alliance was possible because the NFP (Watanabe became a member of the NFP party when it absorbed Shinsei Party and other smaller opposition parties in 1995) did not run a candidate in the Fukushima 3rd district in 1996.
According to a Genba staff member, there were also personal reasons—Watanabe had had a bad relationship with Arai in earlier days when Arai had been a secretary.
Such factors made possible a rather unusual arrangement of cross-party cooperative exchanges of organizational resources—in most cases, it was former opponents from the LDP who cooperated after the old election districts were split up. Election reform redistricting, however, severed some of Watanabe’s legislative connection, and subsequently disrupted the personal connection with the voters he sought to deliver to Genba. As Genba saw it, the personal votes mobilized by his network of supportive local politicians were far more reliable than the personal votes Watanabe would attempt to
voted for them, as well as invested in preserving their relationship with national legislators who could channel pork to their constituents.
Given this perception of support, Genba took measures to strengthen and expand his relationship with local politicians. Genba had a team of approximately twenty town, county and city politicians invested in his 1996 re-election campaign. Expanding his support base among local politicians for the 1996 election, however, was somewhat complicated by his membership with the DPJ. When Genba ran for office in 1993 his political independence enabled him to negotiate support from local politicians holding no stated allegiance to any of the major political parties. Yet, when Genba joined the DPJ in 1996 some independent local politicians believed that support for Genba in 1996 would put them at risk with voters who did not have favorable feelings about the DPJ.