«by Dyron Keith Dabney A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Political Science) ...»
Actually, local politicians appeared to fret about Genba’s membership in the DPJ more than voters did. Local politicians may have been thinking about the criticism the could expect from other LDP politicians at prefectural or even national levels for backing Genba in 1996. Genba’s DPJ membership did not appear to matter so much with voters, as long as he did not deviate from his relatively conservative platform. In any case, the consensus among Genba’s staff was that the DPJ party endorsement further legitimized his candidacy and advanced his political credibility in ways that independent candidacy could not. In short, the Type B strategy advantages he got from the DPJ connection in this case outweighed the disadvantages for Type A strategy organizational efforts.
The tactic Genba believed yielded the biggest return of votes was the kouenkai. It was Genba’s insurance policy in terms of votes he could reasonably rely on—more
more heavily in kouenkai-building than any other campaign tactic. His kouenkai organization and membership had been far from developed in 1993. Yet, before the 1996 general election was called, Genba had already established about 300 kouenkai branches throughout the Fukushima 2nd district. Most were small, intimate, town-level kouenkai composed of twenty to forty members (September 26, 1995 interview). The kouenkai were often organized along the lines of the trade or profession of its members. “Many of my supporters were targeted, and eventually picked up one by one as kouenkai members,” Genba boasted. Although he admitted that he secured a significant share of support from voters tied to regional and local organizations, he insisted that the largest source of his support resided in his network of kouenkai. Since many kouenkai members were among those whom Genba reached out to directly, they were some of his strongest campaign promoters and recruiters for votes during the election.
Genba was particularly proud of the way he and his wife, Mikiko, organized female voters under a kouenkai tailored for female supporters, named Hana no Kai.
Genba established Hana no Kai partly because eligible female voters have outnumbered male voters in every town, county and city in the Fukushima 2nd district. More importantly, women historically turned out on election day in greater numbers than men.
These findings remained true in the 1990, 1993, 1996 and 2000 Lower House elections.
To this end, Hana no Kai continues to be a great public relations move in the district; it promoted public awareness about the value Genba placed on women’s votes. Hana no Kai was created to solidify, that is, “harden” his support from women.
district is worthy of noting since it equally applies to the Fukushima 2nd district. “Votes from women are harder won (he offers as his explanation that there are fewer opportunities to access and solicit support from women than men who are more “waki poi” or widely connected to social and professional circles), but more reliable and consistent than men. Once women decided to vote for me, they typically continued to vote for me—that’s a hard vote,” stated Matsuzawa (July 11, 2000 interview). Genba too believed that the votes he received from women were hard votes. Finally, Genba also established Hana no Kai because he believed the way to appeal to women stylistically differed from the way to appeal to men. Hana no Kai was the forum to cultivate support from women separately from that of men.
In 1996, Genba continued his personal house-to-house canvassing and his other Type B activities, and he often spoke about policy issues. His particular themes were decentralization of government and administrative reform that would entitle prefectural representatives to greater budgetary and policy-making power. In this aspect as well Arai was rather similar, though his emphasis was social welfare. To the extent voters were paying attention to issues—and as noted above, Genba’s staff tended not to think so— Arai may have had the edge, since his calls for better welfare policy seemed to get a good response from the large number of older voters in the district.
In short, Genba and Arai followed similar strategies in the 1996 campaign, and they were evenly matched in resources. The election turned out to be very close—Arai won with about 91,747 votes to Genba’s 88,214 (see Table 4.7). The difference was in Tamura County, the home town to both candidates—Arai’s margin there was almost
to Arai’s edge in recognition thanks to his radio program (pure Type B strategy), or to better Type A home town voter mobilization by way of networks, is an interesting question.
Fortunately for Genba, his narrow defeat to Arai for the SMD qualified him for a PR seat, since those are allocated among losing SMD candidates by the narrowness of their defeat. The DPJ’s policy that its SMD candidates should also run in the PR tier (recall that the NFP advised its candidates to compete in either the SMD or the PR competition, but not both), made possible his continuation in the Diet.
Genba admitted his surprise that he had lost to Arai. His closest supporters and
staff members speculated that he lost the SMD seat to Arai because of overconfidence:
the feeling of certain victory that surrounded Genba’s candidacy demobilized voters.
Some also thought that he had overemphasized policy issues, or emphasized the wrong issues. Particularly humbling for Genba was that although both he and Arai were “native sons” of Tamura County, Arai turned out to be the voters’ “favorite son.” Like other candidates, Genba had felt compelled to pay the most attention to the organized vote for the 1996 election. The shift from getting a small proportion of the
of attention to building up organizational resources. Arranging the exchange with Watanabe and trying to win over the individual members of his affiliated groups were important aspects of his strategy.
While all that took a lot of time and energy, it can be said that assembling a larger network of organizational support was less of a challenge for Genba than it was for Matsuzawa, and particularly for Usami. First, rural voters were predisposed to be responsive to influence from organizations they belong to or local notables. Second, Fukushima had much more of a traditional social infrastructure than Tokyo and Kawasaki—urban and suburban voters are more likely to be unconnected. Third, with his strong local connections and ties to organizations, Genba had more to work with than did the other two candidates.
What about the Type B strategies that Genba himself thought were the right way to win elections? In general, he gave those about as much attention as he had in 1993.
The most interesting point is a negative one—compared to 1993, Genba was now attached to a political party, one with attractive leaders that were waging an active campaign at the national level. He certainly advertised that he was the official candidate of the DPJ, and thought that it gave him some legitimacy, but his campaign behavior and his own analysis during and after the election indicate that he did not consider the party label to be an important factor in the election. At best, party membership complimented his image.
The fact that Genba Kouichirou was a PR representative for the entire Touhoku region of Japan, rather than a representative of the Fukushima 3rd SMD, made not a particle of difference to how he approached the 2000 election. For one thing, he was determined to win back his SMD seat—as noted above, rationally or not, Japanese politicians always prefer winning as a single member than as part of a PR slate. For another, even if he were more oriented to protecting his PR seat, it is doubtful that any campaign strategy would be better than maximizing his vote in his home district.
If Genba’s opponent had again been Arai it is hard to know who would have had the advantage—both were incumbents, they had similar image profiles and local roots, and they had run a very close race in 1996. The LDP was in rather low repute in 2000, and the DPJ was on the upswing after the dissolution of the NFP since it was now clearly the major opposition party. Whether such factors would have been enough to move the balance against the LDP’s inherent advantages of access to pork and looking like the permanent governing party is moot.
In the event, the LDP candidate in the Fukushima 3rd SMD was not Arai, but Hozumi Yoshiyuki. Hozumi was from the Shirakawa area of the district; after a career in the Ministry of Agriculture he had been elected to the Lower House from the old Fukushima 2nd in 1986, having inherited a jiban from a party elder. He was reelected in 1990 and again in 1993, when he received 4,000 votes fewer than Genba but 3,000 more than Arai in the district as a whole. However, Arai had outpolled him in the portion of the old district that became Fukushima 3rd district.
such situations, its solution was a “Costa Rica” arrangement. That means that one candidate runs in the SMD and the other only in PR, and then at the next election they switch. Necessarily, when running in the PR tier the candidate is given a high enough position (above the SMD candidates) on the list to assure election.
The outcome of the 2000 general election was relatively predictable from the start: Hozumi was not as strong a candidate in the Fukushima 3rd district as Arai had been, and moreover the Costa Rica system was confusing to voters. Indeed, newspaper polls revealed that many voters simply were not aware that Arai’s name would not be on the SMD ballot in 2000. Moreover, Arai continued to run hard in Fukushima 3rd district in order to keep his organization together for a future SMD campaign. That meant emphasizing Type A strategies although PR campaigns are supposed to be quite Type B, centered on party label and policy issues. Arai simply could not convince voters to vote for Hozumi over Genba. In fact, voters’ discomfort with following Arai’s directive to support Hozumi in the 2000 election called into question the conventional wisdom on the reliability of an organizational based or “gathered” vote.
Genba and his staff paid attention to the implications of the Costa Rica. They tried to calculate how voters would respond, particularly in Tamura County where Genba had lost the previous election. However, that had no great implications for Genba’s actual campaigning. He continued to build on the strategy put into practice for the 1996 election. The kouenkai was the central nervous system of his campaign. By Genba’s estimate, his kouenkai roster by now included some 70,000 names, each of which he
Genba’s attention to kouenkai reflected his limited faith in the allure of the DPJ in 2000 to attract votes. “The Fukushima 3rd district was a district where a strong partycentered campaign would never be enough to win an election,” Genba stated emphatically (July 5, 2000 interview). His comment exposed the limited political legitimacy of the DPJ in Fukushima 3rd district—“the new party wind had finally reached Fukushima for the 2000 general election,” said Genba. Genba’s comment equally reflected a glum assessment of rural political behavior, at least with respect to rural voters’ receptiveness to the legitimacy of purely party-based electoral mobilization.
As with kouenkai, Genba continued to target the same types of voters targeted in 1996, which arguably took less time for him to establish a rapport with in 2000. Still, the party label as a Type B strategy no doubt attracted a few voters. Moreover, there was also an organizational payoff since in 2000 since the DPJ had the support of the Rengo labor federation (Genba estimated that approximately twenty percent of his vote was connected with labor unions, and the DPJ nomination was important to unions). That was a new source of Type A support, but he no longer could get a boost from an organizational exchange deal. Since Watanabe and Genba were now completely removed from their former supporters outside their current districts, there was nothing to trade.
While the 1996 campaign was largely an effort to develop his existing organizational strengths to meet the exigency of a larger percentage of the vote in a 70 Either the number is an exaggeration or some members did not vote for him—the figure amounts to almost two-thirds of his total vote, which is quite unlikely even for a rural area.
penetrating the organizations or communities that were thought to be secure for the LDP.
He had a stronger, more organized and more devoted team of local politicians and organization leaders on board to challenge the political hold the LDP had in certain parts of the district. His re-election campaign team was composed of three prefectural assembly members, and 70 to 100 city, town and village councilors. Like Matsuzawa, who had actually relocated his district office (and residence) to the electorally less favorable Takatsu ward in Kawasaki, Genba invested resources in establishing a stronger presence in Sukagawa city. Though seen as LDP oriented, Sukagawa was fertile ground because neither Arai nor Hozumi had particular ties there. Moreover, Sukagawa was home to Genba’s father-in-law, Governor Satou Eisaku, and the birthplace of his wife, Mikiko. Genba Mikiko was particularly instrumental in getting out the vote in this area, visiting about 8,000 homes over the last year before the election (January 10, 2001 interview).71 It was noted above that Genda’s own analysis of his loss in the SMD in 1996 had been complacency—he, his campaign staff and supporters thought he would prevail over his main competition, Arai Hiroyuki. In the 2000 race he and his staff tried harder on all counts. There were more personal public addresses (kojin enzetsukai), more kouenkaibuilding, more household visits, more pamphlet distribution, more strategy placement of election offices and a greater enlistment of local politicians’ campaign know-how and support.
71 She was adept at the mobilizing voters through her collective experiences gained as the daughter and wife of politicians, and her education at Tokyo University’s Faculty of Law.