«by Dyron Keith Dabney A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Political Science) ...»
aggressively targeted young voters. The Costa Rica arrangement between Arai and Hozumi for 2000 facilitated Genba’s increased “ownership” of the youth vote in areas formerly garnered by Arai--at 36, Genba was only slightly older than Arai, but he was considerably younger than a 65 year-old Hozumi. Incidentally, the largest numbers of younger voters were located in the cities of Sukagawa and Shirakawa (the latter representing Hozumi’s home base), so Genba’s Type B strategy, based on issues, images and direct contact, complemented his efforts to garner the support of young voters in these cities.. Young voters, particularly in cities in which they were more abundant, were observably more active and participatory in 2000 than in 1996. Genba believed that young voters were responsible for the 5 percent increase in turnout in 2000, and that he was the beneficiary of this support due to his appeal with young voters.
Genba won back his SMD seat in 2000 with relative ease, winning 118,385 votes to 91,081 for Hozumi, who immediately retired from politics.72 The results of the 2000 general election are presented in Table 4.8. Demonstrating the key role played by the Type A strategy, Genba’s biggest gains came from Tamura, where he did not have to compete directly with Arai to be the “favorite son,” and in his wife’s home town of Shirakawa.
72 The only other candidate this time was a Communist, who polled only 11,000.
Conclusion Usami and Genba are about as opposite as two candidates in the same party (more or less) can be. Usami, in downtown Tokyo, relied mainly on Type B campaigning while Genba, in rural Fukushima, was mostly Type A (although more Type B than the average rural candidate). And although not properly our subject, it is hard to avoid the observation that Genba is quite a competent politician while Usami seemed feckless.
On those grounds, incidentally, it is our “middle” candidate, Matsuzawa, who appears the most skilled, indeed probably one of the more accomplished politicians of his generation. But further comparisons among the three await the next chapter.
We have now explored the campaign strategies of three candidates across three elections in some detail. Chapters 3 and 4 were mostly descriptive, giving pictures of these nine campaigns as seen by the candidates themselves and an outside observer. In this concluding chapter, we will look for patterns and causal explanations by comparing among the campaigns, and by testing some explanatory hypotheses drawn from the literature, or in one case, inferring from the campaigns themselves.
We begin the comparisons with a short quantitative analysis. A short survey was administered to each candidate for each election campaign during formal interviews.
They were asked to rank-order seven electoral tactics in the order of personal importance or value to their election campaigns. The seven were chosen not on the basis of any theoretical writings about elections, but rather according to the ways Japanese politicians (and journalists) think about the factors that matter in elections. In terms of the categories we have been using throughout this dissertation, two of these are associated with the Type A strategy: kouenkai, and support from associations and organizations.
Three are associated with the Type B strategy: policy and issues, media coverage, and the image of the political party. Note that when this list was drawn up in the early 1990s, priorities about campaign finance coincided more with the Type A strategy (kouenkai, and other organizational relationships required a lot of money to maintain), and priorities
the qualitative information we collected, and (as will be seen) the results of this survey indicate that these two fall in neither category of electoral tactics. Rather, they qualify the other tactics included on the list.
To see what factors candidates thought—or at least said—were most important in their campaigns, we can first total the answers of all three of them across all three campaigns. Since the answers were from 1 (least important) to 7 (most), the score could range from 9 to 63 (the latter being 7 x 3 x 3). These total scores are shown in Table 5.1 (in the order they were listed on the questionnaire).
These results are interesting. What first meets the eye is the extremely low score for campaign finance. That is difficult to believe. It was the famous parliamentarian whose career spanned pre- and post-war Japan, Ozaki Yukio, who said “three things are important in politics: money, money, and money.” Surely that adage is true today in Japan (as in many other countries). However, money is hard for candidates to talk about.
and spend money are illegal. For these reasons, Curtis (1971) had only vague discussions of campaign finance, and our three candidates were quite reticent on that topic in interviews. Evidence of fund-raising or spending improprieties certainly among the three candidates was not found during our participant observations of the political and campaign activities, though this hardly rules out any illegal conduct. Instruction in and discussions on political ethics and accountability during these candidates years at MIGM presumably operated as the moral compass guiding them from financial misconduct.
“It’s practically impossible to avoid ethical dilemmas in politics…but, Matsushita Konosuke challenged me to be an accountable, responsible person in my every day personal life and as political leaders,” remarked Genba Kouichirou during an informal conversation in his district office. His comment alluded to his fiduciary integrity.
One of the perennial complaints heard among our candidates was the high cost of sustaining on-going political activities and the general cost of campaigning. Even seasoned volunteers of Genba’s re-election campaign in 1996 commented on the modesty of his district office and campaign activities; a tale-tell sign that he was not flush with cash. The absence of the campaign excesses traditionally more common to rural campaigns illustrated Genba’s commitment to a modern campaign captured in the Type B strategy, an acceptance of the legal spending limits for campaigning and an admission of a limited campaign war chest. Still, as a quality candidate, Genba’s campaign activities, like Matsuzawa’s, reflected a sufficiently funded campaign (quality incumbent candidates usually succeed at political fund-raising), which challenges his claim of a campaign with shallow pockets. In filling out the questionnaire, it is possible that the candidates did not
that they put it last (in all but two of the nine responses) just because they were used to disregarding it in talking to anyone outside the inner circle.
The highest ranking category was for personal image, followed closely by policy issues. It is not surprising that an attractive personal image was seen as very important.
The construction of an appealing personal image is probably true for candidates in all countries, and certainly is clear from observing and talking with these candidates, that they all place great emphasis on how they would be perceived by voters. More surprising, however, is the high rating of policy issues—higher than most would expect for Japan. To some extent, this high score presumably means candidates think that some policy preference espoused by them during the campaign will attract the support of likeminded voters. On the surface this perspective is similar to what is meant by policy issues as a strategy in the West. At a deeper level, however, it is not largely because Western candidates tend to emphasize issues that would differentiate the candidate from opponents, in the minds of voters (and maybe in reality). Raising a “wedge” issue, one where supporters of an opposing candidate will differ among themselves, can be particularly effective. Yet, there are few wedge issues in Japan.
Such policy-issue oriented tactics in Western countries are based on an assumption that some voters believe they have an interest or an opinion that is different from other voters, and that issues mobilize them into action. That means Western campaigning is largely based on what have been called “position issues” where a pro and con position is taken on certain issues like abortion and affirmative action. The other kind is “valence” issues with which virtually everyone agrees. Clear air and a quality 73 Invariably, these candidates insisted that they waged campaigns with limited financial resources.
level of priority, and different candidates might find it more or less advantageous. In a classic essay on Japanese electoral behavior, Scott Flanagan (1991) pointed out that valence issues are very commonly used in Japanese elections compared to position issues. Only a handful of important position issues, identified as “cultural politics” issues, have persisted in Japan throughout the postwar period—pro or con the “peace constitution,” Japanese remilitarization, the expansion of the emperor’s power and the Japan-US security alliance (Flanagan et. al., 1991). Positions on these issues used to predict whether voters would support the LDP vs. the JSP or JCP across many decades, but they were irrelevant in our election campaigns and indeed were never mentioned by the candidates. Still more to the point, none of them talked about any position issues— that is, any issues on which an opponent took a different position, or which they thought anyone in their constituency would disagree.
Our candidates stayed away from Japan’s classic position issues because of their limited saliency with votes and the limited leverage they recognized they could gain from them. American candidates, by comparison, equally shy away from the classic position issues familiar to election campaigns because of the potential for them to lose as many supporters as they gain. While the motivation is similar, the difference is that there are few position issues (aside from the traditional ones) to divide the vote in Japan.74 Despite limitations, the candidates of our case studies did make use of make use of valence issues as a form of public appeal, and they thought that such issues could be some help to their campaigns.
74 Policy issues—position or valence—simply do not affect the vote in Japan the way political parties do.
Party voting is more common in Japan because a party vote is isolated from a issue vote. Rather the Japanese electorate does not perceive the vote for a party as a vote on issues.
draw votes, are “reform” and “change.” All candidates, for the LDP as well as other parties, called for reform and change in the 1990s in Japan, which negated the ability of the reform issue to matter to their electoral success or failure.75 A voice in favor of the status quo and against reform could virtually not be found on television or in the newspaper, let along on the campaign trail. Still, non-incumbents, young “fresh” candidates (even after they became incumbents), and even old incumbents who had split from the LDP (in 1993) all believed—probably correctly—that the banner of reform and change would work better for them. It appears that this is mostly what is meant by a strategy emphasizing policy issues. Incidentally, that might imply that the high rating for policy issues is partly due to all of our observed campaigns taking place in the decade of the nineties—it would not have been as high in earlier decades, suggesting a period effect, since the reform issue in elections prior to 1993 never gained much traction with candidates and voters. That party image and media attention rank above kouenkai and relying on organizational support might also be a function of looking at the 1990s rather than earlier times.
The importance that candidates gave to media support would seem to be more a matter of campaign effect than campaign tactic. In many conversations, candidates rarely mentioned the issue of how they could raise the quantity or affect the content of the media coverage they were getting. Party image is more of a tactic since candidates can choose how much to emphasize their party (and, during the earlier part of the 1990s, could even choose their own party to some extent).
75 Technically, candidates fulfilled a goal the reform with respect to a greater orientation towards policy appeals.
and media support, the Type B strategy, may have been due to a period effect since all three surveys were conducted in the 1990s. Such speculations about change over time can be examined directly, although narrowly within the decade of the 90s, by comparing the three election campaigns, aggregated across the three candidates. These results are in Table 5.2. The range of possible scores for each year is from 3 to 21.
Here, we see a clear time trend only for policy issues, which went from 14 to 16 to 18, and from third to second most important. That finding is consistent with perhaps the most fundamental hypothesis about how election campaigning should be changing.
However, the other two Type B tactics—media coverage, and party image—show no real trend. Nor does there appear to be any consistent drop in the Type A tactics (other than the small fall-off for kouenkai). In the aggregate the shifts other than for policy issues do not appear to be both consistent and large enough to be significant.
answers across the three elections is mainly to reflect differences in their districts (or their views about their districts). Table 5.3 gives the results. Here too the possible range is from 3 to 21.