«by Dyron Keith Dabney A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Political Science) ...»
money typically goes into strengthening relationships with voters, directly as in sponsoring kouenkai activities, but most often indirectly by compensating mediators such as local politicians and social notables. In the United States and elsewhere where Type B predominates, most campaign spending is on advertising, which is regulated and limited in Japan. Type B campaigning also involves spending at the grassroots level, as for research on individual voter characteristics, canvassing, telephone banks, provision of transportation, and so forth. American candidates use the Type A strategy too, notoriously in machine politics and in the “walking around money” provided to local leaders for unspecified uses. Conversely, Japanese the Type B strategy also consume funds, but on balance, it would appear that much more money is used for rather murky Type A strategy in Japan than in most Western countries.
Incidentally, that fact that many of these murky uses of money are clearly or potentially illegal under Japan’s quite restrictive election laws means that candidates and staff keep everything about it very close to the vest. It would have been fascinating to trace how the use of campaign funds changed (or did not change) across the three elections for each of our candidates, but it was not possible to get any sort of systematic information.
How campaign funds are raised, as well as spent, has long been a matter of controversy in many countries, with the trend toward greater restrictions and controls.
Campaign finance in Japan has never been a transparent matter. Disclosure of the names of campaign donors and the reporting of campaign money was veiled through weaknesses in the election laws. The receipt of large political donations from businesses was tied to
writes that corporate contributions were at the center of these scandals, and were welcomed by the LDP because electoral rules restricted individual expressions of participation in the electoral process in terms of campaign contributions and personal activism.
Notable was a series of high-profile political corruption cases in Japan dating back to the mid 1970s (i.e., the 1976 Lockheed scandal) and continuing in the late 1980s and early 1990s (e.g. the 1988 Recruit scandal and the 1992 Kyowa and Sagawa Kyuubin scandals). It was the public condemnation of the Recruit, Kyowa and Sagawa Kyuubin scandals, on top of decades of questionable political and electoral practices that led to the emergence of new progressive political parties in 1992 and 1993.7 Along with changing the voting system for lower house elections, which was aimed at reducing the demand for ever-larger amounts of campaign money (thought to be the product of intra-party competition in the MMD), reformist efforts also pointed at how money was raised. A new law passed in 1994 provided for government subsidies of political parties in the hope that this public money could take the place of questionable donations from corporate and other interested sources.
The new parties were geared towards defeating the LDP in the 1993 general election and promoting electoral and political reform legislation. Many of the core members and leaders of these new parties—the Japan New Party (JNP), the Shinsei Party and the New Party Sakigake—were incumbents who defected from the Liberal Democratic Party due to policy and factional differences. These new parties set the tone 7 The Japan New Party was established shortly before the 1992 Upper House election. The New Party Sakigake and the Shinsei Party were formed shortly before the 1993 Lower House election.
reform, an election theme that dominated the 1993 election campaign.8 The accessibility and progressive political goals of these new parties even attracted many young, competent individuals who aspired to become national legislators. Additionally, the goals of the new parties persuaded voter to support them at the polls—enough support to undermine the LDP’s 38-year strong-hold in the Lower House.
Upon winning enough seats to deny the LDP continued control of the Diet in 1993, the opposition political parties formed a coalition and mobilized to tackle election reform. The legislation they drafted was intended to redefine political candidates’ longstanding campaign behavior, especially behavior that encouraged political candidates to engage in illegal campaign practices. On January 29, 1994, the election reform bill, which featured a new election system and other election rules related to donations and funding-raising, was passed into law.
Despite the appearance of unified support for the reform legislation, (Reed and Thies, 2003, state that it was a bill no politician could easily reject without public criticism), election reform was not unanimously supported by Diet members.
Continuation of the MMD election system was a greater guarantee of electability among many Diet members, although data confirmed the election advantage offered to incumbents competing in a SMD election system. Nonetheless, the legislation passed thanks to the changed composition of the Diet plus strong public support (Christensen, 8 It is worth noting that 1993 was not the first attempt to reform Japan’s election system. Past unsuccessful attempts by the conservative LDP to reform the election system occurred in 1956, 1965, 1973 and 1991 (Reed and Thies, 2003; Hirano, 2006). At the heart of each failure was the uncertainty surrounding the political and electoral consequences of a new election system. Numerous alterations to the election system, however, did follow from these failed attempts, including stricter campaign rules stipulated by the Public Office Election Law, and the expansion of the number of election districts and seats apportioned to each election district.
amalgamation, the single-member district (SMD) system and proportional representation (PR) system, together called the Mixed-Member Majoritarian (MMM) election system.9 The new election system permitted candidates to compete for single-member seats among 300 small districts and one of 200 PR seats in eleven regional blocs throughout the nation.10 The SMD component of the new election system addressed the political reformers’ desire to limit intra-party competition and advance strong, two-party competition. The presumption was that policy centrism would emerge from two major political parties, and that one-party dominance would give way to two parties alternating political power through competitive elections (Seligmann, 1997). The PR component of the new election system, on the other hand, was aimed at preventing a two-party system, since it allowed smaller parties to win a significant number of seats. Without that provision, sufficient support to pass would have been unavailable.
The hybrid nature of the MMM election system was widely hailed by its proponents as a systemic cure for the problems ascribed to the MMD system because candidates from same party were deterred from competing against each other in the same district, and political parties were front and center of the election campaign. Thus, there would less incentive to continue campaign tactics that thrived on the personal vote under the MMM election system.11 It was also thought that the need for campaign funds would be substantially reduced (at the same time that the collection and management of funds 9 The MMM election system is an overtly majoritarian form of the SMD and PR system since three-fifths of all Lower House seats are chosen from single-member districts (Reilly, 2007).
10 The number of PR seats was reduced from 200 to 180 shortly after the 1996 Lower House election. The Lower House today consists at 480 members.
11 An even more important factor in maintaining the LDP’s stronghold in rural districts was failing to redraw election district boundaries in response to population shifts from rural to urban districts.
Consequently, rural districts, where the LDP collected the lion’s share of its support, were over-represented while urban districts were under-represented (Curtis 1988, Neary 2002).
articulated party manifestos (policy issue platforms) instead of on constituency favors and political pork barrel programs. The 1994 election reform challenged political candidates to campaign differently.
Yet, reform architects could only speculate about the effects of reform. In fact, reformers built their case about the effects of the MMM election system and the new election rules on campaign behavior observed among politicians of other democratic polities like Italy and New Zealand that adopted new election systems in the last few decades. Understanding the actual effects requires empirical research of election campaign behavior, to which this dissertation seeks to make a contribution.
The Research Design of the Study This study is based on field research on three politicians across three general elections: one before the election reform in July 1993, and two following election reform in October 1996 and June 2000. Intensive face to face interviews, review of print and electronic media, analyses of printed campaign literature and advertisements, and participant observations of candidates were the principal research methods we used to evaluate campaign behavior for each election under review. Frequent, informal discussions and interactions with the candidates, office personnel, family members and campaign support staff of local politicians and organizational leaders between elections and during the official campaign period buttress the more formal, repeat interviews conducted with the candidates. The formal interviews and participant observations figure prominently in this dissertation. Significant time was dedicated to “shadowing” the three
they conducted pre-campaign and official campaign activities.12 These activities range from constituency services and outreach (e.g., attendance at social club events and tours with kouenkai members of the national Diet) to outdoor speeches. Participant observations occurred b-weekly between during the pre-campaign period and daily during the official campaign period. The schedules of the candidates’ political and campaign activities were available upon request to fill in the information gaps during weeks when participant observations did not occur. The election campaign research was enhanced by volunteerism as a legislative and election campaign staffer. All three politicians selected for this study competed in the 1993, 1996 and 2000 Lower House elections, and possess similar biographic profiles—common factors that provide a methodological strength in a study beset with variability. They are all young, ideologically progressive-conservative candidates backed by opposition political parties.13 Each had prior political preparation for a career in politics—one served as staff for a Diet member and two served in prefectural legislatures before running for national office. Additionally, all three are graduates of elite Japanese universities and attended the Matsushita Institute of Government and Management (MIGM), a prestigious and unique academy. The breadth of our multiple year study of campaigns among candidates across 12 The activities conducted during the pre-campaign period, commonly referred to as seiji katsudou (political activities) and the official campaign period, called senkyo katsudou, (campaign activities) are largely similar, yet this seemingly insignificant difference is the semantic loopholes in the Public Offices Elections Law (POEL) that permit the former prior to the official election campaign period. Politicians merely need to avoid references to future elections or candidacy to maintain the distinction between these two classifications.
13 The progressive conservative label in Japan is a short-hand for political reformist and pragmatist. More importantly, it connotes rejection of the LDP, particularly its self-serving actions to retain political dominance in the Diet. Symbolic of progressive conservatism was an orientation towards political statesmanship, as well as a political posture of Japan as fully sovereign nation less yielding to the policy demands of the West, namely the U.S., on security and economic affairs.
single candidate in a particular district type, or a single post-reform election. The finding of the study, we believe, will hold up across space and time because of this methodological approach.
About the Matsushita Institute of Government and Management (MIGM) MIGM is the first academy of its kind in Japan and the world of industrialized democracies.14 Located in Chigasaki City (approximately 60 kilometers southwest of Tokyo City), MIGM takes as its mission to train a new breed of Japanese political leaders. Founded in 1979, the Institute was conceived by electronics industrialist Konosuke Matsushita as the answer to the vanity, mediocrity and complacency he observed among 20th century leaders in Japan. MIGM’s competitive-entry, five year curriculum combined academic coursework with practical, independent field work experiences in Japan and abroad.15 Even in the 21st century, the main mission of MIGM program continues to be to the train the next generation of political professionals and promote higher standards of political ethics. Equally true today is the Institutes mission to imprint the philosophy and principles of its founder Matsushita Konosuke on associates through activities designed to train the body, mind and spirit. Among these activities are kendo, tea ceremony, hiking (a 100 kilometer course), morning exercises, 14 George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management, a non-partisan political training program in the U.S. features a number of the applied and practical elements offered in MIGM’s program. The program, the vision of Neil Fabricant, a lawyer from New York City and former Legislative Director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, began in 1987 with 24 students. Initially it operated from the Manhattan campus of Baruch College then opened a degree program in Washington in September of 1991 on the campus of The George Washington University.
15 The first students, or “fellows,” were admitted in 1981. Since then (as of March 2008), 230 men and women have graduated from MIGM. Many of these graduates have assumed careers in local and national politics.