«by Dyron Keith Dabney A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Political Science) ...»
The decision to remain non-partisan was a personal one, despite opportunities for party recommendation or official backing. As a progressive conservative, Matsuzawa’s policy position was more consistent with the Liberal Democratic Party’s than other established political parties, but as a first-time challenger, he reflexively recoiled at an endorsement from the existing parties because of their questionable public approval.
Political independence was a less problematic choice for Matsuzawa as a challenger; it allowed him to focus on policy issues without the complications of political party rhetoric. In this sense, pragmatism trumped party ideology.
Despite political party independence, Matsuzawa was a formidable candidate among party-endorsed candidates competing for the two prefectural assembly seats for Asao ward. Contributing to Matsuzawa’s electoral strength was the credibility MIGM 45 The slogan corresponded to the rugby attire worn by student volunteers and staffers during the campaign canvassing (a series of campaign flyers presented Matsuzawa and his campaign staff in a huddle adorned in rugby uniforms).
foiled his opponents’ attempts to discredit his readiness as a legislator. Thus, as an independent challenger competing against experienced, party-endorsed incumbents, MIGM intrinsically stood in lieu of the political party, offsetting his legislative inexperience. MIGM was in effect a “quasi-party” label among a limited field of political party choices. Matsuzawa took full advantage of the prestige identified with MIGM—particularly as it applied to the breed of progressive, adept political candidates it trained—to gain the confidence of Asao ward voters. The upside of Matsuzawa’s political independence was that he circumvented alienating a growing base of nonpartisan voters and less committed partisan voters who were important targets for support for his first electoral challenge.
Matsuzawa won an Asao ward seat in the 1987 Kanagawa prefectural assembly election. Table 3.1 illustrates the prefectural assembly election results for Asao ward.
Matsuzawa secured 37 percent of the votes among the 44,846 voters who went to the polls. Running as a progressive-conservative independent challenger, Matsuzawa unseated the LDP incumbent by offering voters a more attractive political alternative in the areas of policy orientation and candidate appeal.
for a second four-year term in 1991. His re-election campaign behavior was sure-footed;
he entered the race confident about how to run for and win a local election. Boosting his confidence was the familiarity of his campaign strategy--he repeated the campaign strategy that put him in office in 1987. The continuity of the political climate and electoral landscape in Asao ward since 1987 justified a continuation of the Type B strategy in 1991. The dominance of the DMS for his re-election campaign, however, did not preclude attentiveness to expanding his support base. Over the four years of his prefectural assembly tenure, Matsuzawa had gained familiarity with the socio-political landscape of the ward and insight about his support base. He had strengthened ties with colleagues in the prefectural assembly and individuals of local prominence in the ward.
Finally, he developed a few promising kouenkai in Asao ward—the most recognizable addition to his 1991 re-election campaign strategy.
Surprisingly absent among his accumulated resources in four years of public service was political party endorsement. Few members (less than ten percent) of the prefectural assembly were independents—most were associated with the LDP, established opposition parties such as the JSP, Koumei, JCP, Shaminren and DSP, and local parties with little political longevity. Yet, Matsuzawa continued to maintain his political independence, though capable of picking up party backing. Incumbency, and the electoral advantages it offered, contributed to Matsuzawa’s continued political independence for the 1991 race. The fact that he surpassed the LDP incumbent in total votes in the 1987 prefectural election reinforced his decision to remain non-partisan, despite holding a progressive-conservative position, and receiving LDP courtship.
constituency support base he groomed since 1987 through kouenkai and other supportbuilding tactics defining his campaign strategy. Some of this support base was drawn from previously immobile Asao ward voters. Since, little over 59 percent of the Asao ward’s 77,894 eligible voters turned out in 1987, there was some merit to reaching out to eligible, but non-voting members of the electorate.
Matsuzawa did not take his 1987 election performance for granted. His election campaign preparations reflected his readiness for the anticipated contest from new political challengers for the 1991 prefectural election. Yet, Matsuzawa faced limited competition in 1991. He and the JSP incumbent, Kobayashi Fumiko, were challenged by a single LDP new-face candidate for the two available seats. Given the results shown in Table 3.2, it is likely that Matsuzawa’s and the JSP incumbent’s political strength in the Asao ward deterred competition in the 1991 election.
Matsuzawa was re-elected to the prefectural assembly for a second term in April
1991. Table 3.2 presents the outcome of this three-way competition. Turnout for the 1991 election decreased to 47.45 percent. Matsuzawa increased his vote by over 4,000, while his Socialist opponent lost votes. With a solid win in 1987 followed by a landslide victory in 1991, Matsuzawa demonstrated that he was a formidable politician.
“Going national,” namely the House of Representatives, or Lower House, was the logical next step for a young, ambitious politician like Matsuzawa. His second election victory in 1991 at the prefectural level motivated him to run for the more powerful Lower House. The Kanagawa 2nd election district, of which Asao ward was a part, equally was the logical district in which to compete. Matsuzawa could have run during his first term in the Prefectural Assembly, since a general election was held in 1990, but it seemed too risky. After his impressive victory in 1991, stepping up seemed worth a try at the first opportunity—a general election would have to be called by 1994.
The decision to run for national office is often the most momentous choice in the career of an aspiring politician. The factors to be considered were different in Japan’s old multi-member district electoral system than, say, in a system with single-member districts.
Curtis (1971) described the common case of an aspiring conservative candidate seeking to develop ties with an LDP faction that did not have an incumbent in his district (or, just as likely, he would be recruited by that faction). Assuming an incumbent LDP candidate in the district had not died or was resigning, and that the LDP was unwilling to try to elect an additional candidate in that district—both are most often true—it would be difficult for the sponsoring faction to secure an official party nomination. The candidate would therefore run as an independent but would be supported financially and otherwise by the faction.
If he won, usually by eliminating an LDP incumbent whose popularity had waned due to age or some other factor, he would be invited immediately to join the LDP and the
attempt, but that was regarded as excellent preparation for obtaining an official nomination, or for running a stronger independent campaign, in the following election.46 This course would have been an attractive option for Matsuzawa when he began planning his next step after his 1991 victory. Indeed, a conservative incumbent was over 75 years old and likely to retire—this was Tagawa Seiichi, who had split from the LDP years earlier but still kept a share of conservative votes that might have gone to Matsuzawa.
However, similar to other MIGM graduates, Matsuzawa won on record as opposing the political establishment in general and the LDP in particular, and so was reluctant to pursue an affiliation. On the other hand, no other party was available (the JSP had an incumbent candidate), and running as a “pure” independent without even an informal partisan affiliation would be quite difficult.
Luckily, before he needed to choose, the Japanese party system started to change.
In early 1992, the maverick politician Hosokawa Motohiro founded a new party, called the Japan New Party (JNP), as a conservative alternative to the LDP. The JNP (Nihon Shin-tou in Japanese) won four seats in the Upper House election of 1992—a somewhat disappointing result, but Hosokawa was determined to persevere. Still more dramatically, in early 1993 Ozawa Ichirou and Hata Tsutomu split their followers first from the LDP’s dominant Takeshita faction and then from the LDP itself, to form the Shinsei-tou, or Japan Renewal Party (JRP). They forced a non-confidence vote on Prime Minister Miyazawa, leading to a general election being called for July 18, 1993.
46 This in fact was the pattern followed by Satou Bunsei, the candidate followed by Curtis (197?).
another politician who had been associated with that party got there first. Nagai Eiji was also a former prefectural assemblyman from a locality within the Kanagawa 2nd election district, and was planning to run. In the event, Matsuzawa was invited by Hata to run as an official candidate of the JRP. He was pleased to be a member of this new political party, stating, “I wanted to be a member of a party that would fundamentally change the conceptualization of a conservative party. This is why I joined the JRP” (October 30, 1995 interview).
Not only was the timing of this opportunity fortuitous for Matsuzawa, but the political situation in general—the great political scandals tied to the LDP and its loss of public trust—was quite favorable for a candidate of his type. Matsuzawa reasoned that voters distressed by the LDP’s years of insulated power that bred political arrogance and irresponsibility would seek refuge in his candidacy and the new political parties.
The Electoral Challenge Running for the House of Representatives meant contending with a vastly larger election district and electorate and a stronger and wider field of political competitors. A total of 1,428,972 eligible voters resided in the Kanagawa 2nd district in 1990, roughly twenty times the size of Matsuzawa’s prefectural assembly district, and of course they were more diverse politically and socio- economically.47 It is a suburban district comprised of small, independent business owners; big industry employees; small farmers;
47 The 2nd district is one of five in Kanagawa prefecture. It consisted of one town and five cities. One of these cities, Kawasaki city, is composed of seven wards: Takatsu, Asao, Tama, Saiwai, Kawasaki, Miyamae and Nakahara.
socio-politically integrated communities.
Compared to the two to three candidates Matsuzawa competed against for the two Asao ward seats in 1987 and 1991, the number of competitors he could to compete against for a Lower House seat would be significantly higher. For example, in the 1990 general election, eleven party-endorsed and independent candidates competed for the five seats in the Kanagawa 2nd district. A similarly large roster of contestants was expected for the next Lower House election. Matsuzawa needed to collect enough votes to win at least the fifth seat of the five seats. Happily for him, many candidates won seats with a small percentage of votes in Japan’s MMD election system. In fact, one candidate had secured a Kanagawa 2nd district seat with just under 12 percent of the vote (107,171) in the 1990 Lower House election.
The diversity of the suburban district meant adopting a more complex campaign strategy than conventionally prescribed for purely urban or rural election districts. The resources Matsuzawa brought to the campaign included additional sources of campaign funding, a broader base of electoral support, and something of a local political network (election keiretsu) generated from his two terms in office.
His age was another plus:
Matsuzawa (35 yrs.) was one of the youngest candidates to contest a seat for the Lower House when he announced his candidacy in 1993.48 In a contest crowded with seasoned incumbents from a stable of traditional political parties, young political talent backed by a new political party attracted favorable attention. Added to these personal resources was the advantage of the JRP’s endorsement: it was the vehicle Matsuzawa needed to 48 The average age for Lower House members nation-wide in Japan was 50 in 1993.
by the party’s leadership, political goals and fresh political talent.
What kind of competition and electoral conditions was Matsuzawa up against in 1993? The Kanagawa 2nd district in which he would compete had long been represented by well-recognized multiple-term incumbents backed by the established parties and supported by many loyal partisan voters. Four incumbents would be running in 1993 (as noted, the maverick conservative Tagawa Seiichi, who finished second in 1990, had retired). The first-place finisher in 1990 (see Table 3.3) was Koizumi Jun’ichirou, the well-known LDP dissident who became party president and prime minister several years later. Third and fourth place were taken by long-term stalwarts Iwatare Sukio of the JSP and Ichikawa Yuichi of the CGP, both with solid voting blocks. The fifth-place finisher was an LDP first-time winner, Harada Yoshiaki.49 Also running was Nakaji Masahiro, a senior Japan Communist Party (JCP) politician who had served five terms in the Kanagawa 2nd district but had been edged out by Harada to finish sixth in 1990.50
49 Harada had been an official at MITI and served as an aide to LDP powerhouse Watanabe Michio when he was the minister. Watanabe tapped him to run as an independent attached to the Watanabe faction in 1986, when he lost badly, but he came back to win a seat in 1990 as a conservative independent (this time attached to the Nakasone faction).
50 In Japan’s MMD system it was not unusual for an incumbent to lose an election but then come back to win the next one.