«by Dyron Keith Dabney A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Political Science) ...»
merger between the JNP and JRP, opposition party rivals turned allies under the NFP, for the 1996 general election.54 Although Nagai garnered more votes than Matsuzawa in two of the three wards (Tama and Takatsu wards) of the Kanagawa 9th district in 1993, the NFP ran Nagai in the Kanagawa 10th district (composed on Saiwai, Nakahara and Kawasaki wards) reasoning that he had a more favorable chance of winning in the Kanagawa 10th district than Matsuzawa based on his 1993 performance in Saiwai, Nakahara and Kawasaki wards. He wound up having a much tougher race, but won the Kanagawa 10th district seat rather narrowly. In fact, no other 1993 candidate from the old Kanazawa 2nd district wound up running in the new 9th district, so Matsuzawa ran against all new faces.
As it turned out, Matsuzawa’s only significant opponent was Ogawa Eiichi, running for the LDP. Ogawa had held the prefectural assembly seat from Takatsu, one of the three wards in the new Kanagawa 9th district, so he had many local ties as well as the official nomination from the most powerful political party in Japan. Ogawa was not able to mount an effective campaign, however and he was defeated easily by Matsuzawa (see Table 3.5). Matsuzawa collected 21,724 more votes than Ogawa; a comfortable margin of victory, despite concerns that the other two opposition candidates representing the DPJ and the JCP would spoil his shot for the SMD seat. After all, both the DPJ and JCP were expected to draw votes away from the NFP rather than LDP. Indeed the combined vote of the DPJ and JCP candidates well exceeded Matsuzawa’s total.
54 There had been considerable shuffling of parties and coalitions since 1993; both the JRP and the JNP had disappeared, with their members and others going to the newly organized New Frontier Party (NFP) founded in 1994.
Incidentally, the election reform also created a new Proportional Representation tier, one in which SMD candidates could be included on their parties’ lists. However, the NFP discouraged dual listing—SMD candidates should avoid the PR list, in order to demonstrate singleness of purpose. Although this strategy was self-defeating and later came to be abandoned by all parties, Matsuzawa was happy with it since he was confident he could win in the SMD.
Matsuzawa’s basic electoral strategy changed sharply in the 1996 campaign to a much greater emphasis on “traditional” mobilization. This “traditional” shift is more than a little ironic: as emphasized in chapter two, a key goal of the reform was to push Japanese election campaigning in the more “modern” direction. There are two plausible explanations for this shift. One is “life cycle”—a candidate in his second campaign is likely to have more “traditional” resources available. The other is the impact of the election reform itself. The former explanation is explored in chapter five, and the latter is explored here.
strategy in 1996 were his effort to build political alliances with local political leaders (electoral keiretsu), expand the number of kouenkai units, enlist new members to existing kouenkai units, and solidify political allegiances with many small and medium-size businesses, associations, and clubs in the district. Facilitating these support-building efforts was a dedicated team of district staffers who canvassed the district daily to maintain relationships with existing supporters and gather new commitments from local merchants, businesses, and community leaders.
All Lower House Diet members relied to one extent or another on developing and maintaining organizational networks in their election district to deliver a significant portion of the relatively low proportion of votes they needed to succeed in a multimember district. In a much smaller district, their investment in organizational resources everywhere outside the boundaries of their old districts suddenly becomes useless (or not quite useless, as we will see shortly). On the other hand, votes from the organizations they had already built up under the old system would be a considerably smaller portion of the total votes needed for victory under the new district.
Those old organizations outside the new district boundaries still could be helpful if they could be traded with candidates in those districts—incumbents or at least former candidates, usually formal rivals in the old big district—in exchange for those candidates’ resources in his district. In more stable times, these considerations would apply almost exclusively to LDP candidates (the other parties rarely had multiple candidates), but in all the confusion of the mid-1990s new party candidates like Matsuzawa (and Nagai) were also affected. That is, Matsuzawa and Nagai had been direct rivals in 1993 largely
representing a new party. Those similarities also made it easy for them to cooperate once they were in different districts in 1996, particularly since they were now in the same, even newer NFP.
An additional bonus for Matsuzawa, thanks to his new party affiliation, and tied to the organizational coordination was a substantial amount of Soka Gakkai support.55 Long-time CGP Diet member Ichikawa Yuuichi had won easily in 1993, but his voters were spread rather evenly across the large election district. Ichikawa took the obvious course and signed up only for the proportional representation tier (where he easily took a seat). Since CGP candidates had a very difficult time drawing non Soka Gakkai voters, and since the CGP had coalesced under the NFP, the CGP was no longer a factor in the SMD race. The CGP asked its followers to support the NFP’s SMD candidate, and Matsuzawa benefited from that organizational vote (in this case, exceptionally, without too much effort on his part). What’s more, the transfer of affiliation by the labor federation Rengo from the JRP to the NFP brought at least nominal support from unions in his district.
Building, then maintaining a political keiretsu with local elected politicians represents yet another organization-based, traditional approach to gathering votes. Much of that work goes on behind the scenes, but Matsuzawa’s emphasis on this strategic factor in 1996 is well-illustrated by a specific case.
55 The CGP was the political arm of the lay Buddhist sect, Soka Gakkai. Kawasaki city has one of the largest contingencies of Soka Gakkai members in Japan, and an active presence in Kanagawa politics. The Kanagawa 9th districts’ inclusion of three wards from Kawasaki, and the tacit commitments from Soka Gakkai and the CGP to New Frontier Party (NFP) candidates meant that Matsuzawa privy a wellorganized, disciplined election support base.
ward for him. To a surprising extent, its remaining farming areas had been organized by the LDP in much the way of rural prefectures. It was also the home of Ogawa Eiichi, who had represented the ward in the prefectural assembly before leaving to take the LDP’s nomination for the lower house seat. Ogawa would seem to have a clear advantage at least in this ward—but the politics of election keiretsu are more complicated than that. Ogawa’s old prefectural assembly seat was taken by an LDP politician named Saito Yuuki. However, according to a Matsuzawa staffer, Ogawa had been planning to push his wife, Kuniko, for the seat if he won a seat in the Lower House in 1996.56 Saito naturally wanted to keep his job, but could not oppose Ogawa as an elected LDP assemblyman, so he defected from the LDP before the general election (becoming a conservative independent) and threw his support to Matsuzawa.
By all accounts, Saito played a key role in bringing Matsuzawa together with other local politicians in Takatsu—and in the event, Matsuzawa defeated Ogawa even in his home ward. The support Matsuzawa gained in the once well-guarded LDP territory was tribute to his effort to expand his network with unlikely political partners.
The point, in terms of election strategy, is that the reform required spending more time and energy (and no doubt money) on organizational matters than usual: expanding one’s kouenkai, establishing ties with interest groups of various sorts, and intensifying election keiretsu with local politicians. Making deals to exchange organizational resources with former rivals was a delicate and time-consuming operation as well. In all these ways, Matsuzawa relied much more extensively on “traditional” Type A tactics to 56 Ogawa’s wife, Kuniko, eventually competed in the Kanagawa prefectural assembly. Backed by the LDP, she alongside independent incumbent Saito Yuuki won the two Takatsu ward seats in the April 1999 prefectural assembly election.
aimed in part at encouraging more “modern” campaign activities.
Which is not to say that Matsuzawa abandoned the direct, Type B strategy he had emphasized in the 1993 election (and earlier when running for the prefectural assembly).
In particular, by the end of the 1996 election Matsuzawa purportedly had conducted 2,000 public speeches in front of train stations, supermarkets, and shopping in his career as a national-level politician. Weekdays and weekends, early mornings and afternoons were devoted to greeting constituents during their commutes and daily activities.
Shinyurigaoka, Noborito, Mukougaoka-yuen, and Muzonoguchi were the train stations most frequented by Matsuzawa. As prominent shopping hubs and the central connective arteries for the Tokkyu Denentoshi, Nambu, and Odakyu train lines traversing the three wards, these stations received significant foot traffic throughout the day suitable for reaching many voters. Outdoor speeches at these venues were efficient public outreach, but the tactic also served to increase Matsuzawa’s name recognition in the district and express to voters his political commitment and diligence to them and his job.57 He even exploited this commitment by formally including his speech-making achievement in his election campaign literature.
As much as Matsuzawa was attentive to delivering speeches in the districts marked by high pedestrian traffic, he also gave speeches in the district where voters were responsive to the substantive content of the speeches. An example of the effectiveness of more modern techniques was the campaign in Asao Ward, where the electorate was 57 Matsuzawa’s fixation on outdoor speeches during the pre-campaign period was equally induced by Japan’s parliamentary system that permits the call of an election at anytime through a no-confidence vote in the government. With no fixed election date beyond the requirement of a Lower House election every four years, his actions represented a state of readiness for a potential surprise, snap election.
wards in the district. According to the ward’s two-term prefectural assembly member, Aihara Takahiro, Asao ward voters looked mainly to the issue-orientation of candidates and parties (June 20, 2000 interview).58 Matsuzawa further cultivated support from these issue-oriented voters in Asao ward and the entire district by holding periodic policy study seminars (benkyou-kai) at his district and National Diet offices. Voters were welcomed to attend these forums designed to openly discuss policy issues relevant to the Kanagawa 9th district and the nation in a more intimate setting. Matsuzawa believed that the benkyou-kai were good public relations activities and valuable opportunities for voters to voice their policy opinions (March 7, 1997 interview).
Complimenting the benkyou-kai were postcard size policy questionnaires handed out during his outdoor speeches. The public opinion surveys queried voters on matters about nursing care insurances and services and postal service privatization. Roughly 10,000 postcards were passed out over this year-long project to sample public opinion of Kanagawa 9th district constituents. Despite the low response rate for these mail-in postcard surveys—less than 10% per survey—Matsuzawa considered this project as communication link with votes during the pre-campaign period. The benkyou-kai and surveys allowed Matsuzawa to keep his finger of the pulse of his constituents. More importantly, they illustrate his issue-mindedness and commitment to serving the issue interests of Kanagawa 9th district voters.
58 Aihara Takahiro, a fellow graduate of MIGM, represented Asao ward in the Kanagawa prefectural assembly. Aihara provided personal electoral support to Matsuzawa’s 1996 re-election campaign to the Lower House in 1996 by mobilizing Asao ward voters to the polls.
this point with respect to the Kanagawa 9th district, but national-level data would indicate it was more of a minus than a plus. In public opinion polling, the NFP had reasonably high ratings when first created, and during the Upper House election in summer, 1995, but by the general election its public support had declined to below 10 percent (Reed 2003, 147). Matsuzawa himself was anxious about the consequences of membership with an odd alliance of opposition parties, especially one that included the CGP since many voters were suspicious of the Soka Gakkai.59 Most voters who gained some familiarity with Matsuzawa, however, were willing to accept his NFP membership. As explained by Matsuzawa, as long as he did not align himself with the LDP his credibility and trust among voters remained reasonably intact (July 11, 2000 interview). Voters understood that the merger of smaller opposition parties from which the NFP emerged was an attempt to compete head to head with the LDP.
Campaign Behavior: 2000 Lower House Election Compared with 1993 and 1996, Matsuzawa had few problems to contend with entering the general election campaign of 2000. He was now a two-term incumbent, not a newcomer, and his electoral district was unchanged in type (SMD) and size (just three wards). In fact, changes in the party system since 1996 made his task even easier. His previous party, the NFP, had dissolved, and like most of its members, he wound up in the Democratic Party of Japan (see Reed 2003 chap. 3). Since Matsuzawa had defeated the 59 The CGP united with the JNP, JRP, and Democratic Socialist Party (DSP) under the NFP banner. The SMD portion of the MMD election system, with its requirement of a plurality of votes to win, made it difficult for these parties to independently compete against the LDP in 1996, so they merged into a single larger party.