Japanese Elections

July 1, 1977

Report Outline
Period of Political Transition
Japanese-American Relations
Japan's Role as World Trader
Special Focus

Period of Political Transition

Significance of Elections Due This Month

Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party, scarred by scandal and weakened by last December's elections, faces another test at the polls July 10. At stake are half of the seats in the 252-member House of Councillors, the upper house of parliament—the Diet—where the Liberal Democrats hold a bare majority. The party, a collection of moderate conservative factions, has controlled Japanese politics uninterruptedly since 1955 but has been losing support for several years. It failed to win a working majority last December in the House of Representatives, the lower and more powerful house. That forced the resignation of Prime Minister Takeo Miki, and only the support of 11 conservative independents enabled a longtime leader in the party, Takeo Fukuda, to form a government.

Even if the Liberal Democrats now lose their tenuous control of the upper house, as is freely being predicted, the new government that emerges will almost certainly still be led by them. However, they would be quite dependent on allies in other conservative parties or in the ranks of independents to govern effectively. True coalition government may be in the offing in Japan after more than two decades of one-party rule.

The party's slippage from dominance in recent years has been traced to many causes. The Lockheed scandal, Japan's Watergate, was one of them. Another is a change in the public reaction to Japan's economic successes since World War II. As measured by gross national product, Japan is the third richest country in the world, behind only the United States and Russia. And it is second only to the United States in the amount of world trade it conducts. Rebounding from the war's physical and psychological devastation, Japan wrought the “economic miracle,” making itself the only country in Asia ever to become a major force in the modern world's economy.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Jul. 26, 2002  Japan in Crisis
May 31, 1991  The U.S. And Japan
Apr. 09, 1982  Tensions in U.S.-Japanese Relations
Jul. 01, 1977  Japanese Elections
Mar. 04, 1970  Emergent Japan
Jun. 25, 1969  Okinawa Question
Jan. 05, 1966  Rising Japanese Nationalism
Jun. 02, 1960  Japan: Disturbed Ally
Nov. 18, 1959  Japanese Competition in International Trade
May 11, 1955  Relations With Japan
Nov. 03, 1954  Japan's Economy
Jan. 09, 1952  Trade with Japan
Feb. 28, 1951  Japan and Pacific Security
Sep. 19, 1947  Peace with Japan
Aug. 14, 1945  Emperor of Japan
Nov. 03, 1944  Russo-Japanese Relations
Dec. 09, 1939  The United States and Japan's New Order in Asia
Dec. 05, 1938  Japan and the Open Door Policy
Apr. 29, 1935  Japanese Foreign Trade Expansion
May 11, 1934  Japanese Policy in Asia
Oct. 12, 1932  Japanese-American Relations
Mar. 17, 1932  Boycotts and Embargoes
Feb. 10, 1932  Militarism Vs. Liberalism in Japan
Bilateral and Regional Trade
Regional Political Affairs: East Asia and the Pacific