First published in Papers on Modern Japan, 1965. Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University
JAPANESE POLITICS have often been characterised by weak leadership, despite a governmental system which in most periods has been highly centralized. In part, this is attributable to the recentness of a feudal age in which 'clan' loyalties predominated. This type of localized, affective loyalty, based in turn on a code of ethics which prescribed strong filial piety in a patrilineal, stem-family system, is still very prevalent in the political structures of contemporary Japan.
The 1947 American-sponsored Constitution placed sovereignty in the hands of the people to be exercised through its representatives in the Diet, and the Executive was made responsible to the Diet alone. Despite the great power which a prime minister at the head of a majority party government should be able to exert under such a system, most postwar prime ministers have been comparatively weak and their position insecure. Their power has been limited, not by the machinations of a network of extra-parliamentary 'imperial advisers', but by struggles for party leadership between rival faction leaders within their own party.
Essentially the same situation confronts the leader of any Japanese political party, even those of the left which repudiate the 'feudal' heritage of the conservatives and place great emphasis on ideas. The intention of this paper is to analyse the relationship between faction and ideology in the main Opposition party, the Japan Socialist Party (JSP). 1 It will be the contention of the paper that even within a party emphasizing its popular appeal and using emotive policy issues as its main weapons of opposition to the Government, the intra-party pressures against dynamic outward-going leadership are extremely strong.
A typical factional struggle in a Japanese political party has been described as a constant struggle between the factions to improve their relative positions, and with this aim to 'bind one another in complex alignments and contractual obligations ramifying in various directions so that they form an overlapping and interlocking web'. 2 It should be noted that one faction seldom gains complete control over a party; indeed, nemesis seems to be in store for factions
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Publication information: Book title: Collected Writings of J.A.A. Stockwin: The Politics and Political Environment of Japan. Contributors: J. A. A. Stockwin - Author. Publisher: Japan Library. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 2004. Page number: 509.
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