Liberal Democratic party (Japanese political party)

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Liberal Democratic party (Japanese political party)

Liberal Democratic party (LDP), Japanese political party. It began as the conservative Liberal party, which, under Shigeru Yoshida, became the dominant political force in Japan following World War II. In 1955 the Liberals merged with the newly created Democratic party. Retaining control of the Japanese government for 38 years, the LDP supported Japan's alliance with the United States and fostered close links between Japanese business and government. Following charges of corruption in Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa's government, it lost its parliamentary majority in the 1993 elections, which put a coalition government in power. In spite of numerous defections by LDP members of parliament over the party's failure to enact political reform, it remained Japan's largest political party. From 1994, when the LDP returned to power, it was the senior partner in a series of coalition governments.

Ryutaro Hashimoto became LDP leader in 1995, assuming the post of deputy prime minister in Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama's cabinet. Upon Murayama's resignation early in 1996, Hashimoto became prime minister; Keizo Obuchi succeeded Hashimoto as party leader and prime minister in 1998. When Obuchi was incapacitated by a severe stroke in 2000, Yoshiro Mori, secretary-general of the LDP, succeeded him as prime minister, but the unpopular Mori was replaced in less than a year by Junichiro Koizumi. Koizumi was succeeded as party leader by Shinzo Abe in 2006, Yasuo Fukuda in 2007, and Taro Aso in 2008. In 2009 the LDP's long dominance of postwar Japanese politics ended when the Japan Democratic party won the elections in a landslide and displaced the LDP as the largest party in the Diet. Aso resigned as party leader and was succeeded by Sadakazu Tanigaki, a former finance minister. Shinzo Abe was elected as party leader in 2012. The LDP subsequently won (Dec., 2012) a landslide victory and, Abe became prime minister; early elections two years later continued Abe's mandate.

See E. S. Krauss and R. J. Pekkanen, The Rise and Fall of Japan's LDP (2010).

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