Japanese Lower House Campaigns in Transition: Manifest Changes or Fleeting Fads?

By Koellner, Patrick | Journal of East Asian Studies, January-April 2009 | Go to article overview

Japanese Lower House Campaigns in Transition: Manifest Changes or Fleeting Fads?


Koellner, Patrick, Journal of East Asian Studies


Electioneering for the Japanese Lower House has undergone significant changes in recent years. While voter mobilization strategies still figure prominently in the local-level campaigns of individual candidates, political parties increasingly use voter-chasing strategies at the national level. Such chasing strategies, whose manifestations in Japan have so far included the manifesto and the media-spin approach, target in particular the growing number of independent voters. The concurrence of elements of continuity and change in electioneering has led to a "hybridization" of Lower House election campaigns. The article examines this phenomenon in the light of newer conceptual and theoretical approaches to electoral politics in democratic settings.

KEYWORDS: election campaigning, mixed-member electoral system, voter targeting, voter mobilization, voter chasing, manifestos, Japan

**********

Election campaigns for the Lower House (LH), the more important chamber of Japan's bicameral parliament (the Diet), have undergone significant changes in recent years. Well into the 1990s, electioneering for the LH was characterized by a distinct emphasis on voter mobilization. Campaigning was largely a local-level affair that centered on individual candidates' attempts to obtain a sufficient percentage of votes in their respective electoral districts. Candidates relied on vote mobilization qua local networks and organizations and, especially in the case of government-linked candidates, on promises to deliver "pork" to constituencies. Individual candidates extensively used personal support organizations for cultivating links with voters between elections. While the salience of national issues and party leaders varied depending on the particular election, national election platforms did not play a substantial role for most parties in LH campaigns.

In recent years, however, new approaches to campaigning have entered the scene. Starting with the 2003 LH election, party manifestos have begun to figure prominently in general elections. Contested issues in national politics have moved to the center of the official campaign discourse. The 2005 LH election then saw centralized and well-orchestrated campaign management on the part of Japan's dominant party, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). Yet, the advent of new approaches to general election campaigning in Japan does not equal a radical break with more "traditional" approaches. Voter mobilization at the local level and the use of personal support organizations still figure prominently in the strategic and organizational repertoire of Japanese politicians running for (re)election to the Diet. In sum, campaigning in the early twenty-first century is characterized by a state of "hybridization" in which older and newer approaches coexist--if somewhat uneasily.

In this article, I seek to answer two core questions with respect to campaigning in LH elections. First, in what ways and to what extent has campaigning changed in recent times? And second, how can we explain these changes? In trying to answer these questions, I update the existing literature on electioneering in Japan and refocus it in analytical terms. While there are numerous treatments of electioneering up to and in the 1990s, more recent developments have yet to be analyzed in a comprehensive manner. To shed light on these developments, it is not sufficient just to concentrate on the effects of existing electoral rules--the focus of many recent studies of campaigning in Japan. I argue here that two theoretical discussions concerning, on the one hand, voter-targeting strategies and, on the other hand, the worldwide diffusion of "US style" campaigning provide important conceptual and analytic lenses for improving our understanding and explanations of contemporary campaigning in Japanese general elections. I suggest that recent changes in campaigning have been driven, at the most general level, by the introduction of a mixed electoral system for the LH and by the rise of independent voters. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Japanese Lower House Campaigns in Transition: Manifest Changes or Fleeting Fads?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.