JJPS: “Japan’s LDP-Komeito Government in a Mixed Electoral System”

My latest peer-reviewed article… an analysis of Japan’s LDP-Komeito ruling coalition, its theoretical significance, and practical implications for Japanese politics and foreign policy…is now forthcoming in the Japanese Journal of Political Science. This piece was coauthored with Professor Ko Maeda of the University of North Texas.

It is an honor to be published in the first issue of JJPS under its new co-editors, Profs. Junko Kato (University of Tokyo) and Christina Davis (Harvard University), who have recently begun a five-year term leading the journal.

(A note to readers more interested in implications for Japanese politics and foreign policy than coalition politics/theory: pages 6-19 may be of greatest interest to you!) 

  • Abstract: Political parties’ behavior in coalition formation is commonly explained by their policy-, vote-, and office-seeking incentives. From these perspectives, the twenty-year partnership of Japan’s ruling conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its pacifistic Komeito junior coalition partner is an anomalous case. The longevity, closeness, and nature of their unlikely partnership challenges core assumptions in existing theories of coalition politics. LDP-Komeito cooperation has sustained for two decades despite vastly different support bases and ideological differences on fundamental policy issues. LDP leaders also show no signs of abandoning the much smaller Komeito despite enjoying a single-party majority. We argue that the remarkable durability of this puzzling partnership results primarily from the two parties’ electoral incentives and what has effectively become codependence under Japan’s mixed electoral system. Our analysis also demonstrates that being in a coalition can induce significant policy compromises, even from a much larger senior partner. Beyond theoretical implications, these phenomena yield important real-world consequences for Japanese politics: especially, a far less dominant LDP than the party’s Diet seat total suggests, and Komeito’s remarkable ability to punch significantly above its weight and constrain its far larger senior partner, even on the latter’s major national security policy priorities.
  • Keywords: Coalitions, Electoral systems, Japan, Liberal Democratic Party, LDP, Komeito, Constitution, Article 9, Security, policy

If you have any difficulty accessing our article on the Japanese Journal of Political Science‘s website, please let me know. Or you can access the (freely downloadable) AM version here.