Japan Recent Developments

After Murayama’s resignation (January 1996), Ryūtarō Hashimoto became head of government, who initially continued the three-party coalition of his predecessor. The parliamentary elections in October 1996 were won by the LDP, which – with Hashimoto as Prime Minister confirmed in office – once again assumed sole power of governance (in the form of a minority government). In Hashimoto in July 1998 was followed by Keizo Obuchi   as prime minister; the coalition government formed by this in January 1999 from LDP and Liberal Party (LP) was expanded in October 1999 by a participation of the New Kōmeitō (NK) party. The Obuchi cabinet made increased efforts to overcome the worst recession in Japan since the 1970s, triggered by the Asian financial and economic crisis in 1997; Attempts were made to revive the stagnating economic development through ever new, albeit little effective, economic stimulus programs and a zero interest rate policy. The elevation of the sun banner and the imperial anthem (both controversial because of their historical burden) as official state symbols by parliament (July 1999), but also the consolidation of military cooperation with the USA (adoption of corresponding defense guidelines in 1998) and Japan (and others). a. tendencies of armament assumed by China) met with domestic and foreign policy criticism.

At the beginning of April 2000, the LP left the government coalition, in which the New Conservative Party (NKP), which had split off from it, now took part; In the same month, the seriously ill Obuchi was replaced by Yoshiro Mori as LDP chairman and prime minister. The parliamentary elections on 25.06.2000 confirmed the ruling tripartite coalition (on 04.07.2000 reelection Moris as head of government).

The Prime Minister Mori, who repeatedly made national-conservative statements, was quickly criticized for domestic and economic policy. In the (early) election of the LDP chairman on April 24, 2001, the former Minister of Health Junichirō Koizumi prevailed with the slogan “Let’s change the LDP and Japan”. According to hyperrestaurant, Parliament elected him Prime Minister on April 26, 2001. In the face of the general loss of political confidence in the population and faced with an economic crisis that had lasted for more than ten years, Koizumi, who was rapidly gaining in popularity, sat down in addition to a cautious political change, among other things. for economic structural reforms, a swift rehabilitation of the troubled banking sector and a reduction in new government debt, which supported the economic turnaround that began in 2003 and the gradual economic recovery.

From the elections for the House of Lords on July 29, 2001, the LDP emerged significantly stronger, and the opposition (especially the Democratic Party of Japan [DPJ] and the KP) suffered a further weakening.

In the parliamentary elections on November 9, 2003, the LDP initially lost its absolute majority, but was able to regain it through the merger of the New Conservative Party (NKP) with it, which was announced shortly afterwards; the significant gain of the DPJ (by 40 to 177 seats in the lower house), which increased the pressure to reform the Koizumi government, and the rather marginal role of the other opposition parties in the elections indicated the change towards a two-party system of alternative politics. Prime Minister Koizumi, who was confirmed as LDP leader in September 2003, continued the ruling coalition with the NK. Given the problem of succession to the throne (no male descendant born in the imperial family since 1965, 2001 birth of a daughter as the first child of Crown Prince Naruhito and the Crown Princess Masako (* 1963) recommended in July 2005 an advisory commission to the government that women should also be allowed to ascend to the throne. With the birth of a male heir to the throne on September 6, 2006 (Hisahito, son of Prince Akishino, who is second in line to the throne, and his wife Kiko), this controversial constitutional discussion came to an end.

When a controversial legislative package to privatize the postal service was rejected in the House of Lords on August 8, 2005, and Koizumi saw one of his most important reform projects at risk, he dissolved parliament. In the early elections on September 11th, 2005, the LDP achieved an absolute majority in the lower house (296 of the 480 seats), while the opposition DPJ suffered a sharp drop in votes; Prime Minister Koizumi, who was confirmed in office on September 21, 2005, continued the coalition with the NK despite his own LDP majority. With an extensive cabinet reshuffle in the same month, Koizumi paved the way for his planned retirement from his political leadership positions in 2006. On September 20, 2006 Shinzo became Abe elected as chairman of the LDP and was thus also designated as Koizumi’s successor as Prime Minister due to the parliamentary majority of his party (took office on September 26, 2006).

After various political scandals in the government and finally a defeat of the LDP in the upper house elections on July 29, 2007 (now dominated by the opposition Democratic Party), Prime Minister Abe, already tired after one year, announced his resignation on September 12, 2007; the moderately conservative politician Yasuo Fukuda , who replaced him as LDP chairman on September 23, 2007, was elected by the House of Commons as the new head of government on September 25, 2007. In view of a majority of the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) in the upper house, he was repeatedly confronted with blockades of his government policy. In early September 2008, Fukuda announced his resignation. On September 24, 2008, the House of Commons elected the former Foreign Minister Tarō Asō as his successor in the office of head of government. He faced major challenges in the face of the global financial market crisis, which hit Japan hard. To support the economy, the LDP government decided in April 2009 on a program with expenditures equivalent to € 110 billion. As a result, the exorbitant national debt continued to grow.

After the poor performance of the LDP in local elections, early parliamentary elections took place on August 30, 2009, in which the DPJ, headed by Yukio Hatoyama , achieved an overwhelming victory. You could unite 308 seats in the lower house. The LDP only had 119 seats. Hatoyama became the new Prime Minister at the head of a coalition made up of the DPJ, Social Democrats and the New People’s Party (PNP). The Social Democrats left the government alliance in May 2010 in connection with a dispute over the US military base on Okinawa. Because of this development and in connection with a party donation scandal, Hatoyama resigned as head of government on June 2, 2010. He was succeeded by the previous Minister of Finance Naoto Kan . After the election of Kan, the governing coalition, which had a majority in the lower house, consistedonly of the DPJ and the New People’s Party.

Japan Recent Developments