Reforms in the political system of Japan
The point of departure for this research is the reform process now underway in Japan, which has been accelerated above all by the interim loss of power in 1993 of the long- ruling LDP. Measures so far introduced such as the reform of the electoral system, revised regulation of political financing, and the legal status of political parties are analyzed for appropriateness and effectiveness. This is intended to contribute to discussion of the extent to which these reforms are bringing about a genuine change in the Japanese political system and the consequences which this brings with it.
The Japanese political party landscape has been fundamentally altered since 1993. In particular, the LDP, once the sole perennial ruling party, finds itself facing competition from a second large conservative force: the Shinshintō or New Frontier Party, formed by several “reform parties”, in part derived from the LDP itself. The focus of research here is on how these parties differ in their programs and political activity.
Politics and religion
One influential group within the New Frontier Party (Shinshintō) consists of those politicians who belonged to the former Clean Government Party (Kōmeitō), which was sympathetic to the Buddhist lay organization Sōka gakkai (Value-Creating Society). An analysis is offered of the relationship between this religious group and Shinshintō and the extent to which it influences the attitudes and actions of former Kōmeitō members and present Shinshintō parliamentarians. Following this is an attempt to elucidate the overall relationship between politics and religion and to demonstrate links between political parties and religious communities.
Japan’s foreign relations
The determining factors in Japan’s foreign policy have been altered by the end of the Cold War, China’s ever more pronounced claims to power in Asia, and the ongoing political and economic tensions between Japan and the United States. The goal of this study is to show how Japan is reacting to these new parameters. Providing the focus are Japan’s role in the process of growing regional integration in Asia and security questions.