Japanese electoral politics in the context of Koizumi and postal privatisation, by the auroran sunset
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Japanese electoral politics in the context of
Koizumi and postal privatisation

 

 

by the auroran sunset

a briefing document

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introduction
the japanese election system
    the house of representatives
    the senate
the current political situation (august 2005)
the new people’s party
immature politics
is koizumi in trouble?
government corruption and postal privatisation
koizumi’s record
koizumis strategy
the results [general election, september 2005]
endnotes


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introduction

This document has two linked themes. One part is a general introduction to the Japanese political system. The other part gives specific details on the 2005 general election. Although the specifics will date quickly, it makes an interesting case study on how politicians and the political system operate.

the Japanese electoral system

The Japanese political system is a loose mixture of elements from the American, British and German/Prussian systems:

  • From the American system, they have gained a Constitution and a split Congress, consisting of a Senate and a House of Representatives.
  • From the British system, they have gained a strong Prime Minister as real head of state, with a monarch (Emperor) as nominal head of state.
  • Japan’s pre-World War II constitution and parliamentary system were directly adopted from the Prussians. Nowadays, the Japanese have a form of Proportional Representation (PR), a system that was developed under the Weimar Republic. Many of the non-Japanese terms used, such as calling parliament the “Diet”, are left over from the Prussian system.

back to index

the house of representatives

  • The House of Representatives has 480 members.
  • The election system was changed between the 1993 and 1996 elections, when the rampant corruption became intolerable.[1] Under the new system, the country is divided into 300 small constituencies and into 11 larger blocks. Each citizen votes twice, once in their small constituency and once in their large block.
    • From each of the 300 small constituencies they elect one Representative by First Past The Post (FPTP), the electoral system used in British general elections.
    • The rest of the 180 seats [this number changes - 180 is the number for 2004] are divided between the eleven blocks. In each block the seats are distributed using the d’Hondt system of PR. [2]
  • The Representatives have four year terms.
  • However, the cabinet can dismiss the House of Representatives and call a new General Election at any time.
    That is what happen in July 2005: after Koizumi lost a Postal Privatisation vote, he dissolved the House of Representatives and called a General Election for early September 2005.
  • In fact, Koizumi’s Postal Privatisation Bills passed the House of Representatives by a very narrow majority (5 votes). The vote he lost was in the Senate. For a possible reasoning, see here.

the senate

  • The senate has 242 members.
  • For the Senate, the country is divided into 146 constituencies: that is, Senate constituencies are approximately twice as big as for the House of Representatives.
  • Each of the 146 constituencies elects one Senator by FPTP.
  • The other 96 Senators are elected by PR. [2]
  • Senators are elected for a six-year term.
  • Elections are held every three years. These elections are for an alternating half of the constituencies.
  • The Senate cannot be dissolved.
  • So far, all Prime Ministers have been Senators. This is no doubt because a Senator’s seat is much more stable than a Representative’s seat: the Senate cannot be dismissed, but the House of Representatives can be.
  • Koizumi’s Postal Privatisation Bills of 2005 were voted down in the Senate.
  • The election system was changed in 2000, ending the party lists system.
  • Before 2000, the Japanese could only vote for a party. They could not vote for an individual candidate. All parties posted a list of their candidates in the party’s preference order and the 96 PR seats were given according to those party lists. This is known as a “closed list” system. (The House of Representatives still uses a “closed list” system for its PR seats.)
  • Since 2000, people can vote directly for a candidate. They can also still vote just for a party if they wish. The seats assigned to a particular party are now given to that party’s candidates in strict order of their individual votes. This obviously gives the voters far greater control than before, as they get their own preference order rather than the party’s preference order. This is known as an “open list” system. back to index

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the current political situation (august 2005)

  1. Junichirou Koizumi is the current Prime Minister of Japan.
  2. He is leader of the jimintou, which is usually translated as the “Liberal Democratic Party”, [3] or LDP for short.
  3. He rules in coalition with the koumeitou, which roughly translates to the “Clean Government Party”, or CGP for short. The CGP is a Buddhist-backed party. There are also a few, much smaller ‘parties’ working with the LDP, but one hears very little of them.
  4. Koizumi’s main opposition is the minshutou, usually translated as the “Democratic Party of Japan”, or DPJ. The DPJ also work in concert with their own ‘coalition’ of smaller parties.
  5. The DPJ give every sign of being socialists. They work closely with the Japanese Communist Party and the Japanese Socialist Party. They also go in for the usual anti-Iraqi slogans and knee-jerk opposition to Koizumi’s various privatisation plans.
  6. The DPJ is led by Katsuya Okada. Having listened to him at Question Time on and off for the last six months, my instinctive reaction to him is “slime ball”. I am not sure precisely why, but with the socialism and the immaturity, it probably is not a surprising reaction.
  7. Koizumi’s main aim for the 2005 session of parliament was to privatise the Post Office and associated works.
  8. The Post Office is Japan’s largest savings bank. The postal services are nothing like as bad as that of the British Post Office, probably because there is already heavy competition from private delivery services. However, Americans I know suggest that the Japanese system does not compare nearly so favourably with their system.
  9. On 5 July 2005, after a couple of months of acrimonious debate, the Privatisation Bills passed the House of Representatives by the narrow margin of 233 to 228.
  10. On the 8 August 2005, after more acrimonious debate, the Privatisation Bills were voted down 108 to 125 in the Senate.
  11. Approximately an hour later, Koizumi dissolved the Parliament (House of Representatives) and called a new General Election.
  12. Koizumi also told all those in his party who had voted against the bill that they would not be allowed to stand again as LDP candidates. After the General Election, it is expected that the Senate rebels will also be expelled from the LDP.
  13. All the parties are split internally into factions, which act as support groups for the ambitions of the leader of that faction. Most MPs, from either house, belong to a faction as well as to a party. Koizumi is, in fact, the first post-war Japanese Prime Minister to reach that job without being a faction boss.
  14. Shizuka Kamei led the main faction in the LDP that opposed privatisation.
  15. He, and two of the others expelled from the LDP, have set up a new party calling itself the “New People’s Party” (kokumin shintou). Another group set another new party calling itself “Japan’s New Party” (nihon shintou).
  16. The new parties have been trying to recruit all of those expelled from the LDP, but with little success. By the time of the former party’s first press conference, they had been turned down by 26 of the 37 expellees. Of the rest, 2 will not stand for re-election and 6 had not responded at all. The “Japan’s New Party” was for a few days not officially a party, because they could not reach the statutory minimum of 5 sitting MPs. I can just see Koizumi quaking at these threats!
  17. Despite Koizumi’s small majorities, his party is still by far the largest. He has served for just four and half years, yet is the fourth longest serving Prime Minister of post-war (democratic) Japan.
  18. Koizumi is enormously personally popular in Japan, despite the less than shiny opinion of domestic politics and his party (the LDP), a party which has ruled Japan for most of the last fifty-five years. back to index

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the “new people’s party”

Here we descend into a little bit of farce. One of the new parties mention above is the kokumin shintou, which translates to the “New People’s Party”. On 17th of August 2005, the new party was announced at a press conference. Here follows this party’s “basic precepts”:

  1. “Listen to the Voice of The People.
  2. “Protect the Life of The People.
  3. “Administer to the Happiness of The People.
  4. “Work on behalf of The People.
  5. “Carry out Warm Politics.” [4]

The head of the new party is Tamisuke Watanuki. He had the following to say:

“If politics carries on with these same techniques of forcing forward the privatisation of the Postal Services, it will destroy Japan’s system of parliamentary democracy.” [4]

This is, of course, the opposite of the truth: Koizumi is taking the issue to the voters for them to decide, which is the very essence of democracy.

It make me wonder whether they have been reading a manual for budding Communist Parties:

  1. Call yourself a “People’s Party”.
  2. Write lots of meaningless slogans with copious use of “The People”.
    [admittedly five items is a bit short for a real Communist Party manifesto]
  3. Lie outrageously.

As has already been pointed out, the New People’s Party is not a party that anyone could ever imagine Koizumi taking as a serious threat. Yet it, and its even smaller clone the Japan’s New Party, have made up a third or more of the total fossil media’s political coverage in Japan for more than a week.

Perhaps this bizarre emphasis on the trivial should not come as a surprise. Under fossil media calculus, the Communist Party’s 18 MPs total over both houses apparently warrants them greater coverage on television than the third party’s 58 MPs (CGP), and often as much or more coverage as the main two parties with 361 (LDP) and 258 MPs (DPJ) apiece. This is apparently what happens when you try to be fair and balanced! back to index

immature politics

As the New People’s Party and the role of the Communist Party amply demonstrate, Japan has more than its fair share of immature politics. Nor is the immaturity limited to the usual suspects. The campaign run by the DPJ, Koizumi’s main opposition, hardly rises above school ‘debate’. An example: one of the DPJ’s opening shots of the 2005 General Election campaign was to take Koizumi’s manifesto pledges from the previous elections and “mark” them, complete with obnoxious comments.

In a country like the USA or Britain, such playground tactics would simply meet ridicule and mark those that employ them as amateurs. Even in those countries, there are apparently enough infants that respond to such petty point scoring to keep the Howard Deans and Claire Shorts of this world in business. Yet, in the end, the immature lose and are essentially ignored. As an outsider, I cannot know whether the Japanese electorate have enough common sense to be wary of such fakes and amateurs until I see the result of the coming vote.

On the one hand, the main reading material for adult Japanese is the comic. The Japanese are treated like children in shops and on the streets with constant and incredibly patronising safety announcements looping over the public address system. Most Japanese are forced into uniforms, and not allowed control over simple things like their hair colour or finger nail length until they reach university. Then at university, they go wild for a few years, after which they put on a different uniform and obey someone else’s orders as “salary men”. Under such circumstances, that the Japanese respond to immature political slogans would not be surprising.

However, Koizumi is not running a childish campaign. Far from it.[5] As said before, Koizumi is now the fourth longest serving post-war Prime Minister. His party is by far the largest, even if without a solo majority. On dissolving the House of Representative, his poll ratings went up 20 points! All of which suggests the Japanese are not quite so unworldly as some of the propaganda might suggest. I am optimistic, and becoming more so as I read more.

Update:
If you were to believe the fossil media characterisations, it is Koizumi, rather than Okada and the other socialists, who ran an immature campaign.

Koizumi had snappy, constantly repeated slogans: “do you want postal privatisation or not?”, “do you want the reform to stop?”, etc. Okada talked of many different issues and complications. Koizumi cultivates a slick and relaxed image. Okada is ‘serious’ and wears a suit. Koizumi sent “assassins” (a fossil media term that Koizumi asked them to cease using) - famous, rich and pretty people - to stand again the rebels.

However, when one stops to think - dangerous, I know - things take on a rather different light.

Despite Okada’s ‘complications’, in fact, he said very little specific. His pronouncements were more along the lines of “Koizumi talks privatisation, privatisation, privatisation. We shouldn’t be talking about whether we want privatisation, but about whether we want this bill. And anyway he isn’t saying anything about pensions.” You will notice that such statements are empty of actual proposals, a common problem with the incorrigible whiners of this world.

This outpouring of reams of empty words is a well-known socialist trait: you can usually tell which is the Communist Party/Socialist Worker’s Party/BNP (British Nazi/National Party) party election poster from a fair distance. It is the poster filled with words. [Examples from a French general election - numbers 3, 12, 15, 16 show posters for socialist or extreme socialist parties.]

That Koizumi does not constrict himself with a garrotte or wear inappropriate, heavy jackets in the height of Japan’s sultry summer should be a clear indication of someone who cares more for function than for form. It is Okada with his suits and ties that, in fact, ran on image divorced from substance.

The “assassins” are taken from the ranks of the famous, rich and pretty. In other words, they are people who have succeeded out in the real world. Would you rather a manager who has proven that they can get things done, or one who has proven they can last out the years in the rarified world of sinecures and make-work?

It is not surprising to see that it is to the “pretty” epiphet that the fossil media and the socialist parties seemed to object to the most: jealousy covered in a pseud’s veneer of respectability, typical of that puritan christianist schism.

is koizumi in trouble?

With a large section of his party rebelling, many are suggesting that Koizumi’s grip is wavering, both on country and party. My impression is just the opposite is the case.

  1. The opposition leader (Katsuya Okada) in his stump speeches has been saying that “this election should not be a one-issue election about postal privatisation”. He is also talking about “making the election about pensions and child allowances”, while not referring to privatisation as a major issue. Okada is now pushing this line as hard as he can.

    This suggests strongly that even the opposition thinks Koizumi is winning the argument on postal privatisation within the electorate.

    From one of the newspapers: “Koizumi’s popularity rose almost twenty points after he dissolved the Diet, with opinion polls placing the government’s approval ratings between 51 and 59 percent.”
    Twenty points!!

  2. Koizumi is not allowing the anti-privatisation MPs to re-stand under the party umbrella. There are also messages from LDP party headquarters becoming stronger daily that, if the Senate rebels do not voluntarily leave the party, post-election they will be forced to leave.

    In order to force the dissolution of Parliament through the cabinet, Koizumi fired the Agriculture minister. This is only the fourth time in post-war Japan that a minister has been fired - they are normally allowed to resign.

    This together suggests that the party bosses are either with Koizumi, or do not have the muscle to stand against him.

In other words, the reality is that Koizumi’s grip over both his party and over the country appear to be very strong and strengthening. back to index

government corruption and postal privatisation

All government is corrupt. All that changes is the degree of the corruption, and even the degree does not change all that much. With the Japanese government, the corruption is often more obvious than with most Western liberal democracies. Koizumi’s party, the LDP, has ruled Japan for almost all of the 55 years since the American occupation government departed.

A small sample of the corruption should give you an idea:

In Japanese, there is a word ama-kudari, or “coming down from heaven”. It is used to describe how many top civil servants retire into well paid and powerful sinecures with (semi-) public corporations. These civil-servant “bosses” have great power in Japanese politics. There are, or at least have been, strong links between these bosses, the yakuza (Japanese Mafia) and the LDP hierarchy. This included arrests of high-ranking politicians in the 1980s and ’90s.

Japan is concrete heaven. It has a separate inviolate “concrete budget”. Apparently some 60% of the coastline has concrete barriers. It is rare to see un-concreted river beds and banks. It is rare to see un-concreted mountains or hill bases. Large numbers of new and pointless ’civic’ buildings are going up all over Japan. Before the recession forced at least some sanity, there were apparently serious plans to fill in a large part of Tokyo harbour to make a new airport.


above: a small concreted river

above: a concrete beach


above: concrete seaside barriers


left: pachinko parlour in the shape of a gorilla

All across Japan, you will see Pachinko parlours. Pachinko is a peculiar form of Japanese gambling that is a sort of mix between slot machines and pinball. The parlours are huge, very noisy and very garish. Some are quite fun and pretty, but most are just advertising eyesores. In large towns and cities, there are usually a cluster of them in the very centre of town. They are also dotted all across the countryside. Like many shops in Japan, they open briefly, are amazingly cheap and then are suddenly boarded up. One wonders how much ‘business’ in Japan is simply fronts for money laundering. A semi-public corporation run by retired police chiefs has cornered most of the market in the little ball-bearings that all these machines use in copious quantities. One can but wonder how these parlours always happen to be on such choice land!

 

I repeat, LDP party bosses are heavily implicated in this corruption; as you would expect for a party that has held the reins of power for so long. All the large ministries have their own civil servants and sets of powerful ’retired’ civil service chiefs. The Japanese Postal/Telecommunications Ministry employs approximately one third of all Japanese government ‘workers’. This makes the Postal/Telecommunications Ministry one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful, vested interest block in the government.

“Japan Post's savings-bank unit holds nearly $2 trillion in deposits, one-third of the nation's total personal savings. But instead of lending to consumers and private businesses, as a normal bank would, Japan Post's deposits have for decades been tapped by the government to fund an endless parade of economically questionable yet politically popular public-works projects.”
[Quoted from Time Magazine, Sept. 12 2005, p.50]
(I wonder if this is where that concrete ‘budget’ comes from?!)

As with similar large socialist parties around the world, the DPJ’s (main opposition) power largely stems from the unions. Koizumi is openly implying that the DPJ are in the pocket of the postal unions (230,000 full-time employees) and ex-bosses. That amount of money allows the corruption to spread far and wide, just as with Saddam Hussein’s and the UN’s joint oil-for-bribes scheme.

Koizumi is now trying to privatise that ministry, removing that block of ‘workers’ and money from the hands of politicians, and removing those ‘workers’ from safe guaranteed make-work. In other words, Koizumi is going after the sources of government corruption, corruption in which his party has been heavily involved. There can be no surprise at the howls of the various vested interests.

Koizumi has already privatised another of the giant Japanese ministries: the Highways Agency. He has refused to allow the 30-plus MPs, who have attempted to maintain the status quo, to re-stand as LDP candidates. He is making very clear he intends to do the same with the Senate rebels post-election.

It has been suggested that LDP needs to lose in order to force them to reform and clear deadwood, much as with the current British Conservative Party. As is true with conservative parties around the world, the LDP is not popular with the largely left-wing fossil media and ivory-tower academics. As one of the world’s more successful anti-socialist parties, the LDP gets its fair share of scorn. Some are suggesting that a defeated LDP would be a boon. I would take a different view.

The alternative to the LDP is the DPJ, a socialist party. This is a socialist party working closely with The Socialist Party (SP) and the Communist Party (CP). I do not see how including the DPJ would help clear corruption, given that Koizumi is going after the main source of that corruption while the DPJ is attempting to stop those efforts.

This is not like Britain where there is a choice between three socialist parties, one of which - the Conservatives - might turn back into a serious party if kept from power long enough. Japan already has a serious conservative party, in the hands of a serious reformer. In that situation, I cannot see how it is possible to justify allowing the socialists near power.

 

koizumi’s record

From the outside, it may appear that Koizumi has done very little with his relatively long four-and-half-year term of office. On closer examination, however, we see the following:

  • Koizumi has already privatised the Highways Agency. Just as the Postal Services is now one of the major sources of government corruption, so was the Highways Agency before privatisation.
  • Koizumi has pushed through major banking reforms, so far halving the bad debt ratio in the process.
  • Koizumi has more than stopped Japan’s stagnation: GDP growth in 2004 was 2.9%, according to the CIA. That is high for a modernised rich country.
  • Koizumi has brought Japan back into world politics as a steady ally of the US. This includes the first deployment of Japanese military forces overseas since World War II. At the same time, he appears to be working to change Japan’s pacifist constitution such that Japan can provide still more help. The Japanese are also providing considerable financial support for Iraq and elsewhere.
  • Koizumi recently delivered the first full apology/acknowledgement by the Japanese government for its World War II activities. This came despite all the moaning surrounding his Yasukuni Shrine [6] visits.

Koizumi also has the dinosaurs/vested-interests within his party to deal with, as can been seen from the recent manoeuvring. However, all indications suggest that he is now in a very strong position with those dinosaurs. Gaining that position has no doubt taken time.

My impression is that Koizumi is acting, and acting well.

 

koizumi’s strategy

Warning: what follows is speculation. Nobody but Koizumi can know with any certainty what Koizumi’s strategy actually is.

Koizumi lost an important vote in the Senate and then dismissed the House of Representatives, where he had won the privatisation vote. Why? My guesses go as follows:

  • I guess that Koizumi expects to gain significantly in the House of Representatives General Election. This is not an unreasonable expectation given the 20-point poll gains and the main opposition trying to change the election subject from privatisation to pensions and child allowances.
  • With his new larger majority, Koizumi will send his privatisation bills back through the House of Representatives and get a much stronger positive vote, stronger than the previous 5-vote margin.
  • Koizumi will then try once again to pass the bills through the unchanged Senate.

At this point the Senate opposition has a choice of two politically unpleasant options:

  1. They can again vote the bills down against the obvious will of their electors. This while knowing that their next election is less than a year away (0ctober 2006).
  2. Or they can cave in under Koizumi’s, and public, pressure and let the bills pass.

If the former, they give Koizumi more ammunition for the fast-approaching election, placing their own seats in serious peril. If the latter, Koizumi has won anyway and the Senate opposition have been forced to reverse themselves, adding further political ammunition for later use.

This speculation obviously rests on the assumption that Koizumi makes significant gains this September. Although this looks highly likely, it is not certain.

Update:
There is a further part to Koizumi’s cleverness that I was loath to put in public while it could possibly make a difference to the result.

The election was about privatisation. By going on about pensions, child allowances and promising tax rises, the opposition were avoiding this issue. This has been obvious to the public and to almost all commentators. But why is it “obvious”?

Polls on what the Japanese public consider to be the most important issues have consistently shown pensions to be far and away the number one concern. This has been both prior to and during the election campaign. Yet the election results now clearly show that the election was about privatisation.

On a shallow level, how Koizumi has manoeuvred this is clear: he told the people that if he lost the privatisation vote, an election would be called. The vote was lost. Within about an hour, an election was called. Simple cause and effect. The link can but be very clear in everyone’s minds.

There are many in the media and in the opposition who were, and who are, claiming that Koizumi’s impression of a broken record concerning the election’s theme has “tricked” the public (see immature politics”). I do not believe it is that simple.

Koizumi won his first general election with the slogan:

Reform, even if it means destroying the LDP.

It is a slogan he repeated for this election. In effect, he has now destroyed the LDP, or what it used to be. His actions spell the end of the LDP, both as paid stooges for civil service corruption (see the $2 trillion postal slush fund) and as a loose coalition of factions, rather than a party in the usual US/UK sense.

At the same time, Koizumi’s reforms are working and continuing. His work to greatly reduce the size of government parasitism is clearly relevant to solving the problem of unpayable pensions. His work to greatly increase the capital available for investment is clearly relevant to the productivity neccessary for such largesse.

At every step, Koizumi shows himself to be a first-class politician. And happily, one working on the side of the good fairy. back to index

the results [general election, september 2005]

Party Seats won Seats Pre-election
LDP (Koizumi’s party) 296 249
DPJ (main opposition) 113 175
CGP (Koizumi’s coalition partner) 31 34
Communist Party 9 9
Socialist Party 7 6
New People’s Party/New Party Japan 5 n/a
No party (anti-Koizumi) 13 n/a
No party (other) 7 7

The LDP have obviously been surprised by the extent of their landslide. In Tokyo, they put forward ‘only’ thirty candidates. Having won 23 of the 25 FPTP seats, the LDP were left with only 7 candidates for the PR seats. The LDP won eight. Well, they would have done if they had stood a 31st candidate. As it is, they have had to forfeit that seat. (Tokyo and Osaka have traditionally been strongholds of the opposing DPJ.)

Under the Japanese constitution, if the Senate votes down a bill passed by the House of Representatives, the House of Representatives can force that bill by re-passing it with a majority of at least two-thirds. That requires 320 seats. Koizumi’s coalition has 327 seats.

However, I seriously doubt that the Senators will be so foolish as to again vote down the postal privatisation bills. They have their own elections in just over a year. Already ten or so LDP rebel Senators have made statements of apology to “the people”, promising to support the privatisation bill this time.

Of the 33 LDP rebel Representatives that chose to stand again, only 15 managed to hold their seats. The LDP’s 61.7% of the seats is the second highest ever.

The turnout was the highest since before 1996, at 67.51%. The 1996 turnout was the lowest since the war with 59.65%. The last election also had just under 60% turnout. back to index

endnotes

  1. Under the old electoral system, the country was divided into “medium-sized” constituencies, each of which elected between three and five representatives. The number of representatives were assigned on a proportional system.

    Each constituency had more than one seat available, each party was allowed to put up multiple candidates for each constituency. As the policies for all candidates of a particular party were the same ones set by the party central, the electorate had no easy way to tell the candidates apart. To solve this problem, the candidates turned to other methods. These methods included stunts like handing out rice ball snacks, some of which contained the equivalent of 50-pound notes (10,000 yen notes). They used also to send hampers of green tea and traditional Japanese sweets to potential supporters. The supporters would then judge the candidates on the value of their ‘contribution’.

    By the 1990s, the costs of these campaigns had spiraled beyond public acceptance and the system was changed.

  2. There are many different ways to distribute seats proportionally. Here follows a brief description of the Japanese system (the d’Hondt system). You can get much more information about different types of voting systems here.

    For an example, imagine the four main parties in Japan fighting for ten seats in this particular block. The parties gain the following number of votes: the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) got 1000 votes, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) got 700 votes, the Clean Government Party (CGP) got 300 votes and the Communist Party (CP) got 50 votes.

    The first step is to divide the number of vote for each party by 1, 2, 3, 4, .. up to the number of seats to be distributed: in this case 10:

Division LDP DPJ CGP  CP 
by 1 1000 700 300 50
by 2 500 350 150 25
by 3 333 233 100 17
by 4 250 175 75 13
by 5 200 140 60 10
by 6 167 117 50 8
by 7 143 100 43 7
by 8 125 88 38 6
by 9 111 78 33 6
by 10 100 70 30 5

Next you put all the numbers just calculated into order from largest to smallest, remembering which party the number represents. You only need the biggest ten:
1000 (LDP), 700 (DPJ), 500 (LDP), 350 (DPJ), 333 (LDP),
300 (CGP), 250 (LDP), 233 (DPJ), 200 (LDP), 175 (DPJ).

Thus we see that in this example, the LDP gets 5 of the 10 seats, the DPJ gets 4 of the 10 seats and the CGP gets 1 of the 10 seats. Happily, the Communist Party does not receive any.

  1. Although jimintou is normal translated as the Liberal Democratic Party, or LDP for short, it is entirely politically unrelated to the dishonestly named British party of the same name. In Japan, LDP politics are referred to as hoshu, or Conservative. This is a conscious linking with the British Conservative Party; the Conservative Party of Churchill and Thatcher.

    Like the traditional British Conservative Party, the LDP is heavily anti-socialist, it is individualist and it has strong (often corrupt) links with business. Koizumi’s policies look in many ways to be modelled after Thatcher’s policies in the 1980s; however, unlike Thatcher, Koizumi clearly has a strong understanding of economics. Similarly, he appears to be a politician of character. Also like the British Conservatives, the LDP has its nationalist/racist and old-fogey elements which are usually humoured in the slogans, but largely ignored on serious matters.

    The LDP is not a mindless, extreme left socialist party à la British Liberal Democrats.

  2. New People’s Party quotations come from a Japanese newspaper article. The newspaper has now disappeared the link to the article. Translations by the auroran sunset.

  3. Koizumi’s manifesto is available from the LDP website. It lays out very clearly his case for privatisation, using numbers/facts rather than rhetoric. Unfortunately, it is only in Japanese.

  4. Yasukuni Shrine is one of Japan’s older shrines, dedicated to the war dead. Its significance in Japan is not much different to that of the war memorial “Wall” in Washington for the Americans. However, a number of Japan’s most unsavoury war criminals are also interred there. Thus, visits by the Japanese Prime Minister to this particular shrine are often taken (not unreasonably) to be not nearly so innocent as a simple honouring of those thousands who have died for Japan. back to index

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the address for this document is http://www.abelard.org/japan/electoral_system.php

5710 words
prints as 14 A4 pages (on my printer and set-up)