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Growing Democracy in JapanThe Parliamentary Cabinet System since 1868$
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Brian Woodall

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780813145013

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813145013.001.0001

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Corporatist Cabinets and the Emergence of the “1955 System,” 1955–1972

Corporatist Cabinets and the Emergence of the “1955 System,” 1955–1972

(p.115) 3 Corporatist Cabinets and the Emergence of the “1955 System,” 1955–1972
Growing Democracy in Japan

Brian Woodall

University Press of Kentucky

This chapter traces the evolution of Japan’s cabinet system in the first years of the “1955 System,” during which time a seniority system for cabinet ministers became established. Because Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) lawmakers monopolized ministerial portfolios, appointment to a cabinet post became simply another wrung on the perpetually ruling party’s internal promotional ladder. And yet because the LDP was, in essence, a “federation of factions” united for purposes of campaign and legislative strategy, rather than a unified national party, Machiavellian machinations played a role in deciding the party’s president, who doubled as prime minister. Yet, under the surface, differences in style and outlook pitted rival camps of “ex-bureaucrats” and “career politicians,” and the need to maintain balance among intraparty factions dictated frequent cabinet changes, and often, the appointment of ministers with dubious qualifications. At the same time, the autonomy of cabinets in executive affairs was called into question by the actions of an activist government bureaucracy and a hegemonic party that preapproved all major policy departures. Meanwhile, prime ministers and cabinets were forced to respond to challenges produced by high-speed economic growth and dissatisfaction with institutional arrangements put in place during the American-led occupation.

Keywords:   “1955 System”, Liberal Democratic Party, factions, corporatist cabinets, ex-bureaucrats, Japan-U.S. Mutual Security Treaty Security Treaty, environmental protest, Okinawa reversion, textile wrangle

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