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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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Disjoined Cabinets—Act I

Disjoined Cabinets—Act I

Coalition Governments and the Lost Decades, 1993–2006

(p.167) 5 Disjoined Cabinets—Act I
Growing Democracy in Japan

Brian Woodall

University Press of Kentucky

This chapter examines transformations wrought during the era of coalition cabinets. With the end of LDP hegemony, the already difficult task of providing tactical direction to government policy was exacerbated by the challenge of maintaining unity in cabinets composed of ministers from multiple parties. The eight-party coalition that formed the first non-LDP government in nearly four decades made good on a promise to enact political reform by establishing a system for electing lower house MPs. Yet even after the LDP reassumed the executive helm – albeit in coalition governments – pressure for reform continued. As a result of the efforts of a series of governments, a fundamental reorganization of government organs was carried out in 2001, resulting in the establishment of a Cabinet Office and other reforms. And yet this institutional upheaval did not give birth to cabinet government. On the contrary, this period saw the rise of disjoined cabinets that failed to restore economic growth or to effectively respond to policy challenges. As Prime Minister Koizumi and his cabinet learned through their hard-won battle to privatize postal services, it is exceedingly difficult to provide executive leadership in a fragmented policymaking landscape dominated by powerful subgovernments.

Keywords:   coalition government, political reform, Liberal Democratic Party, government reorganization, Cabinet Office, Koizumi Jun’ichirō, postal privatization, “postal family”

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