Democratic Party of Japan

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Democratic Party of Japan
President Katsuya Okada
Secretary-General Yukio Edano
Councilors leader Akira Gunji
Representatives leader Katsuya Okada
Founded 27 April 1998 (1998-04-27)
Merger of Democratic (1996-98)
Good Governance
New Fraternity
Democratic Reform
Headquarters 1-11-1 Nagata-cho, Chiyoda, Tokyo 100-0014, Japan
Membership  (2012) 326,974[citation needed]
Ideology Centrism
Political position Centre
International affiliation Progressive Alliance
Colors           Red and black (informally)
59 / 242
73 / 475
Prefectural assembly members [1]
264 / 2,725
Municipal assembly members [2]
1,074 / 32,070
Politics of Japan
Political parties

The Democratic Party of Japan (民主党 Minshutō?) is a centrist[3] political party in Japan founded in 1998 by the merger of several opposition parties. After the 2009 election, the DPJ became the ruling party in the House of Representatives, defeating the long-dominant Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and gaining the largest number of seats in both the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors.

After winning a landslide victory in 2009, it was ousted from government by the LDP in the 2012 general election. It retained 57 seats in the lower house, and still had 88 seats in the upper house. During its time in office, the DPJ was beset by internal conflicts and struggled to implement many of its proposed policies, an outcome described by political scientists as the "paradox of political change without policy change."[4] Legislative productivity under the DPJ was particularly low, falling to levels unprecedented in recent Japanese history according to some measures.[5] However, the DPJ implemented a number of progressive measures during its time in office such as the provision of free public schooling through high school, increases in child-rearing subsidies,[6] expanded unemployment insurance coverage,[7] extended duration of a housing allowance,[8] and stricter regulations safeguarding part-time and temporary workers.[9]

It is not to be confused with the now-defunct Japan Democratic Party that merged with the Liberal Party in 1955 to form the Liberal Democratic Party. It is also different from another Democratic Party, which was established in 1947 and dissolved in 1950.



The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) call their philosophy Democratic Centrism (ja:民主中道 minshu-chūdō?), which was determined in the first party convention on April 27, 1998.[10]

View of the status quo

The DPJ claim themselves to be revolutionary in that they are against the status quo and the current governing establishment. The DPJ argue that the bureaucracy and the size of the Japanese government is too large, inefficient, and saturated with cronies and that the Japanese state is too conservative and stiff. The DPJ wants to "overthrow the ancient régime locked in old thinking and vested interests, solve the problems at hand, and create a new, flexible, affluent society which values people's individuality and vitality."[11]

Political standpoint


Democratic Centrism pursues the following five goals.[11]

  • Transparent, just and fair society
The Democratic Party seek to build a society governed with rules which are transparent, just and fair.
  • Free market and inclusive society
While the party argue that the free market system should "permeate" economic life, they also aim for an inclusive society which guarantees security, safety, and fair and equal opportunity for each individual.
  • Decentralized and participatory society
The party intend to devolve the centralized government powers to citizens, markets, and local governments so that people of all backgrounds can participate in decision-making.
The Democratic Party proclaim to hold the values in the meaning of the constitution to "embody the fundamental principles of the Constitution": popular sovereignty, respect for fundamental human rights, and pacifism.[11]
  • International relations based on self-reliance and mutual coexistence
As a member of the global community, the party seek to establish Japan's international relations in the fraternal spirit of self-reliance and mutual coexistence to restore the world's trust in the country.[11]

Policy platforms

The DPJ's policy platforms include the restructuring of civil service, monthly allowance to a family with children (¥26,000 per child), cut in gas tax, income support for farmers, free tuition for public high schools, banning of temporary work in manufacturing,[12] raising the minimum-wage to ¥1,000 and halting of increase in sales tax for the next four years.[13][14]



The DPJ has some political factions or groups, although they are not as factionalized as the LDP, which has traditionally placed high priority on intra-party factional alignment. The groups are, from the most influential to the least influential:

  • Ryōun-kai (lit. 'Transcendent Association'): the second most conservative faction. Most of its members are from The Sakigake Party. Ryoun-kai has about 40 seats in the assembly and is led by Seiji Maehara and Yoshihiko Noda.[15]
  • Seiken kōyaku wo Jitsugen suru kai (lit. 'Association for the Realization of Political Promises'): formed by defectors from LDP and led by former party leader Yukio Hatoyama, has about 30 conservative lawmakers in the Diet. Former name is 'Seiken kotai wo Jitsugen suru kai'.[15]
  • Minsha Kyōkai 民社協会 (lit. 'Democratic Socialist Group'): members of the former centrist Democratic Socialist Party which merged with the DPJ early on. About 25 members, led by Tatsuo Kawabata.[15]
  • Kuni no katachi kenkyūkai 国の形研究会(lit. 'Country Form Research Society'): led by Party President Naoto Kan. Is a liberal leaning faction. About 20 members.[15]
  • Shin seikyoku kondankai (lit. 'Panel for a New Political Situation'): the most left-leaning faction, created by members of the former Japan Socialist Party who felt the Social Democratic Party was too radical. About 20 seats, led by Takahiro Yokomichi.[15]

The Independent’s Club is a minor political party which forms a political entity with the DPJ in both chambers of the house.

Presidents of DPJ

The Presidents of Democratic Party of Japan (ja:民主党代表 Minshutō Daihyō?), the formal name is 民主党常任幹事会代表 (Minshutō Jyōnin-Kanji-Kai Daihyō?).

Election results

All-time highest values are bolded

General election results

Election Leader # of candidates # of seats won # of Constituency votes  % of Constituency vote # of PR Block votes  % of PR Block vote
2000 Yukio Hatoyama 262
127 / 480
16,811,732 27.61% 15,067,990 25.18%
2003 Naoto Kan 277
177 / 480
21,814,154 36.66% 22,095,636 37.39%
2005 Katsuya Okada 299
113 / 480
24,804,786 36.44% 21,036,425 31.02%
2009 Yukio Hatoyama 330
308 / 480
33,475,334 47.43% 29,844,799 42.41%
2012 Yoshihiko Noda 267
57 / 480
13,598,773 22.81% 9,268,653 15.49%
2014 Banri Kaieda 198
73 / 475
11,916,838 22.50% 9,775,991 18.33%

Councillors election results

Election Leader # of seats total # of seats won # of National votes  % of National vote # of Prefectural votes  % of Prefectural vote
1998 Naoto Kan
47 / 252
27 / 126
12,209,685 21.75% 9,063,939 16.20%
2001 Yukio Hatoyama
59 / 247
26 / 121
8,990,524 16.42% 10,066,552 18.53%
2004 Katsuya Okada
82 / 242
50 / 121
21,137,457 37.79% 21,931,984 39.09%
2007 Ichirō Ozawa
109 / 242
60 / 121
23,256,247 39.48% 24,006,817 40.45%
2010 Naoto Kan
106 / 242
44 / 121
18,450,139 31.56% 22,756,000 38.97%
2013 Banri Kaieda
59 / 242
17 / 121
7,268,653 13.4% 8,646,371 16.3%

See also


  1. [1]
  2. Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications: Prefectural and local assembly members and governors/mayors by political party as of December 31, 2011
  3. The Democratic Party of Japan is widely described as centrist:
  4. Phillip Y. Lipscy and Ethan Scheiner. 2012. "Japan under the DPJ: The Paradox of Political Change without Policy Change." Journal of East Asian Studies 12(3): 311-322.
  5. Kenji E. Kushida and Phillip Y. Lipscy. 2013. "The Rise and Fall of the Democratic Party of Japan." in Kenji E. Kushida and Phillip Y. Lipscy eds. Japan Under the DPJ: The Politics of Transition and Governance. Stanford: Brookings/Walter H. Shorenstein Asia Pacific Research Center.
  6. Japan in Transformation, 1945–2010 (2nd edition) by Jeff Kingston
  7. Izuhara, M. (2013). Handbook on East Asian Social Policy. Edward Elgar Publishing, Incorporated. p. 446. ISBN 9780857930293. Retrieved 12 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Miura, M. (2012). Welfare through Work: Conservative Ideas, Partisan Dynamics, and Social Protection in Japan. Cornell University Press. p. 153. ISBN 9780801465482. Retrieved 12 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Béland, D.; Peterson, K. (2014). Analysing Social Policy Concepts and Language: Comparative and Transnational Perspectives. Policy Press. p. 207. ISBN 9781447306443. Retrieved 12 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Out Basic Philosophy - Building a free and secure society on The Democratic Party of Japan's website accessed on May 12, 2010. (Japanese)
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 Out Basic Philosophy - Building a free and secure society on The Democratic Party of Japan's website accessed on 17 May 2008.
  12. Ryall, Julian (2009-08-27). "Japan election: unemployed turn on the government". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 1 May 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Hiroko Tabuchi (2009-08-03). "Opposition Woos Japan's Voters With Costly Vows". New York Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Fujioka, Chisa (2009-08-21). "Japan opposition may score landslide win: media". Reuters.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 民主代表選 鳩山氏が優位、岡田氏は参院に照準, Asahi Shimbun, 16 May 2009

Further reading

External links