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115 3 Corporatist Cabinets and the Emergence of the “1955 System,” 1955–1972 The Cabinet is more than an agency of executive coordination. It is, above all, a body composed of parliamentary leaders. This circumstance has had definite consequences for its structure and place in the British political system. —Hans Daalder, Cabinet Reform in Britain, 1914–1963 (1963), 3 Cabinet officers don’t have any time to make policy. They are new to their jobs and have to spend all their time boning up on answers to questions in the Diet. By the time they are experienced, they are out of office. The result is that policy is made by the bureaucrats. —Miura Kineji quoted in Nathaniel B. Thayer, How the Conservatives Rule Japan (1969), 202–203 Genesis of LDP Rule On November 15, 1955, the Liberal Democratic Party (Jiyūminshutō, or LDP) was born in a ceremony held on a university campus in Tokyo. Speeches were made, “banzais” were shouted under raised arms, and Ogata Taketora, Hatoyama Ichirō, Ōno Banboku, and Miki Bukichi emerged as the party’s acting presidents. Although talk of a “conservative alliance” (hoshū gōdō) was not new, personal and partisan rivalries invariably stood in the way. The breakthrough had come six months earlier, the result of a telephone conversation between erstwhile enemies Ōno and Miki, the respective lieutenants in Ogata’s Liberal and Hatoyama’s Japan Democratic parties. This led to meetings of leaders of the rival parties, and, eventually, an agreement in principle to combine the main conservative parties into 116   Growing Democracy in Japan one (Thayer 1969, 13–14). Talk soon gave way to action when, in October, the left and right branches of the socialist movement merged to form the Japan Socialist Party. Fearful of the fate of business interests under a leftist regime, the captains of industry threatened to withhold campaign funding unless the major conservative parties united. This got the attention of Ogata, Hatoyama, and other leaders of the conservative parties, who put aside their differences and joined forces. With Hatoyama sitting in the prime minister’s chair and the LDP in control of a comfortable majority in the Diet’s lower house, the new LDP was a dominant force from the outset. In this chapter, I trace the evolution of Japan’s cabinet system from November 15, 1955, until July 6, 1972. During this period, new cabinetrelated organs and government agencies were created, and a seniority system for cabinet ministers became established. Because LDP lawmakers all but monopolized ministerial portfolios, appointment to a cabinet post became simply another rung on the perpetually ruling party’s internal promotional ladder. The LDP was, in essence, a “federation of factions” united for purposes of campaign and legislative strategy, rather than a unified national party (Scalapino and Masumi 1962, 18; Bowen 2003, 60). This ensured that Machiavellian machinations would play 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 challenged by a hegemonic party that demanded the right to preapprove all major policy departures and by an activist government bureaucracy. Finally, prime ministers and cabinets confronted a variety of challenges produced by high-speed economic growth and dissatisfaction with institutional arrangements put in place during the American-led occupation. The “1955 System” The creation of the LDP provided an opening for opportunistic leaders of the major conservative parties to rectify perceived flaws in the postwar institutional settlement, which in large measure had been imposed on a defeatednationbyAmericanmilitaryoccupiers.LongtimepremierYoshida Shigeru was singled out as the principal domestic collaborator in forging Corporatist Cabinets and the Emergence of the “1955 System”  117 these arrangements, symbolized in the 1947 “Peace Constitution” and the United States–Japan Mutual Security Treaty. These arrangements had permitted Japan to devote unfettered attention to economic recovery, but had constrained its diplomatic and military capabilities. An “anti-Yoshida alliance ”—led by Hatoyama, Miki, Kōno Ichirō, Shigemitsu Mamoru, Kishi Nobusuke, and others, many of whom had been subject to the occupationimposed purge of militarists and ultranationalists—was repulsed by the thought that a lightly armed Japan would have to depend forever on the United States for its national security. In December 1954, these conservative leaders ousted...


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