S-Space Graduate School of International Studies (국제대학원) Dept. of International Studies (국제학과) 국제지역연구 국제지역연구 vol.06 (1997)
일본의 정계재편과 ‘신정치문화’
The New Political Culture and Political Change in Japan
- Issue Date
- 서울대학교 국제지역원
- 국제지역연구, Vol.06 No.3/4, pp. 23-44
- This paper examines the dynamics of the current political change in Japan. The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which had been considered a permanent government party, lost it majority holding in 1993 and became the opposition party for the first time since 1955. More strikingly, to regain the majority, the LDP made a coalition with the Social Democratic Party (SDP) which had been the first opposition party representing the opposite ideological camp for half a century. While most of the studies explaining these changes are based on the elitist approach emphasizing the role of the politicians defecting from the LDP, this paper takes a populist position stressing the importance of the change of the political culture of the Japanese public.
This paper bases its theoretical position on the new political culture (NPC) perspective which focuses on the changing political attitudes and actions of the publics in many advanced societies. The causes of the changes in political attitudes and actions comes from the social structural changes which include the emergence of unprecedented affluence, change of family structure toward a "slimmer pattern", and changes of industrial structure with the declining significance of agriculture and manufacturing and the rising importance of high-tech and information industries. These social structural changes lead to significant value changes which include the increase of post-materialism and individualism. As a result of these changes in social structure and values, there emerged a change in the political culture of the public which is mainly characterized by (1) less support for ideology-based political organizations; (2) declining significance of social cleavage, especially class, in approaching political issues, and (3) increasing broad civil political. participation among other features. The resultant NPC in turn influences politics in two specific ways; party structure previously based on conventional ideological politics are transformed into parties more attentive to the changing political culture. Secondly, the NPC encourages more efficiency-oriented policies.
Based on the NPC perspective, this paper examines the change of political culture of the Japanese. The "Hoshu-Kakushin (conservative-radical)" ideological cleavage, formerly the most important cleavage in approaching politics in Japan, has significantly declined in importance and consequently support for conventional ideological political parties, the LDP and the SDP, has declined significantly. Using World Value Survey data, this thesis undertakes a path analysis from social structural changes to the change of political culture, proving the causal relations that the NPC perspective expects.
Finally, this paper examines the influence of the NPC on the political changes in Japan since 1993. It shows that the NPC type demographics were more skeptical towards the conventional politics and political parties in 1992 one year before the election than more traditional groups. As a consequence, the NPC type demographics were more supportive of the candidates from the new parties in the 1993 election.
Throughout this paper, the importance of the change in the political culture of the Japanese public is emphasized as a cause of political change in Japan. By proposing a populist approach in explaining the political changes in Japan, where the elitist approach has been a dominant view, this paper will contribute to a more balanced understanding of contemporary Japanese politics. In addition, this paper stresses the importance of the populist approach to Japanese politics, contending that the influence of the Japanese public on political change will continue to increase.