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Japan had a one-party system throughout nearly all the post-WWII period. Analyze why this has been the case. What can be done to bring about two-party (or multi-party) competitive politics? Is such a change desirable?

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It’s most important to note the distinct difference between a one-party state and a multi-party state where one party dominates democratically.

One-party states are states where one political party has the sole right to form the government, and all other parties are either outright outlawed or at least significantly inhibited from gaining power. While these states may claim to be republics, they certainly are not, and these states constantly degrade human rights. Examples include China and Russia.

Following World War II, Japan was forced to implement a new system of government based on the Constitution of the United States of America. Since its inception, Japanese politics has been dominated by the Liberal Democratic Party. While this could be a red flag against democracy, upon further examination, it’s not necessarily inherently detrimental to the citizens’ human rights. First, other political parties are allowed to participate in elections, and those who participate in those parties do not face jail or death. The Liberal Democratic Party is really a conglomerate of parties, with many differing viewpoints present. These differencing viewpoints argue within the confines of the party, so the principles of the representatives are constantly changing. In a one-party state, the party requires strict adherence and dissenting viewpoints are not given breath.

It’s unlikely that the Liberal Democratic Party maintains this stranglehold on power in the long run. Japan is a highly culturally similar country, and the politics have been dominated by traditional, socially conservative politicians. The Internet and the growth of globalization makes the younger Japanese generation more socially liberal, and it stands to reason as this younger generation becomes more involved with politics, they will eventually form a new party. As Japan eases its immigration restrictions in the future, it also stands to reason that a growing multicultural population will join with the younger generation in a more socially liberal party.

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There is a difference, and a substantial one at that, between a one-party system and a country whose politics have been dominated by a single party despite the existence of other political organizations vying for power.

China, with its total domination by the Communist Party and intolerance for competing political organizations, is a one-party state. The Soviet Union was a one-party state, with only its Communist Party allowed to be in power. Japan is a democracy, its constitution shaped by occupying American military authorities under the considerable leadership of General Douglas MacArthur. That Japanese politics have been dominated since the end of World War II by the Liberal Democratic Party does not mean that Japan is a one-party state. It is not. At any given time, there are between a half-dozen and nine or ten political parties free to contest elections in Japan.

Like all countries, Japan is complicated. Modern Japan represents a gradual merging of ancient and socially conservative cultures and a steady liberalization wrought by decades of existing as a democratic system. Its dominant political party is the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which is identified with conservative policies (though the LDP's positions on some important economic issues, like protectionism and insulation from outside economic forces, are more often characteristic of liberal or left-wing positions).

The LDP has been in power for almost the entirety of the post–World War II era because it has reasonably satisfactorily navigated the slowly evolving political and cultural transformations that have taken place across Japan during this period and because much of Japanese society remains culturally conservative. Evidence that Japan is not a one-party system, however, does exist. Twice, the LDP has been removed from power by the voters, especially during the early 1990s, when economic stagnation caused voters to reject continued LDP control and elect instead a coalition of opposition parties. That this coalition was unable to retain its hold on power was a result of its fractiousness, common to such coalitions, and to the fact that the LDP retained its overwhelming majority within the Japanese Diet, or parliament.

While Japan is not, technically, a one-party state, there is no question that its very prolonged time in power has given it important advantages over other political parties. With length in office, dominant political organizations are able to solidify their control over the bureaucracies that run government on a daily basis. Japan is, however, a democracy.

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While competitive political parties are permitted, and in fact exist, in Japan, the country has been dominated since World War II by the conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

Part of the LDP's success comes because it has operated as a coalition of factions where multiple political ideologies compete against one another under the LDP umbrella.

Since electoral reforms in the 1990s, the LDP has gradually had its stranglehold on power loosened. Japan has moved from a purely proportional system of electoral representation in parliament to a system that mixed proportional representation with single-seat constituencies. According to University of Tokyo professor Takenaka Harukata, this change meant that intra-factional competition within the LDP was relaxed

since it was no longer possible for multiple LDP candidates to run and win in a single district. As a result, what was once little more than a coalition of factions began to take on the character of a cohesive party.

Due, in part, to this reform, from 2009 to 2011 the LDP government fell to the Democratic Party which ran the country.

A realistic analysis and response to the question, therefore, may be in the observation that Japan is already progressing towards a two- or multi-party system due to the introduction of single seat constituencies. Would this process be accelerated through the removal of the remaining proportional seats in the Diet and the introduction of strict single seat constituencies throughout the country?

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