Foreign Policy Blogs

Business lobby pushes for coalition

Japan’s largest business lobby, Nippon Keidanren, is urging Prime Minister Naoto Kan to step down in order to pave the way for his Democratic Party of Japan to form a grand coalition with the opposition Liberal Democratic Party.

Nippon Keidanren chairman Hiromasa Yonekura said, “I would like the prime minister to sacrifice himself for reconstruction by paving the way for a grand coalition.”

The lobby said that the coalition should last until the end of the year and focus on reconstruction from the March 11 quake/tsunami and social security reform.

Japan has never really had a true two-party system. The LDP has been in power almost continuously since the end of the war. There are numerous small opposition parties, most of which are break-offs from the LDP (such as Kan’s own DPJ).

While Japan technically has a democratic parliamentary government, this is the government that was forced on the country by the occupation forces at the end of the war. Throughout most of Japan’s history, the government has wavered between varying degrees of totalitarianism (when the emperor ruled) and authoritarianism (when the shogun ruled). I’d best describe the Japanese government as a democratic parliament with an authoritarian tradition. While lawmakers are democratically elected, they still conduct themselves as authoritarians. Japanese people, not really knowing anything different and accepting it as the Japanese way, have a lackadaisical tolerance for authoritarianism.

A coalition with the LDP is what brought the LDP back to power after a brief hiatus from power in 1993, returning Japan to effective one-party rule. The fact that Japan’s most powerful business lobby can push for a stronger, less democratic centralized government without a word of protest from the public underscores Japan’s authoritarian tradition.



Dustin Dye

Dustin Dye is the author of the YAKUZA DYNASTY series, available through the Amazon Kindle.

He lived in Okayama, Japan, where he taught English at a junior high school through the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program for three years. He is a graduate from the University of Kansas, where he received a bachelor's degree in anthropology.

His interest in Japan began in elementary school after seeing Godzilla fight Ghidorah, the three-headed monster. But it wasn't until he discovered Akira Kurosawa's films through their spaghetti Western remakes that he truly became fascinated in the people and culture of Japan.

He lives in Kansas with his wife, daughter and guinea pig.

Visit him online at
E-mail him: [email protected]