Hereditary politicians still dominate in Japan


Authors: Purnendra Jain (University of Adelaide) and Daisuke Akimoto (Hosei University)

In early February 2023, Chiyo Kishi, son of former Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi, announced that she would run for a seat in the Diet. He will inherit his father’s constituency, who announced his retirement from politics a few days ago.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida attends the plenary session of the House of Councilors at the Diet Building in Tokyo, Japan, January 27, 2023. (Photo: Masanori Minamoto/Yomiuri Shimbun via Reuters Connect)

Shinchiyo is a classic example of hereditary politics entrenched in Japan’s political system14 February 2023, Mainichi Shimbun reported Nobuchiyo was forced to drop him family tree From the home page of his website for criticism of its genetic symbolism.Hereditary politician called Sesshuthe people whose families work as politicians, train successors, and take over political capital accumulated over decades.

come from Famous Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) political parties In Yamaguchi Prefecture, Chiyo Kishinobu is almost certain to be elected in the April 23 by-election. His great-grandfather Nobusuke Kishi and his uncle Shinzo Abe were two prominent prime ministers. Shinchiyo is also closely related to Eisaku Sato, the third Prime Minister of Japan, and Shintaro Abe, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan and the father of Shinzo Abe.

2022 Prime Minister Fumio Kishida appointed Appointing his eldest son, Shotaro, as parliamentary secretary, has been criticized. His appointment is back in the spotlight after traveling with his father to London. misuse His official car for shopping.

It is clear that Mr. Kishida is preparing to let his eldest son inherit political assets and run for a Diet member. In the light of this apparent prejudice, the Japanese media “nepo baby”, which means “nepotism baby”.

political legacy neither new nor unique To Japan. Hereditary politicians are not uncommon in industrialized democracies, including the United States – the Kennedys are a prime example. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is also the eldest son of former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.

In many Asian countries, both democratic and non-democratic, political descent dominated politics and governmentThe Nehru Gandhi family in India is a good example. Singapore’s Lee Hsien Loong, who has been prime minister for nearly two decades since 2004, is the eldest son of the late Lee Kuan Yew, who was prime minister from 1959 until 1990. The current president of the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., is also a politician. The father of South Korea’s first female president, Park Geun-hye, Park Chung-hee served as president from 1963 until he was in 1979. In undemocratic regimes like North Korea, the Kim family has a monopoly on power.

However, the degree of political nepotism in Japan, a modern and industrialized country, remains unparalleled. Far from showing signs of weakening, it has strengthened in recent decades. In 1960, only 3% of Japanese Diet members were hereditary politicians.Despite political attempts to reduce its proportion, it 30% today.

Most of Japan’s postwar prime ministers Including Kishida., came from a political family. Yoshihide Suga in recent years was an exception. Future prime minister candidates such as Taro Kono and Shinjiro Koizumi are also hereditary politicians.

In its 2009 election manifesto, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) Ban A direct family member who inherits a constituency. Ironically, the first prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama, political dynastyBut two other DPJ prime ministers, Hirohiko Noda and Naoto Kan, did not come from political backgrounds.

The LDP has the highest proportion of hereditary politicians, but the largest opposition party, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, is also the DPJ’s successor. hereditary legislator, but only 6%. Neither the Liberal Democratic Party’s lower coalition partners, Komeito nor the Japanese Communist Party, have such representatives in the Diet.

Hereditary politicians inherit valuable resources. Jibanor a network of local support groups and organizations. Kanban, or the popularity of the Kishi family and the Koizumi family.and Bag, or financial support through networks and factions to which dynastic politicians belong. Hereditary politicians have much higher electoral success than non-hereditary candidates.Nikkei Asia Longitudinal Study Note “A candidate who is related by blood or marriage has an 80% chance of winning,” while a first-time candidate has only about a 20% chance of winning.

of this tradition politics as a family business Many MPs are 3rd and 4th generation MPs. Shinchiyo becomes the fourth politician.there are many 3rd Diet Member He holds important government and party positions, including Prime Minister Kishida himself.

Many of the key ministers in the Kishida Cabinet are hereditary politicians. Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi is the eldest son of former Finance Minister Yoshiro Hayashi. Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada is the son of infamous Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker Koichi Hamada.Yakuza‘ — A member of a Japanese mafia-like criminal organization. The father of Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki, Yoshiyoshi Suzuki served as prime minister from 1980-82. Digital Transformation Minister Taro Kono’s father was Foreign Minister and his grandfather Ichiro Kono was Japan’s Deputy Prime Minister.

Some voters view dynastic politics in a negative light. but they also appreciate Such politicians bring more pork projects to the district than non-hereditary politicians. Politics as a family business remains one of Japan’s most robust and thriving industries.

Purnendra Jain is Emeritus Professor of Asian Studies at the University of Adelaide.

Daisuke Akimoto is a part-time lecturer at Hosei University in Tokyo.

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