Principal Modern Asian Studies A Japanese House of Councillors Election: Support Mobilization and Political Recruitment

A Japanese House of Councillors Election: Support Mobilization and Political Recruitment

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A Japanese House of Councillors Election: Support Mobilization and Political Recruitment
Author(s): Bradley M. Richardson
Source: Modern Asian Studies, Vol. 1, No. 4 (1967), pp. 385-402
Published by: Cambridge University Press
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Modern Asian Studies, I, 4 (I967), pp. 385-402

A Japanese House of Councillors
Election: Support Mobilization and
Political Recruitment

RESEARCH on the Japanese electoral process has quite legitimately
focused on a broad range of topics. Elections in Japan have been
studied from the perspective of national issues and evaluation of their
popular appeal, descriptio}l and analysis of voting behaviour patterns,
and identification of the support mobilization efforts and campaign
postures of individual caxldidates. Of the various kirlds of electoral
contests, those of the House of Representatives and local elections
have received the greatest attention.l

The research reported here focuses upon one kind of electoral
contest, namely that of the House of Councillors, the Upper House of
the Japanese Diet.2 House of Councillors elections have received less
1 For studies of various dimensions of House of Representatives elections see
Robert A. Scalapino and Junnosuke Masumi, Partz; es and Politics in Contemporary
iapan, (Berkeley and Los Angeles, I962), pp. I0824; Richard K. Beardsley, John
W. Hall and Robert E. Ward, Yillage 3'apan, (Chicago, I959), pp. 4I635; Junichi
Kyogoku and Nobutaka Ike, 'Urban-rural Differences in Voting Behaviour in PostwarJapan', Economic Development and Cultural Change, 9, I, I960, Part II, pp. I6785;
Robert A. Scalapino, 'Japan and the General Elections', Far Eastern Survey, 2I, I5,
I952, pp. I49-54; Paul S. Dull, 'The General Election of I952s, zhe American Political
Sczence Review, 47, I, I953, pp. I99204; Douglas EI. Mendel, Jr., 'Behind the I955
Japanese Elections', Far Eastern Survey, 24, I955, pp. 65-70; I. I. Morris, 'Foreign
Policy Issues in Japan's I958 Elections', Pacic Affiairs, 3I, 3, I958, pp. 2It40;
R. P. Dore, 'Japanese Election Candidates in I955', PaciJ*c Affiairs, 29, 2j I956,
pp. I744I; and Nobushige Ukai, 'Japanese Election Results Reconsidered', Pacific
AgJairs, 26, 2, I953, pp. I3946.

Local elections have been discussed in Beardsley, Hall andWard, op. cit., pp.4Q - I6;
R. P. Dore, Land Reform in apan, (London, I959), pp. 3267 and 337-43; Kurt
Steiner, 'AJapanese Village and its Government', Far Eastern Quarterly, I5, 2, I956,
pp. I8599; and dem. Local Governnwnt in3apan, (Stanford, I965), pp. 323-35.
House of Councillors elections have been described in lSouglas H. Mendel, Jr.
'Behind the I959 Japanese Elections', Pacihc AjJairs, 32, 3, I959, pp. 298306 and
Nobushige Ukai, 'The Japanese House of Councillors Election of July I962', Asian
*8rVe7,2,6, I962,pp. I4.

2 The Japanese Diet is bicameral. Members of the House of Representatives, the
Lower House, are elected every four years or irregularly after dissolution. EIalf of
the membership of the Upper House, the House of Councillors, is renewed every
three years in scheduled elections.

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scholarly attention than have other types of elections, although they
manifest somewhat different patterns from other elections, largely
because of the special character of Upper House districts.3 Two aspects
of House of Councillors contests, poliiical recruitment and support
mobilization, are emphasized here on the assumption that concern
with these processes is critical to the understanding ofJapanese elections
while it is in these areas that House of Councillors patterns are conspicuously distinctive.4
The discussion here centres upon the July I965 House of Councillors
election.5 Candidates' backgrounds are identified and compared with
those of Lower House members, with the most striking differences
being the greater number of candidacies by association officials and
ex-bureaucrats in the upper body contest. The nature of campaigns
is considered, with emphasis being given to the role of informal campaigns and organization in the mobilization of support. A typology of
electoral competition is suggested, based on the character of competition
between and within parties and the character and degree of popular
penetration by associational and personal spheres of influence.
Political handbooks and newspapers were the major sources of
information, although the analysis depends hearrily upon insights
suggested by interviews conducted during a I962-64 field trip to
Japan. Newspapers have both advantages and limitations as sources.
Press treatment of Upper House contests is often more detailed than
coverage of House of Representatives electioILs. The smaller number
of districts in the Councillors contests makes this possible, and can-

3 There are two kinds of districts in House of Collncillors elections. Roughly
40 per cent of the seats at stake in a given election are contested in a nation-wide
constituency, while the remainder are assigned to prefecture-wide districts. Although
there are a few prefecture-wide constituencies in House of Representatives elections,
namely in Yama nashi, Fukui, Saga, Shiga, Nara, Tottori, Shimane, Tokushima,
and Kochi, most Lower House contests take place in smaller districts.
4 The responses of the electorate to House of Councillors elections are also
markedly distinctive, but consideration of these patterns is beyond the scope of
this article. For information on differences in the levels of popular interest and
voting motivations between House of Councillors and other contests, see Komei
Senkyo Remmei, Soitsu Chiho Senkyo no Jittai, (Tokyo, I964) pp. 24 and 50; idem,
Sosenkyo no 3tittai, (Tokyo, I964), p. 48 and Chuo Chosasha, Sanqiin Giin Senkyo ni
tsuite no Seron Chosa, (Tokyo, I 965), pp. I 09 and I I 5. Distinctiveness in the areas of
political recruitment and support mobilization, it should be remembered, is a matter
of both content and degree.
5 Accounts of the -I959 and I962 elections were also studied. Although there
were some diffierences, e.g., in speciSc organizational affiliations of candidates, the
I965 experiences were representative of conditions in the other elections in terms i
general patterns.

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didacies and campaigns in the various constituencies are discussed in
depth in national dailies such as Asahi or Mainichi. The Eokyo Shimbun
has also published serialized accounts of electoral preparations in the
national and all prefectural consiituencies in recent Upper House
eleciions. Coverage of this scope lends itself to the development ot
comprehensive typologies and generalizations. On the other hand,
press accounts are often uneverl in terms of focus and depth, so that
findings based thereon must frequently be qualified. The conclusions
suggested here should be seen in the light of both these advantages and
limitatiorls; hypotheses about prevailing patterns are necessarily
tentative and should be subjected to further research by other methods
in the future.
A recent study6 of Japanese politics has reported some characteristic
patterns of recruitment to the Japanese House of Representatives.
Successful candidates of the Liberal Democratic Party, for example,
tend to be former bureaucrats or to have business connexions, while
successful Japan Socialist nominees are often labour union officials.7
Somewhat similar tendencies could be seen among successful candidates
in the I965 House of Councillors election (see Table I).8
There were, however, certain differences in political recruitment
patterns between the two kinds of elections. Successful candidacies
by former government career offlcials and by association officials-were
much more common in House of Councillors than in House of Representatives contests.9 Ex-bureaucrat candidacies in both the national
and prefectural districts of the Upper House election occurred at a
higher rate than they did in the I958 general election, with nearly
6 Robert A. Scalapino andJunnosuke Masumi, op. cit., Chapter 3 and pp. I 64-7
of the Appendix.
7 These are Japan's two major parties. Japan's minor parties include the Japan
Communists, the I)emocratic Socialists and the Komeito, the political arm of the

Soka Gakkai religion. The discussion here will focus on the Liberal Democrats and
the Japan Socialists.

8 Background information on unsuccessful candidates was less complete than that
for elected Councillors. For this reason, data and generalizations made here are
based solely on characteristics of successful candidates.

9 Statistics from the I 958 House of Representatives election, which are representative of those of recent general elections, are used here (Table I ). See Scalapino
and Masumi, Op. Cit., pp. I64-6, for data on other Lower House elections. Figures

on candidacies from other than agricultural, labour and business groups were not
available for Lower House contests.

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TABLE I. Backgrounds of Successful Candidates, by election*

I965 House of Councillors
National District Prefectural District

Former officiabt I6 (64) 3 (25) I8 (38) °
Former governors o o 8 (I7
Former prefectural aFemblyrnen o ° I3 (28) 6 (2
Former local officiabf o I ( 8) 4 ( 9) I ( 4)
Founer lower house members o I ( 8) IO
Universit graduates 24 (96) 9 (75) 37 (79) I7 (7I)
Business executives§ 3 (I2) o Is (32) 0 I
Business gTOUp officials 7 (28) o 2 ( 4) 0
Farm group officials 2 ( 8) o I2 (26) 3 (I3
Labour group officials o IO (83) 0 I I
Other gToup officials|| I3 (52) 3 (25) I4








* Robert A. Scalapino andJunnosuke Masumi, Parttes and Politics in Contemporary jtapan (Ber
and Seizaikai Doko Chosakai, Gikai Giin Benran (Tokyo, I965). Figures in parenthesis are perce
party. Dashes indicate lack of information or irrelevant categories.
t Former civil servants (political appointments to ministerial posts are excluded).
+ Elected city, town and village mayors and assemblymen.
§ Company presidents, auditors and directors.

11 Religious, welfare, bereaved persons, medical and dentists groups. Data are based on evidence of
reported many cases of informal 'ties' with groups, especially in the national constituency, that are

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TABLE 2. Association Positions and Former Ministerial Positions of Succesful Libera

Candidates, I965 House of Councillors Election, J%ational Constituen

Former O.ffice

Assoctation Posztion

Seicho no Iet, Director
Federation of New Relig



Transportation Vice-Minister
Education Vice-Minister
Monopoly Corporation, Director


Construction Vice-Minister
Postal Vice-Minister


Home Minister

Private Schools Promotion

Central Association of Salt
Japan Rivers Association, V

National Special Postmaste


National Federation of A

Shigemasa Okayama Agricultural Lands Office,

National Federation of Lan

Yamamoto Army Minister, Secretary

National Federation of V

Japan Dentists' Political Le
Japan Bereaved Families As


Higashi Honganji Temple,


Women's Buddhist League,


Japan Midwives Association


Nishi Honganji Temple Co
Japan Amateur Wrestling A


Welfare Ministry, Bureau Director

National Social Welfare Co
Land Freight Industries W


Commerce and Industry Ministry, Bureau

National Federation of Food


Construction Vice-Minister

National Federation of Buil
tions, President


League, President

* Seizaikai Doko Chosakai, Gikai Giin Benran (Tokyo, I965) and Eokyo Shimbun, 7 May I965. Th

the national constituency not listed here were business executives in construction concerns having br

t Seicho no Ic iS a religious organization. + Supported by bankers' and liquor retailers' gr

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two-thirds of the successful Liberal Democratic nomin
national constituency being former career officials. In b
successful candidacies by organization oflicials were mor
than in the House of Representatives election.l° This p
especially prevalent in the national consiituency where all s
Socialist nominees and over 80 per cent of elected Cons
candidates had associational ties. Successful Japan Socialist c
who had formed orgarlizaiional ties were generally tra
officers. Associaiional affiliations of elected Conservative n
the national district are shown in Table 2. In prefectura
links with bereaved persons, agricultural and welfare gr
most common.

As the data in Table 2 indicate, nearly all of the successful Liberal
Democratic candidates in the national district who were former officials
also held pOsiiiOrLs in organizations. Similar patterns were observable
in the prefectural consiituencies, although somewhat more infrequently.
In Ishikawa, for example, a former regional director of the Agricultural

and Forestry Ministry was linked with agricultural groups, while in
Tokyo the retired Superintendent General for Fire Protection was
supported by firefighters' groups and a former director of the metropolitan government's Sanitation Bureau had connexions with doctors,
health and sanitation groups.ll
Candidacies by ex-bureaucrats and organization officials may be
assumed to have certain advantages. Because of the larger size of
House of Councillors constituencies, support mobilization often presents
diffierent problems from those in House of Representatives districts.
Studies of Lower House districts point to the importance of personal
support bases or spheres of influence and close connexions between
national candidates and local politicians as well as ties with organized
groups as critical factors in the mobilizaiion of support. Although the
character of politicians' support has been changing since the war, intimate and personal contacts with one's consiituency, or part of a consti-

tuency, are apparently still common.l2 Although examples of similar
10 The omission of the category of 'other groups' from the House of Representatives figures detracts from the conclusiveness of the statistical data presented here
for Conservative candidacies, but the high ratio of candidacies by persons holding

association positions in the national district affiords persuasive support for our


11 sokyo Shimbun, 8 May I965. It is said to be a common practice for members
of the national civil service to take positions in groups related to their speciality
upon retirement. Such practices presumably serve to cement clientele relationships
between governmental agencies and private groups.
12 See Richard K. Beardsley,John W. Hall and Robert E. Ward, Op. Cit. pp. 42t45.

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patterns are observable in rural districts in Upper House elections,
some preSectural constituencies and especially the national district
are diflicult to organize along lines of primarily personal contacts and
support associations. As substitutes for individual contacts and support
bases somewhat more impersonal mechanisms are utilized. Bureaucratic titles are said to attract support oll the basis of respect for the
status of such posiiions, while organizational aHiliations provide some
kind of structured nexus in the large or populous districts to replace the
candidate-focused support bases found in the smaller Lower House
constituencies. Candidacies by bureaucrats who are affiliated with
organizations combine the advantages of both status and organization.l3
One further observaiion should be made about candidacies of
organizational officials. Although there are surely exceptions, it would
appear that organizational candidacies in Upper House elections, in
addition to being more numerous, are somewhat diffierent from those
in House of Representatives contests. Press accounts stress that organizations are important as the major bases of support for many House of
Councillors candidates, particularly in the national constituency or in
urban prefectures. This differs from the general case in House of
Representatives contests, where group ties, except for labour union
officials and some candidates in cities, are probably less critical as
sources of support.l4 Nevertheless candidates for the Lower House
certainly have connexions with groups, and there are some similarities
between the two electoral levels in individual cases.l5
Certain other patterns are observable which lend themselves to
interpretations congenial to those stressed by Japanese observers of
Upper House contests. Nomination to candidacy in House of Coun13 Although the title of Minister is often said to have considerable appeal, it is
difficult to say to what extent attainment of lesser positions in the bureaueraey
adds to electoral attraction at the polls. But bureaucratic contacts are certainly
important to clientele interests.
14 My own research on three election districts Kanagawa I, Kanagawa III and
Shimane would suggest that this is the case.
15 Ward, in Beardsley, Hall and Ward, op. cit., p. 428, for example, suggests the
importance of local associational ties to a Lower House candidate. Some organizations e.g., the Japan Medical Association, the Agricultural Co-operatives and the
Medium and Small Enterprise Political Leaguhave also endorsed candidates in

Lower House contests, but one observer suggests that these endorsements were not
necessarily critical to success in one case, and that they were more of the nature of an
appeal by the groups for the support of the candidates for their programmes. See

William Steslicke, 'The Japan Medical Association and the Liberal Demoeratie

Party: A Case Study of Interest Group Politics in Japan', Studies on Asia, I965,
p. I55, and SanJsei Shimbun, I3-I6 May I958. Labour union offieers' candidacies
may be similar in terms of support patterns in both kinds of elections.

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cillors elections is seen by some as a reward for service in labour
unions for people who are to be 'promoted' in order to make way for
'new faces'. The higher ratio of labour union officials found in Upper
House candidacies may be evidence of such a practice, although many
labour union candidates were relatively young.
The Upper House is also seen as a place having connotations of
status. In addition to the large number of ex-bureaucrat candidacies,
there were several former prefectural governors and members of the
Lower House among the candidates in the I965 election. There was
also a higher ratio of college educated candidates in the I965 House of
Councillors election than in the I958 General Election, which conforms
to the frequency of ex-bureaucrat nominees as well as possibly to the
status levels of other candidates. The frequency of candidacies by
Conservatives who were former local elected officials or who had
business connexions was, interestingly, lower than was the case in the
House of Representatives election.l6
These explanatioIrs are necessarily tentative, and there may be other
considerations and contributing factors. Conservative House of
Representatives members reportedly maintain especially close contacts
with local politiciaxLs, sometimes of a patron-protege type. These
relationships may serve as channels of recruitment and mobility to
prefectural assembly and Lower House positions, while nominations
to Upper House candidacy may represent more than anything else a
way to reward organization officials and retiring bureaucrats for
support and favours. Or patterns of personal relationships established in a critical period may underlie characteristic recruitment
Another common tendency (not shown in Table I) was that of
candidates runxiing from their home prefectures. Despite the fact that
many candidates had spent the greater part of their lives in Tokyo or
outside their home prefectures, the majority of the successful candidates
in both pariies were elected from the prefectures of their birth. This
tendency was somewhat more marked among Conservatives than
Socialists6 per cent of successful Conservative candidates irl local
districts had been born in the prefecture from which they were elected,
while the ratio for Socialists was 78 per cent. This reflected the tendency
16 Perceptions of the special character of the Upper House could have an impact
on candidacies in several ways. Certain kinds of candidacies, e.g. those of exbureaucrats and well-educated people, might be seen as conducive to attracting
votes among the public, if the latter is viewed as sharing these perceptions about the
nature of the upper body.

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of Conservatives to be more successful in rural than in urban districts,
'native son' candidacies being more common in rural prefectures than
irl the large cities. It also parallels the trend among Conservative voters,
according to opinion polls, to place stress on locality considerations in
their voting choices.

lZhe official election campaign began in mid-June. Campaign activity
by candidates before this period was illegal. There were several
indications, however, that much of the important work of the campaign
was conducted long before this iime. Nominations began in the
summer of I 964, and newspaper accounts repeatedly stated that
delays in nominations (usually due to personal or factional competition
over official exLsorsements) were harmful to candidates' campaign
efforts.l7 The press described particular candidates' efforts as being 'late'
17 Candidacy in the July election depended upon decisions made within the
contours of a complex process involving national and local party organizations,
national factions, local factions, 'veto' organizations and the candidates themselves.
Although national domination was not infrequent, local elements apparently had
some 'say' at times. National party domination was clear, e.g., in the case of the
Liberal Democrat nomination in Fukui prefecture. The party prefectural organization's proposal of a former governor was overriden by the national leadership which
insisted that the incumbent Councillor run on the basis that he was a cabinet minister
in office. This principle was also applied in Yamaguchi and Mie prefectures. (See

7Cokyo Shimbun, I7 April and 27 May I965.) This is a response to one or another, or a
combination of the following: (I) the desire to uphold the prestige of the members
of the cabinet; (2) deference to the accommodation between the factions which
produced the cabinet; (3) the related desire to avoid the problems which would
emerge if a new cabinet member had to be selected (in terms of factional rivalries);
and (4) recognition of the electoral appeal of cabinet titles. National factionalism
also entered into the rivalries between the Fukui federation and national headquarters, in that the prefectural group's choice was supported by Aichiro Fujiyama,
a national faction leader, who came to Fukui to promote the cause of the former
governor, albeit unsuccessfully. Intervention by national factions or leadership
elements was also present in the Tochigi contest, where the son of House of Representatives Speaker Naka Funada received the party nod after the incumbent was
persuaded to step down. Ibid., 5 April I965. Local elements made significant contributions to decisions elsewhere. In Gifu prefecture, selection of a candidate was the
result of intervention by the prefectural governor. There were factional undercurrents
there, also, but this time local elements predominated. In at least five prefectures
individual Conservative candidates refused to give up running after other persons
were given the party's official endorsement and chose to stand as independents. In
Tochigi a Socialist did the same thing, vowing that he would 'commit double
suicide', or contribute to his own and his party's defeat, rather than give up. In at
least one prefecture a local labour union exercised some kind of veto, in that final
decisions on candidacies were withheld until union officials could be convinced that
a particular candidate had a good chance of election. Ibid., 7 and I2 April and
g May I965.

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or 'early' starts. When the election results are exam

perspective of press accounts of the timing of campaign

the thirteen who were 'late' starters failed to get elec
out of the seven 'early' starters were successful. The e
provides conclusive support of the press assertion that e
necessary to success (and many other factors were certai

victory or failure), but the extent of attention to this fa
role of campaigns before the formal period cannot be ign

Informal pre-election campaigns involved many thi

very thinly disguised effiorts as getting the candidates'
voters, expression oftheir position and particularly cultiv
of influence and acquisition of the support or endorseme
organizations. Various techniques were used. For example
held meetings to report their activities in the Diet or to

was going on in national politics. Incumbents or new

appeared at ceremonies or meetings where they made a f

or were simply introduced. The following is an ex
electioneering 18

On their [candidate and his secretary] arrival at Nagoya

Station, they participated in a promotion rally for a particular enterprise,

which was held at a public hall in town. The hall was filled with

more than eight hundred people including owners of medium and small
enterprises, municipal assembly members and municipal officials. D;et
members from the area and- the speaker of the prefectural assembly

delivered addresses. Mr also gave an address.
The proceedings were smoothly conducted. Toward the end of the
meeting a certain town mayor suddenly introduced an emergency
motion, saying, 'We are told that Mr - will run in the coming
Upper House election. At this rally we want to recommend Mr

who has close relations with us'.

His eloquence produced shouts of joy and applause. The emergency

motion was adopted. Mr had only to keep bowing deeply. Meanwhile, his secretary was busy. In a corner of the hall he gave Mr 's
name card to every one he met, even if he didn't know them well. The
card case containing one hundred cards, which he took from his satchel,
was empty in a moment . . . more than one thousand name cards are

used each day.

Of course, informal and private negotiations and arrangements to gain
support, such as those which must have preceeded the meeting described
above, were also important elements of the pre-formal campaign.
The creation and consolidation of spheres of influerlce, or jiban, was
18 Asahi Shimbun, I 2 April I 965.

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a particularly important dimension of the informal campaign.l9 This
term refers traditionally to spheres of influence or support which were
orgatiized around candidates' personal ties in particular areas. The
existence of this kind of zban could be observed in the I965 election.
The Conservative candidates in Saitama prefecture, for example,
were said to have their spheres of power in the northern and southern
parts of the prefecture respectively.20 But other spheres of influence

were reportedly organized around geographical areas to a lesser extent
and centred on candidates' relationships with such voups as agricultural co-operatives, bereaved families associations, medium and
small enterprise associations and local labour union councils or specific
labour unions, and these lQinds of jiban appeared to be particularly
important in the Upper House election. More often than not the
candidate was an official in some of these groupings.2l

Several aspects of problems relating to the establishment and
maintenance of spheres of influence were discussed in press accounts.
Various kinds of evidence indicating the permanence of some spheres

of influence, for example, could be found. In Tokushima prefecture
Conservative incumbent Yokichiro Miki was said to have a 'perfect'sphere of influence.22 Councillor Miki, a president of two local companies, was successful in I965 and in two other Upper House elections.
The number of votes ke receirred was remarkably stable: I72,000 in
I953> I75,000 in I959, and I67>000 in Ig6s.23
19 Western studies ofJapanese political processes have often stressed the importance
of jiban, especially in regard to House of Representatives elections. Nobutaka Ike

in his yapanese Politics an Introductory Survey discussed their importance briefly and
cites the reportedly common adage which says that politicians must have three

bans to be successful: kamban (literally 'sign-board' but meaning reputation), kaban
(a satchel, presumably filled with money) and jiban. See pp. I93-202. Robert Ward
describes the post-war changes in a traditional jiban in Okayama prefecture in

Fillage yapan, pp. 42P45. Tn the post-war period organization of votes in blocs in
specific rural districts was more difficult, according to Ward, and jiban tended to
encompass areas wherein support was not as concentrated as in the pre-war period.






21 The major exceptions to this pattern occurred in the case of the national

constituency, where some Socialist and Komeito candidates were arbitrarily assigned
specific parts of the country as spheres of influence, apparently without regard to
their own personal connexions. For example, Japan Teachers' Union votes were

divided between three candidates in north-eastern, central and south-westernJapan
respectively. Komeito candidates were assigned support quotas from the major
cities and from traditional districts such as Tokai) Kinki, Tohoku, Hokuriku, Chubu,
Kanto, and Chugoku. Ibid., 7 May I965.
I96523 Jichicho Senkyobu, Shugiin Giin Sosenkyo, Sangiin Giin Esujo Senkyo Kekka Shirabe,
I953, p. 23I; Jichicho, Senkyokyoku, Sangiin Giin Esujo Senkyo Kekka Shirabe, I9
p. 22I; and SomiuriShimbun, 6July I965.

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In some cases spheres of influence were said to have been sufficiently
permanent for it to have been possible to transfer them to new candidatesupon Councillors' retirement. Thus in Shiga and Nara, Conservative
candidates were reported to have inherited the spheres of influence of
former Councillors.24 Both of these candidates were successful. In two
prefectures candidates who were relatives of prominent Lower House
members were successful, which may have involved, among other
things, extension of the spheres of influence of their father and brother
respectively. On the other hand, the press reported that a Conservative
candidate in Kumamoto prefecture was unable to take over
a former Councillor's sphere of influence. He was subsequently
unsuccessful in the election. These spheres of influence also have to
be maintained and cultivated, according to various accounts, and this
may relate to problems of 'inheritance'. One example of a declining
support base was cited where a candidate made frantic efforts to
maintain enthusiasm through contacts with fire-fighting associatsons
in his consfituency.25
Maintenance of separate axld isolated spheres of influence is also a
problem, both for individual candidates and for the parties' election
committees. In several prefectures nominations were opposed on the
grounds that approval of a certain candidate would involve problems
of overlapping spheres of influence. In two prefectures incumbents
were reportedly forced to 'resign' in order to avoid overlap of this kind.
Both the Conservative and Left parties had this problem. For example,
the major concern of one Socialist candidate, according to press
accounts, was threatened encroachment irlto his support area by other
candidates connected with the Sohyo unions whose support had been
formally assigned to him.26
24 Ibid. Somiuri Shimbun, g April I965
25 Press accounts afford little insight into the ways in which spheres of influence
are organized and cultivated. Some local assemblymen and House of Representatives

members (who, of course, ran from smaller districts) in areas I studied in I963-64
maintained frequent contact with supporters through personal support organizations

(koenkai). The activities of these groups included, among other things, trips to hot
springs or famous places (partially or largely at a candidates' expense, depending
on the case) or establishment of mutual aid associations and social clubs. Various
kinds of 'attentions' such as the sending of New Year's greeting cards, condolences
and presents at the time of funerals and weddings, and making frequent personal
appearances were also utilized within and without personal organizations. Such
activities are probably less common or less intensively organized and individual
voters less frequently contacted, in some of the larger prefectural constituencies in
House of Councillors' elections.

26 Asahi Shirnbun, I2 April I965. The candidate had been assigrsed support in the
Tokai, Sanyo, and Kyushu districts. In these areas Socialist party prefectural

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Relationships between spheres of influence of candidates within
particular parties, or between different candidates or diffierent parties,
were seen as critical elements in electoral competition. A-tentative
classification of prefectural districts based on configurations of orgarlization and competition can be made on the basis of press accounts
preceding the July election. The character of spheres of influence,
intra- and inter-party competition and the degree of organizatiotlal
'penetrationS (or, conversely, the role of 'floateing votes') are the critical
variables. Although it is difficult to describe the incidence of these
particular patterrls in all of Japan's prefectural districts, it is possible
to portray conditions in certain 'ideal' or perhaps proto-typical
constituencies. There were five different organizational and competitive
'types>: multi-party compeative districts, competitive organized twoparty dlstricts, competitive fragmented two-party districts, stable noncompetitive organized two-party constituencies and stable one-party
(or one-candidate) organized constituencies. Examples of each type
will be given.
In multi-party competitive districts, parties other than the majority
or plurality Liberal Democrats and m-ajor minority Socialist party had
substantial support and were successful in getting candidates elected.
Organized support of candidates appeared to consist relatively often
of clusters of supporting organizadons, including some groups with
which candidates had no orisible lasting personal relationships. Voting
there appeared to reprqesent more than elsewhere a response to membership in a large organizaton with minimal personal connexions between
candidates and voters. 'Floating' or unattached votes were also
reportedly numerous, Dsometimes reflecting what were assessed as
responses to diffuse perceptions by voters of candidates' Ccharacter'.
Districts of this kind included Tokyo and perhaps some of the other
large cities to some degree.27
In competiiive organlzed two-party districts, the Liberal Democrats
and Sociallsts both had a chance of success, while other parties did not.
Both parties, or their candidates, had organized s}?heres of influence
which did not overla}?. More often these a}?peared to be of the kind
elements and prefecture trade union councils were supposed to support him fully,
while other candidates were not supposed to seek votes there except from unions
where they were members.

27 The national constituency patterns were somewhat similar, but there candidacies by persons having ties with a single national organization were common.

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which the candidates' own efforts to }?enetrate particular areas predominated, or candidates were supported by one or two organizations
with which they had lasting relationships. Voting appeared to be more
predictable upon party or candidate lines, according to }?ress accounts.
In other words, 'floating' votes had less significance, although they
played some role and the election outcome could not be predicted.
Iwate, Yamagata and Akita were examples of this kind of district. In
Yamagata the Conservative candidate's sphere of influence was in the
rice producing valleys of that prefecture, while his Socialist o}?ponent's
support base was located in Yamagata City.28 Because ofthe anticipated
closeness of the election both candidates and parties were seeking to
gain support from elements not yet incorporated in their spheres of

Competitive fragmented two-party districts were similar to those just
discussed, with the exception that intra-party competition was superimposed on inter-party competition. The election race in Tochigi
preSecture serves as an example. Two seats were at stake and the
Liberal Democrats nominated two candidates while the Socialist party
nominated one official candidate. One of the Conservative candidates
was Yuzuru Funada, son of the House of Representatives Speaker
Naka Funada. Funada reportedly 'inherited' his father's sphere of
influence and the appeal of his father's name and }?ositioIl, which was
said to be }?refecture-wide. Kensaku Tamura, the other Conservative
candidate, had meanwhile penetrated town, block and hamlet associations throughout the prefecture and had inherited the sphere of influence
in farm villages of the retiring incumbent Councillor, according to press
accounts.30 Because their spheres of influence overlapped or were not
easily distinguishable there was competition between the two Conservative candidates. As was reported earlier, the Socialist incumbent
refused to give up his candidacy in favour of the official party candidate
on the basis that 'priority should be given to the incumbent'. The
result was a four-way race for two seats, in which the two Conservatives
won. Had there been one Socialist candidate instead of two, the
28 Tokyo Shimb?m, IO M:ay I965. Goro Ito, the Conservative candidate, in addition

to his areal base, was backed by a party organized local assemblymen's association
set up for the purpose of extending his influence, while Socialist Tadao Kanazawa,

who had the support of the prefectural Council of Trade Unions, was reported to
have sought votes from among the estimated 40,ooo farmers who spent part of the
year working in other prefectures.

29 The pattern in Akita was similar, except that both parties had penetrated the
rural areas and there were also said to be large numbers of rural 'floating' votes.
See ibid., 26 April I965. 30 Ibid., g May I965.

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Socialists would have won first place (given the number of votes
received by both Socialist candidates),3l and Funada would have come

n seconc .

Chibaj Niigata and Nagano were examples of stablej non-competitive
two-party prefectures. In each of these districts two seats were at stake
and both major parties or their candidates had well consolidated
spheres of influence. There was no internal competition within the
parties. In Chiba the Conservative incumbent candidate, Kyutaro
Ozawa, had built up a support base centring in town block associations,
engineering and construction interests32 and-farm villages. The incumbent Socialist) Kan Kase, had the support of the prefectural
elements of the Japan Teachers' Union and the National Railway
Workers' Union. Competition within the parties was not present and
competition between the parties was not seen as being critical, while
other parties were reportedly too weak to challenge the major party

Single party or single candidate domination of elections could be
seen in Tokushima, where we have observed that incumbent Miki had
a particularly stable support base to the extent that aggregate
election data and press accounts are reliable indicators-and in Saga.
The incumbent Nabeshima in Saga represexlts a particularly interesting
case. He was the fifteenth head of a branch family of the Nabeshima
clan from which had come the feudal lords of that region before the
Meiji Restoration. He was married to the daughter of former Marquis
Satake of Akita, another aristocratic connexion, and was reportedly
still called 'Lord' by older rural residents of his constituency.33 In
addition to his aristocratic background, he had beerl prefectural
governor. Before the July I965 election the press observed that
Nabeshima commanded 'absolute respect from the native people' and
that the Socialist party had not attempted to challenge him in the
I959 House of Councillors election.34 Although Nabeshima did not
dominate the I965 election to the extent that he did in I959, when
he was opposed by a Communist candidate and received 89 per cent
of the votes cast35 he still won a definite majority by receiving 67 per
cent of the total vote.36







32 Chiba is a rapidly developing prefecture and Ozawa, a Tokyo University
engineering graduate, had spent part of his administrative career in charge of a
regional construction bureau of the post-war Special Procurement Agency.

33 Sankei Shimbun, 25 July I 964 and Tokyo Shimbun, I 2 April I 965.
34 Tokyo Shirnbun, loc. cit.

35 Jichicho, Senkyokyoku, Sangiin Giin Esujo Senkyo Kekka Shirabe, Igsg, p. 22.

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Certain themes underlie the distinctiore patterns observable in House
of Councillors contests. These include emphasis by candidate-s upon
cultivation of support prior to the formal campaign period and search
for some kind of organized base of support. Both reflect tendencies
common to other kinds ofJapanese elections although the character of
support mobilization and organization varies between types of elections.
There is apparently an imperative in Japanese behaviour for seeking
stability and avoidance of competiiion through dependence upon
some kind of often relatively permanent structuring of support. In
rural local elections community is often the focus of efforts by candidates or their lieutenants to mobilize support, while in what might
be called intermediate level elections-urban local elections, prefectural elections and House of Representatives contests-candidate
support associations and contacts with local influentials are the
prevailing patterns at least among Conservative candidates. In some
House of Councillors districts candidates have or seek ties with large
associational groupings, while at several levels most Socialist candidates
depend upon organized labour's support.
As has already been observed elsewhere37 these patterns are paralleled
by organizational weakness on the part of the political parties. It is
difficult to identify cause and effect in this relationship. Attempts at
strengthening local party organs collide with the interests of individual
politicians who have or seek support by other means, while the absence
of effiective mobilization of support along party lines permits or contributes to emphasis upon support mobilization by indindual candidates. The existence of multi-member constituencies in most Diet and
local assembly electioILs presumably provides a congexiial environment
for such practices, but these patterns appear to prevail even in the
many single-member House of Councillors and prefectural assembly
The systematic implications of these patterns are interesting. Converse and Dupeux in their study of French electoral behaviour point
to the stabilizing role of party identification and suggest a relationship
between its low incidence in France and instability.38 Although
examination of voter response to candidates' search for structured





37 Robert A. Scalapino andJunnosuke Masumi, of. cit., pp. 85 and 95-96.
38 Philip E. Converse and Georges Dupeux, 'Politicization of the Electorate in

France and the United States', in Public Opiniotz Quarterly, 26, I, I96X, pp. I5 and

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support in th-e absence- of viable party organization at the popular
level is beyond the scope of this article, a substantial level of response
by voters to candidates' qualities and low intensity of party identification have been observed in Japan.39 The relative stability of post-war
party support is, on the other hand, readily apparent.4° EiCective
mobilization of support by individual candidates or non-partisan
organization, plus the important fact that relations between individual
candidates or organizations and certain parties have been stable in
general terms, suggest themselves as major elements in electoral
stability in Japan, although party -ties may be relevant in some cases.
A special note should be made regarding two possible effects of the
prevalence of candidacies in House of Councillors contests by Con-servatives who are oflice-holders in large organizations. Conservative
strength in House of Representatives electionws and House of Councillors
local districts has declined in recent elections. This may be attributed
in gross terms to the rapid urbanization and suburbanization of postwar Japanese society. But Conservative strength in the Upper House
national district has increased recently.42 Although candidacies by
persons affiliated with organizations such as the bereaved persons,agricultural co-operaiives, religious and other groups may not be an
exclusive factor contributing to this increase ex-bureaucrat candidacies or some other consideration may also be relevant the diXerences
in results- between elections -wherein what might be called more
traditional organizational patterns and those observable in the Upper
House national district are suggestive, particularly to students of politics
concerned with prediction. Prediction of future electoral patte-rns in
Japan is a precarious process for a number of reasons. The link between
urbamzation and suburbanization and voting patterns has yet to be
studied using individual and non-aggregate data, while shifting
patterns among urban youth have made assessments based on the
39 See Robert A. Scalapino andJunnosie Masumi, op. cit., p. I20, and Bradley
M. Richardson, 'Political Behaviour and Attitudes in ContemporaryJapan: Urban
and Rural Differences', unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of California,
Berkeley, I966, pp. I 76-7 and I93-6.

40 Minshushugi Kenkyukai, Sosenkyo no Tokeiteki Bunseki (Tokyo, I963), p. 37.
Support for the Liberal Democrats in terms of shares of the total vote has declined
from 66 per cent in I952 to 55 per cent in I963, while Japan Socialist support has

ranged between 22 and 29 per cent in the same period.
41 For an analysis of the impact of suburbanization and change in old urban
districts see Junnosuke Masumi, 'A Profile of the Japanese Conservahve Party', in

Asian Survey, 3, 8, I963, p. 400.

42 Jichisho, Senkyokyoku, Sangiin Giin Esujo Senkyo Kekka Shirabe (Tokyo, I962),
pp. 8 and I4, and Naikaku Kanbo Naikaku Chosashitsu, Chosa Geppo, no. II8,
October I965, pp. 52 and 55.

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responses of new oroters more diEcult. The possibility that associational
support is a critical element in Conservative success in Upper House
national districts suggests itself as an additional complicating factor.
The prevalence of associational candidacies is also of concern for
those involved in study of the role of interest groups in Japanese
politics. Assessment of the importance of large or active groups has
been complicated by the apparent tendency fox most Conservative
and some leftist House of Representatives nominees' campaigns to be
organized byindividuals-around networks of personal contacts, personal
support associations and local groupings. The more open and apparently
critical role of private associations, - and particularly of national groups)
in the Upper House contests suggests itself as one mechanism for access
to national decision making elements.
No attempt was made to relate the tentative typology of electoral
competition and organization presented here to the character of
specific constituencies. There are some interesting possibilities which
could be explored by further research, and potentialities of this kind
could be examined in House of Representatives and other contests as
well. Greater stability in voting patterns and lower levels of inter-party
competition may be found in prefectures where pre-war-economic
conditions in the farm areas were most favourable in terms of income
levels and land distribution, while greater competition may be observable in areas which were relatively deprived. Intra-partisan competition
is, of course) a complicating factor here. Emphasis on this problem in
future research could lead to identification of sub-system patterns of
both scholarly interest and predictive value.

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