A Study of Komeito as a Critical Minority Party in Japanese Coalition Regimes

  •  Ming-shan Wu    
  •  Chun-ta Lee    


Ever since the Liberal-Democratic Party (LDP) invited the New Komeito (Komeito hereafter) to form a coalition cabinet in October 1999, the two political parties have maintained their partnership to date. The time and significance of LDP-Komeito cooperation are remarkable in Japanese politics. The general concept of “critical minority”, referring to a small number of seats in the Japanese Diet, is necessary to a parliamentary majority. However, this paper argues the real significance of Komeito minority lies not in “post-election” but rather in “pre-election.” In other words, Komeito requests supporters to vote LDP candidates, especially the candidates of the House of Representatives elected by small electoral districts, and hence help LDP become major party in both houses. The authors first review LDP’s incentives of forming a coalition cabinet, and then discuss why LDP and Komeito are motivated to cooperate. Finally, the authors apply electoral data to analyze the practical effects of LDP-Komeito cooperation.

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