Useful Notes: Japanese Political System
How Japan is run in real life. This isn't too relevant to Anime- there appears not to be a Japanese Government Procedural or even much reference to the system itself, although a Japanese version of The West Wing (or perhaps Yes, Minister, considering that the politician/bureaucrat dynamic in Japan is pretty much the same as in Britain, turned Up to Eleven) done anime style would probably be Made of Win (there actually is at least one manga - Kaji Ryuusuke No Gi - that deals with one young politician's journey to power, though it'll probably never be released outside Japan). Though the government of Japan is large and powerful, and plays a substantial role in the lives of many Japanese, Japan is overall a far less political society than most western nations, and interest in things like partisan commentary and political satire is generally much lower. This is not to say such things don't exist, of course, but overall, Japanese culture is (traditionally, at least) far more deferential to authority, and thus inclined to just assume the government is doing what it should do. This partially explains why when political scandals hit Japan, they hit hard.
second third wealthiest country in raw GDP terms and a bit of word play, we get this title. Rule of Funny means that we can ignore the fact per capita it's 22nd, behind Singapore and two other countries (Germany and Sweden) ruled by "Diets". The odd translation ("National Assembly" would work just as well) is on account of the fact that the Meiji Constitution was based on the Imperial German one, in which the name of the legislature (Reichstag) translates to "Imperial Diet."
It has two chambers:
No longer Semi-Divine- The EmperorThe monarch of Japan is the Emperor, called in Japanese tennō ("heavenly ruler"). When discussing him in Japanese, you call him Tennō Heika (His Majesty the Emperor) or "The Reigning Emperor". The Japanese monarchy is the longest continuous hereditary monarchy in history.note In fact, the supremacy and sacredness of the Emperor is so ingrained in the Japanese national psyche that a rebellion against the Emperor and seizing the throne was unthinkable; instead, ambitious nobles fight over the right to have their daughters marry the Emperor and gaining power that way. Some famous eras and emperors are:
- Jimmu (711?-585? BCE)- the legendary first Emperor of Japan as recounted in the 712 AD work known as the Kojiki. If he did exist (debatable, considering the document's ulterior motive of legitimizing the Emperor's rule), it would have been much later, as the leader of his local clan (the Yamato) rather than all of Japan, and under a different title than the Chinese-style name above. (Cf. King Arthur)
- Meiji ("enlightened rule") era (1868 to 1912)- see the Meiji Restoration, as this and the Edo era were the start of Japan's rise to world power status.
- Taisho ("great righteousness") era (1912 to 1926)- Not terribly important in itself, but important for bridging the Meiji and Showa eras. It was also the time of Japan's first real experiment with democracy. Ironically, universal male suffrage occurred in the last year of this era, 1926.
The World's Richest DietThe Japanese legislature, the Kokkai, is called The Diet of Japan in English. Via the fact that Japan is the
- House of Representatives- lower chamber. 480 members, 300 by FPTP (first-past-the-post, the candidate with the most vote wins, a 50% majority is not required), 180 via party list PR (proportional representation, the votes vote for a party, and the seat in the legislature are assigned to each party depending to the percentage of votes it got). Maximum four year terms.
- House of Councillors- upper chamber. 242 members. 146 elected via 47 prefectures via Single Non Transferable, the others via National List PR. Six year terms.
Political PartiesThere are two big-name political parties in Japan, though only one has a great deal of clout.
- The Liberal-Democratic Party (LDP): Actually quite conservative. Comparable to the British Tories and American Republicans. Places an emphasis on capitalism and traditional social mores. Most prime ministers after World War II came from the LDP - it led the country from its foundation in 1955 (through the merger of the Liberal and Japan Democratic parties), until it lost its first election in 1993 (but ended up back in power in 1994 after the opposition coalition collapsed, forming a coalition government with their Arch-Nemesis the Socialists). For this reason, some people call Japan a "One-and-a-half Party State". The LDP lost by a spectacular landslide in 2009, but returned by another spectacular landslide in 2012.
- The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ): The "one-half" party that is the main opposition to the LDP. Socially progressive, economically moderate, much like the American Democrats and New Labour in the UK. Dates from 1998, when it was created from the union of four independent parties that had beefs with the LDP, plus some disgruntled defectors from the LDP (mostly reformists). Won a majority of seats in the Upper House of the Diet in 2007, ousting the Liberal Democrats from that position for the first time in pretty much ever. Won again in 2009 in a huge landslide. Since then, voters' anger over the poor economy and a perception that the DPJ (which had never really had much experience governing prior to this) wasn't handling issuesnote has led the party's support collapsing in 2012.
- There are a few third parties worthy of note, though none of them have the influence of the LDP or DPJ (many thanks to The Other Wiki for the info):
- New Komeito Party: Socially conservative, economically centrist. Places a big emphasis on traditional Buddhist values, as it is heavily influenced by the Soka Gakkai offshoot of Nichiren Buddhism.
- Japanese Communist Party: Exactly What It Says on the Tin, though they advocate democratic elections, not violent overthrow like the Soviets. Strongly anti-capitalist and anti-war.
- Social Democratic Party: The LDP's chief rivals up until the the mid-'90s, though they've dwindled since then. Moderately socialist, similar to Britain's pre-Blair Labour Party.
- People's New Party: Defined pretty much solely by its opposition to the LDP, with a rather vague platform. Notable for its association with the infamous ex-president of Peru and human rights abuser, Alberto Fujimori.
- Japan Restoration Party: Far-right nationalist party that pretty much sprung up on to the national stage overnight in the last election (December 2012) to become the third-largest party in the lower house. The only nationwide party based outside Tokyo (its headquarters is in Osaka). Its two most high-profile figures Shintaro Ishihara (former Governor of Tokyo) and Toru Hashimoto (current Mayor of Osaka) have made several controversial statements both past and present regarding Japan's past (see below).