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  • Print publication year: 2016
  • Online publication date: February 2016

4 - Electoral Strategies Shifted from Pork to Policy


“I ran in three elections under the old system. There were three of us LDP candidates in my district, Tottori 1st.We couldn't say anything like ‘the LDP will do this!’ because we were all from the LDP ... You have to think about how to differentiate yourselves. ‘I will build a road in your village’. ‘I will build a harbor for your town’. ‘I will help your son get into university’. Appealing to the same policy is useless as there would be no difference between me and the others. Under this system, talking about ‘the defense of Japan’ didn't make anyone happy. By changing to the new system, we are able to say ‘the LDP will do this, the LDP thinks this,’ etc., instead of ‘I,’ ‘I,’ ‘I.’ ”

Chapter 1 described the puzzling turnaround in attention to national security by conservative Japanese politicians in 1997. Chapter 2 argued that this turnaround is best explained by a shift in their electoral strategies from pork for groups of voters in their respective districts to broad policy issues such as national security, brought about by electoral reform to the House of Representatives (HOR) in 1994. Chapter 3 explained how candidate election manifestos and quantitative textual analysis were used to obtain measures of the degree to which each of the 7,497 serious candidates competing in the eight HOR elections held between 1986 and 2009 were relying on pork, policy, and within the policy category, national security policy. This chapter uses those measures, merged with the Japan MMD Data Set and Japan SMD Data Set (Reed and Smith 2007, 2009), to test Hypothesis 1, which contended that conservative candidates adopted electoral strategies dominated by pork prior to electoral reform, Hypothesis 2, which contended that conservative candidates facing higher levels of intraparty competition adopted electoral strategies of more pork than conservative candidates facing lower levels of intraparty competition, and Hypothesis 3, which contended that conservative candidates adopted electoral strategies dominated by broad policy issues like national security after electoral reform. Subsequent chapters address the role of national security in their strategies and the strategies of candidates affiliated with the opposition parties.

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