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Political Parties, Opposition Parties

Japan New Party, Komeito, centrist party, Soka Gakkai, Democratic Socialist Party

Until recently, Japanís leading opposition party was the SDPJ (known as the Japan Socialist Party until 1991). For many years the party embraced a leftist platform, advocating socialist revolution and military neutrality. With other opposition parties, it also championed various social welfare issues, such as national health insurance. In the late 1980s the SDPJ began to move to the right, dropping the goal of socialist revolution from its party platform. Two of the partyís leaders have served as prime minister: Tetsu Katayama in 1947-1948, and Murayama Tomiichi from 1994 to 1996. In the late 1990s the SDPJ lost its former prominence as a variety of new parties emerged as the LDPís principal opposition.

Japan has several other major long-standing opposition parties. The Japan Communist Party (JCP) advocates unarmed neutrality and a peaceful transition to socialism. Komeito (the Clean Government Party) is a centrist party that was initially affiliated with a religious organization known as Soka Gakkai but officially severed its ties to the group in 1970. The Democratic Socialist Party (DSP) was formed by a right-wing group that split from the SDPJ in 1960.

With the fracturing of the LDP in the early 1990s, several new opposition parties were formed by LDP defectors. The most important of these was the Japan New Party, which advocated government reform. Its leader, Hosokawa Morihiro, became prime minister at the head of the eight-party coalition government in 1993. After the coalition fell apart in 1994, the Japan New Party merged with several other reform groups to form the New Frontier Party (NFP; in Japanese, Shinshinto). The NFP split apart in 1997, giving rise to a number of new parties, including the Liberal Party, which entered into a coalition with the LDP in 1999. The Liberal Party embraces a conservative platform that includes limiting government size and power and introducing free market economic reforms. Other parties held a significant number of seats in the Diet in the late 1990s. One was the Democratic Party, a centrist group that advocates reforms including decentralizing government power and reducing and simplifying government regulations. Another was the New Liberal Club, a group of conservative former LDP politicians. And finally, the New Party Sakigake, a progressive conservative party, calls for administrative reform and greater protection of the environment.

Article key phrases:

Japan New Party, Komeito, centrist party, Soka Gakkai, Democratic Socialist Party, reform groups, conservative platform, progressive conservative party, peaceful transition, party platform, government reform, JCP, neutrality, socialism, NFP, Democratic Party, opposition parties, fracturing, religious organization, DSP, prominence, national health insurance, government regulations, Diet, prime minister, advocates, rise, leader, head, environment, Japanese, right, years, Liberal Party


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