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Analysis of the Yomiuri Election Survey

Masaaki Kataoka

Associate Professor
Keio University

Masahiro Yamada

Assistant Professor
Kwansei Gakuin University

 

This paper presents the findings of a survey conducted with the cooperation of the Yomiuri Shimbun, one of Japan's largest daily newspapers, to assess the effects of the electoral reform bill passed in the Diet in 1994. The survey focused on how candidates, parties, and koenkai (a candidate's personal support group) amassed votes during the campaigning for the forty-first general election of the House of Representatives (Lower House) on October 18, 1996. Data was collected through questionnaires sent to the editors covering the election at the newspaper's 48 local bureaus nationwide. All 300 districts were covered, and responses were received regarding 291 districts.

At the time the political reform bill became law, it was postulated that its provisions would foster a change in the election system from candidate-based campaigning to party-based electioneering. Taken as a whole, survey results suggest that election campaigns have indeed begun to change in the ways envisioned by the framers of electoral reform. While policy debate as the core of party-based electioneering scarcely materialized, cooperation among party supporters within an electoral district intensified and, because of the anticorruption measures in the law, flagrant violations of campaign laws declined sharply. Another change effected by the law was the narrowing of the breach between candidates and local politicians, who discovered that each in his own way could be more useful to the other than had been the case under the old election system.