Japan Between 1976 and 1992 Part II
But this time, despite the dynamism and ” high tone ” that characterized Nakasone, the results were not very favorable. The Liberal Democrats reached only 45% of the votes and lost, together with 36 seats, the absolute majority (once again, moreover, regained with the recovery of a group of independents, and this time also with the alliance with a small group of autonomous liberals). At the same time, the socialist opposition showed some weak signs of recovery, gaining 0.5% and getting 112 deputies.
Despite the modest election result, the following year Nakasone was re-elected president of the party. It was the first time that this had happened after fifteen years and the fact indicates how the political situation had changed compared to the uncertainties of the previous decade. The hypothesis of a succession of parties leading the country, which at one point had seemed quite concrete, now seemed to lose much of its credibility. The left was in a situation of crisis in many parts of the world; and Japan, with its growing economic success, undoubtedly provided very strong credentials to its ruling class.
On the other hand, there was no lack of arguments for those who stressed that at the basis of Japanese stability there were also less positive reasons and less justified by the undoubted success, namely the persistence of a mentality and a conception of the social that were deeply affected by type ‘conditioning. ‘feudal”. At the center of these arguments was placed for a very long time the example of the ” Tanaka case ”, that is, of a man who, despite his involvement in two very large economic scandals, has not disappeared from the political scene.
In fact, Tanaka was forced to renounce the presidency of the party and the government. But even his exit from the Liberal Democratic Party did not prevent him from being repeatedly re-elected to the Diet or from decisively influencing the appointment of at least three successive prime ministers. Tanaka was an independent, but his current continued to be the majority among the Liberal Democrats, and Nakasone himself owed his position to the unspoken support of the controversial politician. Tanaka’s definitive decline occurred not so much for the confirmation of his convictions (1983 and 1985) as for the cerebral hemorrhage that struck him in 1985.
The following 1986 appeared significant in many respects. After the electoral system of the House of Councilors had been partially modified three years earlier, the rectification of the constituencies took place, in compliance with the injunctions of the Supreme Court. But if the decision was in favor of the opposition parties, the electoral results in July confirmed the positive moment for the Liberal Democrats who reached 49.4% of the votes (a peak never obtained after 1963) and obtained 304 seats.
According to SOURCEMAKEUP, the costs of this victory were paid for by the Socialist Party, which also, in its convention of the previous January, had adopted a moderate program and marginalized the Shakaishugi Kyōkai (“Association for Socialism”), inspirer of the most radical groups. But the conversion to the center turned out to be non-paying, at least in the short term: the party lost two percentage points and as many as 26 seats. This led to Ishibashi’s resignation, who was replaced by a woman, T. Doi, at the head of the party. At the same time, the repeated convictions and the serious illness cracked the compactness of the Tanaka current, within which one of the most significant characters, N. Takeshita, claimed his political autonomy.
Takeshita’s initiative, not a little opposed by the very ill Tanaka, was inserted in the prospect of the succession to Nakasone by now not too distant. In the autumn of 1986, in fact, Nakasone obtained a second confirmation, but only for the duration of a year. During the last months of his administration, the privatization of Japanese railways was carried out and a value added tax was proposed, but quickly withdrawn, which would be a new fact in the Japanese tax landscape.
At the same time, contacts were opened between Socialists and Social Democrats for eventual unification. In the fall of 1987, the struggle for the succession was, so to speak, arbitrated by Nakasone, who was decisively deployed in favor of Takeshita who became prime minister on 6 November. The sagacity and the ability to maneuver demonstrated in the race for the primacy, as well as the authority in economic matters (which in the contemporary Japan is a privileged key for those in the ” button room ”) led to suppose that the new leader, despite the differences in personality with respect to his predecessor, he could identify with an equally significant period in the political affair of the country. The first months of his administration were characterized by the revival and approval of the value added tax and by initiatives for the liberalization of agricultural products. The latter appeared to be an undoubtedly audacious measure if one thinks of the importance of agricultural protectionism for the Liberal Democratic Party.
But in June, a major financial scandal suddenly broke out, directly or indirectly involving a large number of leading political executives, accused of having received large sums of money to facilitate a Japanese company, Recruit Cosmos. The scandal, which gradually spread, inducing Takeshita to resign in May 1988, also involved potential candidates for the succession and therefore it became difficult to choose the new prime minister. In the end the choice fell on the foreign minister, S. Uno, who assumed the office of prime minister but, soon after, found himself involved in a completely different kind of scandal, when a woman accused him of having kept her for years and to have had a very unchivalrous behavior with her.
The macroscopic series of misadventures had very serious electoral consequences. The Liberal Democratic Party lost a series of suppletives and on 23 July 1989 suffered a defeat in the elections for the renewal of half of the House of Councilors, where it lost almost all the seats up for grabs. As a consequence of this, it found itself having a relative majority, but not an absolute one; and this time the gap was certainly not recoverable with the confluence of some independents. S. Uno resigned, assuming responsibility for the defeat, and a situation of serious political complexity arose because the country found itself having two chambers with completely different majorities. New general elections were therefore expected in the short term. In August 1989 Toshiki Kaifu,