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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Why has the LDP Stayed in Power so Long in Post-War Japan?:Democratic System Support and Electoral Behavior


Why has the LDP stayed in power so long? This is the biggest puzzle in Japanese politics, especially considering the fact that Japan has been constitutionally a liberal democracy in the postwar period. This paper exams possible reasons for why the LDP has stayed in power for so long. I empirically exam three different explanations, namely the political culture explanation, the political economy explanation (or the Clientelism with centralized fiscal structure), and the system support explanation. While the political culture and the political economy explanations have some validity, neither one can exclusively explain the LDP dominance in the postwar party system. The system-support explanation provides evidence that supports that those Japanese who support the Japanese political system are more likely to support the LDP. Thus, the LDP’s linkage to system evaluation may be another answer to this puzzle of LDP dominance that has been overlooked in previous research.

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