A Graphical History of the Democratic Party of Japan

The Nikkei on Saturday had a chart of the history of the Democratic Party. I have translated, and substantiated, the graph and included it below here.


Thus did the party arrive at it’s coalition today of LDP defectors, socialists, and free market conservatives. After a decade of wondering what the DPJ would do in power, we finally get to see what happens. Let the party begin.

8 thoughts on “A Graphical History of the Democratic Party of Japan”

  1. One thing I’ve always been curious about is why the parties focus on words like liberal, democratic, etc. Considering that the LDP is known as a conservative group, why do they even use jiyuu minshu tou (自由民主党)?

    Also, something I’ve always found perplexing is why the Minshutou (民主党) thought it would be appropriate to simply remove jiyuu (自由) from LDP when forming their name. It doesn’t make sense that they would want to be the less free Democratic party.

    Does anyone have any insight on all of this?

  2. The Jiyū Minshu Tō was created in a merger of the Jiyū Tō and Nihon Minshu Tō, which makes it relatively easy to see where the name came from. It doesn’t make much sense to take words like “liberal” and “democratic” as they’re used in American English today and project them onto names in entirely different languages created in the 1950s.

  3. The words “conservative” and “liberal” also don’t inherently mean much in a transnational context: American and Japanese concepts of the words are totally different.

  4. I think you will find that it was 保守新党 not 新保守党.

    I always assumed the phrase 自由 stemmed from the prewar sense, perhaps as far back as the 自由民権運動. Could be wrong, mind you, as I have never bothered looking much into Japanese political parties, for precisely the reason that chart makes so clear: it would be easier to organize an Appalachian family tree….

  5. Thanks for the chart. Its exactly a point I was making on my blog the other day, about how many different parties and disparate ideologies make up the current DPJ.

    As for the naming of the LDP, its definately confusing because liberal of course is used here in the European (and Australian) sense, and not the American sense. It can be confusing, because the Liberal party in Australia is also a conservative party, as opposed to ‘Liberals’ that are more likely to be in the Democrat party in America…. I said it was confusing…… 🙂

  6. The only problem with the word “liberal” is that Americans perverted it’s meaning sometime in the 1960s, and the word went from being associated with the right to the left in America. In the 1930s-50s, the word was very much associated globally with liberal economics and freedom and being opposed to socialism. That is still in the case in Europe and the rest of the world — hence the “liberal” parties in Australia, Japan, etc.

    Jade Oc, thanks for the correction. I’d fix the chart except I’m traveling.

  7. Curzon, when you end up correcting that, perfect it by changing “Naohito” to “Naoto”.

  8. Curzon-

    Are you sure you have the times right there? Hoover called himself a liberal; Eisenhower did not. The change in meaning came with FDR’s ascendancy, did it not? He was quick to bring words like “liberal” and “freedom” back into the lexicon of America’s progressives.

    (If interested in the subject, you may want to check out Eric Foner’s Story of American Freedom. I found it a fascinating book, that neatly outlines the change in America’s political culture throughout the 200 years of its history. Foner spends some time on this subject in his chapter on the New Deal.)

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