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In recent years, predicting where Japan’s party system is heading has not been easy. The fluidity of party organisations, the internal fracturing and transient existence of many party groupings, and the migration of politicians from one party to another has presented a confused picture.

This picture has been muddled further by the multiple lines of ideological and policy cleavage both within and between parties. The state of flux in Japan’s party system has made even distinguishing the main axes of party competition and policy contestation problematic.

These features of Japan’s party system render the long-overdue split in Japan’s Democratic Party (DP) and the migration of some of its members to either the new Party of Hope or the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ) all the more significant.

During its brief existence, the DP sought to brush over the political divisions that had also characterised its predecessor parties. These began life as a schizophrenic compound of ex-Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) conservatives and former socialists and democratic socialists. From 1996 until 2016 — including the Democratic Party of Japan’s (DJP) period in power from 2009 to 2012 — the disparate origins of these parties generated a persistent polarisation between the DPJ’s conservative centre-right and progressive centre-left factions. Now these forces appear to have found their natural ideological homes. Read more

In recent years, predicting where Japan’s party system is heading has not been easy. The fluidity of party organisations, the internal fracturing and transient existence of many party groupings, and the migration of politicians from one party to another has presented a confused picture.

This picture has been muddled further by the multiple lines of ideological and policy cleavage both within and between parties. The state of flux in Japan’s party system has made even distinguishing the main axes of party competition and policy contestation problematic.

These features of Japan’s party system render the long-overdue split in Japan’s Democratic Party (DP) and the migration of some of its members to either the new Party of Hope or the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ) all the more significant.

During its brief existence, the DP sought to brush over the political divisions that had also characterised its predecessor parties. These began life as a schizophrenic compound of ex-Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) conservatives and former socialists and democratic socialists. From 1996 until 2016 — including the Democratic Party of Japan’s (DJP) period in power from 2009 to 2012 — the disparate origins of these parties generated a persistent polarisation between the DPJ’s conservative centre-right and progressive centre-left factions. Now these forces appear to have found their natural ideological homes.