|Japanese name||Shakai Minshu-t?|
|Deputy President||Mizuho Fukushima|
|Headquarters||2-4-3-7F Nagata-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-0014|
|International affiliation||Socialist International|
|House of Councillors|
|House of Representatives|
|Prefectural assembly members|
|Municipal assembly members|
The Social Democratic Party (, Shakai Minshu-t?, often abbreviated to Shamin-t?), also known as the Social Democratic Party of Japan (, Nihon Shakai-t?, abbreviated to SDPJ in English) and previously as the Japan Socialist Party (, Nihon Shakait?, abbreviated to JSP in English), is a political party that at various times advocated the establishment of a socialist Japan until 1996. Since its reformation and name change in 1996, it has defined itself as a social-democratic party.
The party was reformed in January 1996 by the majority of legislators of the former Socialist Party of Japan which was Japan's largest opposition party in the 1955 system. However, most of the legislators joined the Democratic Party of Japan after that. Five leftist legislators who did not join the SDP formed the New Socialist Party which lost all its seats in the following elections. The SDP enjoyed a short period of government participation from 1993 to 1994 as part of the Hosokawa cabinet and later formed a coalition government with the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) under 81st Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama of the JSP from 1994 to January 1996. The SDP was part of ruling coalitions between January and November 1996 (first Hashimoto cabinet) and from 2009 to 2010 (Hatoyama cabinet).
After the 2019 House of Councillors election, it has four representatives in the national Diet, two in the lower house and two in the upper house.
Socialist and social-democratic parties have been active in Japan under various names since the early 20th century, often suffering harsh government repression as well as ideological dissensions and splits.
The party was originally known as the Social Democratic Party of Japan (SDPJ) and was formed in 1945 following the fall of the militarist regime that had led Japan into World War II. At the time, there was serious conflict inside the party between factions of the right and the left and the party's official name in English became the Japanese Socialist Party (JSP) as the left-wing had advocated. The right had wanted to use the older SDPJ.
The party became the largest political party in the first general election under the Constitution of Japan in 1947 (143 of 466 seats) and a government was formed by Tetsu Katayama, forming a coalition with the Democratic Party and the Citizens' Cooperation Party. However, the Katayama government collapsed due to the rebellion of communists in the party. The party continued the coalition with the Democrats under Prime Minister Hitoshi Ashida; but the cabinet was engulfed by the Sh?wa Denk? scandal, the largest corruption scandal during the occupation, allowing Shigeru Yoshida and the Liberal Party to return to government. In the period following the end of World War II, the Socialists played a key role in the drafting of the new Japanese constitution, adding progressive articles related to issues such as health, welfare and working conditions.
The party was split in 1950-1951 into the Rightist Socialist Party, consisting of socialists who leaned more to the political centre; and the Leftist Socialist Party, formed by hardline left-wingers and socialists. The faction farthest to the left formed a small independent party, the Workers and Farmers Party, espousing Maoism from 1948 to 1957. The two socialist parties were merged in 1955 and joined the Socialist International that year.
The new opposition party had its own factions, although organised according to left-right ideological beliefs rather than what it called the feudal personalism of the conservative parties. In the 1958 general election, the party gained 32.9 percent of the popular vote and 166 out of 467 seats. This was enough result to block the attempt of constitutional amendment by the Kishi Nobusuke-led government.
However, the party was again split in 1960 because of internal conflicts and the assassination of Inejiro Asanuma and the breakaway group (a part of the old Right Socialist Party of Japan, their most moderate faction) created the Democratic Socialist Party, although the party was preserved. After that, the party's percentage of the popular vote and number of seats gradually declined. However, the party performed well on a local level and by the 1970s many areas were run by SDPJ mayors and governors (including those who were endorsed by the SDPJ), who introduced new social programmes.
In the double election of July 1986 for both Diet houses, the party suffered a rout by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) under Yasuhiro Nakasone and its seats in the lower house fell from 112 to an all-time low of eighty-five and its share of the vote from 19.5 percent to 17.2 percent. Nonetheless, its popular chairwoman Takako Doi led it to an impressive showing in the 1990 general election, with 136 seats and 24.4 percent of the vote. Some electoral districts had more than one successful socialist candidate. Doi's decision to put up more than one candidate for each of the 130 districts represented a controversial break with the past because unlike their LDP counterparts many party candidates did not want to run against each other. However, the great majority of the 149 socialist candidates who ran were successful, including seven of eight women.
Doi, a university professor of constitutional law before entering politics, had a tough, straight-talking manner that appealed to voters tired of the evasiveness of other politicians. Many women found her a refreshing alternative to submissive female stereotypes and in the late 1980s the public at large in opinion polls voted her their favorite politician (the runner-up in these surveys was equally tough-talking conservative LDP member Shintar? Ishihara). However, Doi's popularity was of limited aid to the party. The powerful Shakaishugi Kyokai (Japan Socialist Association) which was supported by a hardcore contingent of the party's 76,000-strong membership remained committed to doctrinaire Marxism, impeding Doi's efforts to promote what she called perestroika and a more moderate program with greater voter appeal.
In 1983, Doi's predecessor as chairman Masashi Ishibashi began the delicate process of moving the party away from its strong opposition to the Self-Defense Forces. While maintaining that these forces were unconstitutional in light of Article 9, he claimed that because they had been established through legal procedures, they had a legitimate status (this phrasing was changed a year later to say that the Self-Defense Forces exist legally). Ishibashi also broke past precedent by visiting Washington to talk with United States political leaders.
By the end of the decade, the party had accepted the Self-Defense Forces and the 1960 Japan-United States Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security. It advocated strict limitations on military spending (no more than 1 percent of GNP annually), a suspension of joint military exercises with United States forces and a reaffirmation of the three non-nuclear principles (no production, possession, or introduction of nuclear weapons into Japanese territory). Doi expressed support for balanced ties with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) and the Republic of Korea (South Korea). In the past, the party had favored the Kim Il-sung regime in Pyongyang and in the early 1990s it still refused to recognize the 1965 normalization of relations between Tokyo and Seoul. In domestic policy, the party demanded the continued protection of agriculture and small business in the face of foreign pressure, abolition of the consumption tax and an end to the construction and use of nuclear power reactors. As a symbolic gesture to reflect its new moderation, the party dropped its commitment to socialist revolution at its April 1990 convention and described its goal as social democracy, the creation of a society in which "all people fairly enjoy the fruits of technological advancement and modern civilization and receive the benefits of social welfare". Delegates also elected Doi to a third term as party chairwoman.
Because of the party's self-definition as a class-based party and its symbiotic relationship with the General Council of Trade Unions of Japan (S?hy?), the public-sector workers' confederation, few efforts were made to attract non-union constituencies. Although some S?hy? unions supported the Japanese Communist Party, the party remained the representative of Sohyo's political interests until the merger with private-sector unions and the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Reng?) in 1989. Because of declining union financial support during the 1980s, some party Diet members turned to dubious fund-raising methods. One was involved in the Recruit affair. Like other parties, it sold large blocks of fund-raising party tickets and the LDP even gave individual party Diet members funds from time to time to persuade them to cooperate in passing difficult legislation.
The party acquired seventy seats (down from 137) in the 1993 general election while the LDP lost its majority in the lower house for the first time since the 1983 general election and was out of government for the first time in 38 years. The anti-LDP coalition government of Morihiro Hosokawa was formed by reformists who had triggered the 1993 election by leaving the LDP (Japan Renewal Party and New Party Sakigake), a liberal party formed only a year before (Japan New Party), the traditional centre-left opposition (K?meit?, Democratic Socialist Party and Socialist Democratic Federation) and the Democratic Reform Party, the political arm of the Reng? trade union federation, together with the JSP. In 1994, the JSP and the New Sakigake Party decided to leave the non-LDP coalition. The minority Hata cabinet lasted only a few weeks. The JSP then formed a grand coalition (dai-renritsu) government with the LDP and the New Party Sakigake under Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama, leader of the party from 1993 to 1996. Most of the other parties from the anti-LDP coalition forced back into opposition, united to form the New Frontier Party (NFP) and overtaking the JSP as second largest political party in Japan. The JSP lost in the 1995 House of Councillors election.
In January 1996, the New Socialist Party split off, Murayama resigned as Prime Minister and the JSP changed its name from the JSP to the Social Democratic Party (SDP) as an interim party for forming a new party. However, a movement for transforming the SDP into a new social-democratic and liberal party was unsuccessful. Under Murayama's successor Ry?tar? Hashimoto (LDP), the SDP remained part of the ruling coalition. Long before the disappointing result in the 1996 general election, the party lost the majority of its members of the House of Representatives, mainly to predecessors of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) that was formed in 1996, but also some to the NFP and other opposition parties. After its electoral defeat in the 1996 general election when it lost another 15 of its remaining 30 seats in the lower house, the SDP left the ruling coalition which it had entered as the second largest force in Japanese politics as a minor party.
The SDP won six seats in the 2003 general election, compared with 18 seats in the previous 2000 general election. Its motives against the Self-Defense Forces have reverted into abolishing it in the long term, returning into its opposition against the force it had applied in the 1950s.
Doi had been the leader since 1996, but she resigned in 2003, taking responsibility for the election losses. Mizuho Fukushima was elected as the new party leader in November 2003. In the 2004 House of Councillors elections, the SDP won only two seats, having five seats in the House of Councillors and six seats in the House of Representatives. In 2006, the party unexpectedly gained the governorship of the Shiga Prefecture. In the 2009 general election, the DPJ made large gains and the SDP maintained its base of 7 seats in the, becoming a junior partner in a new government coalition. However, disagreements over the issue of the Futenma base led to the sacking of Fukushima from the cabinet on 28 May and the SDP subsequently voted to leave the ruling coalition.
Following the 2012 general election, the party retained only six seats in the whole of the Diet, two in the House of Representatives and four in the House of Councillors. The count lowered to five seats in 2013.
In 2013, the party's headquarters in Nagatacho, where the party's predecessor the JSP had moved in 1964, were demolished. The headquarters moved to a smaller office in Nagatacho.
During the nomination period of the 2016 House of Councillors election, the party signed an agreement with the Democratic, Communist and People's Life parties to field a jointly-endorsed candidate in each of the 32 districts in which only one seat is contested, thereby uniting in an attempt to take control of the House from the LDP/Komeito coalition. The party had two Councillors up for re-election and fielded a total of 11 candidates in the election, 4 in single and multi-member districts and 7 in the 48-seat national proportional representation block.
In the 2017 general election, the party managed to hold to its two seats it had prior to the election. Tadatomo Yoshida declined to run for re-election when his term expired in January 2018. Seiji Mataichi was elected unopposed in the ensuing leadership election and took office on 25 February 2018.
|No.||Name||Term of office|
|Took office||Left office|
|Chair of the Social Democratic Party of Japan|
|1||Tetsu Katayama||28 September 1946||16 January 1950|
|Chair of the Social Democratic Party of Japan (Rightist)|
|--||J?tar? Kawakami||19 January 1951||12 October 1955|
|Chair of the Japanese Socialist Party (Leftist)|
|--||Suzuki Mosabur?||18 January 1951||12 October 1955|
|Chair of the Social Democratic Party of Japan (Unified)|
|2||Suzuki Mosabur?||12 October 1955||23 March 1960|
|3||Inejiro Asanuma||23 March 1960||12 October 1960 (assassinated)|
|4||J?tar? Kawakami||6 March 1961||6 May 1965|
|5||Kouzou Sasaki||6 May 1965||19 August 1965|
|6||Seiichi Katsumata||19 August 1965||4 October 1968|
|7||Tomomi Narita||30 November 1968||26 September 1977|
|8||Ichio Asukata||13 December 1977||7 September 1983|
|9||Masashi Ishibashi||7 September 1983||8 September 1986|
|10||Takako Doi||9 September 1986||31 July 1991|
|11||Makoto Tanabe||31 July 1991||19 January 1993|
|12||Sadao Yamahana||19 January 1993||25 September 1993|
|13||Tomiichi Murayama||25 September 1993||19 January 1996|
|Chair of the Social Democratic Party|
|14||Tomiichi Murayama||19 January 1996||28 September 1996|
|15||Takako Doi||28 September 1996||15 November 2003|
|16||Mizuho Fukushima||15 November 2003||25 July 2013|
|17||Tadatomo Yoshida||14 October 2013||25 February 2018|
|18||Seiji Mataichi||25 February 2018||present|
PR block votes
PR block votes
|Japan Socialist Party era|
|1993||Sadao Yamahana||9,687,588||15.4||Eight-party coalition (1993-1994)|
|LDP-JSP-NPS coalition (1994-1996)|
|Social Democratic Party era|
|1996||Takako Doi||1,240,649||2.2||3,547,240||6.4||LDP-SDP-NPS coalition|
|2009||Mizuho Fukushima||1,376,739||2.0||3,006,160||4.3||DPJ-PNP-SDP coalition|
Up for re-election in 2019
Up for re-election in 2022
Social Democratic Party of Japan (SDPJ), formerly Japan Socialist Party, Japanese Nihon (or Nippon) Shakait?, leftist party in Japan that supports an evolving socialized economy and a neutralist foreign policy.
Japan Tokyo governor minobe free health care.