Overview

Kômeitô


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Early history (1960s–80s)

Sometimes known in English as the Clean Government Party, it was a Japanese Buddhist political party. It was established in 1964, though its sponsor, the Sôkagakkai, a lay organization of the Nichiren shô Buddhist sect, had backed successful campaigns in elections to Japan's Upper House since 1956. During the late 1960s the Kômeitô experienced a large increase in its vote, which in House of Representatives elections rose from just under 2.5 million in the 1967 ballot to over five million in 1969. Despite this early promise, the exclusive nature of its main support group ensured that the limits of its growth were quickly reached. Early policies were vague, although the Kômeitô had some success championing quality‐of‐life issues, including pollution control and a road safety campaign. In 1970 the party suffered a public relations disaster when it emerged that the Kômeitô had been involved in efforts to suppress the publication of criticisms of the Sôkagakkai and its leader, Ikeda Daisaku, over a period of years.

 In a situation of near parity between government and opposition during the 1970s, the Kômeitô enjoyed influence by promoting cooperation among the parties of opposition, although in the latter half of the decade it moved towards a close relationship with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). Because of its position in the political centre, and thanks to the close contact of its leaders with Japan's ruling establishment, the Kômeitô was able to alternate between the two camps during the 1980s.

Contemporary politics (since 1993)

Following the political changes of 1993, most of the parliamentary party joined in the merger to form the New Frontier Party (Shinshintô) in late 1994. However, a proportion of Upper House members, as well as approximately 3,000 local Kômeitô politicians, remained in the old organization, which retained the established party machine including its newspaper and headquarters. The Shinshintô won more votes than the LDP in the 1995 elections to the House of Councillors, but after its failure to overtake the LDP in the 1996 elections to the lower chamber, the House of Representatives, it dispanded.

 Many influential members created the New Peace Party, which in 1998 merged with Kômeitô members as New Kômeitô. The party continued to enjoy the electoral and financial support of the Sôkagakkai, which by 2000 claimed a membership of around eight million households. Although this limited its potential for growth, it became influential as Japan's third largest party, and between 1999 and 2005 it supported a three‐party government coalition led by the LDP.http://www.komei.or.jpThe official website of New Kômeitô.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).


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