Building Policy Legitimacy in Japan: Political Behaviour by T. Sakamoto

By T. Sakamoto

Why do politicians occasionally make unpopular or contested regulations which may harm their electoral clients? this can be the query Sakamoto attempts to respond to. Political scientists have lengthy claimed that political behaviour will be defined as actors' self-interested goal-seeking behaviour. yet Sakamoto demonstrates that politicians occasionally exhibit behaviour that is going past the slender confines of self-interest and that 'policy legitimacy' is the issue which may preempt or override the forces of self-interest and makes attainable the implementation of contested rules through the use of the case of Japan. This cutting edge examine can be of curiosity to scholars of eastern politics, legislative experiences and of rational selection concept.

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The victory came despite the fact that the consumption tax had already received publicity and that opposition parties had 46 Building Policy Legitimacy in Japan criticized the LDP for attempting to increase taxes after the elections. 8 In September 1979, one month before the lower house election, Ohira publicly confirmed his intention to implement the general consumption tax to eliminate the budget deficits by 1984. While knowing the new tax would be unpopular, he believed that he should sincerely seek public cooperation, and that the tax should not and could not be an election issue since even opposition parties could not deny the need for deficit reduction (Asahi Shimbun, 3 September 1979).

The introduction of the consumption tax (in conjunction with the Recruit scandal) forced Takeshita to resign from office. Hosokawa’s failed attempt became one factor contributing to the collapse of his eight-party coalition. A decline in public support for the Social Democratic Party of Japan (SDPJ) and its dismal performance in the 1995 upper house election, too, can be attributed partly to the tax increase under a Socialist prime minister. Why were self-seeking politicians ever able to attempt an electorally disadvantageous policy such as tax increases?

Neither did the public find any justification for tolerating the tax. As a result, not only LDP backbenchers but also some party leaders openly opposed the tax. In contrast, opposition unity was considerable, assisted by the same factors that thwarted LDP unity. In tandem with public opinion that turned against the tax, poor ruling party unity and great opposition unity caused Ohira’s tax attempt to fail. The Politics of Consumption Tax 51 NAKASONE’S FAILED ATTEMPT AT A SALES TAX IN 1987 The Process The bureaucratic scandal and Ohira’s failed attempt eliminated a consumption tax from the list of policy options.

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