Cameral change in Japan?

My colleague, Robert Pekkanen, sends this note from Bloomberg:

Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party may pledge to cut the nation’s parliament from two chambers to one and reduce the number of legislators by 30 percent in 10 years…

The party will include the promise in its platform for the next general election, the [Yomiuri] newspaper reported, without saying where it got the information. The LDP also plans to restrict close relatives of lawmakers from inheriting constituencies, the report said.

There is nothing like losing control of the second chamber to make a ruling party think of cameral change! The LDP is in serious danger of losing control of the first chamber, too, in this September’s election. Japan’s second chamber (House of Councilors) is one of the more powerful among parliamentary democracies, although the government need maintain the confidence only of the first chamber (House of Representatives).

The point on “inherited” seats is also interesting; Japan probably has the highest rate among all democracies of sons, daughters, wives, grandsons, etc., of former politicians serving in its legislature.

3 thoughts on “Cameral change in Japan?

  1. The inherited seats thing is like term limits in the US.

    In theory, the voters should be able to elect any citizen to represent them. But in practice, incumbent advantages are often great enough that its simpler and more effective just to ban incumbents from running for reelection just to ensure there is some turnover other than the incumbent deciding to retire. I’ve voted for term limits for the NY City Council, despite opposing them philosophically. There have been instances of city councilmen putting up stooges to “oppose” them, claim public money to run their campaigns under the campaign finance system, then pocketing the cash.

    In practice, children of incumbents inheriting their districts can get bad enough that you need to ban this too, and this is something you see in the US too, though not as much in Japan.

    Voters can’t elect any citizen to reprsent them anyway, there are usually age and residency requirements, and ballot access laws often impose a de facto property requirement.

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