Factions within the LDP have been extant since Ishibashi Tanzan was elected party president in 1956. After decades of relative stability with four major and one minor faction, since the early 1990s the factional landscape started shifting again and underwent major changes after the political reforms of 1994 which aimed--among others--at bringing factional influence to an end. Consequently, in recent years the “end of factionalism” has often been declared, but the topic still comes up in the media, and in election times newspapers specify the factional affiliation of the candidates. So what is the actual state of factionalism, and what happened to factions in the wake of the political reforms of 1994?
In my presentation, I will first give a brief introduction to LDP factionalism and its general development to the early 1990s. As a second step, I will discuss the developments of LDP intraparty politics since the breakup of the Takeshita faction in 1992 and the implications of the changes of the political framework brought about by the political reforms of 1994. On this basis I will reexamine the major approaches to LDP factionalism, which can not explain recent developments. Finally, I will discuss to what extent factionalism still plays a role in LDP politics today.
Thomas Büttner is Ph.D. candidate at Heidelberg University and currently a postgraduate grant student at the DIJ.