In the July 1993 elections, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) lost its majority in the House of Representatives for the first time since its founding in 1955. Japan found itself with a new government composed of a previously unimaginable seven-party coalition—parties ranging from the ultraconservative Shinsei-to (Renaissance) and the quasi-religious Komei-to to the once dogmatic Socialists. This constellation was possible solely because of the desire to establish a non-LDP government. Morihiro Hosokawa, an obscure leader of the Japan New Party, was chosen as prime minister.
Hosokawa, a neophyte in national politics who championed change, emphasized the need to rid the Japanese political system of the influence of the scandal-ridden LDP. On entering office, his approval ratings soared beyond that of any previous premier. But in eight short months he made one political blunder after another, some with grave consequences. Particularly important was the transgression of normal parliamentary procedures to push electoral “reform” through the Diet (Parliament). And while he came into office as a protagonist of honesty, he was forced to resign this past April because of a scandal. His successor, Tsutomu Hata, was his foreign minister and leader of Shinsei-to....
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