Satō Eisaku and the Establishment of Single-Party Rule in Postwar Japan
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CitationTsuda, Taro. 2019. Satō Eisaku and the Establishment of Single-Party Rule in Postwar Japan. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractThe long-term incumbency of a single party, the Liberal Democratic Party, within Japanese democracy since 1955 is an important puzzle for both historians of modern Japan and political scientists. However, few scholars have examined LDP dominance from a historical perspective that analyzes the role of individual agency. To shed light on this question, I focus on the career of Satō Eisaku (1901-1975), who had the longest continuous tenure of any Japanese prime minister to date (1964-1972). I contend Satō played a pivotal role in shaping the LDP in its formative years, in solidifying one-party rule, and deserves wider recognition as one of the major statesmen and party architects of the 20th century.
This project traces Satō’s career alongside the emergence and maturation of one-party government, identifying key ways in which Satō contributed to establishing LDP hegemony. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Satō played a crucial role in building Yoshida Shigeru’s Liberal Party, a direct antecedent to the LDP, and strengthening its ties to the bureaucracy and business world. Though initially marginalized in the 1955 founding of the LDP, he served in the late 1950s to bridge a deep factional rift in the new party, stabilizing it and fostering an effective and lasting policy consensus emphasizing close US-Japan ties and economic growth. During the Ikeda Hayato Administration in the early 1960s, Satō gradually prepared a leadership bid by refining a notion crucial to single-party rule: the idea of leadership and policy renewal under one party. Becoming party leader and prime minister in late 1964, he built a durable administration through a combination of adroit management of a pressing foreign policy issue (Okinawa reversion), a big-tent domestic agenda, an information-driven leadership style, and a focus on civic education and strengthening the intellectual foundations of conservative government. His record-long tenure ultimately involved difficult political trade-offs in the early 1970s, but as an elder statesman Satō mitigated factional disputes and consolidated his policy achievements, evidenced by his receipt of the 1974 Nobel Peace Prize. While Japanese politics and institutions have changed significantly since Satō’s time, the current prime minister Abe Shinzō displays many uncanny connections and parallels with this leader, suggesting the importance of Satō’s legacy for LDP rule up to the present day.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:42013073
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