1947 Japanese general election

General elections were held in Japan on 25 April 1947. The Japan Socialist Party won 143 of the 468 seats, making it the largest party in the House of Representatives following the election. Voter turnout was 68%.[1] It was the last election technically held under the Meiji Constitution in preparation for the current Constitution of Japan which became effective several days later on 3 May 1947. The upper house of the Diet was also elected by the people under the new constitution, the first ordinary election of members of the House of Councillors had been held five days before.

1947 Japanese general election

← 1946 25 April 1947 1949 →

All 468 seats in the House of Representatives
235 seats needed for a majority
Turnout67.95% (Decrease4.13pp)
  First party Second party Third party
  Tetsu Katayama.jpg Shigeru Yoshida smiling2.jpg Hitoshi Ashida.jpg
Leader Tetsu Katayama Shigeru Yoshida Hitoshi Ashida
Party Socialist Liberal Democratic
Leader's seat Kanagawa–3rd Kōchi at-large Kyoto–2nd
Last election 17.90%, 93 seats 24.36%, 141 seats
Seats won 143 131 124
Seat change Increase 50 Decrease 10 New
Popular vote 7,176,882 7,312,524 6,960,270
Percentage 26.23% 26.73% 25.44%
Swing Increase8.33pp Increase2.37pp New

  Fourth party Fifth party
  Takeo Miki-2-1.jpg TOKUDA Kyuichi.jpg
Leader Takeo Miki Kyuichi Tokuda
Party National Cooperative Communist
Leader's seat Tokushima at-large Tokyo–3rd
Last election 3.85%, 5 seats
Seats won 31 4
Seat change New Decrease 1
Popular vote 1,915,948 1,002,883
Percentage 7.00% 3.67%
Swing New Decrease0.18pp

1947 JAPAN GENERAL ELECTION, combined vote share.svg

Prime Minister before election

Shigeru Yoshida
Liberal

Prime Minister after election

Tetsu Katayama
Socialist

Numerous prominent figures were elected to the House of Representatives for the first time in this election, including former Prime Minister and House of Peers member Kijuro Shidehara, then-Prime Minister and former House of Peers member Shigeru Yoshida, and future Prime Ministers Tanzan Ishibashi, Zenko Suzuki and Kakuei Tanaka.

Yoshida remained Prime Minister following the election, acting until a successor was appointed – under the new Constitution, the cabinet depends on parliamentary support and must resign in the first Diet session after a House of Representatives election.

ResultsEdit

 
PartyVotes%Seats+/–
Liberal Party7,312,52426.73131–10
Japan Socialist Party7,176,88226.23143+50
Democratic Party6,960,27025.44124New
National Cooperative Party1,915,9487.0031New
Japanese Communist Party1,002,8833.674–1
Japan Farmers Party214,7540.784New
Other parties1,174,6624.2917
Independents1,603,6845.8612–69
Vacant2
Total27,361,607100.004680
Valid votes27,361,60798.43
Invalid/blank votes436,1411.57
Total votes27,797,748100.00
Registered voters/turnout40,907,49367.95
Source: Oscarsson, Masumi

By prefectureEdit

Prefecture Total
seats
Seats won
JSP LP DP NCP JFP JCP Others Ind. Vacant
Aichi 19 6 4 6 2 1
Akita 8 3 2 1 2
Aomori 7 2 3 1 1
Chiba 13 1 8 3 1
Ehime 9 3 3 3
Fukui 4 3 1
Fukuoka 19 7 3 6 2 1
Fukushima 12 3 4 4 1
Gifu 9 2 4 3
Gunma 10 3 1 5 1
Hiroshima 12 6 3 1 2
Hokkaido 22 8 7 3 1 3
Hyōgo 18 5 2 10 1
Ibaraki 12 3 2 5 1 1
Ishikawa 6 1 4 1
Iwate 8 2 4 2
Kagawa 6 2 2 1 1
Kagoshima 10 2 1 4 1 1 1
Kanagawa 13 6 5 1 1
Kōchi 5 1 2 1 1
Kumamoto 10 2 3 5
Kyoto 10 5 3 2
Mie 9 1 2 4 1 1
Miyagi 9 3 4 1 1
Miyazaki 6 3 2 1
Nagano 13 2 3 3 3 1 1
Nagasaki 9 2 4 2 1
Nara 5 1 1 1 2
Niigata 15 6 5 4
Ōita 7 2 1 3 1
Okayama 10 3 4 1 2
Okinawa 2 2
Osaka 19 9 4 5 1
Saga 5 1 2 1 1
Saitama 13 4 6 3
Shiga 5 1 2 1 1
Shimane 5 2 2 1
Shizuoka 14 5 5 2 2
Tochigi 10 3 1 4 1 1
Tokushima 5 1 1 3
Tokyo 27 12 8 4 1 2
Tottori 4 2 1 1
Toyama 6 1 2 2 1
Wakayama 6 2 3 1
Yamagata 8 3 3 2
Yamaguchi 9 2 3 2 1 1
Yamanashi 5 2 2 1
Total 468 143 131 124 31 5 4 16 12 2

AftermathEdit

Government formationEdit

The 1st National Diet convened on 20 May.[2] After early coalition negotiations, Socialist Komakichi Matsuoka was elected Speaker of the lower house on 21 May, Democrat Man'itsu Tanaka Vice-Speaker.[3] The new constitution introduced a parliamentary system of government: the prime minister became elected by and responsible to the National Diet, with the House of Representatives now being able to override the upper house. On 23 May, both houses of the Diet elected the leader of the Socialist Party, Tetsu Katayama, as prime minister – virtually unopposed as Liberals and Democrats agreed to vote for Katayama even though coalition negotiations had not yet produced final results. SCAP Douglas MacArthur welcomed the choice, thereby reducing resistance by some politicians to a Socialist-led coalition government. The Socialists initially sought a Grand Coalition with the Liberals and possibly including Democrats and Cooperativists, but the Liberals refused.[4] Katayama eventually formed a coalition with the Democratic Party and the Kokumin Kyōdōtō (People's/National Cooperative Party), it could also count on support by the Ryokufūkai (Green Breeze Society), the largest group in the House of Councillors. Katayama was ceremonially appointed by the Emperor on 24 May, the other ministers in the Katayama Cabinet on 1 June after the conclusion of the coalition negotiations.

New governmentEdit

The new government enacted several reforms sought by the SCAP, such as the dissolution of the powerful Home Ministry and anti-trust legislation to dismantle the zaibatsu. However, internal divisions in the Socialist Party soon surfaced and led to Katayama's resignation in February 1948 when the lower house budget committee, chaired by left-wing Socialist Mosaburō Suzuki, rejected the cabinet's draft budget. After an even shorter government under Katayama's deputy, Democrat Hitoshi Ashida, the coalition collapsed, and Liberal Shigeru Yoshida returned as prime minister in October 1948 by which time the Liberals (reformed as Democratic Liberal Party in March 1948) had gained the position as first party in the lower house by defectors from the Democratic Party and independents joining, though by far not an absolute majority. In December 1948, Yoshida staged a no-confidence vote (under the prevailing (SCAP) interpretation of the Constitution at the time, the House of Representatives could only be dissolved under the provisions of article 69;[5] referred to in Japanese as nareai kaisan (馴れ合い解散, "collusive dissolution")) to gain an outright DLP majority in the ensuing 1949 lower house election.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Dieter Nohlen, Florian Grotz & Christof Hartmann (2001) Elections in Asia: A data handbook, Volume II, p381 ISBN 0-19-924959-8
  2. ^ House of Representatives: Diet sessions
  3. ^ House of Representatives: 衆議院歴代議長・副議長一覧
  4. ^ Kohno, Masaru (1997): Japan’s Postwar Party Politics. Princeton, pp. 50–53
  5. ^ Peter J. Herzog: Japan's Pseudo-Democracy, p. 35: The 1948 dissolution