Komeito (公明党, Kōmeitō), formerly New Komeito and abbreviated NKP, is a conservative political party in Japan founded by lay members of the Japanese new religions movement Soka Gakkai in 1964. Komeito became a partner in the current coalition government in 2012. Natsuo Yamaguchi has been the president of the party since 8 September 2009 and currently serves as a member of the House of Councillors (the upper house) in the National Diet, the Japanese national legislature (elected in the 2019 Japanese House of Councillors election, constituency is Tokyo at-large district).
|Deputy Leader||Yoshihisa Inoue|
|Councilors Leader||Makoto Nishida|
|Founded||November 17, 1964|
|Merger of||Kōmeitō (1962)|
New Peace Party
|Headquarters||17 Minamimoto-machi, Shinjuku, Tokyo 160-0012, Japan|
|Newspaper||Komei Shimbun (ja)|
|Political position||Centre to centre-right[a]|
|Religion||Buddhism (Soka Gakkai)|
|Slogan||Taishū to tomo ni|
("With the Public")
29 / 465
28 / 242
|Prefectural assembly members|
203 / 2,668
|Municipal assembly members|
2,707 / 29,762
^ a: It is also sometimes rated as centre-left or right-wing.
After the 2012 Japanese general election, the party held 31 seats in the lower house and 19 seats in the upper house. The number of lower house seats increased to 35 after the 2014 Japanese general election and to 25 seats in the upper house after winning 14 in the 2016 general election. In the 2017 Tokyo prefectural election, the party garnered a total of 23 seats, up one from the previously held 22 seats. It lost six seats, down to 29 seats in the lower house after the 2017 Japanese general election.
Self-proclaimed as following "humanitarian socialism", Komeito's declared mission is to pioneer "people-centered politics, a politics based on a humanitarianism, that treats human life with the utmost respect and care". On April 24. 2019, joint task force efforts with its coalition partner resulted in the passing of a bill mandating reparations and having the coalition government issue a formal apology to sterilization victims of the defunct Eugenics Protection Act, thus to advance human rights awareness in the wake of lawsuits related to the history of eugenics in Japan.
Domestically, the party proposals also include reduction of the central government and bureaucracy, increased transparency in public affairs, and increased local (prefectural) autonomy with the private sector playing an increased role. In accordance with its public affairs transparency platform, it was reported that since September 2016, the Komeito conducted independent analyses for possible environmental contamination of the proposed Toyosu market site. The Komeito officially raised its environmental concerns later regarding Toyosu market during the October 5, 2016 Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly Session. In response, the newly appointed Tokyo Governor, Yuriko Koike, cited possible disciplinary action towards those responsible for the Toyosu project.
With regard to foreign policy, the Komeito wishes to eliminate nuclear arms and armed conflict in general. However, in July 2015, Komeito backed prime minister's Shinzō Abe's push for expanded military powers although playing a moderating insider role in this development. Religious scholar and political analyst Masaru Satō explains that in postwar Japan there were two major parties, the Liberal Democratic Party representing financial interests and large corporations and the Japan Socialist Party largely advocating the interests of trade unions and the working class. There was no single party that represented people who belonged to neither such as shop owners and housewives, among others. Until the appearance of the Komeito Party, those people were left on the sidelines.
Relationship with Soka GakkaiEdit
Komeito regards the Soka Gakkai as a "major electoral constituency", having formally separated from the religious group and revised both its platform and regulations in 1970 to reflect a "secular orientation".: 117 Observers continue to describe Komeito as the Soka Gakkai's "political arm", however, and critics contend the relationship violates the separation of religion and politics enshrined in Article 20 of the Japanese Constitution. The leadership and financing of the two groups are currently said to be independent.: 123–27 Both groups report having occasional liaison meetings, characterizing them as informational and "open to the media". Numerous Japanese religious groups have established political parties in Japan, but statistics scholar Petter Lindgren states that "None have however been more successful than Soka Gakkai."
Opposition before 1993Edit
Komeito began as the Political Federation for Clean Government in 1961, but held its inaugural convention as Komeito on 17 November 1964. The three characters 公明党 have the approximate meanings of "public/government" (公 kō), "light/brightness" (明 mei), and "political party" (党 tō). The combination "kōmei" (公明) is usually taken to mean "justice" or "fairness". Komeito's predecessor party, Kōmeitō, was formed in 1962, but it had begun in 1954 as the Kōmei Political League. It lasted until 1998.
In 1957, a group of Young Men's Division members campaigning for a Soka Gakkai candidate in an Osaka Upper House by-election were arrested for distributing money, cigarettes, and caramels at supporters' residences, in violation of election law, and on July 3 of that year, at the beginning of an event memorialized as the "Osaka Incident," Daisaku Ikeda was arrested in Osaka. He was taken into custody in his capacity as Soka Gakkai's Youth Division Chief of Staff for overseeing activities that constituted violations of election law. He spent two weeks in jail and appeared in court forty-eight times before he was cleared of all charges in January 1962.
In 1968, fourteen of its members were convicted of forging absentee ballots in Shinjuku, and eight were sentenced to prison for electoral fraud. In the 1960s it was widely criticized for violating the separation of church and state, and in February 1970 all three major Japanese newspapers printed editorials demanding that the party reorganize. It eventually broke apart based on promises to segregate from Soka Gakkai.
In the 1980s Shimbun Akahata discovered that many Soka Gakkai members were rewarding acquaintances with presents in return for Komeito votes and that Okinawa residents had changed their addresses to elect Komeito politicians.
Anti-LDP coalition government: 1993–1994Edit
Kōmeitō joined the Hosokawa and Hata anti-LDP coalition cabinets in 1993 and 1994. After the collapse of the anti-LDP and anti-JCP governments (非自民・非共産連立政権) and the electoral and campaign finance reforms of 1994, the Kōmeitō split in December 1994: The "New Kōmei Party" (公明新党, Kōmei Shintō) joined the New Frontier Party (NFP) a few days later in an attempt to unify the splintered opposition. The other group, Kōmei (公明), continued to exist as a separate party. After the dissolution of the NFP in December 1997, former Kōmeitō members from the NFP founded two new groups: the "New Peace Party" (新党平和, Shintō Heiwa) and the Reimei Club (黎明クラブ, "Dawn Club") in the House of Councillors, but some ex-Kōmeitō politicians such as Shōzō Azuma followed Ichirō Ozawa into the Liberal Party. The Reimei Club merged into the New Peace Party a few weeks later in January 1998. Finally, in November 1998, Kōmei and New Peace Party merged to re-establish Kōmeitō (referred to in English now as "New Komeito" – the party's name is just Kōmeitō as before the 1994 split).
The Japan Echo alleged in 1999 that Soka Gakkai distributed fliers to local branches describing how to abuse the jūminhyō residence registration system in order to generate a large number of votes for Komeito candidates in specific districts.
Coalition with the Liberal Democratic Party: 1999–2009, 2012–presentEdit
The current conservative, more moderate, and centrist party was formed in 1998, in a merger of Kōmei and the New Peace Party. Since then it has joined coalition with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which need Komeito to maintain majority in the Diet (especially in the House of Councillors which the LDP lost majority since 1989), and did well in the 2000 and 2001 parliamentary elections.
The LDP-Liberal coalition expanded to include the New Komeito Party in October 1999. New Komeito has been (and continues to be) a coalition partner in the Government of Japan since 1999 (excluding 2009–2011 when the Democratic Party of Japan was in power). As such, New Komeito supported a (temporary) change to Japan's "no-war constitution" in order for Japan to support the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
In the 2003 Japanese general election and 2004 Japanese House of Councillors election, the NKP did well, thanks to an extremely committed and well-organized voter base coming from Soka Gakkai. The party shares its support base with the LDP, made up of white-collar bureaucrats and rural populations, but also gained support from religious leaders. However, on 27 July 2005, NKP's Secretary-General said that his party would consider forming a coalition government with the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) if the DPJ gained a majority in the House of Representatives. On 8 August 2005, then-Prime Minister and the president of LDP Junichiro Koizumi dissolved the Lower House and called for a general election, due to the rejection on some of the members of LDP for efforts to privatize Japan Post. The incumbent LDP-New Komeito coalition won a large majority in the 2005 general election.
Natsuo Yamaguchi became the party's leader on 8 September 2009 after the party and their coalition partner LDP suffered a major defeat in the 2009 general election and became an opposition party since 1999. New Komeito lost ten seats, including that of party leader Akihiro Ota and general secretary Kazuo Kitagawa. On 8 September 2009, Yamaguchi replaced Ota as president of New Komeito.
In the general election on 16 December 2012, the LDP/Komeito coalition secured a supermajority and came back into government. The former party chief Akihiro Ota (Ohta) is currently Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. The party also gained seats in the general election in 2014. In September 2014 the party changed its English name from New Komeito back to Komeito.
In July 2015, Komeito backed Prime Minister Shinzō Abe's push to revise the Constitution in order to "give Japan's military limited powers to fight in foreign conflicts for the first time since World War II".[attribution needed] This legislation, supported by the United States, would allow the "Self-Defense Forces to cooperate more closely with the U.S. by providing logistical support and, in certain circumstances, armed backup in international conflicts" and "complements guidelines in a bilateral agreement governing how Japanese and United States forces work together, which was signed by the two nations" earlier in 2015.
On March 11, 2019, a project team of Komeito submitted proposals to Foreign Minister Taro Kono for an international agreement to regulate robotic weapons, calling on Japan to build global consensus for a "political declaration or a code of conduct, within the framework of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons".
|Constituency / title||Term of office||Image||Prime Minister (term)||Government/|
|Took Office||Left Office|
|17 November 1964||9 December 1964||Satō 1964–72||Opposition|
|9 December 1964||13 February 1967|
|13 February 1967||5 December 1986|
|Tanaka K. 1972–74|
|Fukuda T. 1976–78|
|Ito 1980 (Acting)|
|Suzuki Z. 1980–82|
|5 December 1986||21 May 1989|
|21 May 1989||5 December 1994|
|Hosokawa 1993–94||Governing coalition|
|New Komei Party (1994–1998)|
|5 December 1994||9 December 1994||Murayama 1994–96||Opposition|
|Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly
for Shinjuku district
|5 December 1994||18 January 1998||Murayama 1994–96||Opposition|
|18 January 1998||7 November 1998|
|New Peace Party (1998)|
|4 January 1998||7 November 1998||Hashimoto 1996–98||Opposition|
|Reimei Club (1998)|
|4 January 1998||18 January 1998||Hashimoto 1996–98||Opposition|
|New Komeito (1998–2014)|
Kyushu PR block
|7 November 1998||30 September 2006||Obuchi 1998–2000||Opposition|
(Obuchi First reshuffled cabinet)
(Obuchi Second reshuffled cabinet)
|Abe S. 2006–07|
|30 September 2006||8 September 2009|
|Fukuda Y. 2007–08|
|8 September 2009||25 September 2014||Hatoyama Y. 2009–10||Opposition|
|Abe S. 2012–20||Governing coalition|
|25 September 2014||Incumbent||Abe S. 2012–20||Governing coalition|
General election resultsEdit
PR Block votes
PR Block votes
25 / 486
47 / 486
29 / 491
55 / 511
57 / 511
33 / 511
58 / 511
56 / 512
45 / 512
51 / 511
|5,114,351||8.14%||Governing coalition (until 1994)|
|Opposition (since 1994)|
|New Frontier Party Komei faction era|
42 / 511
|see New Frontier Party||Opposition (until 1998)|
|Governing coalition (since 1998)|
|New Komeito era|
31 / 480
34 / 480
31 / 480
21 / 480
31 / 480
35 / 475
29 / 465
Councillors election resultsEdit
|Election||Leader||# of seats total||# of seats won||# of National votes
from 1983: # of Proportional votes
|% of National vote
from 1983: % of Proportional vote
|# of Prefectural votes||% of Prefectural vote||Majority/minority|
15 / 250
9 / 125
20 / 251
11 / 125
24 / 250
7 / 125
22 / 249
10 / 125
24 / 250
14 / 125
25 / 249
14 / 125
26 / 250
12 / 125
27 / 252
14 / 126
24 / 252
10 / 126
21 / 252
11 / 126
24 / 252
14 / 126
|6,415,503||14.27%||3,550,060||7.82%||Minority (until 1993)|
|Governing minority (1993–1994)|
|Minority (since 1994)|
11 / 252
0 / 126
|Did not participate in election||Minority|
22 / 252
9 / 126
|7,748,301||13.80%||1,843,479||3.30%||Minority (until 1999)|
|Governing majority (since 1999)|
|New Komeito era|
23 / 247
13 / 121
24 / 242
11 / 121
20 / 242
9 / 121
|7,765,329||13.18%||3,534,672||5.96%||Governing minority (until 2009)|
|Minority (since 2009)|
19 / 242
9 / 121
|7,639,432||13.07%||2,265,818||3.88%||Minority (until 2012)|
|Governing minority(since 2012)|
20 / 242
11 / 121
25 / 242
14 / 121
28 / 245
14 / 124
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- Fisker-Nielsen, Anne Mette (2012), Religion and Politics in Contemporary Japan: Soka Gakkai Youth and Komeito, Routledge
- Far Eastern Affairs. East View Publications. 1978. p. 112.
- Ronald J Hrebenar, ed. (2000). Japan's New Party System. Avalon Publishing. p. 167.
The Komeito Returns: The Party of “Buddhist Democracy”
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- Lucien Ellington, ed. (2009). Japan. ABC-CLIO. p. 168. ISBN 9781598841626.
... Because of this political strength, the Liberal Democratic Party has in recent years included the moderate to socially conservative Komeito Party in coalition governments.
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Natsuo Yamaguchi, the low-profile leader of the centrist Komeito party
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... 結党以来のスローガン『大衆とともに』の精神こそ、 ...
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The LDP will be ruling in coalition with another right-wing party—the Komeito.
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- (New Komeito, 2002)
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The Komeito severed its organizational ties to SG in 1970, but has nonetheless remaind the political arm of Sokka Gakkai in Japan
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even today, the Clean Government Party can hardly be called more than the "political arm" of Soka Gakkai
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After its religious orientation was criticized by journalists and questioned in the Diet around 1970, Komeito declared that it would follow the constitutional principle of the separation between religion and state, officially separating Soka Gakkai and Komeito. But this issue continues even today as one of the targets of criticism against Soka Gakkai and Komeito.
- Soka Gakkai Annual Report 2015 (Report). Soka Gakkai Public Relations Office. 1 February 2015. p. 72.
協議会では、公明党から、党の方針、態度、決定等について説明があり、それに対して学会が意見、要望を述べる。[At the council, Komeito explains the party's policies, attitudes, decisions, etc., and the Gakkai gives opinions and requests.]
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Other smaller parties include Komeito (the party officially became known as New Komeito in 1998), a party that Soka Gakkai formed in 1964 from its precursor, the Komei Political League.
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