Episode 406 – The Contenders, Part 1

This week, we’re beginning a four-part retrospective on the rise and fall of Japan’s most successful postwar opposition party: The Democratic Party of Japan, or DPJ. This week: how did two veterans of the tumultuous politics of the early 1990s come together to found this scrappy little party, and what forces led to the DPJ becoming the largest of Japan’s opposition parties?


Tabusa, Keiko. “The 1996 General Election in Japan.” The Australian Quarterly 69, No 1 (Autumn, 1997).

Funabayashi, Yoichi, and Koichi Nakano, eds. The Democratic Party of Japan in Power: Challenges and Failures. Translated by Kate Dunlop.

Carlson, Matthew M and Steven R. Reed. Political Corruption and Scandals in Japan.



Hashimoto Ryutaro’s cabinet in January, 1996. Kan Naoto (Health and Welfare Minister) is in the third row on the far right (at least I think that’s him; the image is not great quality).
The DPJ headquarters building in Miezaka, Tokyo.
Hatoyama Yukio in 2009.
Kan Naoto circa 2007.
Hatoyama Iichiro (center) with his sons Yukio (left) and Kunio (right). We’re not going to talk about him a lot, but Hatoyama Kunio would follow his brother into the DPJ and would be a part of its governing processes as well. I believe this photo is from 1980, but I am not sure.
The Hatoyama family in 1953. Ichiro is seated; Iichiro is behind him; and that’s Hatoyama Yukio as a boy.