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The History of the Liberal Democratic Party is designed to provide readers with a brief and simple historic account of the development pathway that the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan (hereafter, also “LDP” or “Party”) has followed from the period of its formation to the present day.

The over 50-year postwar history of democracy in Japan can be divided into four major periods - an early period of “Preparation,” followed by periods of “Prosperity,” “Maturity,” and finally, the present one of “Coalitions.” Apart from a few brief interludes, administrations headed by liberal democratic parties have governed Japan throughout the postwar era.

In the decade following the end of the Second World War, trials and tribulations both at home and abroad kept Japanese politics in a state of turmoil. It was during this period of “Preparation” that actors throughout the entire political system struggled to cope with the often painful changes that accompanied the development and advancement of democracy in Japan.

On November 15, 1955, a “Conservative Alliance” (hoshu godo) resulted in the formation of the Liberal Democratic Party. In the wake of this important event, the country entered into a new period of remarkable “Prosperity.” Since then, successive LDP administrations have been responsible for creating historically unprecedented high levels of economic growth and improvements in living standards within the country, in addition to making Japan into an important member of the international community. It is arguably impossible to understand Japan's postwar history without an appreciation of the important role that the LDP has played in it.

However, as ceaseless change is the only constant of history, it has once again become necessary for our country's politics to be reformed and placed on a new course. The growth of Japan's stature and responsibilities in the international community, coupled with changing trends in the country's economic and social conditions, have necessitated new policy responses.

True to its name, the LDP has always worked resolutely to foster creative “liberalism” and fair “democracy.”

Against the background of an economy that continued to produce high rates of growth, Japanese politics began to mature in the early 1960s. The 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo, as well as the concept of “Japan as Number One” first coined by Ezra Vogel in 1979, brought Japan's accomplishments to the attention of the world. By 1992, however, clouds had begun to gather on the horizon as the negative effects of the “Bubble Economy's” collapse became increasingly visible. At almost the same time, politics as well underwent a dramatic change. In the general election of July, 1993, the LDP lost its majority and was forced to abandon its position as Japan's governing party.

Despite this setback, however, the Party humbly accepted the outcome of the election, rallied its forces, and succeeded in regaining its position in the government only eleven short months later. With the selection of the LDP President as the Prime Minister in January of 1996, the Party took a new step forward as Japan's ruling party.

The LDP is committed to continuing its work to build a safe, stable, and prosperous Japan. Japanese politics is now poised to move into an exciting and promising new era. (October 1, 1999)

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