Political Institutions and Distributive Politics in Japan: Getting Along with the Opposition

Yusaku Horiuchi
Public Access Documents

This paper analyses distributive policy-making in Japan using a natural experimental situation from August 1993 to March 1995. During this period, the partisan makeup of the ruling coalition in the Lower House dramatically changed without dissolution of the House. By comparing FY1994 and FY1995 budgets compiled by two different coalition governments, we can control for incumbent-specific strength to influence pork-barreling and can focus on how each districts representation in the ruling coalition affects the geographical allocation of public expenditures. The result shows the negative effect of the ruling coalitions seat share on per capita transfers. We argue that this is a logically consistent consequence under incentive mechanisms produced by Japans political institutions. The ruling coalition had an incentive to buy the support or acquiescence of opposition members in order to assure smooth operation in the legislative process.