TitleHealth Care Issues in the Japanese General Election of 2009: A Case Study of Electoral Strategies in the Sixth District in Ibaraki Prefecture
作者Chao-chi Lin
作者說明Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, National Chengchi University
AbstractIt is always challenging for an inexperienced candidate to compete with an incumbent. By drawing upon a combination of archival research and fieldwork, this paper uses the sixth district in Ibaraki Prefecture as a case study to investigate how challengers are able to use policy issues to overcome the drawbacks of lacking name recognition and local networks, and win elections. In 2009, the challenger Hiroko Ooizumi called for abolishing the unpopular newly-implemented Health Insurance System for the Elderly which was interpreted as “bullying the senior.” This system mainly affected people aged at least 75 and was considered to be a niche issue. However, Ms. Ooizumi and her major support group, the Ibaraki Medical Association, strategically appealed to the public instead of elderly people only, by arguing that everybody could be affected sooner or later, thereby creating a collective anxiety regarding the future, and instilling a desire for change. Moreover, competition has become increasingly party-based since Japan adopted the mixed system. The opposition has further taken advantage of this atmosphere, and has blamed the then ruling party and the incumbent Mr. Yuya Niwa for causing the public’s worry, making voters feel that if they do not want to continue this policy, they should vote for the opposition and the challenger to stop it. In other words, the challenger has successfully made the health care issue sufficiently compelling to mobilize the voters who have for a long time supported the incumbent to switch their allegiance and support her and thereby stop the policy.

Keywords: electoral strategies, health insurance system for the elderly, Japanese politics, Japanese lower house elections
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