日本 « NITU-PON »
Officially: 日本国 « Nitu-pon Koku ».
English: Japan.
Seat of government: 東京 « Tou-kijou ».
Status: Democratic.
Structure: Parliament (国会 « Kotu-kai ») comprises the 衆議院 « Sijuu Gi-in », elected partially in geographical constituencies by plurality, and partially in multi-member geographical constituencies by party-list proportional representation, and the 参議院 « San Gi-in », elected partially in prefectures and partially by party-list proportional representation. The 衆議院 « Sijuu Gi-in » is more powerful and chooses the prime minister.
Governing parties: 自由民主党 « Zi-juu Min-siju Tou »; 公明党 « Kou Mei Tou ».
Head of government: 安倍 晋三 « A-be Sin-zou », 自民党 « Zi Min Tou », prime minister.
Opposition parties: 民主党 « Min-siju Tou », led by 岡田 克也 « Oka-da Katu-ja »; 維新の党 « I-sin no Tou »; 日本共産党 « Ni-hon Kijou-san Tou »; 次世代の党 « Zi-se-dai no Tou »; 社会民主党 « Sija-kai Min-siju Tou »; 生活の党 « Sei-katu no Tou », led by 小沢 一郎 « O-zaŭa Iti-rou ».
Recent history: Virtually the entirety of the post-war era has been under the elected government of the 自由民主党 « Zi-juu Min-siju Tou ». Its two components were in power from 1948 until merged in 1955, and all time subsequent but 1993-6 and 2009-12. The 2003 election saw the then-governing coalition lessen its majority; the 自民党 « Zi Min Tou » then absorbed coalition partner 保守新党 « Ho-siju Sin Tou ». 小泉 純一郎 « Ko-izumi Zijun-iti-rou » (2001-6), then prime minister, transformed the governing party and the political system. Campaigning on the issue of privatization of 日本郵政公社 « Nitu-pon Juu-sei Kou-sija », he removed dissident members of the 自民党 « Zi Min Tou » and won an increased majority in snap elections in 2005. His immediate successor, 安倍 « A-be » (2006-7), proved less able, serving for a year and resigning after the 自民党 « Zi Min Tou » lost its majority in the 参議院 « San Gi-in ». 安倍 « A-be »’s successor, 福田 康夫 « Huku-da Jasu-o » (2007-8), also resigned after only a year, replaced by 麻生 太郎 « A-sou Ta-rou » (2008-9). Shortly before general elections in 2009, opposition leader 小沢 一郎 « O-zaŭa Iti-rou » resigned, replaced by 鳩山 由紀夫 « Hato-jama Ju-ki-o » (2009-10). Those elections were won handily by 民主党 « Min-siju Tou »; it formed a coalition to achieve a majority in the 参議院 « San Gi-in » as well. That coalition failed in less than a year, and 鳩山 « Hato-jama » resigned, replaced by 菅 直人 « Kan Nao-to » (2010-1), and then 野田 佳彦 « No-da Josi-hiko » (2011-2). A general election in 2012 saw the 自民党 « Zi Min Tou », again under 安倍 « A-be », win a decisive victory; it expanded its majority in snap elections in 2014.
FH: 1-2, free. Econ: 8.25 (17), full democracy.
Updated: 2015 March 24.
 

O.T. FORD