James BABB is Lecturer in Japanese politics in the Department of Politics, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. He has published two books, Tanaka: The Making of Postwar Japan (Longman, 2000) and Business and Politics in Japan (Manchester University Press, 2001), and is currently working on a variety of other projects examining Japanese politics and political history.
He can be reached at University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RU, UK, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Under the Allied Occupation, immediately after the end of Second World War, pent-up tenant farmer frustration was translated into substantial support for the Japan Socialist Party through the farmer union movement. This support was enhanced by the institutional mechanisms of the land reform process, particularly land reform committees (nochi iinkai), in which the Socialists played a predominant role. However, as the land reform process came to an end, the Socialists were unable to capture an emerging site of institutional influence over farmers, agricultural cooperatives (nokyo). This failure was due to Socialist fragmentation and competition for power in farmer unions with the Japan Communist Party and in the agricultural cooperatives with centrist conservative forces. The result was that the Socialists lost a key constituency that came to be dominated by the conservatives. Nonetheless, this conservatism of Japanese farmers was not due to inherent cultural orientations of the rural population nor was it simply a product of land reform. The transformation of farmers into a key pillar of conservative party support was the outcome of a political process.