In 2009, the long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) of Japan, which had successfully formed governments either alone or as the largest partner in a coalition government for all but a single year since 1955, suffered a devastating electoral defeat when the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) won nearly two-thirds of the seats available in the House of Representatives. The landslide DPJ victory was seen by many commentators and academics as the culmination of a decade-long trend toward two-party politics, driven in large part by party and voter adaptation to the electoral reforms of the 1990s, which introduced single-member districts as the means for electing a majority of members of parliament. The three books reviewed in this essay were written primarily in the two years following the 2009 DPJ victory, and each attempts, in quite distinct ways, to update our accounts of electoral and party politics and policymaking in Japan to account for the changes in Japanese politics in the first decade of the twenty-first century.

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