Komeito (公明党, Kōmeitō), formerly New Komeito (abbreviated NKP), is a political party in Japan founded by lay members of the new religious movement Soka Gakkai.[10] Komeito became a partner of the current coalition government in 2012.[11]


PresidentNatsuo Yamaguchi
Secretary-GeneralYoshihisa Inoue
Councillors leaderYuichiro Uozumi
FoundedNovember 17, 1964 (1964-11-17)
Merger ofKōmeitō (1962)
New Peace Party
Reform Club
Headquarters17 Minamimoto-machi, Shinjuku, Tokyo 160-0012, Japan
NewspaperKomei Shimbun (ja)
Cultural conservatism[2]
Humanitarian socialism[4]
Political positionCentre[5] to centre-right[6]
ReligionSoka Gakkai[7]
SloganTaishū to tomo ni[8]
(lit. "With the public")
29 / 465
25 / 242
Prefectural assembly members[9]
206 / 2,614
Municipal assembly members[9]
2,735 / 30,101

As of July 2019, Natsuo Yamaguchi is the president of NKP and currently serves as a member of the House of Councillors in the National Diet of Japan (Japanese national legislature).[12]

After the 2012 general election, the party held 31 seats in the lower house and 19 seats in the upper house. The number of lower house seats increased to 35 after the 2014 general election[13] and to 25 seats[14][15] in the upper house after winning 14 in the 2016 general election.[16] In the July 2017 Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election, the Komeito garnered a total of 23 seats,[17][18] 1 up from the previously held 22 seats.[19] The party lost 6 seats, down to 29 seats in the lower house after the 2017 general election.[20]


Komeito's declared mission is to pioneer "people-centered politics, a politics based on a humanitarianism that treats human life with the utmost respect and care".[21] On April 24. 2019, joint task force efforts with its coalition partner[22][23][24] resulted in the passing of a bill mandating reparations and having the coalition government issue a formal apology to sterilization victims of the defunct Eugenics Protection Act, thus to advance human rights awareness in the wake of lawsuits[25][26] related to the history of Eugenics in Japan.[27][28][29][30] Domestically, the party proposals also include reduction of the central government and bureaucracy, increased transparency in public affairs, and increased local (prefectural) autonomy with the private sector playing an increased role. In accordance with its public affairs transparency platform, it was reported that since September 2016, the Komeito conducted independent analyses for possible environmental contamination of the proposed Toyosu market site.[31] The Komeito officially raised its environmental concerns later regarding Toyosu market during the October 5, 2016 Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly Session. In response, newly appointed Tokyo Governor, Yuriko Koike cited possible disciplinary action towards those responsible for the Toyosu project.[32] With regard to foreign policy, the Komeito wishes to eliminate nuclear arms and armed conflict in general. However, in July 2015, Komeito backed prime minister's Shinzō Abe's push for expanded military powers[33] although playing a moderating insider role in this development.[34] Religious scholar and political analyst Masaru Satō explains that in postwar Japan there were two major parties, the Liberal Democratic Party representing financial interests and large corporations and the Japan Socialist Party largely advocating the interests of labor unions. There was no single party that represented people who belonged to neither such as shop owners, housewives, etc. Until the appearance of the Komeito Party, such people were left on the sidelines.[35]

Relationship with Soka Gakkai

Komeito regards the Soka Gakkai as a "major electoral constituency",[36] having formally separated from the religious group and revised both its platform and regulations in 1970 to reflect a "secular orientation."[37]:117 Observers continue to describe Komeito as the Soka Gakkai's "political arm",[38] however, and critics contend the relationship violates the separation of religion and politics enshrined in Article 20 of the Japanese Constitution.[39] The leadership and financing of the two groups are currently said to be independent.[37]:123–27 Both groups report having occasional liaison meetings, characterizing them as informational and "open to the media."[36][40] Numerous Japanese religious groups have established political parties in Japan, but statistics scholar Petter Lindgren states that "None have however been more successful than Soka Gakkai."[41] "In spite of how many authors reiterate the 1960s-era image of Komeito as a party of Gakkai members only (e.g. Baerwald, 1986; Stockwin, 1989; Richardson, 1998; Curtis, 1999; Yoshikawa, 1999; Sado, 2005), scholars who look more closely at the Gakkai and Komeito know that the popular image of the party's exclusivity is inaccurate. Komeito partisans account for about half of the party's electoral support."[42]

Party organ

The party organ of Komeito is the Komei Shinbun. It is published by the Komei Organ Paper Committee,[43][44] and has also published a regional Hokkaido edition in the past.[45]


Opposition before 1993

Komeito began as the Political Federation for Clean Government in 1961, but held its inaugural convention as Komeito on 17 November 1964.[46][47] The three characters 公明党 have the approximate meanings of "public/government" (公 kō), "light/brightness" (明 mei), and "political party" (党 tō). The combination "kōmei" (公明) is usually taken to mean "justice" or "fairness". Komeito's predecessor party, Kōmeitō, was formed in 1962, but it had begun in 1954 as the Kōmei Political League. It lasted until 1998.

In 1957, a group of Young Men's Division members campaigning for a Soka Gakkai candidate in an Osaka Upper House by-election were arrested for distributing money, cigarettes, and caramels at supporters' residences, in violation of election law, and on July 3 of that year, at the beginning of an event memorialized as the "Osaka Incident," Daisaku Ikeda was arrested in Osaka. He was taken into custody in his capacity as Soka Gakkai's Youth Division Chief of Staff for overseeing activities that constituted violations of election law. He spent two weeks in jail and appeared in court forty-eight times before he was cleared of all charges in January 1962.[48]

In 1968, fourteen of its members were convicted of forging absentee ballots in Shinjuku, and eight were sentenced to prison for electoral fraud. In the 1960s it was widely criticized for violating the separation of church and state, and in February 1970 all three major Japanese newspapers printed editorials demanding that the party reorganize. It eventually broke apart based on promises to segregate from Soka Gakkai.[49][50][51]

In the 1980s Shimbun Akahata discovered that many Soka Gakkai members were rewarding acquaintances with presents in return for Komeito votes, and that Okinawa residents had changed their addresses to elect Komeito politicians.[52]

Anti-LDP coalition government: 1993–1994

Kōmeitō joined the Hosokawa and Hata anti-LDP coalition cabinets in 1993 and 1994. After the collapse of the anti-LDP and anti-JCP governments (非自民・非共産連立政権) and the electoral and campaign finance reforms of 1994, the Kōmeitō split in December 1994: The "New Kōmei Party" (公明新党, Kōmei Shintō) joined the New Frontier Party (NFP) a few days later in an attempt to unify the splintered opposition.[53] The other group, Kōmei (公明), continued to exist as a separate party. After the dissolution of the NFP in December 1997, former Kōmeitō members from the NFP founded two new groups: the "New Peace Party" (新党平和, Shintō Heiwa) and the Reimei Club (黎明クラブ, "Dawn Club") in the House of Councillors, but some ex-Kōmeitō politicians such as Shōzō Azuma followed Ichirō Ozawa into the Liberal Party. The Reimei Club merged into the New Peace Party a few weeks later in January 1998. Finally, in November 1998, Kōmei and New Peace Party merged to re-establish Kōmeitō (referred to in English now as "New Komeito" – the party's name is just Kōmeitō as before the 1994 split).

The Japan Echo alleged in 1999 that Soka Gakkai distributed fliers to local branches describing how to abuse the jūminhyō residence registration system in order to generate a large number of votes for Komeito candidates in specific districts.[54]

Coalition with the Liberal Democratic Party since 1999

The current conservative, more moderate and centrist party was formed in 1998, in a merger of Kōmei and the New Peace Party. Since then it has joined coalition with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which need Komeito to maintain majority in the Diet, and did well in the 2000 and 2001 parliamentary elections.

The LDP-Liberal coalition expanded to include the New Komeito Party in October 1999.[55] New Komeito has been (and continues to be) a coalition partner in the Government of Japan since 1999 (excluding 2009–2011 when the Democratic Party of Japan was in power). As such, New Komeito supported a (temporary) change to Japan's "no-war constitution" in order for Japan to support the 2003 invasion of Iraq.[56]

In the 2003 and 2004 Diet elections, the NKP did well, thanks to an extremely committed and well organized voter base coming from Soka Gakkai. The party shares its support base with the LDP, made up of white collar bureaucrats and rural populations, but also gains support from religious leaders. However, on 27 July 2005, NKP's Secretary General said that his party would consider forming a coalition government with the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) if the DPJ gained a majority in the House of Representatives. On 8 August 2005, then-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi dissolved the Lower House and called for a general election, due to the rejection on some of the members of LDP for efforts to privatize Japan Post. The incumbent LDP-New Komeito coalition won a large majority in the 2005 general election.

Natsuo Yamaguchi became the party's leader on 8 September 2009 after the party and their coalition partner LDP suffered a major defeat in the 2009 general election and became an opposition party since 1999. New Komeito lost ten seats, including that of party leader Akihiro Ota and general secretary Kazuo Kitagawa. On 8 September 2009, Yamaguchi replaced Ota as president of New Komeito.[57]

On 16 December 2012 general elections, the LDP/New Komeito coalition secured Supermajority back into Government; former party chief Akihiro Ota (Ohta) is currently Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.[58] The party had also gained seats in general elections. In September 2014 the party changed its English name from New Komeito back to Komeito.[59][60]

In July 2015, Komeito backed prime minister Shinzō Abe's push to change the constitution to "give Japan’s military limited powers to fight in foreign conflicts for the first time since World War II". This legislation, supported by the United States, would allow the "Self-Defense Forces to cooperate more closely with the U.S. by providing logistical support and, in certain circumstances, armed backup in international conflicts" and "complements guidelines in a bilateral agreement governing how Japanese and United States forces work together, which was signed by the two nations" earlier in 2015.[33]

On March 11, 2019, a project team of Komeito submitted proposals to Foreign Minister Taro Kono for an international agreement to regulate robotic weapons,[61][62] calling on Japan to build global consensus for a “political declaration or a code of conduct, within the framework of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons”.[63]


No. Name Term of office
Took Office Left Office
1Kōji Harashima17 November 19649 December 1964
2Takehisa Tsuji9 December 196413 February 1967
3Yoshikatsu Takeiri13 February 19675 December 1986
4Junya Yano5 December 198621 May 1989
5Kōshirō Ishida21 May 19895 December 1994
New Komei Party
1Kōshirō Ishida5 December 19949 December 1994
1Tomio Fujii5 December 199418 January 1998
2Toshiko Hamayotsu18 January 19987 November 1998
New Peace Party
1Takenori Kanzaki4 January 19987 November 1998
Reimei Club
1Kazuyoshi Shirahama4 January 199818 January 1998
New Komeito
1Takenori Kanzaki7 November 199830 September 2006
2Akihiro Ota30 September 20068 September 2009
3Natsuo Yamaguchi8 September 200925 September 2014
1Natsuo Yamaguchi25 September 2014Incumbent

Election results

General election results

Election Leader # of
seats won
# of
constituency votes
% of
constituency votes
# of
PR Block votes
% of
PR Block votes
Komeito era
1967 Takehisa Tsuji
25 / 486
2,472,371 5.4% Opposition
1969 Yoshikatsu Takeiri
47 / 486
5,124,666 10.9% Opposition
1972 Yoshikatsu Takeiri
29 / 491
4,436,755 8.5% Opposition
1976 Yoshikatsu Takeiri
55 / 511
6,177,300 10.9% Opposition
1979 Yoshikatsu Takeiri
57 / 511
5,282,682 9.78% Opposition
1980 Yoshikatsu Takeiri
33 / 511
5,329,942 9.03% Opposition
1983 Yoshikatsu Takeiri
58 / 511
5,745,751 10.12% Opposition
1986 Yoshikatsu Takeiri
56 / 512
5,701,277 9.43% Opposition
1990 Kōshirō Ishida
45 / 512
5,242,675 7.98% Opposition
1993 Kōshirō Ishida
51 / 511
5,114,351 8.14% Governing coalition (until 1994)
Opposition (since 1994)
New Frontier Party Komei faction era
1996 Komei faction
42 / 511
see New Frontier Party Opposition (until 1998)
Governing coalition (since 1998)
New Komeito era
2000 Takenori Kanzaki
31 / 480
1,231,753 2.02% 7,762,032 12.97% Governing coalition
2003 Takenori Kanzaki
34 / 480
886,507 1.49% 8,733,444 14.78% Governing coalition
2005 Takenori Kanzaki
31 / 480
981,105 1.4% 8,987,620 13.3% Governing coalition
2009 Akihiro Ota
21 / 480
782,984 1.11% 8,054,007 11.45% Opposition
2012 Natsuo Yamaguchi
31 / 480
885,881 1.49% 7,116,474 11.90% Governing coalition
Komeito era
2014 Natsuo Yamaguchi
35 / 475
765,390 1.45% 7,314,236 13.71% Governing coalition
2017 Natsuo Yamaguchi
29 / 465
832,453 1.50% 6,977,712 12.51% Governing coalition

Councillors election results

Election Leader # of seats total # of seats won # of National votes
from 1983: # of Proportional votes
% of National vote
from 1983: % of Proportional vote
# of Prefectural votes % of Prefectural vote Majority/minority
Pre-Komeito era
1962 Kōji Harashima
15 / 250
9 / 125
4,124,269 11.5% 958,179 2.6% Minority
Komeito era
1965 Takehisa Tsuji
20 / 251
11 / 125
5,097,682 13.7% 1,910,975 5.1% Minority
1968 Yoshikatsu Takeiri
24 / 250
7 / 125
6,656, 771 15.5% 2,632,528 6.1% Minority
1971 Yoshikatsu Takeiri
22 / 249
10 / 125
5,626,293 14.1% 1,391,855 3.5% Minority
1974 Yoshikatsu Takeiri
24 / 250
14 / 125
6,360,419 12.1% 6,732,937 12.6% Minority
1977 Yoshikatsu Takeiri
25 / 249
14 / 125
7,174,459 14.2% 3,206,719 6.1% Minority
1980 Yoshikatsu Takeiri
26 / 250
12 / 125
6,669,387 11.9% 2,817,379 4.9% Minority
1983 Yoshikatsu Takeiri
27 / 252
14 / 126
7,314,465 15.7% 3,615,995 7.8% Minority
1986 Yoshikatsu Takeiri
24 / 252
10 / 126
7,438,501 12.97% 2,549,037 4.40% Minority
1989 Kōshirō Ishida
21 / 252
11 / 126
6,097,971 10.86% 2,900,947 5.10% Minority
1992 Kōshirō Ishida
24 / 252
14 / 126
6,415,503 14.27% 3,550,060 7.82% Minority (until 1993)
Governing minority (1993-1994)
Minority (since 1994)
Komei era
1995 Tomio Fujii
11 / 252
0 / 126
Did not participate in election Minority
1998 Toshiko Hamayotsu
22 / 252
9 / 126
7,748,301 13.80% 1,843,479 3.30% Minority (until 1999)
Governing majority (since 1999)
New Komeito era
2001 Takenori Kanzaki
23 / 247
13 / 121
8,187,804 14.96% 3,468,664 6.38% Governing majority
2004 Takenori Kanzaki
24 / 242
11 / 121
8,621,265 15.41% 2,161,764 3.85% Governing majority
2007 Akihiro Ota
20 / 242
9 / 121
7,765,329 13.18% 3,534,672 5.96% Governing minority (until 2009)
Minority (since 2009)
2010 Natsuo Yamaguchi
19 / 242
9 / 121
7,639,432 13.07% 2,265,818 3.88% Minority (until 2012)
Governing minority(since 2012)
2013 Natsuo Yamaguchi
20 / 242
11 / 121
7,568,082 14.22% 2,724,447 5.13% Governing majority
Komeito era
2016 Natsuo Yamaguchi
25 / 242
14 / 121
7,572,960 13.52% 4,263,422 7.54% Governing majority

See also


  • Ehrhardt, George, Axel Klein, Levi McLaughlin and Steven R. Reed (2014) (Eds.): Kōmeitō – Politics and Religion in Japan. Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley
  • Fisker-Nielsen, Anne Mette (2012), Religion and Politics in Contemporary Japan: Soka Gakkai Youth and Komeito, Routledge


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  5. "今さら聞けない?! 「保守」「リベラル」ってなんだ?" [Can't you ask about them now ?! What are "conservative" and "liberal"?] (in Japanese). Retrieved 27 November 2019.
  6. Fisker-Nielsen, Anne Mette (2012), Religion and Politics in Contemporary Japan: Soka Gakkai Youth and Komeito, Routledge, p. 86
  7. Metraux, Daniel A. (1996), "The Soka Gakkai: Buddhism and the Creation of a Harmonious and Peaceful Society", Engaged Buddhism: Buddhist Liberation Movements in Asia, State University of New York Press, p. 386
  8. "公明党" [Komeito]. komei.or.jp (in Japanese). Retrieved 28 July 2019. ... 結党以来のスローガン『大衆とともに』の精神こそ、 ...
  9. Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications: Prefectural and local assembly members and governors/mayors by political party as of December 31, 2017
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