21-seiki Rinchō

21-seiki Rinchō (Atarashii Nihon o Tsukuru Kokumin Kaigi) was formed in 1999 as a reorganized group based on the Promotion of Political Reform Council (Citizen’s Reform Council), which was established in 1992 during the Miyazawa cabinet. Its formation occurred within the context of administrative reform. The Recruit scandal of 1988 suggested that the problem of “politics and money” had worsened. The incident involved corruption between a subsidiary company of Recruit - human resources and sales promotion company - and politicians and government officials. Citizens demanded a reform of the political system that would eliminate collusion between politicians and businessmen. In 1994, the Four Laws of Political Reform - which centered around the establishment of a parallel voting system and official subsidies to political parties - was established. During this time, 21-seiki Rinchō debated political reforms and the state of party politics. The group’s goal was to propose policy suggestions. In addition to heads of local governments, local government officials, and intellectuals, people from the business community, the labor world, and legal circles participated and hosted conferences which were free of charge, and the people from these various circles debated these issues. The executive office of this group is in the Japan Productivity Center.

In 2002, 21-seiki Rinchō published “The Conference on Examining the Nation’s Fundamental Legal System: The First Interim Report,” and “Fundamental Laws Related to Diplomacy, Security, and Crisis Management,” and “The Conference on Examining the Nation’s Fundamental Legal System: the Second Interim Report.” While the group implied that it would be necessary to revise the constitution for the use of collective self-defense, it also proposed the possibility of actively providing logistic support to multinational forces. As for reforming the governing system through constitution revision, the group proposed creating clauses enshrining procedures for constitutional revision into law, reforming the Diet, reforming the electoral system, reforming the legal system, political parties, and the bureaucracy. 21-seiki Rinchō took a cautious stance against the establishment of a system to directly elect the Prime Minister because the group feared that this system would divert the people’s attention away from political reform.