The political landscape of Japan changed drastically in the early 1990s with new parties forming, the main government party losing power temporarily, and the traditional rival parties forming a coalition government. This article examines how the spatial dimensions of party conflict changed according to surveys of the mass public. Contrary to theoretical expectations based on the stabilizing effects of party identification, we find that the structure of public attitudes toward the parties changed considerably as the party system changed. Abrupt changes in the party system were reflected in changed cleavage patterns. Independence increased during this period and changed from being perceived as a separate dimension to being seen as part of an anti-politics-as-usual dimension.
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