As women’s participation in the workforce expands, many countries seek to reform child care support by changing the gender division of labor. Japan also attempted universalistic child care support reforms, though these were not always successful. The electoral reforms of the 1990s prompted the major political parties to make universalistic reforms, and the major party leaders advocated similar ideas. Still, they failed to extend benefits to all children. Agreement on the expansion of funding was particularly challenging. By analyzing coalition formation within and among political parties, I show that the electoral reform led to stiff competition, which made it difficult for parties to agree. The change to a majoritarian electoral system not only intensified inter-party rivalry but also made it difficult to persuade intra-party groups that perceived a threat to their electoral success.

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