Empiricists routinely explain politically sensitive decisions of the U.S. federal courts through the party of the executive or legislature appointing the judge. That they can do so reflects the fundamental independence of the courts. After all, appointment politics will predict judicial outcomes only when judges are independent of sitting politicians. Because Japanese Supreme Court justices enjoy an independence similar to that of U.S. federal judges, I use judicial outcomes to ask whether Japanese premiers from different parties have appointed justices with different political preferences. Although the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) governed Japan for most of the postwar period, it temporarily lost power in the mid-1990s. Elsewhere, Professor Eric Rasmusen and I asked whether the administration of the lower courts changed during this non-LDP hiatus. Here, I explore whether the supreme court changed. More specifically, I ask whether the non-LDP premiers appointed supreme court justices with different policy preferences. I find that they did not.

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