Yale Project on Japan’s Politics and Diplomacy Series

Event
Posted : February 17, 2020

A myriad of survey polls and academic literature suggest that Japanese are rather individualistic and do not care about others. Across different indicators, Japanese seem to be the least likely to engage in pro-social behavior among advanced democracies. The egoistic attitudes, in aggregate, should make it difficult for the society to have a consensus over redistributive policies ranging from a tax increase to corona-related benefits. The talk begins with the stylized understanding of the Japanese society and concludes by discussing conditions under which Japanese care about others and how...

Event
Posted : September 5, 2019

Japan currently faces some serious challenges of both a short and long term nature. The coronavirus breakout in Wuhan has been a major concern of the whole nation because of its close proximity to and economic relations with China. Japan also has had some serious natural disasters in the recent past and more is in stock: a huge tsunami, for instance, has up to 26% chance of hitting the southern coast of Japan in the next 30 years. The pace of Japan’s population decline seems to have accelerated in the past few years, which is already affecting Japan’s economy and security among others. Japan’...

Event
Posted : September 5, 2019

Japan has fared very well in averting a major COVID-19 crisis.  Death tolls have been minimal compared to many European countries and the United States. This led Japanese policy makers to congratulate themselves on the success of the Japanese model although no one could explain what it was. Today, however, Japan faces the fourth—likely to be the most deadly—wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. This presentation focuses on the most vulnerable population—the frail elderly in long-term care facilities—to explain Japan’s initial success and its subsequent failure. Japan got very lucky in that the...

Event
Posted : September 5, 2019

How does Japanese general public react to the recent drastic changes in its national security environments? Our team has been working on variety of online survey experiments in Japan on its nuclear “possession” taboo, a possible military escalation over the territorial dispute with China — the rising superpower, and “invisible” crises in a distant, isolated open sea/air like one happened between South Korean naval vessel and Japanese Maritime SDF’s P-1 patrol aircraft in December 2018.  Our data provides valuable information on how the general public in the East Asian democracy would evaluate...

Event
Posted : January 9, 2019

Do generational cohort effects on participation differ between women and men of developed democracies?  Scholars concur that generational cohort effects are typically shaped by “formative experiences.”  Robert Putnam and others have pointed to the experience of mobilization during World War II as the “formative experience” that led the “greatest generation” to participate at especially high rates throughout the course of their lives, while others such as M. Kent Jennings have stressed the 1960s protests as propelling the particularly high levels of participation among the baby-boomer...

Event
Posted : January 9, 2019

Japan’s security policy is undergoing a significant change from its traditional postwar “pacifist” defense posture. At the heart of the recent changes is the 2015 legislation, which allows for exercising the right of collective self-defense and hence expanding the permissible roles for the Japanese Self-Defense Forces. In his lecture, Professor Kurizaki examines the Japanese government’s claim that these changes are vital to support allied deterrence of threats against Japan, and necessary to enhance Japan’s security in a region of shifting power. Specifically, he extends game-...

Event
Posted : October 4, 2018

Debates over constitutional revision have picked up steam since 2012, when the Liberal Democratic Party returned to power. PM Shinzo Abe has declared constitutional amendment–particularly of Article 9–to be one of his top priorities, but it is not clear whether the public shares his commitment. Newspaper surveys tend to produce inconsistent results, suggesting the need for a more rigorous analysis of public opinion. Dr. McElwain will discuss the results of two online survey experiments conducted in 2017 and 2018. In one survey, we test the effects of changing the “proposer” of...

Event
Posted : October 1, 2018

Japan and Germany are well-known for their post-1945 American-imposed “peace constitutions” that forbade either country from having armed forces, armaments or engaging in war. Both have strong anti-militarist (but not “pacifist”) sub-cultures. Yet despite this today both are key U.S. allies, have substantial military forces (Japan is 7th in global firepower and has the second strongest nation in the Pacific after the U.S.; Germany is one of the key countries in NATO and 9th in global firepower), and after the Cold War have supported U.S. military operations abroad either in combat (Germany)...

Event
Posted : February 8, 2018

After WWII, Japan aspired to become a full-fledged player in the international system principally conceived and run by the United States. The 1941 Roosevelt Four Freedoms Speech is reflected in the 1945 UN Charter as well as in the 1947 Japanese Constitution. Since than, Japan has pursued, and thrived in, this world order, enhancing and somewhat shifting its role. Seventy years hence, Japan adheres to the basic values of human rights, democracy, free economy and rule of law. Today when liberalism as the ultimate answer to solve global questions is under certain skepticism, the lecturer...

Event
Posted : January 11, 2018

The world seems to be going through many fundamental changes. Some of them deeply worry us or scare us. While they require careful examination and response, they often produce frustration, uneasiness, and uncertainty among peoples and countries of the world. They may also lead to excessive and emotional reactions and irrational denials.    North Korea presents a prime example of these worrisome changes. Trying desperately to survive, Mr. Kim seems to be succeeding in transforming this oppressive and dysfunctional regime into a country capable of launching an ICBM targeted at Washington. An...

Event
Posted : January 10, 2018

Since the global financial crisis, many countries have experienced worryingly low inflation or deflation. Some central banks have taken aggressive unorthodox measures such as large scale quantitative easing, while others have taken a more cautious approach.  What determines the extent to which central banks have tackled the problem of low inflation?  Particularly interesting is the case of the Bank of Japan (BOJ), which for 15 years since its de jure independence of 1998 resisted adaptation of such unorthodox measures.  Examining the case of Japan, this project makes the case that the policy...

Event
Posted : October 17, 2017

This paper identifies voter-based mechanisms underlying why economic policies across countries do not converge to a single, successful model. We demonstrate that exposure to news about foreign government policies can change policy preferences of citizens through peer emulation and backlash against it. These heterogeneous responses arise due to citizens’ divergent predispositions about a foreign country being their “peer.” We test this argument with two coordinated survey experiments in Japan and Taiwan in 2015, which randomly assigned news reporting on the South Korea-China trade agreement...

Event
Posted : September 20, 2017

In low-information elections, voters may rely on gender stereotypes when evaluating female candidates relative to male candidates, and this may hinder women’s electoral success. In this study, we evaluate the impact of information on voter support for female candidates with a survey experiment conducted during the 2016 election for Japan’s House of Councillors, which includes a nationwide open-list proportional representation contest. We also consider the effect of compulsory preference voting, which may counteract gender-based inequalities in participation, as well as incentivize voters to...

Event
Posted : February 16, 2017

Event
Posted : July 27, 2016

Representative democracy necessitates the aggregation of multiple policy issues by parties into competing bundles of policies, or “manifestos,” which are then evaluated holistically by voters in elections. This aggregation process complicates our understanding of the multidimensional policy preferences underlying a voter’s single choice of a party or candidate. We address this problem with a novel conjoint experiment based on actual party manifestos. By juxtaposing sets of issue positions as hypothetical manifestos and asking respondents to choose one, our study identifies the effects...

Event
Posted : July 26, 2016

Surveying the changes in Japan’s place in the world from the ashes of defeat in 1945 to the country’s growing global role in a fast-changing region under Prime Minister Abe, Aaron Forsberg discusses his scholarly research on Japan’s postwar revival and his experience working on Japanese affairs at the U.S. Department of State since 2001. Keying off of the relationship between Japan and the United States, his talk explores the internal and external drivers of policy across the major phases of Japan’s place in the world since 1945. These include reintegration into the international community as...

Event
Posted : July 26, 2016

Political dynasties exist in nearly all democracies, but have been conspicuously prevalent in Japan, where over a third of all legislators and two-thirds of all cabinet ministers in recent years come from families with a history in parliament. Such a high proportion of dynasties in a developed democracy is unusual, and has sparked concerns over whether the democratic processes in Japan are working properly. In his book project, Dynasties and Democracy: The Inherited Incumbency Advantage and Institutional Reform in Japan, Daniel M. Smith introduces a comparative theory to explain the...

Event
Posted : May 26, 2016

Senior scholars from Japan and the United States will travel to Yale for this conference and give presentations on Japanese foreign and domestic policy. In addition, graduate students from Yale, Stanford, Princeton, and Boston University will present their work.    Panelists:  • Takako Hikotani (National Defense Academy) • Jennifer Lind (Dartmouth College) • Keisuke Iida (University of Tokyo) • Syuhei Kurizaki (Waseda University) • Ryo Sahashi (Kangawa University) • Chikako Ueki (Waseda University)  • Phillip Lipscy (Stanford University) • Nobuhiro Hiwatari (University of Tokyo) Graduate...

Event
Posted : January 7, 2016

Against the backdrop of evolving social institutions over the last 100 years, I will explore the role women have played in Japanese society through reflection on the lives of my grandmother, my mother, and myself Nobuko Sasae works as a conference interpreter and currently resides in Washington, D.C. along with her husband, Kenichiro Sasae, the present Ambassador of Japan to the United States.  As a graduate of Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo from their College of Literature, Department of English, Mrs. Sasae went on to receive a Masters of Education from the University of Pennsylvania.  ...

Event
Posted : January 6, 2016

What explains the rise and fall of military power in Japan? I identify key determinants of Japan’s military power and security policy in recent years to be a set of political institutions, pacifist norms, and laws. While China’s rise in military power has caused Japan to upgrade its capability and use technology and foreign cooperation to buttress military power, the “troika” of the postwar institutions has long shaped Japan’s security policy and constrained the use of force. I will show that the institutional, normative, and legal constraints are a large part of...

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