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comparative politics Japan-related research

JPOSS #32: “The Politics of Omote and Naishō: Performative Compliance and Spaces of Impunity in Meiji Japan”

The thirty-second session of the Japanese Politics Online Seminar Series (JPOSS) took place on October 6, 2022. Charles Crabtree (Dartmouth College) chaired the seminar and moderated the Q&A session.

Reo Matsuzaki (Trinity College) presented a paper co-authored with Fabian Drixler (Yale University), which looks at an alternative understanding of failure in law enforcement that emerges from tacit cooperation between the state and its subjects. The authors identify a puzzling lack of enforcement of infanticides during the Meiji period in Japan despite apparent state capacity. The authors propose the theory of omote-naishō to explain how state actors reconciled the conflicting demands of domestic pressures to uphold the legal protection of newborns and the need to respond to people’s desire for autonomy in order to maintain state-society relations. They argue that not only does the bottom-up construction of falsified statistics on stillbirths constitute an omote performance — “a fictional reality that manifests the outward-facing norms of society” — but the performance also diverges from existing concepts with the presence of naishō. Unlike concepts of performance that emphasize elements of deception between the state and its subjects, naishō is a form of tacit cooperation that is enabled by shared values in society and occurs specifically when these values conflict with formal laws.

Iza Yue Ding (University of Pittsburgh) and Dan Mattingly (Yale University) offered insightful comments on the theory and its translation, as well as important distinctions from similar concepts. During the Q&A session, participants raised questions about the applicability of the theory to other cases and made suggestions for comparative study.

This event attracted around 25 participants and produced an engaging Q&A session. The organizers would like to thank the presenters, discussants, and participants, as well as the staff at the Harvard Program on U.S.-Japan Relations, who provided administrative support. We look forward to seeing you at the next session of JPOSS:  https://jposs.org/

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comparative politics Japan-related research

JPOSS #31: “Ideological Positions and Committee Chair Appointments”

The thirty-first session of the Japanese Politics Online Seminar Series (JPOSS) took place on June 16, 2022. Amy Catalinac (New York University) chaired the seminar and moderated the Q&A session.

Jochen Rehmert (University of Zurich) presented a paper co-authored with Naofumi Fujimura (Kobe University) which looks at the role of ideology in committee chair appointments in the case of Japan. As committee chairs are conferred power in the legislative process and have the potential of affecting the cabinet’s legislative performance, existing literature in this area has sought to understand the factors that influence the delegation process of chair appointments. The authors contribute to the literature by investigating the role of ideology and how its effect varies between different types of committees. Using survey data on Japan’s committees and Members of Parliament from 2003 to 2017, the authors model the process of chair appointment using a conditional logit model that predicts the selection of committee chairs from the choice-set of all committee members. The role of ideology is measured as the ideological distance between the committee member and the average of all cabinet members along two dimensions of political competition, foreign policy and economic policy. The authors find evidence supporting the role of ideological proximity in chair appointments, especially on the economic policy dimension for chair appointments in high policy committees.

Benjamin Nyblade (UCLA School of Law) and Yoshikuni Ono (Waseda University) offered insightful comments on the theory and research method. During the Q&A session, participants raised questions about the assumptions behind the statistical model and validity of the measures generated from the survey data.

This event attracted around 20 participants and produced an engaging Q&A session. The organizers would like to thank the presenters, discussants, and participants, as well as the staff at the Harvard Program on U.S.-Japan Relations, who provided administrative support. We look forward to seeing you at the next session of JPOSS: https://jposs.org/

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comparative politics Japan-related research

JPOSS #28: “Mass Reactions to Endogenous Election Timing: Evidence from Conjoint Experiments in Japan”

The twenty-seventh session of the Japanese Politics Online Seminar Series (JPOSS) took place on March 3, 2022. Yusaku Horiuchi (Dartmouth University) chaired the seminar and moderated the question and answer session.

Masaaki Higashijima (Tohoku University) presented a paper co-authored with Noaki Shimizu (University of Kochi), Hidekuni Washida (Toyo University), and Yuki Yanai (Kochi University of Technology) which explores how voters react to how incumbent parliamentary governments manipulate the timing of elections. This is an important question not only for Japanese politics given previous scholarship on strategies the Liberal Democratic Party has used to maintain electoral dominance but is also relevant for the broader world as most democratic countries have some form of parliamentary democracy. Higashijima and colleagues take a novel approach to studying manipulation of election timing by drawing on analysis from a series of conjoint survey experiments which confront respondents with different hypothetical scenarios which depict the conditions under which the national government has called an election. They find that independent voters are least likely to support incumbents calling elections when conditions seem to favor the ruling party, but partisan voters care less about electoral manipulation.

Sona N. Golder (Pennsylvania State University) and Charles McClean (University of Michigan) offered helpful comments on theory and research methods. During the Q and A session, participants raised questions about how voters view electoral manipulation and whether some types of manipulation matter more than others.

This event attracted around sixty participants and produced an engaging Q & A session. The organizers would like to thank the presenters, discussants, and participants, as well as the staff at the Harvard Program on U.S.-Japan Relations, who provided administrative support. We look forward to seeing you at the next session of JPOSS: https://jposs.org/

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comparative politics Japan-related research

JPOSS #27: “Winning Elections with Unpopular Policies: Understanding Single-Party Dominance in Japan”

The twenty-sixth session of the Japanese Politics Online Seminar Series (JPOSS) took place on February 10, 2022. Amy Catalinac (New York University) chaired the seminar and moderated the question and answer session.

Shusei Eshima (Harvard University), Yusaku Horiuchi (Dartmouth College), Shiro Kuriwaki (Stanford University/Yale University), Daniel M. Smith (Columbia University) presented early findings from a project which explores the electoral dominance of the Liberal Democratic Party in recent decades. This is puzzling for two reasons. First, because Japan introduced important electoral reforms in 1993 designed to make national elections more competitive and shift politicians away from clientelist appeals to win votes. Second, recent work by Horiuchi suggests that LDP policy proposals are not that appealing to Japanese voters. Eshima and colleagues explore why Japanese voters would support the LDP over rival parties. Using a series of survey experiments designed to measure how voters evaluate party manifestos during national elections, they find that the LDP enjoys a strong reputation with Japanese voters who support it despite advancing less popular policy ideas.

Eric Guntermann (University of California, Berkeley) and Chris Tausanovitch (University of California, Los Angeles) offered insightful comments related to theory and research methods. During the Q and A session, participants raised questions about how voters evaluate policy ideas relative to party labels and discussed the ways in which researchers can reliably measure these phenomena.

This event attracted around sixty participants and produced an engaging Q & A session. The organizers would like to thank the presenters, discussants, and participants, as well as the staff at the Harvard Program on U.S.-Japan Relations, who provided administrative support. We look forward to seeing you at the next session of JPOSS: https://jposs.org/

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comparative politics international relations Japan-related research

JPOSS #26: “Field Research When There’s Limited Access to the Field: Lessons from Japan”

The twenty-fifth session of the Japanese Politics Online Seminar Series (JPOSS) took place on January 27, 2022. Daniel M. Smith (Harvard University) chaired the seminar and moderated the question and answer session.

Kenya Amano (University of Washington), Melanie Sayuri Dominguez (University of New Mexico), Timothy Fraser (Northeastern University), Etienne Gagnon (University of Tokyo), Trevor Incerti  (Yale University), Jinhyuk Jang (Pennsylvania State University), Charles T. McClean (University of Michigan), Austin M. Mitchell (Tohoku University), Sayumi Miyano (Princeton University), Colin Moreshead (Yale University), Harunobu Saijo (Duke University), Diana Stanescu (Stanford University), Ayumi Teraoka (Princeton University), Hikaru Yamagishi (Yale University), Charmaine N. Willis (University at Albany, State University of New York), Yujin Woo (Waseda University), Charles Crabtree  (Dartmouth College) presented their paper which identifies recent issues researchers have had conducting fieldwork in Japan due to the COVID-19 pandemic and discuss potential solutions to overcome these challenges.

Amano and colleagues discussed several logistical challenges that the current pandemic poses for conducting fieldwork in Japan specifically, but which could apply to other contexts: (1) the availability of research visas in the target country; (2) limitations placed on travel by home institutions and/or funders; (3) opportunities to work with local sponsors and network; (4) ethical restrictions to in-person contact; and, (5) changing entry restrictions both in their target country and at research locations (i.e., archives, libraries, and university facilities).

To overcome these logistical challenges, Amano and colleagues offered several recommendations. First, they offered strategies for conducting interview-based research remotely.

Second, Amano and colleagues talked about how researchers can leverage observational data that has been less frequently used.

Third, Amano and colleagues examined the trade-offs of pivoting research designs to include observational and experimental public opinion surveys.

During the Q and A session, participants offered further insights on these potential solutions and pinpointed other strategies that researchers working on might deploy to overcome challenges conducting fieldwork in Japan. Both the presenters and participants also pointed out how these strategies for conducting fieldwork in the age of COVID-19 can be applied by those researching other contexts.

This event attracted several participants and produced an engaging Q&A session. The organizers would like to thank the presenters, discussants, and participants, as well as the staff at the Harvard Program on U.S.-Japan Relations, who provided administrative support. We look forward to seeing you at the next session of JPOSS: https://jposs.org/

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comparative politics international relations Japan-related research

JPOSS #24: “Rethinking Environmental Mobilization: Civic Engagement in Post Fukushima Japan”

The twenty-third session of the Japanese Politics Online Seminar Series (JPOSS) took place on December 2, 2021. Phillip Y. Lipscy (University of Toronto) chaired the seminar and moderated the question and answer session.

Pinar Temocin (Hiroshima University) presented her doctoral research exploring the degree to which environmental civil society organizations (ECSOs) might have influenced Japanese energy policy since 3/11. Specifically, her research seeks to investigate domestic advocacy groups pursuing cooperative strategies (Institute of Sustainable Energy Policies, Renewable Energy Institute) as well as international advocacy groups that use a confrontational approach (Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth). Based on in-depth interviews with various policy stakeholders (including environmental advocates, politicians, corporations, and scientists), Temocin finds that ECSOs have had a limited influence on Japanese energy policy since the Fukushima triple disaster in 2011. Her work also suggests that the pro-nuclear lobby has had far more influence on policy relative to environmental activists.

Discussant comments were given by Mary Alice Haddad (Wesleyan University) and Yasuo Takao (Curtin University). During the Q and A session, participants raised important questions about the degree to which civil society groups influence Japanese policy-making and their influence on politicians.

This event attracted around thirty participants and produced an engaging Q&A session. The organizers would like to thank the presenters, discussants, and participants, as well as the staff at the Harvard Program on U.S.-Japan Relations, who provided administrative support. We look forward to seeing you at the next session of JPOSS: https://jposs.org/

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comparative politics Japan-related research

JPOSS #23: “Evolving Linkage Strategies: The Resilience of the LDP-Postmasters Alliance”

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The twenty-second session of the Japanese Politics Online Seminar Series (JPOSS) took place on October 14, 2021. Daniel Smith (Columbia University) chaired the seminar and moderated the question and answer session.

Daniel Koss (Harvard University) presented some of his ongoing research on the political impact of privatizing of the Japanese post office initiated by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in 2005 and which was seen as a move away from clientelism by Japanese voters at the time. Specifically, Koss explores the enduring alliance between the Liberal Democratic Party and the postmasters, assessing the extent to which the party’s reach comes at the expense of its autonomy. Drawing on a mixed of qualitative and quantitative evidence, he explores linkages between the LDP and Japan Post since 2005. Koss shows that although the relationship between the LDP and Japan Post has changed, both organizations remain tied to one another in a way that continues to impact Japanese electoral politics.

Discussant comments were given by Naofumi Fujimura (Kobe University) and Patricia Maclachlan (University of Texas, Austin). During the Q and A session, participants raised important questions about the the degree to which Japanese electoral politics have moved away from clientelism and the ways in which the LDP has courted rural voters.

This event attracted many participants and produced an engaging Q&A session. The organizers would like to thank the presenters, discussants, and participants, as well as the staff at the Harvard Program on U.S.-Japan Relations, who provided administrative support. We look forward to seeing you at the next session of JPOSS: https://jposs.org/

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comparative politics Japan-related research

JPOSS #21 “Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is: Willingness to Pay for Online Conspiracy Theory Content – Evidence from Japan”

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The twentieth session of the Japanese Politics Online Seminar Series (JPOSS) took place on October 14, 2021. Amy Catalinac (New York University) chaired the seminar and moderated the question and answer session.

John W. Cheng (Tsuda University), Masaru Nishikawa (Tsuda University), Ikuma Ogura (Georgetown University) and Nicholas A. R. Fraser (University of California, Berkeley) presented their paper, “Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is: Willingness to Pay for Online Conspiracy Theory Content – Evidence from Japan.” During their presentation, Cheng and colleagues identified gaps in previous studies on conspiracy theory belief within political science: first, few have explored Japan; and second, few if any explore the extent to which people are who claim belief in conspiracy theories are willing to act on their beliefs. Cheng and co-authors seek to address these points by exploring the extent to which Japanese are willing to pay for online conspiracy theory content. Using a survey experiment that randomly assigns descriptions of hypothetical videos with conspiracy theory content, Cheng and colleagues demonstrate that most Japanese would not be willing to pay for such content. Moreover, they find that men and those who get their news from social media are most likely to pay for online conspiracy theory content.

Discussant comments were offered by Masato Kajimoto (University of Hong Kong) and Joseph Uscinski (University of Miami). In addition to offering insightful comments on research methods, participants discussed what it means to act on conspiracy theory beliefs and the extent to which this may occur in the Japanese context.

This event attracted around forty participants and produced an engaging Q&A session. The organizers would like to thank the presenters, discussants, and participants, as well as the staff at the Harvard Program on U.S.-Japan Relations, who provided administrative support. We look forward to seeing you at the next session of JPOSS: https://jposs.org/

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comparative politics international relations Japan-related research Uncategorized

JPOSS #20: “Career Paths and Job Market Strategies for Japan Scholars”

The twentieth session of the Japanese Politics Online Seminar Series (JPOSS) took place on September 23, 2021. Christina L. Davis (Harvard University) chaired the seminar and moderated the question and answer session.

The sessions included discussions of the experiences of Japan scholars working in the US and Japan. Sherry L. Martin (U.S. Department of State) reflected on her experiences launching an academic career in the US and her subsequent transition into government work, highlighting the many ways in which Japan scholars can leverage their expertise to pursue a career in public service. Kenneth Mori McElwain (University of Tokyo) provided unique insights on how and why Japanese post-secondary institutions may wish to hire political scientists from abroad who do research on Japan. Kristin Vekasi (Harvard Program on U.S.-Japan Relations; University of Maine) discussed her experiences applying to academic and non-academic jobs, highlighting how Japan scholars can use their regional expertise to bring new perspectives in teaching and research as well as the importance of emphasizing their foreign language skills.

The session attracted several participants and included an active Q&A session on said topics. The organizers would like to thank the presenters, discussants, and participants, as well as the staff at the Harvard Program on U.S.-Japan Relations, who provided administrative support. We look forward to seeing you at the next session of JPOSS: https://jposs.org/

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comparative politics international relations Japan-related research

JPOSS #19 “Framing the Conversation: the US Military and Anti-US-Military Activism in Japan”

The nineteenth session of the Japanese Politics Online Seminar Series (JPOSS) took place on August 5, 2021. Amy Catalinac (New York University) chaired the seminar and moderated the question and answer session.

Charmaine Willis (University at Albany, SUNY) presented her paper, “Framing the Conversation: the US Military and Anti-US-Military Activism in Japan.” During her presentation, Willis outlined puzzling variation in public opposition to hosting US military bases in Japan. Previous studies of this topic have not explained why there have been many protests against US bases in Okinawa but few in mainland Japan. Focused on explaining this disparity, Willis seeks to discern why the US bases in Okinawa have elicited more protest than the bases on the Japanese mainland through a mixed-method analysis that employs an original protest event dataset, interviews, and primary documents. Based on a comparison of public reactions to US bases in Okinawa and the Tokyo metropolitan area, she argues that the difference is primarily rooted in divergent protest framing and discursive opportunity structures. Willis finds that public opposition to US bases in Okinawa is based on its history of marginalization and the higher visibility of American forces.

Discussant comments were offered by Yoshiaki Kubo (Indiana University Bloomington; University of the Ryukyus) and Andrew Yeo (Catholic University of America). Participants discussed the politics of hosting US forces in Japan and in other US-aligned countries. Moreover, discussants offered useful comments on how foreign and domestic policy can intersect to create specific political dynamics as in the case of Okinawa.

This event attracted several participants and produced an engaging Q&A session. The organizers would like to thank the presenters, discussants, and participants, as well as the staff at the Harvard Program on U.S.-Japan Relations, who provided administrative support. We look forward to seeing you at the next session of JPOSS: https://jposs.org/