Categories
Japan-related research

JPOSS #35: “Japan: The Harbinger State”

The thirty-fifth session of the Japanese Politics Online Seminar Series (JPOSS) took place on February 2, 2023. Christina L. Davis (Harvard University) chaired the seminar and moderated the Q&A session.

Phillip Y. Lipscy (University of Toronto) presented a paper published in a special issue of the Japanese Journal of Political Science (JJPS) honoring and celebrating the works of Susan Pharr upon her retirement. Lipscy notes that the paper is inspired by Pharr’s contributions to the field of political science through her study of Japan. In this paper, he reviews the trends of research on Japan in the field and argues for the value of studying Japan as a “harbinger state,” a country that is relatively early amongst others in encountering a general issue or challenge. While the concept is not unique to the case of Japan, Lipscy points out a number of areas where Japan’s experience presents crucial opportunities for preliminary evidence and insights on issues that may be incipient in other states, such as aging population, staggering public debt, and responding to the rise of China.

During the Q&A session, participants reflected on the role of single country studies in the field as well as the challenge of undertaking book-length expositions of ideas and theories with a central focus on Japan. Participants also mentioned difficulties in framing Japan as a case in conversation with different areas of scholarship. Moving forward as a community of scholars, participants raised suggestions for collaborations and conferences.

This event attracted around 30 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/

Categories
international relations Japan-related research

JPOSS #34: “The Pretty Pragmatic Public: Japanese Public Opinion During the Afghanistan Evacuation”

The thirty-fourth session of the Japanese Politics Online Seminar Series (JPOSS) took place on December 15, 2022. Amy Catalinac (New York University) chaired the seminar and moderated the Q&A session.

Yusaku Horiuchi (Dartmouth College) presented a paper co-authored with Atsushi Tago (Waseda University) on Japanese public opinion toward the Self-Defense Force’s (SDF) involvement in military operations in accordance with the US-Japan alliance. Their study offers an empirical expansion of the US-centric public opinion literature to the context of Japan, a crucial case in light of geopolitical developments in the region. Responding specifically to the literature on civilian control and casualty sensitivity, the authors administer an online survey experiment to understand the applicability of existing theories to Japan. In order to circumvent the shortcomings of utilizing hypothetical scenarios in survey experiments, the authors conducted a “real-time” survey experiment using the real and concurrent case of the SDF evacuation mission in Afghanistan as the situation was unfolding in August 2021. Consistent with studies on US public opinion, the authors find that first, Japanese support for military operations decreases in response to the presence of casualties, and second, the survey results do not align with the expectations of civilian control. However, unlike the case of the US, casualty sensitivity in the Japanese case does not seem conditional on the success of military operations. The survey experiments covered in this paper are part of a larger series of survey experiments conducted by the authors to understand Japanese public opinion toward military operations, an area of research that has until recently been limited.

Shoko Kohama (Hokkaido University) and Jonathan Renshon (University of Wisconsin-Madison) offered insightful comments on the scope conditions, potential downsides to employing “real-time” survey vignettes, and alternative ways to frame the study. During the Q&A session, participants furthered discussion on the framing and theoretical contributions of the study.

This event attracted around 32 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/

Categories
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/

Categories
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/

Categories
Japan-related research

JPOSS #30: “Nationally Prioritized Migrant Groups and Public Perception: Evidence from Framing and Conjoint Experiments in East Asia”

The thirtieth session of the Japanese Politics Online Seminar Series (JPOSS) took place on June 9, 2022. Phillip Y. Lipscy (University of Toronto) chaired the seminar and moderated the Q&A session.

Yujin Woo (Hitotsubashi University) presented a paper co-authored with Jaehyun Song (Kansai University), which looks at the effect of repeated government messaging on public perception of migrants. Drawing from the cognitive psychology literature, the authors study the competing theoretical expectations that message repetition leads to increased support for policies due to persuasion (“truth effect”) and decreased support due to overexposure (“reactance”). Their study also makes use of cross-country comparisons to investigate the effect of variation in the discursive contexts surrounding migrant integration. The authors conducted combined framing and conjoint experiments through online surveys in Japan and South Korea between 2020 and 2021. Their analyses produce mixed findings. On one hand, when respondents are exposed to vignettes about policies aligned with the government rhetoric, the results do not lend support to the truth effect or reactance theories. However, the authors do find evidence of framing effects for policies targeting migrant groups that are less common to the country context.

Charles Crabtree (Dartmouth College) and Kikuko Nagayoshi (University of Tokyo) offered insightful comments on the research method and interpretation of results. During the Q&A session, participants raised questions about the survey design and offered suggestions on alternative ways to understand the results obtained by the authors.

This event attracted around 30 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/

Categories
Japan-related research

JPOSS #29: “Remembering Frances McCall Rosenbluth: Scholar, Mentor, and Friend”

The twenty-eighth session of the Japanese Politics Online Seminar Series (JPOSS) took place on April 14, 2022. Christina L. Davis (Harvard University) chaired the seminar and moderated the session.

Last November, we lost a brilliant scholar, inspirational mentor, and generous friend. She was one of the founding members of the Japanese Politics Online Seminar Series (JPOSS). In this session, we came together to honor and remember Professor Rosenbluth’s contributions to political science, with a focus on her work on Japanese politics, political institutions, and political economy. Tom Pepinsky (Cornell University) and others reflected on how Rosenbluth’s innovative scholarship on Japanese political economy, party politics and gender inequality made political scientists take Japan more seriously as an influential case worthy of study in its own right but also as an exemplar of broader political dynamics that could be observed in other countries. In these ways, Professor Rosenbluth masterfully used social scientific theories and methods to challenge pre-existing notions that the primary explanation for Japanese politics and society was rooted in culture. Hikaru Yamagishi (Yale University) and Trevor Incerti (Yale University) discussed their experiences working with Professor Rosenbluth as her doctoral students, each sharing personal memories of her tireless commitment to guiding, training, and helping students navigate the academic world as well as pursue field research in Japan. Countless participants shared similar stories.

This event attracted lose to one-hundred participants who came together virtually to share their positive experiences with Professor Rosenbluth and mourn her loss. 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/

Categories
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/

Categories
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/

Categories
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/

Categories
international relations Japan-related research

JPOSS #25: “Official Knowledge of Foreign Relations Law in U.S.-Japan Relations”

The twenty-fourth session of the Japanese Politics Online Seminar Series (JPOSS) took place on January 13, 2022. Charles Crabtree (Dartmouth College) chaired the seminar and moderated the Q & A session.

Ryan Scoville (Marquette University Law School) presented his research on knowledge of U. S. foreign relations law as it is understood by Japanese government officials. His work addresses a gap in existing legal scholarship on the laws governing how the U. S. engages in foreign relations (treaty-making, managing security, etc.) by investigating the extent to which foreign governments understand this aspect of American law. Using a case study of Japan, Scoville makes three points. First, meta-knowledge is valuable as the U. S. government needs to gauge how well foreign governments understand American foreign relations law to improve it in terms of optimizing design and use. Second, meta-knowledge of U. S. foreign relations law is generally lacking. Three, scholars should cultivate an understanding of U. S. foreign relations law.

Discussant comments were given by Kevin Cope (University of Virginia School of Law) and Andrew Oros (Washington College). During the Q and A session, participants raised important questions about the degree to which researchers can accurately gauge how well foreign governments understand U. S. foreign relations law and the implications of such knowledge for international relations.

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/