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: