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: