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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-third 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/

Categories
comparative politics Japan-related research

JPOSS #9 “Policy or Valence? Candidate or Party? Assessing Voter Preferences in Japan”

The ninth session of the Japanese Politics Online Seminar Series (JPOSS) took place on December 17, 2020. Daniel M. Smith (Harvard) chaired the seminar and moderated the question and answer session.

Jordan Hamzawi (University of California, Davis) presented his paper,  “Policy or Valence? Candidate or Party? Assessing Voter Preferences in Japan.” In his presentation, Hamzawi explored an important and puzzling question: why has the Liberal Democratic Party which dominated Japanese politics from 1945 to 1993 become dominant again? He critically evaluates a number of theories that explain why the LDP dominated national politics before Japan’s electoral reform in the 1990s, which triggered a transition from clientelist to issue-based voting, but cannot fully explain why Japanese have supported the LDP since 2012 as many of its policies are unpopular. Using a survey of voter preferences by the Association For Promoting Fair Elections, Hamzawi explores this question. He finds that voters heavily weigh valence—specifically affective valence—when considering their choice of party and candidate. This implies that the LDP’s resurgence stems from voters’ belief that there is no other party with the capacity to govern Japan.

Discussant comments were offered by Kentaro Fukumoto (Gakushuin University) and Zeynep Somer Topcu (University of Texas at Austin). The discussion raised interesting questions about why political parties are able to win elections, the evolution of party politics in Japan, and effective measurement of voter preferences. The discussants and the audience also offered many constructive suggestions pertaining to research methods and possible future directions of the research.

This event attracted around thirty-five 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/