comparative politics international relations

JPOSS #16 “Taking Gains from Trade (More) Seriously: The Effects of Consumer Perspective on Free Trade in Contemporary Japan”

The sixteenth session of the Japanese Politics Online Seminar Series (JPOSS) took place on June 10, 2021. Christina L. Davis (Harvard University) chaired the seminar and moderated the question and answer session.

Yu Jin Woo (Waseda University) presented her paper with Ikuo Kume (Waseda University), “Taking Gains from Trade (More) Seriously: The Effects of Consumer Perspective on Free Trade in Contemporary Japan.” In her presentation, Woo explained her collaborative research exploring why the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) was able to consistently pursue negotiations to establish the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) negotiations without losing public support, an important question that has implications for how political scientists understand the politics of international trade. Existing studies have commonly assumed that citizens form policy preferences on trade liberalization by thinking of themselves as producers based on their specific or general skill level or employment concerns. Woo and Kume challenge this conventional approach by recognizing that economic preferences are shaped by the way in which individuals view themselves as producers and consumers. Drawing on analysis from a survey experiment, they find that the LDP enjoyed sustained public support due to increasing sensitivity to the costs of consumer goods, which is especially strong among LDP supporters.

Discussant comments were offered by Eddie Hearn (Musashi University) and Soo Yeon Kim (National University of Singapore). The discussion raised interesting questions about the politics of trade in Japan and other developed countries. The discussants and the audience also offered many constructive suggestions pertaining to research methods and possible future directions of the research.

This event attracted over 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: