Organized Panel Session
This panel takes a deep look at the fundamental democratic relationships between citizens, politicians, and public policies in contemporary Japan, with the broader goal of providing a comprehensive view of the current state of Japanese democracy and prospects for political change in the near future. Observers of Japanese politics often speculate that the seven years of stable governments and electoral victories for the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) under Prime Minister Abe Shinzō represent a return to LDP dominance after three years in the opposition wilderness from 2009 to 2012. Abe is now on track to become Japan’s longest serving prime minister in 2019, and will likely remain in power through the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Nevertheless, this general narrative of the LDP’s remarkable comeback and the stability of the Abe administration elides the important, but nuanced, ways through which citizens and their policy preferences are connected to the LDP’s success. This panel features a mix of senior and junior scholars working on elections, policy issues, and representation in Japan, and is also diverse in terms of gender, ethnicity, institutional affiliation, and methodological approach. Each of the papers advances our knowledge of contemporary Japanese politics with cutting-edge methods and exciting new empirical findings. Together, the papers in this panel offer a fresh perspective on the sources and durability of the LDP’s public support during the Abe administration, and the possibilities for change going forward. The presentations are certain to spark lively discussion and open up bold new directions for research on Japan.