Reconsidering Representation: New Issues, Institutions, and Japanese Politics

Panel Code

Political representation has been a central theme in political science. A great deal of the literature has sought to understand how people perceive various political issues and how their preferences and interests are represented by political elites. However, political and social changes create new issues. People need to understand and assess new issues. In addition, different governments have different electoral and legislative systems. How people are represented is heavily conditioned by such systems. This panel examines how people perceive and respond to newly arising political issues and how the representation of their preferences and interests is mediated by political institutions. Japan is an interest case to address these topics because recently the country has been confronted with new critical issues related to national security and citizenship, facing great changes in the international environment and demographics. Moreover, Japan has diverse electoral and legislative systems within the country, which offers an opportunity to test the influence of such systems on representation.

Our five papers address these topics at both mass and elite levels. First two papers explore people’s responses to new issues such as national security and immigration. Focusing on the Japan-U.S. alliance, Iida and Hata discuss the alliance dilemma between a risk of being abandoned by its allies and a risk of being entrapped in its ally’s war at the mass level. Endo and Yokoyama evaluate the impact of foreign neighbors on people’s attitudes toward immigration. Next, Nakamura builds a bridge between the voter-level analysis and the elite level analysis. Using eye tracking technology, he examines people’s cognitive load of choosing the most preferred candidates under a multi-member districts system with single non-transferable voting used in city council elections. Last two papers analyze the elite-level policymaking process from an institutional perspective such as a bicameral system and party organization. Thies and Yanai look at bicameralism and investigate the effects of divided parliaments on lawmaking. They try to figure out what kinds of legislation the government relinquishes when it lacks a majority of seats in the upper house. Fujimura examines how political party discipline members’ legislative voting behavior, focusing on intraparty resource allocation.