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The Japanese Voter

The Japanese Voter

Scott C. Flanagan
Shinsaku Kohei
Ichiro Miyake
Bradley M. Richardson
Joji Watanuki
with a Foreword by Warren E. Miller
Copyright Date: 1991
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 518
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  • Book Info
    The Japanese Voter
    Book Description:

    This landmark work surveys the major factors that influence voting behavior in Japan. It is the first comprehensive study of the Japanese voter to be written for English-speaking audiences.

    It is commonly believed that Japanese voting behavior cannot be compared to voting behavior in the West because it is not determined by the same kinds of group loyalties, interests, and attitudes but rather by unique patterns of personalistic networks and group mobilization. However this book demonstrates through a wide range of examples that there are recognizable bases of comparison between Japanese and Western voting behavior. It also produces a number of fascinating contrasts with voting in the West, because Japanisdifferent, even if it is not unique. Thus we learn about the relative absence of economic voting, the weak role of the media, the continuing importance of cultural values, the enormous stability in voting patterns, and the effects of the unusual Japanese electoral system. Drawing on data from the 1950s onward, the book includes coverage of the most recent national elections in Japan.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-16048-2
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Tables
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. List of Figures
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Foreword
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    Warren E. Miller

    Volumes likeThe Japanese Voterare unique in their contribution to scholarship well beyond their manifest contribution to a specific body of knowledge. Books likePolitical Action, Political Change in Britain, or The American Voter—the avowed model forThe Japanese Voter—come into existence because of commitments to ideas that go beyond the range of most individual, personal scholarly efforts. For this genre it is not just the challenge of opening a new intellectual domain but also the acceptance of obligations to fellow investigators that veritably create a new collegial institution engaged in an extended undertaking of great organizational...

  6. Preface
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  7. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xix-xx)
  8. Part I Introduction

    • One Japanese Voting Behavior in Comparative Perspective
      (pp. 3-46)

      Japan’s post–World War II electoral experience is a history of paradoxes. On the one hand, Japan’s conservative party movement dominated the polls from 1947 through the present by winning majorities or pluralities in all general elections held during this period, with the single exception of the 1989 House of Councillors election. Relatedly, from 1948 through 1955 conservative party coalitions held Diet majorities, while, since its formation in 1955, the main party in the conservative camp, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), has consistently held majorities in the Japanese parliament’s more important House of Representatives.¹ This continuity in conservative rule and...

  9. Part II Long-term Influences on Voting Behavior

    • Two Social Structure and Voting Behavior
      (pp. 49-83)

      I will begin with an overview of the relation between social-structure variables and the nature of partisan cleavages in prewar Japan. My starting point will be 1890, since that was the date of Japan’s first general election with the opening of the Diet under the Meiji constitution. Of the four types of social cleavages usually associated with voting behavior—regional or ethnic divisions, religious divisions, agrarian-industrial divisions, and class divisions (Lipset and Rokkan, 1967:14)—Japan was basically exempt from the first two and has been so throughout the modern period (Flanagan and Richardson, 1977:15–18).¹ Ethnic and religious homogeneity, in...

    • Three Value Cleavages, Contextual Influences, and the Vote
      (pp. 84-142)

      This chapter begins with the proposition that two of the most compelling explanations of Japanese voting behavior are derived from the “cultural cleavage” and “social network” models. As was demonstrated in the last chapter, the kinds of religious, ethnic, and regional cleavages typically found in the European democracies were historically comparatively absent in Japan and hence not available to serve as social bases for political parties. Moreover, the principal social cleavage that is present—the division of class or socioeconomic status—does not have the strength or clarity of expression in Japan that it does in many other industrial countries...

    • Four Mechanisms of Social Network Influence in Japanese Voting Behavior
      (pp. 143-197)

      In the last chapter it was found that cultural cleavages and certain kinds of occupational and residential contexts were strong predictors of vote choice in Japan. The finding of contextual effects on voting behavior assumes that social networks are the mechanisms that explain the associations between these geographic or associational environments and the vote. This chapter looks inside these contextual settings to gain further insight into the various means by which social networks shape voting behavior.

      The chapter begins with a discussion of the social network model that reviews the cross-national evidence on contextual effects and introduces a typology of...

    • Five Agents of Partisan Socilization in Japan
      (pp. 198-225)

      Early studies on the American electorate concluded that citizens were likely to inherit the partisan affiliation of their parents and to retain it during their lifetime. This stability of party affiliation across generations contributed to the stability and durability of the party system and, in turn, of the political system in general.¹ In the case of Japan, there are reasons to believe that the family may not be the most important agency of political socialization. For one thing, the Japanese party system has undergone several changes over the last fifty years.The biggest change is the one that took place after...

    • Six Types of Partisanship, Partisan Attitudes, and Voting Choices
      (pp. 226-264)
      Ichiro Miyake

      It has often been noted that one of the important features of party support in Japan is its low intensity. Among voters, there seem to be far more independents and apathetics in Japan than in other advanced industrial countries. Even when there is an attachment to one of the parties, it is likely to be weak (Richardson, 1975). Another important feature of party support in Japan is the poor or negative image of political parties. The number of responses to questions of what respondents like or dislike about each of the parties is much smaller in Japan. Even when substantive...

  10. Part III Short-term Influences on Voting Behavior

    • Seven Issues and Voting Behavior
      (pp. 267-296)

      The role of issues as determinants of voting choice has been a central topic in voting studies in every democracy. In spite of a considerable accumulation of voting research in the advanced democracies, however, that role has not been made entirely clear. As an article reviewing voting studies in the United States noted, issues as determinants in voting can be identified as having a certain limited importance—neither overwhelming nor completely insignificant (Niemi and Weisberg, 1976:162–71). Thus, the impact of issues on voters’ decisions may differ from country to country, election to election, or even from study to study....

    • Eight Media Influences and Voting Behavior
      (pp. 297-331)

      One of the most profound changes that has accompanied the advent of the advanced industrial society has been the unprecedented expansion of the mass media. Recent studies have shown that Americans are exposed to one or another type of media an average of seven hours a day. Whether in the form of political information or entertainment, the mass media have become a pervasive and important part of our lives. In particular, television has been singled out as having the most profound effect on our images and evaluations of the world around us. Studies have shown that the average recent high...

    • Nine Social Networks, Influence Communications, and the Vote
      (pp. 332-366)

      This chapter addresses the impact on individual voting behavior of electoral mobilization in Japanese elections. Emphasis is placed on the effects of informal solicitations of one’s vote by means of communications that depend on existing social networks and structures. These are often seen as especially influential owing to special characteristics of Japanese society and culture. The focus of the analysis is on the candidate component of voting choices. Normally, solicitations of people’s votes and other mobilizing activities are initiated on behalf of candidates, not parties.

      Extensive efforts by candidates, communities, and groups to influence people’s voting choices via face-to-face contacts...

  11. Part IV Conclusions

    • Ten The Japanese Voter: Comparing the Explanatory Variables in Electoral Decisions
      (pp. 369-430)

      This book has addressed the question of how people vote in Japan, why they choose particular political parties, and when and why they support specific candidates. In considering these issues, we have dissected the voting behavior of the Japanese people from a number of perspectives: traditional sociopolitical cleavage theory, value cleavage hypotheses, and propositions about contextual effects and social network influences, partisanship, issue opinions, media effects, and candidate-focused constituency mobilization and influence communications processes. Some of the analytical orientations were inspired by comparative research traditions; some reflect ideas about voting indigenous to Japanese scholarship. This chapter will summarize and integrate...

    • Eleven The Changing Japanese Voter and the 1989 and 1990 Elections
      (pp. 431-468)

      Having been presented our analysis and model of Japanese voting behavior, the reader may now ask how enduring these parameters and patterns of behavior are likely to be. This question demands all the more urgent a response in light of the July 23, 1989, upper house and February 18, 1990, lower house elections in Japan. These election results would seem to challenge our emphasis in chapter 10 and elsewhere on the stability of electoral outcomes in Japan over the last two decades. Does the 1989 House of Councillors (HC) election represent a turning point, bringing to an end two decades...

  12. References
    (pp. 469-486)
  13. Index
    (pp. 487-497)