What explains the dramatic turnaround in attention to national security by conservative Japanese
politicians since 1996? Noticed by many scholars, this turnaround is almost always attributed to changes
in Japan’s external security environment. But Japan experienced changes in its security environment be-
fore 1996, which produced no comparable shifts in attention. Moreover, the new attention is not focused
on the changes that pose the greatest threats to Japan: the rise of China and North Korea’s burgeoning
missile and nuclear capabilities. I argue that this turnaround is best explained by a shift in the electoral
strategies of conservative politicians. I explain why conservative politicians should have ignored national
security under the old electoral system, used until 1994, and why they should be paying attention to it
under the new, used since 1996. Applying the statistical topic model latent Dirichlet allocation to a new
collection of 7,497 election manifestos produced by all serious candidates competing in the eight House
of Representatives elections between 1986 and 2009, I show that the introduction of the new system
forced conservative politicians to switch their electoral strategies from pork for the district to policies
for the nation, one of which is national security policy. I argue that this shift in strategy is producing the
turnaround in attention to national security, not external events, shifting voter priorities, new candidates,
or new candidate preferences.
Work connecting electoral systems with variations in policy and patterns of government spending rests on the assumption that candidates adopt different electoral strategies under different electoral systems. This assumption has never been empirically tested. It also conflicts with evidence from qualitative studies of the campaigns fought by candidates after Japan’s 1994 electoral reform, which argues that these candidates are adopting exactly the same strategies under the new system as they were under the old. This paper uses topic modeling of a new collection of 7,497 candidate election manifestos produced by all serious candidates running in the eight House of Representatives elections held between 1986 and 2009 to examine whether Japan’s electoral reform was associated with a shift in candidate electoral strategies in line with the predictions of our theories.
In 1985, a dispute over nuclear ship visits led the United States to formally suspend its security guarantee to New Zealand under the trilateral ANZUS Treaty. In this article, I conceptualize this dispute as a case of intra-alliance opposition by a small state toward its stronger ally. I generate four hypotheses from the literature on alliances in international relations to explain why New Zealand chose to oppose its ally on the nuclear ships issue. Using new evidence, including interviews with 22 individuals involved in the dispute and content analysis of debates in the New Zealand parliament from 1976 to 1984, I conclude that a desire for greater autonomy in foreign policy was the driving factor behind New Zealand’s opposition.
This article examines the feasibility of using role identity as an independent variable to explain the direction of a state’s national security policy. Focusing on the response of the Japanese government to the Gulf War (January-March 1991) and the U.S. War in Iraq (March-May 2003), the article examines the correlations between articulations of a preferred role for Japan made in the Japanese Diet, with these policy outcomes. It finds that the different balance of role conceptions held by Japanese politicians in the two periods under study can explain the difference in policy outcomes. The study also finds, however, that the salience of these role identities is affected by contextual factors. Under circumstances of heightened threat perception, Japanese policy makers were less inclined to articulate any sort of value-based role identity for Japan in favor of role statements that were characterized by pragmatism.
This article examines the dispute over whaling from the perspective of Japan, a country fiercely protective of its right to whale. It outlines the key roles played by transnational environmental actors in defining and instituting an international norm of anti-whaling, symbolized in the passage of the moratorium on commercial whaling in 1982. This signaled a rejection of previously held attitudes towards the use of whales as natural resources and the embracing of a protectionist, hands-off approach. Support for this new stance, however, was not forthcoming from pro-whaling states Japan, Norway and Iceland. By analyzing Japan's original objection to the moratorium, its later compliance, and then its commitment to the resumption of limited commercial whaling, this article outlines the principles that underpin Japan's whaling policy. While the Japanese government views the whaling dispute as a threat to resource security and a danger to inter-state respect for differences in custom and cuisine, the need to be perceived as a responsible member of international society exercises a major influence on the formation of Japan's whaling policy, conditioning its rule compliance and prohibiting the independent action pursued by other pro-whaling states. Recent developments in the whaling dispute, however, may be enough to dislodge
Japan's commitment to the moratorium, which would impact upon the legitimacy of the International Whaling Commission.
This article examines the applicability of theories of agenda setting developed by John W. Kingdon in the American political context to two of New Zealand's most path-breaking and far-reaching policy changes: the passage of the Treaty of Waitangi Act in 1975, which established the Waitangi Tribunal, and the subsequent amendment to that legislation in 1985, which widened its powers. While the three factors identified by Kingdon as being pertinent to agenda setting, problem recognition, changes in the political stream and the role of visible participants, provide the background for these two significant policy changes, the particular characteristics of the New Zealand politico-institutional system, identified in Buhrs' and Bartlett's work on environmental policy making in New Zealand, are necessary to account for the way in which Maori sought to draw government attention to their concerns via protest activism. These movements were able to create conditions that enabled the government to overcome the constraints posed by previous policy and embark in a new direction. Notions of path dependence are utilized to provide a fuller account of the second policy change.