Research on geographically-targeted spending under closed-list proportional representation (CLPR) reveals a debate over whether governing parties target `core supporters' or `swing voters'. We show that when divisor-based formulae are used to convert votes into seats, parties can `reverse' the formula to calculate the number of additional votes needed to win an additional seat. Because many CLPR countries use multiple PR districts and conduct separate competitions in each, this invites parties to rank districts according to how close they were to winning an additional seat. Reversing divisor-based formulae reveals an inverse relationship between the number of extra votes needed in a district and the number of seats a party already has there: namely, parties need fewer extra votes in districts where they captured fewer seats (`marginal districts'). We posit that governing parties steer geographically-targeted spending toward marginal districts under CLPR and we present evidence of this from Japan, 1996-2013.
In many democracies, incumbents make the distribution of government resources contingent on how people vote, a practice known as `clientelism'. What happens to clientelism when some people receive a `programmatic' policy, untied to how they vote, has been the subject of much recent work. We posit that incumbents have incentives to respond to the enactment of a programmatic policy by increasing the amount of clientelistic goods delivered to policy beneficiaries. They do this to offset a perceived decline in interest in the clientelistic exchange. We examine this proposition in Japan (1980-2006), where municipalities are embedded in clientelistic exchanges with incumbents and differ in eligibility for a programmatic policy (a snow subsidy) in a manner exogenous to those exchanges. Leveraging fixed effects regressions, a geographic regression discontinuity (GRD) design, and analysis of survey data, we find evidence consistent with our proposition. Our findings have far-reaching implications for work on clientelism.
How do governing parties use geographically-targeted spending in mixed-member majoritarian (MMM) electoral systems? Despite being used in thirty countries, little attention has been paid to this question. We posit that under MMM, majority-seeking parties carve out `preelectoral coordination' strategies with small parties, and once in government, use geographically-targeted spending to motivate supporters to comply with their strategy. We extend work on preelectoral coordination by explaining why it is likely to involve the exchange of candidacies in the district tier for votes in the proportional tier, even under single-ballot MMM. We test our propositions using municipality-level election returns and central government transfers in Japan (2003-2013) and Mexico (2012-2016). In both cases, the dominant coalition rewarded municipalities that complied with more transfers after elections. Our findings have broad implications for research on mixed-member systems, distributive politics, and the politics of Japan and Mexico, respectively.
How do politicians motivate voters to turn out and support them? We posit that incumbents construct tournaments between groups and distribute rewards to groups based on the levels of electoral support provided. We test our propositions in Japan, where incumbents can discern relative levels of support provided by municipalities in their districts and influence spending in ways that reward certain municipalities over others. Using new data on approximately 3,300+ Japanese municipalities in 1980-2000, we show that when municipalities are ranked according to their levels of support for Liberal Democratic Party winners in their district, those at higher ranks get larger rewards, the difference in size of the reward increases at higher ranks, and those in districts where municipalities vary more in size also receive larger rewards. Our findings support the theory and help to explain several puzzles in Japanese politics, including why pork flows to less-supportive districts.
Do candidates position themselves differently under different electoral systems and is their positioning in line with expectations derived from spatial theories? We reexamine these core political science questions using substantively-meaningful estimates of candidate ideological positions derived from quantitative scaling of 7,497 Japanese-language election manifestos used by candidates competing in the eight consecutive elections to Japan’s House of Representatives (HOR) on either side of its 1994 electoral reform. A battery of tests confirm that the vast majority of candidates position themselves closer to both opponents in the district and co-partisans after 1994, which is consistent with theoretical expectations. An exception is candidates from non-majority-seeking parties, who position themselves closer to co-partisans but relatively far from opponents after 1994. This is consistent with an electoral strategy of trying to increase their party’s PR vote share and lends further support to the validity of spatial theories.
We examine two related propositions central to the sub-field of comparative politics: that candidates for office adopt different electoral strategies in different electoral systems and rely more on particularism when faced with intra-party competition. We apply an innovative methodological approach that combines probabilistic topic modeling with in-depth qualitative interpretations of each topic to an original collection of 7,497 Japanese-language candidate election manifestos used in elections on either side of Japan's 1994 electoral reform. We find that the reform, which eliminated intra-party competition, was associated with a decline in particularism and an increase in promises of programmatic goods such as national security among candidates affiliated with Japan's Liberal Democratic Party. This is not explained by the entry of new candidates or other variables that could plausibly increase discussion of national security. Consistent with the theory, we find that opposition candidates relied on programmatic goods under both electoral systems.
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.