Political Consequences of Structural Change: Explaining the LDP's Loss in 2009

Kay Shimizu- Assistant Professor, Political Science,Columbia University


What explains the recent large swings in the behavior of Japanese voters? Last August, for the first time in the post-WWII era, Japan's leading political party, the Liberal Democratic Party, lost power, making way for a new DPJ government. During the preceding months leading up to the lower house elections in August 2009, popular media coverage pointed to fundamental structural changes in the Japanese political economy as the underlying causes for changing voter preferences. To what extent can structural changes in the economy and society explain changing voter behavior and electoral outcomes? Japan's two decade old stagnating economy, rapidly graying society, and post-industrial advanced economic structure provide an ideal case for studying this question. Using both national and sub-national level data spanning two decades, we test both popular theories and conventional wisdom about the political effects of a graying society, widening income disparities, and industrial structural change.

Monday, May 17, 2010 | 4:00 pm — 5:30 pm
Philippines Conference Room, Encina Hall, 3rd Floor

Shorenstein APARC