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Changing dynamics of multilevel democracy in Japan

Since the 1990s, local democracy and representation in Japan have been changing. Political reforms at the national level, decentralization, reduced clientelism, and broader socio-economic challenges such as depopulation have transformed the roles of local legislatures and executives. These changes have not least affected important national policies. The talk will analyze overall trends in the “quality” of local democracy in terms of some indicators of responsiveness, accountability and participation in local representation at municipal and prefectural level. It will further discuss how changes in local representation and local party organizations have affected national processes regarding public works, energy, and security. The talk concludes with reflections on how aggravated regional inequality will affect decentralization and the quality of local and national democracy in the near future. Professor Yamada Kyohei will comment on Dr. Hijino’s latest research and amend the discussion by analyzing how changes in institutions and patterns of political competition at the local level affect political competition at the national level. A particular focus lies on how the increased volatility in national elections affects calculations and decisions of majority-seeking political parties. He will further discuss how political competition at national level affects the central government’s willingness and capacity to change or not to change the population size of local governments.



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