Dynasties and Democracy in Japan

Political dynasties exist in nearly all democracies, but have been conspicuously prevalent in Japan, where over a third of all legislators and two-thirds of all cabinet ministers in recent years come from families with a history in parliament. Such a high proportion of dynasties in a developed democracy is unusual, and has sparked concerns over whether the democratic processes in Japan are working properly. In his book project, Dynasties and Democracy: The Inherited Incumbency Advantage and Institutional Reform in Japan, Daniel M. Smith introduces a comparative theory to explain the persistence of dynastic politics in democracies like Japan, focusing in particular on electoral rules and party recruitment processes. He then uses original legislator-level data from twenty-two democracies and candidate-level data from Japan to explore the implications of this theory for candidate selection, election, and cabinet promotion, as well as the consequences for democratic representation.

Daniel M. Smith is Assistant Professor of comparative politics in the Department of Government at Harvard University. His research focuses on electoral systems, candidate selection, and voter behavior in Japan and Western European parliamentary democracies. Past research has been published or is forthcoming in the Journal of Politics, Legislative Studies Quarterly, Party Politics, Electoral Studies, Annual Review of Political Science, and several edited volumes on contemporary Japanese politics. He has recently completed a book manuscript about the causes and consequences of political dynasties in Japan titled Dynasties and Democracy: The Inherited Incumbency Advantage and Institutional Reform in Japan.

Daniel Smith, Assistant Professor of Politics, Harvard University, “Dynasties and Democracy in Japan”

Friday, September 23 at 12:00pm
Room 241, Rosenkranz Hall, 115 Prospect

Sponsored by The Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership