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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien

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.