Would Japanese Voters Support Non-Japanese Candidates? Voting Experiments in Japan

  • 31 Jan 2020
  • 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM
  • Room 208N-North House, 1 Devonshire Place, Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy

This event is organized by the Centre for the Study of Global Japan, Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy.

Go Murakami
Associate Professor, College of Law, Ritsumeikan University, Japan

Would Japanese Voters Support Non-Japanese Candidates? Voting Experiments in Japan


An unprecedented number of candidates who identify as ethnic minorities ran in the 2019 Canadian Federal election. Globally, many other democratic states are experiencing a similar increase in the number of ethnic minority candidates running in elections, due to the growth of their ethnically diverse populations over the past few decades. In contrast to this trend, few ethnic minority candidates have run for office in Japan to date. Given that Japan has already accepted some, and may accept more immigrants in the future, Japanese people are likely to see more ethnic non-Japanese candidates in the near future. If these candidates run for election at the national level, would Japanese voters support them? Which voters would be more or less likely to vote for these candidates and why? Studying these counterfactual questions presents important implications not just for understanding Japanese voters, but for the electoral democracy of many countries worldwide.

To discuss these questions, Professor Go Murakami will present the major results of three online voting experiments he conducted in Japan between 2011 and 2019. In these experiments, he showed several hypothetical candidate profiles to participants and asked them to vote for one. In the study, one of the candidates' ethnicity was randomly altered to be either Japanese, Korean or Chinese. The study showed that a significant proportion of Japanese voters avoided supporting the non-ethnic minority candidate, an effect that depended largely on voters’ partisanship, ethnic group attitudes, and relevant policy preference. During this presentation, Professor Murakami will discuss the implications of these findings for future Japanese elections.


Go Murakami is an Associate Professor in the College of Law at Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan. He is currently a Visiting Professor in the Department of Political Science, University of Toronto, Mississauga. He received a PhD in Political Science from the University of British Columbia. Professor Murakami studies political psychology and behaviour, with special interests in race, ethnicity and immigration. His recent publication includes "Effects of Candidates' Ethnicity on Vote Choice in Japan: An Experimental Approach" (Ritsumeikan Law Review, 2019) and "Survey Experiment on Majority Building" In Yoichi Hizen, ed., Experimental Politics (with Kiichiro Arai and Masaru Kohno, 2016 [in Japanese]).

Register: https://munkschool.utoronto.ca/csgj/event/29020/register/

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