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

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Friday, January 31st, 2020

Friday, January 31, 202012:00PM - 2:00PM208N, North House, 1 Devonshire Place, Toronto, ON, M5S 3K7
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More ethnic minority candidates ran for office in the 2019 Canadian federal election than ever before. Many other democratic states around the world are experiencing a similar increase in the number of ethnic minority candidates running in elections due to the growth of their populations with diverse ethnic backgrounds 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 ethnically 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 electoral democracy in 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]).


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

Visiting Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Toronto Mississauga

Main Sponsor

Centre for the Study of Global Japan


Japan Foundation

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