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Two Decades Behind: How to Give Women a Bigger Voice in Japanese PoliticsMiura Mari

Japan has one of the lowest rates of female representation in politics of any country in the world. What are the reasons for Japan’s lack of progress in this area, and what can be done to improve the gender balance in Japanese politics?
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High Court Decisions Augur Long Road to EqualityMuta Kazue

On December 16 last year, the Supreme Court delivered a ruling on a closely watched case regarding the right of spouses to maintain separate surnames after marriage. The plaintiffs in the case challenged the constitutionality of article 750 of the Civil Code, which requires one of the spouses to adopt the surname of the other. They held that the provision violated the couple’s rights, and also tha…
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The Polarization of the Japanese Media and the Need for Middle GroundSatō Takumi

Japanese newspapers are said to have become polarized in their coverage of controversial issues like the recent national security legislation. How does their current approach compare with their stance in 1960, when renewal of the Japan-US security treaty split the nation? And what is their role in the age of the Internet, where people are unlikely to seek content that conflicts with their own opinions?
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Traditional Japanese Cooking in the Home: An Endangered ArtIwamura Nobuko

Washoku, the “traditional dietary culture of the Japanese,” was recently inscribed on the UNESCO list of the world’s intangible cultural heritage. Iwamura Nobuko, a researcher into food and family life in modern Japan, looks at what “home cooking” really means for people in Japan today.
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The Quest for Voting Equality in JapanMasunaga Hidetoshi

Under Japan’s existing electoral system, the value of a single vote varies considerably depending on the district where it is cast. Lawyer Masunaga Hidetoshi argues that Japan will become a true democracy only when these disparities are corrected.
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What Japan’s Farmers Really Need Is FreedomAsakawa Yoshihiro

While welcoming Prime Minister Abe’s decision for Japan to participate in the TPP free trade talks, agricultural journalist Asakawa Yoshihiro takes issue with the Abe administration’s farming policy, calling for bold moves to free Japan’s farmers and food producers.
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Abenomics and the Government’s New Growth Strategy

The Diet convened for an extraordinary session on October 15. Prime Minister Abe Shinzō is determined to use this session to pass legislature to support his new national growth strategy. Major aims include a bill to boost Japan’s industrial competitiveness, which will be essential for the success of the prime minister’s “Abenomics” program and growth strategy.
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The Politics of the Tax Hike and AbenomicsTakenaka Harukata

On October 1, the cabinet of Prime Minister Abe Shinzō decided that the government would raise the consumption tax rate from 5% to 8% as scheduled next April. Below I provide a political interpretation of why it reached this decision. In recent months, Prime Minister Abe repeatedly acknowledged that he would carefully make the final judgment about the hike while taking into account its impact o…
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Japan in Pursuit of Westminster DemocracyTakenaka Harukata

Since the 1990s Japan has undertaken a raft of political reforms designed to foster more efficient and effective government. Takenaka Harukata assesses the outcome of these institutional changes, the lingering obstacles to majoritarian democracy in Japan, and the implications for policymaking under the second Abe cabinet.
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Why Do Japan and Italy Change Prime Ministers So Often?Ikeya Tomoaki

In the 1990s both Italy and Japan introduced single-seat constituencies to their electoral systems in an attempt to encourage two-party politics. Since then both have had frequent changes of prime minister. Political scientist Ikeya Tomoaki examines the similarities and differences in the workings of the two countries’ political systems.
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