Removing Boundaries, Losing Connections: Electoral Consequences of Local Government Reform in Japan

Journal of East Asian Studies, Vol 15, No 1, pp. 99-125, January-April 2015

40 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009 Last revised: 9 Feb 2015

See all articles by Yusaku Horiuchi

Yusaku Horiuchi

Dartmouth College - Department of Government

Jun Saito

Yale University

Kyohei Yamada

Rikkyo University

Date Written: September 3, 2014

Abstract

This paper examines the role of local politicians in affecting national-level election outcomes by focusing on the drastic municipal mergers in Japan that took place in the early 2000s. Specifically, we argue that the political party that relies most extensively on local politicians’ efforts for electoral mobilization and monitoring will suffer an electoral slump when municipalities are merged and the number of municipal politicians is swiftly reduced. We empirically show that municipalities with a history of mergers exhibit significantly lower voter turnout and obtain a smaller vote share for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in national elections when compared to other municipalities without an experience of mergers. This result indicates that municipal politicians are indispensable human resources for LDP candidates running for the national parliament.

Keywords: municipal mergers, mobilization, participation, turnout, Liberal Democratic Party, Japan

JEL Classification: D72

Suggested Citation

Horiuchi, Yusaku and Saito, Jun and Yamada, Kyohei, Removing Boundaries, Losing Connections: Electoral Consequences of Local Government Reform in Japan (September 3, 2014). Journal of East Asian Studies, Vol 15, No 1, pp. 99-125, January-April 2015. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1449022

Yusaku Horiuchi (Contact Author)

Dartmouth College - Department of Government ( email )

204 Silsby Hall
HB 6108
Hanover, NH 03755
United States

HOME PAGE: http://sites.dartmouth.edu/horiuchi/

Jun Saito

Yale University ( email )

New Haven, CT 06520
United States

Kyohei Yamada

Rikkyo University ( email )

3-34-1 Nishi-Ikebukuro
Toshima-ku, Tokyo 171-8501
Japan

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