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Why do people's preferences towards trade liberalization fluctuate? And why do we observe the eventual return of public support towards free trade? The traditional literature in international political economy has typically calculated individuals' preferences based on their comparative advantage as income-earners, which arises from their specific or general skill level or employment status. What needs to be taken into account, however, is that their economic preferences are constructed based upon their intertwined identities as both income-earners and consumers. We designed and conducted an experiment in Japan (2015) that would impartially elicit answers regarding respondents' daily consumption patterns or (and) employment concerns rather than deliberately or artificially informing them of the potential benefits or harms of trade liberalization. The results display that consumer priming offsets negative impacts arising from employment priming. The consumer effect reduces individuals' concerns on income level or employment when they are exposed to consumer and employment primings simultaneously. Furthermore, our subgroup analyses reveal that the consumer effect remains even among those experiencing economic fragility such as low income or job insecurity. This suggests that potential losers have incentives to support free trade by appreciating consumer benefits.
Why are citizens in advanced industrialized countries willing to accept high prices for agricultural products? Conventional wisdom suggests that agricultural interests secure government protection because producers are concentrated and better politically organized than diffused consumers. Due to its focus on producer capacity for collective action, however, the literature fails to account for the high levels of mass support for agricultural protectionism in advanced industrialized nations. This article presents new evidence from a survey experiment in Japan conducted during the recent global recession (December 2008) that accounts for this puzzle. Using randomly assigned visual stimuli, the experiment activates respondents' identification with either producer or consumer interests and proceeds to ask attitudinal questions regarding food imports. The results suggest that consumer priming has no reductive or additive effects on the respondents' support for liberalizing food imports. Surprisingly, producer priming increases respondents' opposition to food import, particularly among those who fear future job insecurity. We further disentangle the puzzling finding that consumers think like producers on the issue of food import along two mechanisms: “sympathy” for farmers and “projection” of their own job insecurity. The results lend strong support to the projection hypothesis.
In 1990, the Japanese Political Science Association (JPSA) and the APSA initiated a formal
exchange program. Every year, the JPSA invites APSA representatives to attend our annual
meeting—where they have a joint session with Japanese members—and sends two JPSA
representatives to the APSA Annual Meeting. In 2004, APSA President Margaret Levi
(University of Washington) and Ian Shapiro (Yale University) attended the JPSA meeting in
Sapporo; the JPSA exchange participants in the APSA Annual Meeting in Chicago were Ryosuke
Amiya (Kobe University) and Kensuke Takayasu (Hokkaido University).
Many scholars argue that labor is excluded from Japan's political system. However, since the 1970s, labor has become considerably influential in the policymaking process in Japan. The oil crisis of 1973 and the Shuntou wage bargaining of 1975 have made labor, especially private-sector unions, modest in their wage demands, but at the same time these events have made labor participate actively in the policymaking process in order to maintain employment and seek some benefits from the government. This article demonstrates that Japan's increasing export-dependence and tradeoffs between wage increases on the one hand, and inflation and unemployment on the other in the 1970s, have driven labor to this new, more active role in policymaking, while the necessity for the governing Liberal Democratic party to seek a new constituency has enabled labor to achieve some success in this new role. This implies that Japan's political system has changed its nature since the 1970s; its political process has become more pluralistic with labor's participation within the existing political system.
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