Kenneth Mori McElwain (University of Tokyo): What do Japanese people want from their constitution?

Jun 13, 2019 | 04:00 PM - 06:00 PM

Debates over constitutional revision in Japan have picked up steam since 2012, when the Liberal Democratic Party returned to power. PM Abe has declared constitutional amendment to be one of his top priorities, but it is not clear whether the public shares his commitment. This talk pays attention to a specific distinction: whether amendment revision is necessary (present urgency) or whether it is desirable (future improvement). I discuss this difference through two means. First, I analyze the structural features of the constitution and argue that, because it leaves many features to be determined by law, it can adapt to pressing concerns without formal amendment. Second, I examine elite and public preferences regarding constitution revision and demonstrate that there is profound disagreement on HOW to amend the document, suggesting uncertainty about the viability of the Abe Administration's proposals. 

Kenneth Mori McElwain is Professor at the Institute of Social Science, University of Tokyo. His research focuses on comparative political institutions, most recently on differences in constitutional content across countries. He received his BA from Princeton University and PhD in political science from Stanford University, and previously taught at the University of Michigan, before moving to his current post in 2015. 

Time & Location

Jun 13, 2019 | 04:00 PM - 06:00 PM

Seminar room 2.2051 (Holzlaube), Fabeckstr. 23-25, 14195 Berlin