Forum Report

On February 10, Japan in Global Context's 17th seminar took place at the Columbia University. This event titled “Nationalism and Populism Around the World: Is Japan an Exception?” was co-sponsored by the Columbia University’s the Weatherhead East Asian Institute, the School of International and Public Affairs and the Suntory Foundation.

All across the globe, populist movements appear to be gaining momentum. Scholars examined the growth of this phenomenon before focusing on the particular case of Japan—which appears to have largely resisted populism’s lure.

During the morning session, Columbia Professors Nadia Urbinati, Mark Lilla, and Jack Snyder discussed definitions of populism and the manifestation of nationalism in Europe and the Americas on a panel moderated by Columbia Journalism School Professor Alexander Stille.

In the afternoon, the discussion shifted to the question of why populism has made so few gains in Japan. According to Professor Satoshi Machidori of Kyoto University, part of the explanation lies in Japan’s political structure, which is structured in a way that makes it difficult for a populist to take over the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. Professor Kiyoteru Tsutsui, University of Michigan, presented a thorough picture of the causes of populism around the world and pinpointed how Japan is different. Professor Masayuki Tadokoro, Keio University, suggested that Japan did flirt with populism when it elected the opposition Democratic Party of Japan in 2009.

Wrapping up the panel discussion, Professor Harukata Takenaka of National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, Columbia University’s Visiting Scholar Dr. Amiko Nobori, and Columbia Professor Emeritus Gerald Curtis provided comments.

(Please see the PDF report for details.)


Web seminar "Japan in a COVID-19 World: A Discussion on Japan's Responses to the Global Pandemic" (with Harukata Takenaka and Gerald Curtis moderated by Takako Hikotani) held as a forum follow-up.