Is Japan a Silver Democracy? Demographics, Politics, and Policy Choices for the 21st Century
Will demographics shape Japan’s future, and if so, in what ways? A rapidly aging society and a sharp drop in population have long been anticipated in Japan, but their impact on the political process and public policy in the 21st century are hotly debated. Some see a silver democracy at work as elderly citizens constitute an ever larger share of the electorate and electoral institutions magnify their political voice. Others, however, dispute the notion that senior citizens are a major driving force in Japanese politics, skewing a whole gamut of economic and social policies in their favor.
On December 3, the Center for East Asia Policy Studies hosted a seminar on the implications of demographic change for Japanese politics and future public policy decision making. Expert panelists from the United States, Canada, and Japan offered insights and analyses on a range of issues, including the voting power and political mobilization of different age groups in Japan, the impact of demographics on Japan’s growth strategy, and the competing social policies and fiscal allocations benefiting young and elderly citizens.
The Politics of Japan’s Shifting Demographics – by Leonard Schoppa
The Effect of Population Aging on Politics – by Michio Umeda
Japanese Youths and the Politics – by Ito Peng
Professor of Sociology and Public Policy; Director, Centre for Global Social Policy - University of Toronto
Associate Dean for the Social Sciences; Professor of Politics - University of Virginia
Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law and Letters - Ehime University
How to Overcome the Silver Democracy in Japan – by Naohiro Yashiro
Project Researcher, Institute of Gerontology, University of Tokyo - Professor Emeritus of Political Science, University of Michigan
Assistant Professor, Department of Government, History and Sociology - University of Tampa
Visiting Professor - International Christian University
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I think probably that the lesson that [Kim Jong Un is] learning is that he doesn’t have to give up anything and yet people will be scrambling for summits with him. ... The longer we have these drawn-out talks, these summits, bilaterals, trilaterals, quadrilaterals, the more it buys time for them to reinforce their claimed status [as a nuclear power] but also to continue with their R&D. But I do think that there is an element of trying to mitigate the sanctions, and also Kim took all those discussions about military strikes seriously enough to try and take the wind out of the sails. ... I find it difficult to envision how or why he would give up his nuclear weapons, which have pretty much given him what he’s wanted: which is the strategic relevance, the international prestige, and deterrence.
[Regarding President Trump's shift from enthusiasm to uncertainty over the U.S.-North Korea summit] In effect, President Trump is getting a mini-lesson in talking to the North Koreans even before he talks to the North Koreans.
[Kim Jong Un] did not engage diplomatically at all in those first seven years [as the leader of North Korea], probably because he didn’t want to hear the Chinese nagging him about advancing these weapons. And also he wasn’t going to start bargaining or negotiating them away. ... Kim has done a pivot where he’s doing a maximum engagement.