Imagine a Japan that was not allied with the United States in the postwar period. Would it have grown as fast as it did? In the lead essay of the current issue of the Journal of East Asian Studies, Michael Beckley, Yusaku Horiuchi and Jennifer M. Miller ask this intriguing counterfactual question. Constructing a “synthetic” Japan drawing on data from other postwar countries, they show statistically that Japan would have grown much more slowly. They complement this new technique with a consideration of some of the key US interventions that contributed to the result. These included not only the provision of financial support, the tolerance for moderate defense spending, and the US openness to Japanese exports but even interference in Japanese politics to keep the Socialists from gaining office.

A cluster of contributions to this issue look at electoral politics in Asia’s new democracies. Dan Slater raises an enduring issue about Indonesia’s: the propensity of parties to bandwagon with the president in what he calls “promiscuous power-sharing agreements” that dilute the strength and identity of the opposition. He traces these processes through the most recent Jokowi cabinets by reviewing the composition of the legislature and cabinet, seeing only a slight abatement in a political strategy that had its origins in the early post-transition period of indirect elections.

Tim Rich also tackles a recent election, which brought Tsai Ing-wen and the DPP to power in Taiwan. Rich uses innovative new empirical strategies at both the district and individual voter level to answer a particular question of import to the country’s mixed member system: to what extent did Tsai’s candidacy generate coattail effects, bringing the party along with her into the legislature? He finds that while Tsai’s opponents had some effects in pulling votes to their parties, Tsai’s influence was much more substantial, giving rise to the first unified DPP government in Taiwan’s history.

Furthermore, Stan Hok-Wui Wong, Ngok Ma and Wai-man Lam use the case of Hong Kong to ask a question about the influence of immigrant voting. The issue is particularly salient in Hong Kong because the bulk of immigrants are from China, an authoritarian regime. Using both survey data and an analysis of party strategies, they find that immigrants are more likely to approve of the political and economic status quo ad less likely to vote for pro-democracy opposition parties than the natives. Moreover, pro-Beijing parties are quite aware of this electoral raw material, with important implications for the future not only of voting in Hong Kong but of immigration policy.

Finally, we close out with another innovative contribution to the JEAS on North Korea that marks an interesting pairing to the Hong Kong case. Using novel survey data, Arum Hur asks what factors influence the likelihood that North Korean defectors will vote and participate politically. She finds that contractual factors within South Korea—the extent to which refugees see themselves as deriving benefits—matters less than prior socialization toward Korean nationalism in North Korea itself. This surprising finding shows that socialization in divided countries may have perverse effects, even strengthening democratic commitments among immigrants.


You can access the complete issue (Volume 18 – Issue 1) for free through April 30, 2018 here.

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