Book Talk Series The Universality and Originality of the Japanese Constitution in Quantitative Perspective
- Wednesday, 1 March 2023 | 17:00 - 18:00 (JST)
- Zoom Webinar
- Kenneth Mori McElwain Professor, Institute of Social Science, The University of Tokyo
- Satoshi Yokodaido Professor, Law School, Keio University
- Sawako Shirahase TCJS Director
- Event Description
Based on the book The Universality and Originality of the Japanese Constitution in Quantitative Perspective (in Japanese), written by Kenneth Mori McElwain (Chikura Shobō, 2022)
The Constitution of Japan (COJ) is the oldest amended constitution in the world, despite decades of contestation about its historical origins and its continuing viability. Using data from over 900 national constitutions since the 18th century, this book argues that the COJ’s seeming stasis is due in large part to its textual brevity, particularly on political institutions. Globally, constitutional amendments focus on institutional changes to electoral rules and central-local powers. Because the COJ leaves these to be determined by law, however, institutional adaptation can occur through regular legislation, lessening the COJ’s structural need for amendment. Of course, this is not to say that the COJ cannot be improved upon. This book explores the historical evolution of constitutional change and notes issues on which amendments may be desirable and where we should be cautious. It concludes by analyzing original survey data on public attitudes towards constitutionalism, which shows that the primary concern of citizens is the further enumeration of human rights, particularly relating to the environment and privacy.
- About the Speaker
Kenneth Mori McElwain is a Professor of Comparative Politics at the Institute of Social Science, University of Tokyo. His research focuses on comparative political institutions, most recently on the politics of constitutional design. He received his BA in public policy from Princeton University and Ph.D. in political science from Stanford University. His work has been published in various journals, edited volumes, and monographs, most recently The Universality and Originality of the Japanese Constitution in Quantitative Perspective (Chikura Shobō, 2022), which won the 34th Asia-Pacific Award Special Prize. More details can be found on his homepage, https://www.kennethmcelwain.com/. He also serves as Editor-in-Chief of Social Science Japan Journal, published by Oxford University Press.
Satoshi Yokodaido is a professor of law at Keio University, Japan, and currently serves as a visiting fellow at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. He holds a Ph.D. degree from Keio University (2011). He teaches Japanese constitutional law, and his research topics are freedom of speech, governmental interpretation of the constitution, comparative constitutional law, etc. He is the author of dozens of law reviews and other scholarly articles, many book chapters, co-authored books, and single-authored books. His work includes; ‘Constitutional Stability in Japan not due to Popular Approval’ 20(2) German Law Journal (2019); ‘Asian Human Rights Law, Jurisprudence and Practices toward the Internet’ in Human Rights, Digital Society and the Law: A Research Companion (Mart Susi, ed., Routledge, 2019); Japan chapter in The 2020 International Review of Constitutional Reform (Luís Roberto Barroso & Richard Albert, ed. 2021)(co-authored). In addition, he was a member of the National Bar Preliminary Examination Commission, the Law School Common Achievement Test Commission (chair in 2019), and many other governmental commissions.