Graduate Student Forum

Transition to Broader-Based Politics: The Role of Suffrage Extension in Early 20th Century Japan

Tuesday, 25 February 2021 | 12:15 - 13:00 (JST)
Zoom Meeting
  • Shuhei Kainuma Graduate of School of Economics, The University of Tokyo
  • Rieko Kage Professor, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, The University of Tokyo

Modern industrialisation typically coincides with gradual democratisation through enfranchisement and intra-elite competition between traditional landlords and emerging capitalists. Does the redistribution of the de jure political power through suffrage extension provoke the transition in intra-elite power structures reflected in political representation? This study exploits suffrage extension, induced by the wartime tax increase during the mid-1900s Japan, and its regional heterogeneity to estimate its impact on the occupational composition of the House of Representatives. Using a difference-in-differences framework, he shows that the expansion of electorate representation resulted in a significant decline in the seat share of farmers and landlords, originally a dominant occupational group in the House. By contrast, no other major occupational groups exhibit systematic compensational increases in their shares. In the historical context, the results suggest that suffrage expansion likely contributed to the diversification of House politics from the landlord-centred system.