Seminar Series

A study of the regulation of individual behavior during a pandemic crisis in Japan

Thursday, 27 October 2022 | 9:00 - 10:00 (JST)
Zoom Webinar
  • Naomi Aoki Associate Professor, Graduate School of Public Policy, the University of Tokyo
  • Daiji Kawaguchi Professor, Graduate School of Public Policy, the University of Tokyo

This presentation is based on a study conducted in 2020, which examined whether a stay-at-home order with penalties would be an effective measure for regulating public behavior during a pandemic lockdown in Japan. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, authorities around the world have taken measures to limit civil liberties by means of stay-at-home orders, with penalties for infractions. In contrast, at the time of 2020 when this study was conducted, Japan had avoided legislating sanctions and instead sought voluntary cooperation from the public. Such a self-restraint request could be expected to deter public activity in Japan, whose society is known for conformity and social order so penalties might not be necessary. Nevertheless, the study found, through an online scenario-based experiment, that adding penalties still made a positive difference in the intention to stay home, especially in places with high infection rates, such as Tokyo. This study contributes to a broader discourse on what sort of measures can be taken to encourage public cooperation and compliance and on how to balance civil liberties with national health policies.


Naomi Aoki (Ph.D., Public Administration) is an associate professor of public management in the Graduate School of Public Policy (GraSPP) at the University of Tokyo (since April 2020), and was formerly an assistant professor at the National University of Singapore (August 2011- March 2020). As a researcher, Aoki addresses emerging issues in public administration and management through an interdisciplinary fusion of approaches. Her works have appeared in journals, such as Cities, Computers in Human Behavior, Government Information Quarterly, Habitat International, and Public Management Review.