Early-Career Scholar Forum

Conspiracy theory communities on social media in Japan

Friday, 2 December 2022 | 12:15 - 13:00 (JST)
Zoom Meeting
  • Robert Fahey Waseda Institute of Advanced Studies, Waseda University
  • Kenneth Mori McElwain Institute of Social Science, and TCJS Board Member, The University of Tokyo

Conspiracy theories have existed since the earliest recorded history, but events in recent years such as the US Capitol riot in 2021 and the refusal of COVID-19 vaccines by citizens in many countries have reinforced the dangers that belief in these theories can pose to societies. While Japan has thus far avoided the worst excesses of conspiracy belief seen in other developed countries, many Japanese citizens do hold conspiracy beliefs – some of them shared with conspiracy believers overseas, and some unique to the Japanese context. My research project aims to clarify the nature of conspiracy belief among Japanese citizens and how it differs from other countries, and this presentation will focus primarily on the spread of conspiracy theories online in the immediate aftermath of the assassination of former prime minister Abe Shinzō and the nature of the communities in which those theories were fostered and disseminated.


Rob Fahey is an assistant professor at the Waseda Institute for Advanced Study (WIAS) at Waseda University, and a visiting professor at the University of Milan. He received his PhD in Political Science from Waseda University in 2021. His research focuses on the interactions between populism, polarisation and conspiracy theory belief, alongside a parallel focus on contemporary Japanese politics, and he is especially interested in using social media data to measure and observe socio-political behaviours.