The Demand for Legalism: Changing Governance and Social Policy in Japan
Assoc. Prof. Celeste Arrington, PhD, George Washington University, Washington D.C.
01.12.2022 18:00 Uhr – 20:00 Uhr
Japanese approaches to governance historically favored informal, bureaucratic, and legally non-binding “soft law” measures. Yet Japan has enacted more legalistic social policies in the past two decades, and the role of law and courts in policy processes has grown. What accounts for this shift in governance toward more formalized rules and enforcement mechanisms? Most explanations are top-down, emphasizing politicians’ strategies to cope with institutional fragmentation or economic and social complexity and international treaty commitments. While not wrong, such explanations overlook the role of civil society actors. Through comparisons of recent reforms related to accessible public transportation, disability discrimination, and secondhand smoke in Japan, this paper argues that activists and lawyers are contributing to the legalistic turn in governance by demanding and using more formalized regulations and participatory policy processes. Inductive qualitative analysis of Japanese policy deliberations, legislation, interviews, documents from advocacy organizations, news coverage, and Japanese scholarship uncovers several causal mechanisms that link activism to the legalistic turn in governance. This study contributes to broader scholarship on varieties of legalism, policy diffusion, the judicialization of politics, and changing political norms.
Celeste Arrington (PhD, University of California, Berkeley) is Korea Foundation Associate Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at the George Washington University. Her research interests include law and social change, comparative policy processes, and transnational advocacy. Her first book was Accidental Activists: Victim Movements and Government Accountability in Japan and South Korea (Cornell University Press, 2016). She has published articles in Comparative Political Studies, Law & Society Review, Journal of East Asian Studies, Law & Policy, Asian Survey, and elsewhere. Her current book analyzes the changing role of lawyers and litigation in Japanese and Korean policymaking regarding tobacco control and disability rights. With Patricia Goedde, she co-edited Rights Claiming in South Korea (Cambridge University Press, 2021). In 2022 – 2023, she is affiliated with the Japan-Zentrum at LMU on a research fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.
Der Vortrag findet in Präsenz statt. Ort: Japan-Zentrum der LMU, Seminargebäude am Englischen Garten, Oettingenstr. 67, 80538 München, Raum 151.