Andreas Eder-Ramsauer (Freie Universität Berlin): Yamamoto Tarō and Reiwa Shinsengumi: Testing the Left-Wing Populist Hypothesis in Japan

(In cooperation with Research-Forum IN-EAST)

ONLINE lecture | 14.00 – 16.00 h


Long facing declining wages and rising inequality, LDP governments have walked an electorally successful, but often unpopular, tight balance between neoliberal deregulation and seemingly pro-labor and pro-welfare state policies all throughout the “lost decades”. Since 2019, under the leadership of the charismatic former actor and prominent anti-nuclear energy activist Yamamoto Tarō, a new left-wing project, the Reiwa Shinsengumi, aims to break the conservative hegemony dominant in Japan. It has emphasized a lack of state intervention and spending, highlighting the LDP’s and the establishment’s responsibility for a variety of social ills befalling “the suppressed people” ever since the asset bubble burst of 1989. Utilizing a discourse-theoretical approach to populism based on the works of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, I aim to elucidate the novelty of this project and by comparing it to previous iterations of left-wing politics, explain potentials and constraints. Additionally, the specific nature of Japan’s political party landscape, as well as social movements and electoral systems in Japan make the Japanese context a previously untested field for a left-wing populist strategy, as put forward by some of its foundational thinkers.


Short bio:
Andreas Eder-Ramsauer, MA: PhD candidate Freie Universität Berlin (Japanese Studies); MA in Japanese Studies from the University of Vienna; Main research interests: Populism; History of political ideas in Japan; democratic theory and practice in Japan



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Screenshots of the lecture