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Popular Democracy in JapanHow Gender and Community Are Changing Modern Electoral Politics$
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Sherry L. Martin

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801449178

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801449178.001.0001

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The Political Distance between Citizens and Elites

The Political Distance between Citizens and Elites

(p.26) 1 The Political Distance between Citizens and Elites
Popular Democracy in Japan

Sherry L. Martin

Cornell University Press

This chapter analyzes individual responses to open-ended questions posed to a national sample of voters in 2000, to identify dominant trends in public opinion that remain as true now as then. Citizens across Japan use practices in their everyday lives to construct a definition of democracy that involves questioning the status quo and tradition, listening to diverse perspectives, encouraging participation and innovation, deliberating alternatives, and exposing the processes of decision-making. Japanese voters complain that elite political practices are far removed from their understanding of what democracy is and how it should be practiced. They criticize closed decision-making processes and the inability of politicians to offer concrete, detailed policy alternatives to the problems that concern voters most. Their changing attitudes about democracy and its practice provide a context for understanding observed patterns of participation in local politics and their implications for national political change.

Keywords:   democracy, Japanese voters, elite political practices, national political change, political participation

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