Kuniaki Nemoto Research
Ph.D in Political Science and International Relations and Pacific Studies, UCSD


Forthcoming. "Localism and Coordination under Three Different Electoral Systems: The National District of the Japanese House of Councillors." Electoral Studies. With Matthew S. Shugart.

Democratic representation involves tradeoffs between collective actors -- political parties seeking to maximize seats -- and individual actors -- candidates seeking to use their personal vote-earning attributes (PVEA) to maximize their own chance of election and reelection. We analyze these tradeoffs across three different electoral systems used at different times for the large-magnitude nationwide tier of Japan’s House of Councillors. These electoral systems--closed and open-list proportional systems and the single non-transferable vote--differ in the extent to which they entail candidates seeking individual preference votes and in whether collective vote shares affect overall party performance. We use local resources as a proxy for PVEA and seek to determine the extent to which parties nominate “locals” and how much the presence of such locals affects party performance at the level of Japan’s prefectures.

Forthcoming. "Over-nominating Candidates, Undermining the Party: The Collective Action Problem under SNTV in Japan." Party Politics. With Ellis S. Krauss and Robert Pekkanen.

Any political party has a profound interest in maximizing seats, which in turn requires running the optimum number of candidates. However, to do this presumes solving a collective action problem among self-interested party members or leaders, and is deeply conditioned by the electoral system.  The case of Japan’s LDP under the Single Non Transferable Vote (SNTV) electoral system provides a superb illustration of how party leaders even in a famously electorally successful party will be unable to solve these dilemmas because of key facilitating institutions: first, party president selection rules; second, prime ministerial control over allocation of positions; third, a weak party label. Contrary to existing literature, we find ambitious factions consistently nominated too many candidates – deliberately risking the party’s losing seats. We draw attention to the sources of party strength in a novel way, and to how party rules interact with electoral systems to shape both parties and politics. 

2011. "Kojin Chushin no Senkyo Senryaku to Sono Yukosei." [Campaigning for Personal Votes and Its Impact on Electoral Outcomes.] Nenpo Seijigaku. With Shinsuke Hamamoto. [in Japanese]

While politicians still seem to see district activities as an important strategy for mobilizing personal votes, elections in Japan are increasingly marked by party competition. Why do they engage in such a strategy and does it really increase votes? By answering these questions, this paper aims to address how nationalized party competition affects politicians' behavior and how they adjust their different reelection strategies in changing environments. We hypothesize that personal-vote campaigning indeed increases votes and that its impact is larger where the incentives to cultivate personal votes are greater. With an original time-series dataset on the schedules of more than 150 Diet members, we offer the first systematic empirical test and find evidence confirming the hypotheses.

Forthcoming. "Reverse Contamination: Burning and Building Bridges in Mixed Member Systems." Comparative Political Studies. With Ellis S. Krauss and Robert Pekkanen.
Why would a candidate in a mixed-member electoral system willingly forego the chance to be dual listed in the party list tier along with the single member district tier? Mixed member systems create a “reverse contamination effect” through which list rankings provide important information to voters and thus influence behavior in the nominal tier. Rankings signal importance of the candidate within the party, and also constitute information about the likelihood that the candidate will be elected off the list tier. MMM and MMP systems create different incentives for parties and candidates to send voters different signals. Candidates in Japan’s MMM “burned their bridges” successfully and gained more votes. In New Zealand’s MMP system, parties instead built “bridges” between the PR and nominal tiers by sending different signals to voters through list rankings.

Forthcoming. "Legislative Organization in MMP: The Case of New Zealand." Party Politics. With Ellis S. Krauss, Robert Pekkanen, and Nigel S. Roberts.

How do electoral systems affect legislative organization? The change in electoral systems from Single Member District plurality (SMD) to Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) in New Zealand can illuminate how electoral incentives affect the distribution of cabinet positions.  Because in SMD the outcome of individual local districts determines the number of seats a party wins collectively, New Zealand parties deploy cabinet posts in order to shore up the electoral fortunes of individual members. In MMP the total number of seats a party receives is determined by the votes in the proportional representation (PR) portion for the party, which eliminates the incentives to reward electorally unsafe members with cabinet positions. We also show that strong cabinet members, measured through experience as prior terms in the cabinet position, are still likely to be retained.

2008. "Policy Defection and Party Discipline: The July 2005 Vote on Postal Privatization in Japan." With Ellis S. Krauss and Robert Pekkanen. British Journal of Political Science 38 (3): 499-525. (Lead author)
This article examines party discipline and party cohesion or defection, offering as an illustration the rebellion over postal privatization in 2005 by members of Japan's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). We explore the importance of party rules – especially the seniority rule and policy specialization for district rewards – as intervening variables between election rules and party defection in a decentralized and diverse party.   We argue that in such cases, party rules like seniority can help prevent defection. When these rules are changed, as in the postal case of 2005, defection is more probable, but we find that the relationship between defection and seniority is likely to be curvilinear.   We also find that the curvilinearity is conditional upon each legislator's having different incentives for vote, policy and office.