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In December 2019, the V-Dem Project established a regional center for Eastern Asia in Japan. The Center is hosted at Keio University in Tokyo and led by Director Yuko Kasuya.

The Regional Center’s primary coverage of countries is Northeastern Asia (Japan, China, Mongolia, North and South Korea, Taiwan), but Southeast Asian countries are also included in its scope of studies and activities.


Visit the official website: v-dem-eastasia.net

Objectives

The East Asia Regional Center has the following objectives:

  • Produce knowledge about the state of democracy in East Asia using the V-Dem database. Taking advantage of the unique nature of the V-Dem database, research fellows of the Regional Center, together with other scholars who are interested in using the database, will produce working papers, visual graphs, and policy briefs focusing on East Asia. The focal issues include the general state of democracy, the use of the internet for the spread of false information, and the sequencing of democratization and autocratization. At the same time, the Regional Center promotes knowledge production on these matters through hosting conferences and workshops.
  • Serve as the knowledge hub on the matters concerning democracy and autocratization in East Asia. Through its website, the Regional Center regularly publishes policy briefs, newsletters, and visual graphs based on the V-Dem database. Many of these materials will be translated into Japanese, Korean, and traditional Chinese so that the Center’s findings are more accessible to a broader range of readers. Involving the academics at the first-rated universities in the region, the Regional Center has a unique standing with high credibility.
  • Support collaboration among scholars, practitioners, and journalists on democracy promotion. By organizing policy-oriented workshops, the Regional Center aims to encourage partnerships among scholars, practitioners (policymakers and civil society groups), and journalists in the region to better investigate the trajectories of democratic development and to find better policy schemes to promote democracy.

Activities

The East Asia Regional Center aims to launch the following activities, among others:

  • Hold academic conferences and policy-oriented workshops on democracy and democracy promotion.
  • Publish working paper series, policy briefs, newsletters, country reports, thematic reports, and visual graphs concerning the state of democracy in East Asia.
  • Translate the above–mentioned materials into Japanese, Korean, and traditional Chinese to enhance accessibility.
  • Maintain the Regional Center website that publishes the above–mentioned materials.

Team

The Regional Center aims to involve a broad range of people in the region and beyond, including scholars, practitioners, journalists, and students interested in democracy. As the core members of the Regional Center, a group of scholars from Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan serve as its research fellows and support the activities of the Center.

Regional Center Director

Yuko Kasuya is the Director of the Regional Center and a Professor of Political Science at the Faculty of Law, Keio University, Tokyo, Japan. Her research interests include regime transition, comparative political institutions, electoral systems, party politics, and East and Southeast Asian politics. Her articles can be found in journals such as Electoral Studies, The Pacific Affairs, and Party Politic, among others. She holds a Ph.D. in International Affairs from the University of California, San Diego, an MA in Development Studies from Institute of Social Studies (Netherlands), and a BA in Political Science from Keio University. Since 2018, she serves as Vice President of the International Political Science Association (IPSA). She is currently editing a book on the historical origins of dictatorship and democracy in Asia.

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Regional Center Director Yuko Kasuya and V-Dem Institute Director Staffan Lindberg

Members of the Steering Committee

Marisa Kellam is associate professor of political science at Waseda University (Tokyo, Japan). Her research focuses on the quality of democracy in Latin America. In her work, she links institutional analysis to governance outcomes within three lines of inquiry: (1) political parties and coalitional politics; (2) mass electoral behavior and party system change; and (3) democratic accountability and media freedom. She has published her research in peer-reviewed journals such as the British Journal of Political Science, Comparative Political Studies, Party Politics, Electoral Studies, and Political Communication. After earning a Ph.D. in political science from UCLA, she spent several years as an assistant professor at Texas A&M University. Since 2013, Marisa Kellam has been teaching international and Japanese students in the English-based Degree Program of Waseda University’s School of Political Science & Economics, and currently, she serves as the Program Director.

Kenneth Mori McElwain is Professor of Comparative Politics at the Institute of Social Science, University of Tokyo. His research focuses on comparative political institutions, most recently on differences in constitutional content across countries. He received his BA from Princeton University and PhD in political science from Stanford University, and previously taught at the University of Michigan, before moving to his current post in 2015. His work has been published in a number of journals and edited volumes, including American Journal of Political Science, Journal of East Asian Studies, Social Science Japan, Chuō Kōron, and the Journal of Japanese Studies. He was the co-editor of Political Change in Japan: Electoral Behavior, Party Realignment, and the Koizumi Reforms, APARC/Brookings Institutions Press.

Research Fellows

Hong Kong

Ji Yeon (Jean) Hong is an Associate Professor at the Division of Social Science, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST). Her research interest is on the political economy of authoritarian regimes, with particular attention to East Asia such as China, Korea, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. She has various ongoing research projects related to authoritarian elites’ behavior, the legacies of authoritarianism, and contemporary state building in East Asia. She obtained her PhD at the Department of Politics at New York University. Her research has been published in the Journal of Politics, British Journal of Political Science, Political Science Research and Methods, and Electoral Studies among others.

Kenneth Mori McElwain is Professor of Comparative Politics at the Institute of Social Science, University of Tokyo. His research focuses on comparative political institutions, most recently on differences in constitutional content across countries. He received his BA from Princeton University and PhD in political science from Stanford University, and previously taught at the University of Michigan, before moving to his current post in 2015. His work has been published in a number of journals and edited volumes, including American Journal of Political Science, Journal of East Asian Studies, Social Science Japan, Chuō Kōron, and the Journal of Japanese Studies. He was the co-editor of Political Change in Japan: Electoral Behavior, Party Realignment, and the Koizumi Reforms, APARC/Brookings Institutions Press.

Japan

Charles Crabtree is a Senior Data Scientist at the Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research and a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Government at Dartmouth College, where he will be an Assistant Professor starting in fall 2020. His research focuses on fairness in politics, with applications to the study of discrimination, repression, human rights, policing, and immigration. Specifically, he examines under what circumstances political actors and institutions treat members of the public differently based on their political views or personal demographics, and how the public views this treatment. Understanding these phenomena is important as perceptions of fairness are fundamental to public evaluations of institutional legitimacy across regimes. Methodologically, he is interested in research design, experiments, and using computational tools to better understand the social world. He has published his research in the American Journal of Political Science, the British Journal of Political Science, the Journal of Politics, and Political Analysis, among other journals.

Masaaki Higashijima is an Associate Professor of Political Science in the Graduate School of Information Sciences at Tohoku University and Visiting Research Scholar in the Center for Political Studies at the University of Michigan. Previously, he was Post-Doctoral Max Weber Fellow at European University Institute and Assistant Professor at Waseda University in Tokyo. His research interests include comparative political economy, elections, autocratic politics, democratization, ethnic politics, civil conflict, and Central Asia. His articles appeared in British Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, Political Behavior, Studies in Comparative International Development, and World Development. He is the recipient of the inaugural EIP-IDEA Award, given by the Electoral Integrity Project and the International IDEA. His research was funded by numerous grants such as those of the US National Science Foundation, Fulbright Commission, and Suntory Foundation. He earned a Ph.D. in Political Science at Michigan State University.

Kota Mori is an industry data scientist who has supported client companies by data analytics consultation and software development. He has engaged in projects on analyses of media and marketing activities and optimization, classification of a customer questionnaire, and development and implementation of an internal analytics platform. He received a Ph.D. in economics from Yale University for his analysis of the newspaper market and business strategy using natural language processing and econometrics. His research interest is the application of machine learning in social science disciplines, including economics, sociology and political science.

Yoshikuni Ono is Professor of Political Science at Tohoku University and Faculty Fellow at the Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry. He completed his Ph.D. in Political Science at the University of Michigan. His research focuses on the comparative study of legislative politics and electoral behavior. Current research projects include studies of the effect of gender stereotypes on voter behavior and the effect of foreign threats on parliamentary speeches in Japan. His work has appeared in American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, Political Behavior, Political Science Research and Methods, etc.

Jonson N. Porteux is an associate professor in the Asia Studies Program at Kansai Gaidai University in Osaka, Japan. His research focuses broadly on investigating the causes and consequences of political violence, corruption, and democracy, using cases predominantly from East Asia (especially South Korea and Japan). He received his BA in economics from UC Berkeley (2004) and PhD in political science from the University of Michigan (2013). Most recently his work has been featured in Democratization and the Journal of East Asian Studies. Currently he is working on a co-authored book project which investigates the persistence and evolution of political (state and non-state-based) violence in otherwise strong, democratic polities.

South Korea

Won-ho Park is Professor of Political Science and International Relations, and Associate Dean of Public Affairs and Communications at Seoul National University. He is also serving as Vice President of the Korean Association of Party Studies and as Chair of Academic Affairs at Korean Political Science Association. He graduated from the University of Michigan with a Ph.D. in political science and previously taught at the Department of Political Science at the University of Florida. He also worked as a Fellow at the American National Election Studies. His research interest is in voting behavior, research methods, comparative politics, and Korean politics. His recent publications include “The effect of incumbency in national and local elections: Evidence from South Korea” (Electoral Politics, 2018) and The 2017 Korean Presidential Election (2018 Edited Volume in Korean).

Taiwan

Hans H. Tung is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science and a faculty associate of the Center for Research in Econometric Theory and Applications at National Taiwan University. He received his Ph.D. in Government from Harvard University. He is primarily interested in both formal and empirical analyses of the politics of economic policymaking in both authoritarian and democratic settings. One strand of his research seeks to uncover the political logic of institutional development under authoritarian regimes. His book, Economic Growth and Endogenous Authoritarian Institutions in Post-Reform China (2019), develops a dynamic theory of authoritarian institutional change in the context of post-reform China. A second strand explores individual decision-making by utilizing advanced neuroscientific methods and data. A third strand builds on the theoretical insights developed from other parts of his research to address various issues regarding how China’s rise affects the regional dynamics in East Asia.

Yi-ting Wang is an Associate Professor of Political Science at National Cheng Kung University, Taiwan. Prior to joining NCKU, Yi-ting was a postdoctoral Research Fellow at the V-Dem Institute, where she was part of the measurement model team and in charge of developing statistical models to aggregate ratings provided by country experts. She received her PhD from Duke University. Her research interests include democratization, party politics, and legislative institutions.