Voting rights of the "marginal": The Japanese conception of political membership in comparative perspective

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The right to vote ultimately expresses political membership in democratic states. The logic behind franchise rules in a particular state tells us much about how that state conceives its polity. This becomes clear if we study voting rights of marginal groups, since these people often define boundaries of the polity in question. From this perspective, the present study investigates the logic of Japanese political membership by scrutinizing voting rights of overseas Japanese and non-citizen ethnic minorities inside Japan. Utilizing Elaine R. Thomas' analytical framework, the study identifies competing conceptions of political belonging expressed in Japanese debates about voting rights of the two marginal groups. My finding is that the Japanese conception of political membership is more complex than one would expect from the strong ethnic homogeneity of the Japanese community. This study also clarifies where Japan stands in relation to other states.

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Department of Political Science - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (M.A.)