This book offers a timely examination of the role of trust – or lack thereof – in contemporary Japanese politics. It portrays the political trust deficit prevalent in Japan through a unique range of case studies, illustrating how mistrust, rather than trust, impacts politics in Japan today. The first chapter introduces key trust concepts and the state of trust research on Japan. The second analyses voters’ trust levels in politics and parties and explores possible consequences of prevalent mistrust, including electoral volatility and instability in the party system. The following case study investigates the government’s choices in rebuilding the Tohoku region, devastated by the ‘3/11’ triple disaster of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear reactor meltdown in 2011. It highlights how policies eroded already low trust levels among Japanese citizens in their government. The next chapter explores Japanese consumer trust in food safety and related regulations in post-3/11 Japan, finding deficiencies in the government’s risk communication. The fifth case study turns towards multiculturalism in educational policies and schooling practices, scrutinizing Japan’s readiness to face the challenge of trust-building between members of different ethnic groups. The final chapter illuminates the trust deficit in Japan’s relations with China, explaining how trust-building opportunities were missed in the past, leading to a continuous erosion of bilateral ties.
The chapters originally published as a special issue in Japan Forum.