Social Systems

Hironori Sasada

Analyzing the Development Process of Political and Economic Institutions

Hironori Sasada , Associate Professor

Office of International Affairs / International Student Center

High school : Shinwa High School, Kumamoto

Academic background : Graduate School of Political Science, University of Washington

Research areas
Politics, International Political Economy
Research keywords
political economy, political history, institutional development

What are you studying?

My research theme is the analysis of the developmental process of political and economic institutions. Our society has many institutions, including welfare, tax, education, and election systems. What kind of impact do these institutions have on our daily living, economic activities, and political actions? How are these systems formed and how do they develop? In the field of Political Science, researchers analyze various factors that influence institutions. In my research, I focus on policy ideas as an important factor of institutional development. Policy ideas refer to principles and beliefs held by actors and construct their worldview, ethical values, causal belief, etc. It is believed that policy ideas have a significant influence on policies, especially when actors increase their dependence on ideas under conditions full of uncertainty. Invisible cognitive factors like ideas shape policies and create institutions that make a big impact on our lives for extended period of time. I find this process especially interesting.

  In my previous research, I analyzed policy ideas on which the core institutions of Japan’s political and economic systems were built during the Second World War and why these institutions continued to play important roles after the war through studies of cases in Manchuria under Japanese control and in Japan during and after the war. Many of the institutions that constituted the economic system of postwar Japan originated during the war. They were built based on the concept “managed economy [tosei keizai ron]” aimed at the prosecution of a total war. Because the idea was passed on to subsequent generations of policymakers in the postwar period and further spread to other actors, many of the institutions born during the war were reproduced and maintained for a long period of time.


International publication of research results

I place special emphasis on proactive international publication of my research results. In natural science, international publication of research results is common practice, and it is not uncommon for outstanding research conducted in Japan to be published in a top journal abroad and quoted by researchers all over the world. Social scientists in Japan, however, still lag behind in terms of international communication. There are a large number of excellent research achievements made by Japanese researchers in social science as well, but regrettably they are rarely published abroad and hardly ever come to attention of researchers outside Japan. This is not only the issue of language. There are various factors involved, including slight differences in research interests and directions between overseas and domestic academic circles. This is one of the very important challenges for Japanese universities in order to improve their international reputation and competitiveness for the future.

  I set publication of my papers in academic journals mainly in the field of Political Science and Area Studies as one of my academic goals and publish my works in journals that have an international reputation in the respective field. I am also working to publish books with overseas publishers. I published a book in Japanese in 2011, then in English with an English publisher in 2012, and then in Korean with a Korean publisher in 2014. By publishing my works in multiple languages, I hope to reach out to researchers throughout the world.

  In addition, I am a member of the editorial board of an overseas journal titled The Japanese Political Economy, where I am involved in editing and serve as a reviewer of the journal and other overseas journals.

Korean, Japanese, and English editions of my book


Internationalization of education

Lastly, in regards to educational activities, I am in charge of arts and sciences courses in English mostly for students from foreign countries and students of Nitobe College at the Office of International Affairs International Student Center, and give lectures in English on Japanese Politics, Political Economy, and Foreign Policies. Many Japanese universities have been promoting the internationalization of education in recent years, but there is a surprisingly limited number of classes for international students to learn about Japan. On the other hand, many overseas universities have programs named Japanese studies, which attract students interested in Japan. For Japanese universities, it is one of the future challenges to provide high-quality cosmopolitan programs that meet such needs in addition to communicating research results internationally. In light of this, the University has started the Modern Japanese Studies Program for international students in this academic year. As one of the core members of the program, I will make efforts in its operation, planning, student guidance, and other affairs so as to contribute to the international development of the University.