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Kenneth Mori McElwain


I am a professor of comparative politics at the Institute of Social Science, University of Tokyo. My research focuses on political institutions, particularly electoral systems, constitutional design, and public opinion towards institutional change. More recently, I have been working on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on Japanese public opinion. Since 2019, I have served as Editor-in-Chief of Social Science Japan Journal. I am also a board member of the UTokyo Center for Contemporary Japanese Studies.

東京大学社会科学研究所教授. 専門は比較政治制度と世論分析. 最近では憲法の条文をデータ化し, 憲法典の歴史的な沿革, 地域・グローバルレベルの規範化, 日本国憲法の世界的な位置づけなどを考察. 平成28年度東京大学卓越研究員. 著書に「日本国憲法の普遍と特異」(千倉書房, 2022年) など.

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The Constitution of Japan, enacted in 1947, is the oldest unamended constitution in the world today. In my book, I examine why the COJ has lasted for over 75 years, despite periodic revisions being considered necessary for survival. Using quantitative data on constitutional design, I argue that the COJ's brevity, particularly on political institutions, has lessened the necessity for amendment, as most changes can be enacted through legislation. The book further explores the constitutional dilemmas caused by the COJ's lack of concrete stipulations, particularly on states of emergency and electoral rules. I conclude by examining Japanese public opinion towards constitutional change, based on original survey experiments. While support for amendments has increased in recent years, there is a remarkable lack of consensus on which provisions to change. This suggests the need for further bipartisan debate, not on whether constitutional change is necessary immediately, but rather on the ideal balance of human rights and political institutions to preserve the COJ into the future.

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