Events

Democracy and Human Rights Program
Democracy and Human Rights Program
Democracy and Human Rights Program
Democracy and Human Rights Program

First Milk Tea Alliance Japan Strategy Meeting

Event date:December 2 (Sat.), 2023
Democracy and Human Rights Program
Democracy and Human Rights Program
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Publications

Democracy and Human Rights Program

The Transformation of International Politics as Seen in False Information and Narratives about Israel and Hamas [in Japanese]

AuthorMaiko Ichihara
DateDecember 8, 2023

AbstractOn December 8, 2023, the Foresight published an article by Professor Maiko Ichihara of the Graduate School of Law titled "The Transformation of International Politics as Seen in False Information and Narratives about Israel and Hamas.” In this article, Professor Ichihara pointed out that misinformation and disinformation surrounding Israel and Hamas are widespread and that actors at various levels, including governments, political parties, trolls, and conspiracy theorists, distort the information space and have an impact that cannot be ignored. She explained the mechanism of the spread of disinformation using the attention economy model, in which content that attracts people's attention and appeals to their emotions rather than to the truth or quality of information is spread, and such emotionally appealing false content is spread on the Internet at an astonishing rate. While the need for fact-checking and media literacy education has been pointed out, she discusses the limitations of the effectiveness of fact-checking and media literacy education, given that the speed at which disinformation appears greatly exceeds the speed of fact-checking, that actors who seek to manipulate people's emotions and behavior do not necessarily spread only disinformation, and that actors who engage in influence operations launder information. Finally, she emphasized the need for an analytical framework to understand and analyze international politics shaped by people driven by emotions and information in an era when not only military power but also information and various types of actors, not only state parties, have influence.

Democracy and Human Rights Program

How Disinformation Erodes the World’s Largest Democracy

AuthorNiranjan Sahoo
DateFebruary 26, 2024

AbstractIndia, despite being the world’s largest democracy, is facing a significant disinformation crisis, with a surge in fake news reported during the early pandemic period. Recently, over half the population has been exposed to disinformation, amplified by the country’s vast internet user base. The proliferation of fake news is significantly driven by right-wing influencers, supported by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who use digital platforms to spread divisive narratives and target political opponents. This has not only heightened domestic tensions, especially hatred against the religious minorities, but also undermined democracy in India. Despite certain countermeasures by fact-checkers and the government, the challenge of combating disinformation in India remains formidable.

Democracy and Human Rights Program

Fragmented Voices: The Struggle for Democracy in Hong Kong and Abroad

AuthorAlric Lee
DateFebruary 7, 2024

AbstractThe situation in Hong Kong has worsened with increasing repressive actions by the local authority against activists, extending beyond local borders to target Hong Kongers abroad. This crackdown represents a significant erosion of freedoms and democratic values, as evidenced by arrests of activists and supporters, and the extended enforcement of laws overseas. The dire state of affairs is reflected in Hong Kong’s declining rankings in global indices for press freedom and democracy, alongside a notable rise in emigration. However, as time progresses, the Hong Kong diaspora is experiencing a transformation in its identity shaped by each individual’s personal journey in the new surroundings, with a shifting sense of community as well as divergence in responses to the situation back home. This challenge highlights broader themes of political repression, migration, identity, and the enduring quest for freedom and democracy.

Democracy and Human Rights Program

Myanmar Issue at Crossroads for Solution [in Japanese]

AuthorMaiko Ichihara
DateNovember 12, 2023

AbstractOn November 12, 2023, the Shinano Mainichi Shimbun published an article authored by Professor Maiko Ichihara of the Graduate School of Law entitled "Myanmar Issue at Crossroads for Solution. The article focuses on the civil war in Myanmar, which continues without support or attention from the rest of the world, despite concerns that the world situation may become unstable due to serious conflicts breaking out simultaneously, such as Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the ongoing struggle between the Islamic organization Hamas against Israel. Professor Ichihara noted that the the National Unity Government (NUG) and ethnic minorities continue to resist the army, which staged a coup and took over the government in 2021, in various parts of the country, and that the future of the Operation 1027, which was launched in the northeastern area, will determine the future course of the conflict. In addition, she stated that many of the displaced people born as a result of the fighting in the northeast are facing severe food shortages. She stressed that even under these circumstances, the international community has not provided substantial assistance and that Japan, as a major power in Asia, should take the lead in resolving the Myanmar issue to prevent further civilian casualties.

Democracy and Human Rights Program

Humanitarian Assistance to Myanmar: Assessing Aid Delivery in Conflict Zones

AuthorMasao Imamura
DateFebruary 2, 2024

AbstractWhile the need to measure the effectiveness of humanitarian assistance in Myanmar has been widely recognized, reliable and practical research methods long remained unavailable. A recent study by Humanitarian Outcomes (HO), based on a remote questionnaire, succeeds in providing a range of insights into how humanitarian aid is delivered at the local level across the country. The survey results show that while official aid programs by international organizations are severely restricted, informal and grassroots efforts are widespread and effective across large sections of Myanmar.

Democracy and Human Rights Program

Spanish General Election 2023: The Retreat of Populism, Including the Far Right, and Its Lessons for Liberal Democracies Around the World

AuthorShingo Kato
DateDecember 27, 2023

AbstractThis paper provides a briefing on the Spanish general election held on July 23, 2023, focusing specifically on the result of the Congress of Deputies vote as well as the situation both before and after the election, and examines the implications of the results for the country and abroad. The general situation is that no party was able to win a majority of 176 seats in the 350-seat Congress of Deputies, and whether the outcome is a coalition government or a single ruling party seeking support from outside the Cabinet, inter-party talks are essential. As for future scenarios, the probability of a second term for the leftist coalition of the pre-election ruling party is seen as somewhat high, but the possibility of a second general election due to the failure of inter-party talks cannot be ruled out. One feature of the election results is the retreat of populist parties on the left and, especially, on the right. After the Lehman Shock, Spanish politics, like in other Western or advanced countries, exhibited a similar pattern of polarization, albeit with variations in degree and issues. This was concurrent with the rise of populist political parties. However, in the recent general election, it may have been possible to discern a “polarization fatigue” among the electorate. In addition, the timing of the snap general election held shortly after the far-right's emergence in local parliamentary elections could serve as a practical example for liberal democracies around the world to address polarization and the rise of the far right.

Democracy and Human Rights Program

An Op-Ed on ‘Boric and the Mirage of his China Criticism’

Authorel Espectador
DateOctober 24, 2023

AbstractOn October 24, 2023, el Espectador published ‘Boric and the Mirage of his China Criticism’ by Sascha HANNIG NUÑEZ, a doctoral student in the Graduate School of Law. The article discusses the Chilean president's position on universal human rights, the case of his abrupt change of speech a week after he visited China, and the risks small countries take when confronting countries that retaliate against such criticism. According to Ms Hannig, small states today have the space to take a clear stand. They should have this right in humanitarian conflicts, but this is impossible without a strong international community. She added that developing countries are often cautious about taking positions that could affect their economic potential, freedom, and international relations and that this explains why Chile and other countries have taken clear positions criticizing human rights issues in Nicaragua and Venezuela, but not in China. The article was published in 10 media outlets in 8 countries, including La Nación and El Pitaso.

Democracy and Human Rights Program

The Current State of Democracy in Mexico as Seen in Attempts to Reform the Electoral System

AuthorShigeru Minowa
DateNovember 10, 2023

AbstractThe López Obrador administration in Mexico embarked on a major electoral reform effort from 2022 to 2023, amending electoral laws significantly. The reforms included provisions related to the election to electoral positions by voters, a reduction in the number of personnel involved in electoral affairs, limitations on types of violations related to electoral campaigning, and a reduction in penalties for electoral violations. All of these changes were seen as posing a threat to the fundamental principles of democracy, specifically the "fairness and impartiality" of elections. However, in May and June of 2023, the Supreme Court of the Justice of the Nation declared the reforms invalid through constitutional review. This ruling demonstrated the judiciary's role in curbing arbitrary exercise of power, indicating that the separation of powers in Mexico is currently functioning.

Democracy and Human Rights Program

Bridging Realities: How Perceptions of Refugees Are Influenced by VR Interactions

AuthorAndrey Kirpach
DateNovember 10, 2023

AbstractDoes virtual reality (VR) possess beneficial qualities as opposed to traditional media? This study examines the effects of viewing a documentary about refugees as an empathy – inducing stimulus and compares the strength of the effects based on the medium used: VR versus a computer screen. An experiment conducted as part of this research could not find evidence that VR is more effective at eliciting empathy for “imagine-other” perspective-taking tasks. On the other hand, the type of perspective-taking itself may be a significant factor. The discussion section synthesizes the experimental results with a critique of VR experiences in international relations contexts from a critical culture studies perspective and highlights how VR experiences are shaped and limited by the power structures within which they are produced.

Democracy and Human Rights Program

Geopolitical Challenges of Chinese Smart Cities

AuthorKazuki Ichida
DateOctober 31, 2023

AbstractSmart cities are geopolitical battlegrounds composed of technologies in which the U.S. and China are competing for supremacy. Chinese smart cities are governance systems that prioritize safety, whereas those of American companies are business systems that advocate improving quality of life, optimizing urban functions, and reducing operating costs. Chinese smart city projects are often integrated with economic and informatization support, and are deeply tied to China economically and politically. Authoritarian countries and weakened democracies are seeking Chinese smart cities as political instability increases, and the number of these cities is growing as a result of this increase. There are 144 such projects underway worldwide, and the vast amount of data and networks accumulated could give China a strategic advantage. Smart cities have become geopolitical battlegrounds for supremacy, but the West has been outnumbered.

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Researchers

Full-time Researchers

  • NameICHIHARA Maiko
  • Position and AffiliationProfessor, Graduate School of Law / School of International and Public Policy; Assistant Vice President for International Affairs, Hitotsubashi University
  • Research areasInternational relations, Japanese foreign policy, human rights and democracy diplomacy, democracy support, influence operations

Visiting Researchers

  • NameChihhao Yu
  • Position and AffiliationVisiting Researcher, Graduate School of Law / Co-director, Taiwan Information Environment Research Center (IORG)
  • Research areasInformation environment, information design

Assistants

  • Name JEONG Minhee
  • Position and Affiliation Doctoral student, Graduate School of Law
  • Research areas International relations, refugee and asylum policy, resettlement
HANNIG Nunez Sascha
  • Name HANNIG NUÑEZ Sascha
  • Position and Affiliation Doctoral student, Graduate School of Law
  • Research areas International relations, influence operations, democratic studies, technology and society
  • Name HOSSAIN Billal
  • Position and Affiliation Doctoral student, Graduate School of Law
  • Research areas International relations, green innovation
  • Name RAKWONG Prakrit
  • Position and Affiliation Doctoral student, Graduate School of Law
  • Research areas International politics, International relations theory, Thai politics
  • NameAUNG Hnin Htet Htet
  • Position and AffiliationMaster’s student, School of International and Public Policy
  • Research areasPolitical situation in Myanmar, collective action, international relations, social movements
  • Name Sulastri
  • Position and AffiliationMaster’s student, School of International and Public Policy
  • Research areasInternational relations, political regime, democratic development, good governance
  • Name NAKANO Tomohito
  • Position and Affiliation Master’s student, School of International and Public Policy
  • Research areas International relations, the rights of indigenous peoples
  • Name YAN Feng
  • Position and Affiliation Master’s student, Graduate School of Law,
  • Research areas International relations, East Asian studies, media studies
  • Name Eru Watanabe
  • Position and Affiliation Master’s student, School of International and Public Policy
  • Research areasInternational relations, ODA policy, rule of law assistance
  • Name NAKAJIMA Takahiro
  • Position and Affiliation Bachelor’s student, Faculty of Law
  • Research areas International relations