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Missing Effect of Party Cues in Japan: Evidence from a Survey Experiment


For voters with bounded rationality to emulate the formation of policy preferences under full information, party cues provide effective heuristics. Although the effect of party cuing has been robustly established in US-centered studies, the literature indicates that the characteristics of modern US politics, such as political polarization, magnify the effect of party cues. Therefore, the effect of party cues has been subject to only lenient empirical scrutiny, as empirical evidence exists primarily for the US. The present study aims to test the generalizability of the effect of party cues by focusing on Japan, where the ideological positions of parties have become increasingly vague. Furthermore, in light of the fact that the media system in Japan is more stable and ideologically polarized than its party system, we also test whether press cues (i.e. newspaper names) serve as substitutes for party cues. A survey experiment demonstrates that the effects of party and press cues in Japan are muted, and therefore these two types of cues do not serve as effective shortcuts in forming policy preferences. These results indicate that issue voting based on cognitive heuristics is difficult under an unstable multiparty system. Therefore, the extant literature on party cues that presupposes the US-style party system cannot be easily generalized to other political contexts.

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Japanese Journal of Political Science
  • ISSN: 1468-1099
  • EISSN: 1474-0060
  • URL: /core/journals/japanese-journal-of-political-science
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