- 年報政治学 (ISSN:05494192)
- vol.65, no.1, pp.1_12-1_36, 2014 (Released:2017-07-01)
Who claims to know “the will of the people” and what are those claims based on? Invocations of “the will of the people” play a much larger role in contemporary public discourses in Japan than in the preceding decades. In this paper, rather than trying to define the popular will in the abstract, the author compiles and examines newspaper articles dating from the Meiji period to the present day with “the will of the people” in their headlines. This historical survey reveals that the contexts in which “the will of the people” is discussed has changed and diversified over time. While the popular will is mostly evoked during national elections, an increasing number of news items refer to public opinion polling and local referendums as important vehicles through which “the will of the people” is expressed. The emergence of these new contexts has changed the power balance between politicians, journalists, and ordinary people regarding who has the authority to present their interpretations of the public's aspirations.