In 1996, Kawasaki became the first city in Japan to establish, via a local ordinance (jōrei), an entity that would provide its foreign resident community with a voice in the policy-making process. Christened the Kawasaki-shi Gaikokujin Shimin Daihyōshakaigi (Kawasaki City Representative Assembly for Foreign Residents), it was to play a functional and normative role as an agent of the Mayor. Having celebrated its twentieth anniversary in 2016, what factors might help us account for this longevity, given that it emerged as a cornerstone of one political era and ended up operating, for most of its formative years, under another? Drawing from the literature of historical institutionalism (HI), this paper argues that the Representative Assembly emerged out of, and remains sustained by, three features: an institutional pattern labelled the ‘Kawasaki Way’; a series of beneficial backdrops (lucky-breaks); and the Assembly’s own development and reformist-driven operational practice.
Publication details and link to source: Stephen Day, The Surprising Longevity of Kawasaki’s Representative Assembly for Foreign Residents: an Institutionalist Account, Social Science Japan Journal, 2018