Natural Hazards

, Volume 84, Issue 3, pp 1637–1659 | Cite as

Local politicians as linking social capital: an empirical test of political behavior after Japan’s 3/11 disasters

  • Daniel P. AldrichEmail author
  • Yoshikuni Ono
Original Paper


After a massive catastrophe, local decision makers have a large number of potential sources of advice and assistance. Yet, we know little about those to whom politicians reach out at the local, regional, and national levels, and what drives the intensity of contact with these targets. Using original survey data drawn from more than 240 council members from cities, towns, and villages in the Tohoku region of Japan, we investigate the factors influencing consultation after the March 11, 2011, compounded disasters. We find strong variation in their outreach to actors, including national-level politicians, governors, prefectural politicians, civil servants, and local constituents. Controlling for a number of compounding factors, such as town size, financial capability, and personal characteristics of the politician, we find that the degree of damage in their own communities robustly influences outreach after crisis. The more damage, the more local politicians reach out to a broader network of potentially useful connections more often. Partisan and independent town council members behave differently; those with party connections (especially those with connections to a governing party) reach out more than those without. Our findings about diversity and intensity of outreach bring important implications for residents, politicians, and non-governmental organizations after disaster.


Political behavior Japan Disaster 3/11 Vertical ties Linking social capital 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Northeastern University, Security and Resilience Studies ProgramBostonUSA
  2. 2.School of Law, Tohoku UniversitySendai, MiyagiJapan

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