Has the 3.11 Disaster Brought About Conservatism in Japan?



This study uses survey data to examine empirically the effect of the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011 on attitudes towards politics. Drawing upon Terror Management Theory, we hypothesize that the earthquake triggered a fear of death in people, thus tilting their attitudes more conservative. Terror Management Theory postulates that exposure to a fear of death activates a psychological self-defense mechanism in people, who try to escape this fear by, for example, excessively embracing culture and building up their own egos. This article examines whether the fear of death triggered by the earthquake caused people in the disaster areas to become more conservative through an excessive embrace of political culture. To test this hypothesis, we rely on the Japanese Election Study IV, which provides panel data derived before and after the earthquake. Using this data, we empirically analyze changes in values, liberal–conservative ideology, materialism, and patriotism.


Terror management theory The great east Japan earthquake Conservatism Propensity score matching 



The data for this study, “National-wide Longitudinal Survey Study on Voting Behavior in an Age of Political Change” investigated by JES IV workshop (Hiroshi Hirano, Yoshiaki Kobayashi, Kenichi Ikeda, and Masahiro Yamada), was provided by the Social Science Japan Data Archive, Center for Social Research and Data Archives, Institute of Social Science, The University of Tokyo. We thank Hirano Hiroshi (Gakushuin University), Yukio Maeda (University of Tokyo), and Kazunori Inamasu (Kwansei Gakuin University) for thoughtful advice.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of KitakyushuKitakyushuJapan
  2. 2.Graduate School of LawKobe UniversityKobeJapan

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