University of Tsukuba Pre-Strategic Initiatives Empirical Social Science Research Center
for Policy Solutions to Disparities and Inequalities



Empirical Social Science Research Center for Policy Solutions to Disparities and Inequalities

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) proposed by the United Nations are based on the core principle of a society in which ” Leave no one behind. To do this, it is necessary not only that the political rights of each individual be guaranteed equally, but also that the voices of the people be reflected equally in politics and that they receive the necessary services.

The reality, however, is that economic and social inequality and poverty are growing. It can also be said that the voices of the socially vulnerable are not being heard by the political system and therefore not being adequately addressed. Therefore, there is an urgent need for research to understand the actual situation of inequality in various fields, and then to normatively and empirically clarify what policy responses are being taken and what problems exist therein. It will also be necessary to consider how digital transformation (DX), which has been significant in recent years, can work in these policy processes.

With the above issues in mind, this project aims to establish a research center for research in various fields related to the issues addressed in the Japanese government’s SDGs action plan (digital divide, diversity, universal health coverage, etc.) and policy formation related to these issues, with the University of Tsukuba’s Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences playing a central role. We aim to establish a common infrastructure for research on policy formation systems related to this, and to form a research base to promote mutual collaboration.

In order to achieve this, we will: 1) build a network of researchers inside and outside the university, at home and abroad; 2) interact and integrate with a wide range of research fields; 3) disseminate the results of our research quickly; 4) preserve and archive research materials; and 5) Returning research results to education.

Research Projects

Research Project on Political Inequality of Opportunity and Outcome

In recent years, the problem of growing economic and social inequality has been raised, and a political response to these issues is required. However, if there is a disparity in participation in politics or in response to policies, it may in fact promote inequality. Therefore, this research aims to understand the actual situation of political inequality in the aspects of political participation and policy response, and to elucidate the mechanism of political inequality by relating it to economic and social inequality. Specifically, we will address the following issues.

  1. Identify inequalities in political participation by income, occupation, education, gender, age, ethnicity, etc., based on large-scale questionnaire surveys of individuals and groups.
  2. Identify inequalities in policy responses by matching individuals’ and groups’ policy preferences from the questionnaire survey with formulated policies.
  3. To understand the process of linking participation and response by clarifying the transition of issues and interrelationships among actors in specific policy processes. Based on these findings, we construct a generative model of political inequality that clarifies the mediating mechanisms between participation and response.

Research Grant

  • 2020-2012 Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (A) “Comprehensive Empirical Study on Political Inequality in Opportunities and Outcomes: Elucidation of the Mechanism of Political Inequality” PI : Hidehiro Yamamoto (20H00061)

The Political Elite’s View of Equality Research Project

How have globalization, the rise of the “inequality society,” and governance reform changed elites’ views on equality and policy preferences, and how have they transformed the structure of influence in policy making? This study aims to clarify the following points by conducting a survey modeled after the 1980 survey on elites’ views on equality.

  1. How have the “equality views” and policy preferences of elites and rival elites changed?
  2. What do elites and counter-elites think and to what extent do they reflect the interests expressed by citizens in their policies?
  3. What are the elites and counter-elites in contemporary Japan, and how have their structures of influence on policy making and policy networks been transformed?

Research Grant

  • 2017-21 Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (A) “Japanese Elite’s Idea of Equality and Change of Policy Network in the Global Age” PI : Yoshihiko Takenaka (17H00966)

Research Project on Female Members of Local Assemblies and Policies

Among the inequalities surrounding gender, inequality in politics has been particularly slow to be addressed. Japan has one of the lowest percentages of female legislators among developed countries, and this is one of the main reasons why the gender gap index is low. Therefore, increasing the number of female Diet members is an urgent issue from both academic and policy perspectives, and studies have been accumulated on why the number of female Diet members is not increasing and how it can be increased. However, as far as we can see, there are few studies that address the question, “What would change if the number of female Diet members increased? Therefore, the purpose of this study is to empirically examine the relationship between the ratio of female Diet members and gender and childcare, nursing care, and lifestyle-related policies (hereinafter referred to as gender-related policies), and to clarify “what would change if the number of female Diet members increased?

Research Grant

  • 2022 The Asahi Glass Foundation “Research Grants for Sustainable Future” Program ” What would change if the number of female councilors increased? -An Empirical Study in Municipal Councils”

Research on human nature as the basis of human rights

Human rights are political and legal norms that most of us already accept with moral certainty. However, the asymmetry in the enjoyment of human rights is already evident if we look at the various human rights compliance situations in the world. The purpose of this study is to provide an answer to the question “How should human rights be understood to depend on humanity?” and to draw appropriate international human rights policies based on the answer.

Research Grant

  • Grant-in-Aid for Young Scientists 2021-26 “Study on Humanity as a Basis of Human Rights: Well-being, Status, and Human Rights Guarantee Entity”

Interdisciplinary research on international movement and migration of people

Only since 2010, there have been frequent news reports related to the international movement of people, such as the European refugee crisis, Brexit, and migrant caravans abroad, and the revision of the Immigration Control Act in Japan. Some researchers even point to migration as one of the megatrends of the 21st century, although it has been curbed in recent years by the spread of the new coronavirus. Why and how do people cross borders? How do border crossings affect the international social order and domestic political trends? And can freedom of movement and social order be compatible? These questions will be answered empirically and theoretically. For more information, please visit


Research on the political influence of social minorities

Focusing on people with disabilities as a social minority, his research aims to identify under what conditions people with disabilities can exert political influence and change policy. Policy fields involving people with disabilities are characterized by the fact that, in contrast to policy fields involving women, who have recently attracted significant attention as a labor force, it is difficult to generate endogenous change within political elites such as politicians and bureaucrats. For this reason, we believe that the participation of voters with disabilities and organizations of people with disabilities in politics is particularly important for policy change, and we conduct research and surveys focusing on activities such as voting, petitioning, and participating in demonstrations. In recent years, he has also conducted research on local legislators and Diet members with disabilities.

Research Grant

  • 2020-24 Young Researchers’ Study “Conditions for Minority Groups to Exercise Political Influence” Rep: OHKURA Sae (20K13399)
  • Research on Social and Health Disparities

    Many previous studies have shown that health disparities are created and contributed to by social disparities. On the other hand, it has also been pointed out that appropriate social and economic policies implemented at the right time could alleviate health disparities. This study aims to clarify the consequences and determinants of health status from neonatal to early childhood, with a particular focus on health disparities at birth, and to provide the necessary materials for discussions on desirable policy interventions.

    Research Grant

    • 2019 – 2022 JSPS/Young Scientists Policy intervention for pregnant women and its impact on maternal health and the next generation: a natural experiment Representative: Midori Matsushima