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In Session: Japan's Postwar: Politics of the Outside
Gender and Apology Diplomacy: Survey Experimental Evidence from Japan and the U.S.
Monday, March 22, 2021
10:00am – 11:30am EDT
Northeastern University, United States
Jonathan A. Chu
Stanford University, United States
The significant gender gap in support for war is one of the most robust claims in public opinion research. We investigate this gender gap in a crucial area of the postwar phase: “apology diplomacy,” which promises to promote interstate reconciliation by assuaging historical grievances over wartime acts. Does an individual’s gender identity and attitudes toward gender affect responses to political apologies? If so, why? Do gendered differences exist equally across the recipient audience of an apology and the domestic constituency of the state issuing the apology? Drawing on political communication, public diplomacy, and social psychology scholarship, we propose a novel theoretical perspective on how the effects of political apologies on public opinion are moderated by gendered experiences of war. We test the implications using large-scale survey experiments conducted in Japan and the U.S., which manipulate apology-making in vignettes involving WWII-related acts in Japan-South Korea and Japan-U.S. dyads. We explore whether the gendered nature of the wartime act matters (e.g., the so-called “comfort women” forced prostitution issue versus forced labor). Further, we investigate key individual-level mechanisms – social-psychological as well as political-strategic beliefs – that may be driving gendered responses to apologies. Our study contributes new micro-level evidence on the role of gender in apology diplomacy, a salient feature of contemporary East Asian diplomatic relations. More broadly, our study underscores the importance of bringing gender into the study of public diplomacy and strategic communication by governments.