This piece was published in March of this year, just ahead of President Obama’s visit to Japan, in the Wilson Center publication Japan’s Vision for East Asia. Here’s my contribution, “The Two-Edged Sword of Nationalism.”
My article exploring how Japan has been able to maintain walk-to-school rates of 98% for elementary school students–most of them walking without accompanying adults–has been published in Comparative Political Studies. The article emphasizes the role that community volunteers (PTA members; neighborhood associations) play in maintaining the safety of public spaces and attributes the high level of local civic engagement in Japan to the absence of “exit” opportunities for parents of school children. Local school districts don’t provide school buses, parental drop off is not allowed, and housing markets make it costly to sell a used home and move to a new neighborhood, so parental anxiety is channeled into keeping neighborhoods safe instead of being diffused into a scramble of individual exit strategies. See “Residential Mobility and Local Civic Engagement in Japan and the United States: Divergent Paths to School,” Comparative Political Studies 46:9 (September 2013), pp. 1058-1081.
See the link to “work in progress” above to learn how I’m working to present some of the ideas in this article in the form of a documentary film.