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East Asia


In December 2019, the V-Dem Project established a regional center for East Asia (hereafter the Regional Center) in Japan. This is the sixth of the regional centers of V-Dem around the world, which includes centers for Eastern Europe & Russia, Southern Europe, Central Asia, North America, and Southern Africa. The Regional Center’s primary coverage of countries is Northeastern Asia (Japan, China, Mongolia, North and South Korea, Taiwan), but Southeast Asian countries are also included in its scope of studies and activities. The Center is hosted at Keio University in Tokyo. Please visit the East Asia page for more information. 



The East Asia Regional Center aims to produce knowledge about the state of democracy in East Asia using the V-Dem database. Taking advantage of the unique nature of the V-Dem database, research fellows of the Regional Center, together with other scholars who are interested in using the database, will produce working papers, visual graphs, and policy briefs focusing on East Asia. The focal issues include the general state of democracy, the use of the internet for the spread of false information, and the sequencing of democratization and autocratization. At the same time, the Regional Center promotes knowledge production on these matters through hosting conferences and workshops.

The Center will serve as the knowledge hub on the matters concerning democracy and autocratization in East Asia. Through its website, the Regional Center regularly publishes policy briefs, newsletters, and visual graphs based on the V-Dem database. Many of these materials will be translated into Japanese, Korean, and traditional Chinese so that the Center’s findings are more accessible to a broader range of readers. Involving the academics at the first-rated universities in the region, the Regional Center has a unique standing with high credibility.

It will also support collaboration among scholars, practitioners, and journalists on democracy promotion. By organizing policy-oriented workshops, the Regional Center aims to encourage partnerships among scholars, practitioners (policymakers and civil society groups), and journalists in the region to better investigate the trajectories of democratic development and to find better policy schemes to promote democracy.


The East Asia Regional Center aims to launch the following activities, among others:

  • Hold academic conferences and policy-oriented workshops on democracy and democracy promotion.
  • Publish working paper series, policy briefs, newsletters, country reports, thematic reports, and visual graphs concerning the state of democracy in East Asia.  
  • Translate the above–mentioned materials into Japanese, Korean, and traditional Chinese to enhance accessibility.
  • Maintain the Regional Center website that publishes the above–mentioned materials.


Yuko Kasuya is the Director of the Regional Center and a Professor of Political Science at the Faculty of Law, Keio University, Tokyo, Japan. Her research interests include regime transition, comparative political institutions, electoral systems, party politics, and East and Southeast Asian politics. Her articles can be found in journals such as Electoral Studies, The Pacific Affairs, and Party Politic, among others. She holds a Ph.D. in International Affairs from the University of California, San Diego, an MA in Development Studies from Institute of Social Studies (Netherlands), and a BA in Political Science from Keio University. Since 2018, she serves as Vice President of the International Political Science Association (IPSA). She is currently editing a book on the historical origins of dictatorship and democracy in Asia.


Masaaki Higashijima is an Associate Professor of Political Science in the Graduate School of Information Sciences at Tohoku University and Visiting Research Scholar in the Center for Political Studies at the University of Michigan. Previously, he was Post-Doctoral Max Weber Fellow at European University Institute and Assistant Professor at Waseda University in Tokyo. His research interests include comparative political economy, elections, autocratic politics, democratization, ethnic politics, civil conflict, and Central Asia. His articles appeared in British Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, Political Behavior, Studies in Comparative International Development, and World Development. He is the recipient of the inaugural EIP-IDEA Award, given by the Electoral Integrity Project and the International IDEA. His research was funded by numerous grants such as those of the US National Science Foundation, Fulbright Commission, and Suntory Foundation. He earned a Ph.D. in Political Science at Michigan State University.

Marisa Kellam is associate professor of political science at Waseda University (Tokyo, Japan). Her research focuses on the quality of democracy in Latin America. In her work, she links institutional analysis to governance outcomes within three lines of inquiry: (1) political parties and coalitional politics; (2) mass electoral behavior and party system change; and (3) democratic accountability and media freedom. She has published her research in peer-reviewed journals such as the British Journal of Political Science, Comparative Political Studies, Party Politics, Electoral Studies, and Political Communication. After earning a Ph.D. in political science from UCLA, she spent several years as an assistant professor at Texas A&M University. Since 2013, Marisa Kellam has been teaching international and Japanese students in the English-based Degree Program of Waseda University’s School of Political Science & Economics, and currently she serves as the Program Director.

Tetsuya Matsubayashi is an associate professor of Osaka School of International Public Policy (OSIPP) at Osaka University, Japan. After receiving a Ph.D. in political science in 2007 from Texas A&M University, he worked as an assistant professor at the University of North Texas until 2013. His areas of research include mass political behavior, political representation, and public health. His work has appeared in the American Journal of Political Science, American Political Science Review, British Journal of Political Science, Political Research Quarterly, International Journal of Epidemiology, Social Science & Medicine, and others.

Kota Mori is an industry data scientist who has supported client companies by data analytics consultation and software development. He has engaged in projects on analyses of media and marketing activities and optimization, classification of a customer questionnaire, and development and implementation of an internal analytics platform. He received a Ph.D. in economics from Yale University for his analysis of the newspaper market and business strategy using natural language processing and econometrics. His research interest is the application of machine learning in social science disciplines, including economics, sociology and political science.

Yoshikuni Ono is Professor of Political Science at Tohoku University and Faculty Fellow at the Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry. He completed his Ph.D. in Political Science at the University of Michigan. His research focuses on the comparative study of legislative politics and electoral behavior. Current research projects include studies of the effect of gender stereotypes on voter behavior and the effect of foreign threats on parliamentary speeches in Japan. His work has appeared in American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, Political Behavior, Political Science Research and Methods, etc.

South Korea

Won-ho Park is Professor of Political Science and International Relations, and Associate Dean of Public Affairs and Communications at Seoul National University. He is also serving as Vice President of the Korean Association of Party Studies and as Chair of Academic Affairs at Korean Political Science Association. He graduated from the University of Michigan with a Ph.D. in political science and previously taught at the Department of Political Science at the University Florida. He also worked as a Fellow at the American National Election Studies. His research interest is in voting behavior, research methods, comparative politics and Korean politics. His recent publications include “The effect of incumbency in national and local elections: Evidence from South Korea” (Electoral Politics 2018) and The 2017 Korean Presidential Election (2018 Edited Volume in Korean). 

Taehee Whang is an Associate Dean of College of Social Science and a Professor of Political Science and International Studies, Yonsei University. His research interest includes economic sanctions and aid, human rights, international relations, and politics and economy of North Korea. His work appears in American Journal of Political Science, British Journal of Political Science, European Journal of International Relations (Forthcoming), International Organization, International Studies Quarterly, Political Analysis, Journal of Peace Research, and Journal of Theoretical Politics.


Hans H. Tung is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science and a faculty associate of the Center for Research in Econometric Theory and Applications at National Taiwan University. He received his Ph.D. in Government from Harvard University. He is primarily interested in both formal and empirical analyses of the politics of economic policymaking in both authoritarian and democratic settings. One strand of his research seeks to uncover the political logic of institutional development under authoritarian regimes. His book, Economic Growth and Endogenous Authoritarian Institutions in Post-Reform China (2019), develops a dynamic theory of authoritarian institutional change in the context of post-reform China. A second strand explores individual decision-making by utilizing advanced neuroscientific methods and data. A third strand builds on the theoretical insights developed from other parts of his research to address various issues regarding how China’s rise affects the regional dynamics in East Asia.

Yi-ting Wang is an Associate Professor of Political Science at National Cheng Kung University, Taiwan. Prior to joining NCKU, Yi-ting was a postdoctoral Research Fellow at the V-Dem Institute, where she was part of the measurement model team and in charge of developing statistical models to aggregate ratings provided by country experts. She received her PhD from Duke University. Her research interests include democratization, party politics, and legislative institutions.

Eric Chen-hua Yu is an associate research fellow of the Election Study Center and jointly appointed as an associate professor of political science at National Chengchi University (NCCU) in Taipei, Taiwan. Before he returned to Taiwan to teach in his alma mater in 2009, he has been a research fellow and program manager of Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) at Stanford’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) for 3 years. Recently, Yu has participated in a number of domestic and international research teams to conduct major academic survey projects such as Taiwan’s Election and Democratization Studies (TEDS), International Social Survey Program (ISSP), and Comparative Study of Electoral Systems (CSES). His research interests mainly focus on electoral politics, public opinion, and public policy analysis. Yu received an M.S. in Public Policy Analysis from the University of Rochester, and a Ph.D. in political science from Columbia University.